| Wedding Ceremony | Wedding Rituals
giving of sweet things is a common wedding celebration
custom - think of the Greek and Italian custom of
giving guests five sugar-coated almonds wrapped up in
tulle, five being an indivisible number, or the , the
Dutch bride sugar, also five lollies (I like barley
sugar for this because it is a nice bright orange),
and the common Australian wedding custom of giving
chocolates or cookies for favours.
Going one step further and incorporating a sweet
ritual in your ceremony, using either honey or
sugar, can add a symbolic richness that really
speaks to the hearts of your guests.
The honey ritual, in which the marrying
couple each dip their pinky into a dish of honey is
a very symbolic act which is steeped in Persian
roots, but commonly observed in other Islamic
In Ancient Egypt, honey bees were regarded to be a
symbol of royalty. Honey bees were associated
with Eros/Cupid, the god of love, in Ancient Greece
and Rome. He is often shown dipping his fingers into
honey in art works of the Renaissance period. And
the Hindu god, Kama, the god of love, like Cupid has
a bow and arrow. His bowstring is made up of bees.
And, very apt for marriage, bees provide an
excellent example of teamwork, and of working
unceasingly for the common good.
Honey in itself is powerfully symbolic of so much of
what we wish for a marrying couple. Because it is
not hospitable to bacteria, tt never spoils. Honey
found in Egyptian tombs proved to be still edible
thousands of years later. It has healing properties.
The characteristics of an individual pot of honey
depend very much on what goes into it - which
flowers the bees sourced the pollen from, just as
each marriage is uniquely influenced by the input of
the couple. It is nourishing. And it is sweet.
So when we use honey in a ceremony it represents the
sweetness of wisdom in Shamanism, and the sweetness
of life, as referenced in the words of the great
Persian poet, Rumi
In companionship and happiness
may you be like milk and honey
in union and fidelity
And if you would like to enhance the symbolism, a
little effort will deliver rose-flavoured honey,
adding another universal symbol of love.
Recipe: Bring a cup
of mild-flavored honey to a boil in a heavy
saucepan. Turn off the heat as soon as the honey
starts to foam up. Stir in a half cup of fresh
rose petals (make sure they are organic and
well-washed). Let the mixture sit for four hours.
Bring to a boil again. Pour through a strainer and
discard the petals.
Some practicalities for a honey ceremony
- You won't need much honey, but you will need
to have it in a container (jar, glass, or dish)
that allows the honey to be visible to your
guests (I prefer glass), that can be presented
without risk of spilling, and that can be
covered (if outside) to keep flies and bees
- choose thicker honey (in a jar) rather than
thinner honey in a squeeze bottle
- you can feed one another one at a time, which
I prefer as it is more dramatic when the honey
is presented to each of you in turn, or you can
scoop up the honey simultaneously and feed it to
one another at the same time.
- Have some wet wipes discreetly handy!
A rather lovely Sephardi custom is for the
couple to eat sugar under the chuppah. Prior to her
real-life wedding Mayim Bialik (Amy in Big Bang
Theory) and her parents observed the Indian Jewish
custom of the bride's parents placing sugar on the
bride's tongue for good luck after the signing of
the legal engagement contract. This could be
expanded to include the parents of both of you, and
could be integrated with a parental blessing.
The Sofreh Aghd, a spread consisting of
multiple symbolic items representing an element of
the couple's new life together, is an Iranian
cultural tradition with roots stretching back into
Persian history. After the legal proceedings are
concluded, the aghd
ceremony begins with
happily married ladies holding a white cloth over
the heads of the bride and groom while another rubs
(large loaves of
sugar) over the couple's head to symbolise the
raining down of sweet joy and happiness on the
The photos below are of two
intercultural weddings where, in each case, we
incorporated the groom's Persian Zoroastrian
marriage customs, including the sugar ritual
Thanks for reading!