We take umbrellas for granted,
until we don't have one. On a rainy day, the right
umbrella can do more than keep you dry, it can add
a little colour to your life and lift your
spirits. My favourite umbrella (I have a
collection) is lined with an image of fluffy white
clouds on a blue, blue, sky.
When someone mentions umbrellas in the context of
a wedding, our minds tend to go to an less
than adequate Plan B for rain, or a substitute for
more extensive shade. And the photographic record
of weddings in Australia suggests that on rainy
days, posed photos of the couple under a shared
umbrella are a must-have, but you will also see
photos of guests huddled under umbrellas.
Yet Umbrellas present
fabulously Instagrammable opportunities for
including many richly symbolic ways to
feature them in the ceremony.
In literature, the theatre, and many movies,
umbrellas are used often used both symbolically
and metaphorically. Umbrellas are enduring, having
not changed apart from minor updates in materials
for centuries. They are also fragile. Umbrellas
shelter, but they also break or are blown inside
These characteristics makes an
umbrella a great metaphor for marriage.
Tellingly, they are real objects for which there
is no virtual substitute, just as there is no
virtual substitute for marriage.
An app won't protect you
from rain or sun any more than an app could
shelter or protect a relationship. And perhaps
that is the enduring and all-encompassing
message of umbrellas
when they are used as ritual objects in a
Umbrellas as Shelter and
A good marriage will be both shelter and safety
net for the marrying couple. So using an umbrella
or parasol as a ritual object in your ceremony is
highly appropriate. NB., generally speaking an
umbrella is waterproof, a parasol is not. When
used as a ritual object, it is probably not
important to make that distinction. Unless it is
raining, of course, and you're outside.
Both history and literature support the view of
umbrellas as safety nets. It was umbrellas that
inspired the development of the parachute. In the
Winnie-the-Pooh story "In which Piglet is
Entirely Surrounded by Water
Robin's umbrella was upended and used as a boat to
rescue Piglet. Both Queen Victoria and Nicholas
Sarkozy, the French President, had specially made
umbrellas that could be used to deflect bullets,
and there are stories of umbrellas being used to
frighten off tigers in India.
In addition to their
practical use, and the multiple ways in which
they can be used
in styling your ceremony and reception,
umbrellas are powerful symbols
that open many possibilities for their use as
a ritual object.
Umbrellas as Symbols of
Umbrellas are a symbol of protection in many
cultural and religious traditions.
- Buddhist belief sees an umbrella or parasol
as a symbol of protection from illness,
obstacles, suffering, and harmful energies.
- When a Chinese bride leaves her family home
her father holds a red umbrella over her head
to protect her from angry birds
- A red umbrella (signifying life, but
also regarded to be protective), is held over
a Japanese bride by a man walking behind her
as she walks to her wedding.
In your ceremony, this symbolism could be
ritually incorporated by having someone of your
choice - bridal party, your celebrant, others -
sprinkle petals or herbs or sugar over the top
of the umbrella as you sit beneath it with an
appropriate narrative to explain
Umbrellas as Emblems of
Power and Dignity
From earliest times,umbrellas and parasols were
used to project important people and sacred
objects from the heat of the sun. Both royalty and
religious leaders are often depicted in art with
an umbrella above their heads. Greek, Roman, and
Egyptian priests used them, and, while Popes no
long carry an umbrella personally, umbrellas
are included in several papal ceremonies and an
umbrella is featured in the papal coat of arms.
Even today, in certain traditions, if an umbrella
is held over a person or object, it signifies that
that person is the centre of the universe.
Umbrellas as Symbols of
While umbrellas were long held to be symbols of
prosperity (only the rich could afford them) in
Buddhist tradition, the protection and prosperity
they symbolise is not material wealth, but that
gained through the acquisition of knowledge.
Umbrellas are traditional Indian symbols of wealth
Umbrellas as Symbols of
In Buddhist art, an umbrella is the equivalent of
a halo in Christian art, indicating an enlightened
being. The dome represents wisdom, while the
tassels represent compassion.
Umbrellas as Symbols of
You can hardly have a celebration cocktail (or
mocktail) at a resort with acquiring a tiny paper
umbrella! And the protective symbolism of
umbrellas associates them with weddings and other
occasions for celebration.
Umbrellas as Bringers of
Good Fortune and Longevity
Chinese paper umbrellas are viewed as bringers of
good fortune and longevity. no wonder they are
used in celebration ceremonies, including
Umbrellas as Ceremony
I've seen umbrellas and parasols of all types used
brilliantly in various ways to style both ceremony
space and the reception - from large double Bali
umbrellas used to delineate the ceremony space in
lieu of an arbour, to an ornamental ceiling
comprised of multiple open coloured waxed paper
umbrellas, suspended by their handles. Umbrellas
can also be featured in floral arrangements, and
provided as fun props for a DIY photo booth.
Umbrellas in the
In Chinese and Japanese tradition, a bride is
protected by a red umbrella held over her head by
another person. In other traditions, bride might
make her entrance protected by a cloth or canopy
held over her head by four or more other people.
Basically, you might extrapolate from that that a
bride should not hold her own umbrella in the
processional! That doesn't hold true for
bridesmaids who might carry parasols instead of
bouquets. If your bridesmaids are fun people and
you want to inject an element of fun into the
processional, borrow from festive street parades
and have them dance themselves down the aisle
using the parasols as an artistic expression.
Umbrellas to enhance the
When making mutual promises of care and support,
incorporating the opening and holding of an
umbrella over your heads adds a strong visual
Using an Umbrella to
made a powerful statement
Just think about it.
- A heterosexual couple, walking back down the
aisle under a rainbow umbrella, sends a
powerful statement that they are united in
their support for LGBTQI friends, family, and
- Using a red umbrella, or a traditional waxed
Chinese paper umbrella, etc sends a message of
cultural respect and inclusion
- Choosing from the infinite variety of
umbrellas with images can demonstrate your
support for a cause, or your commitment to a
mutually shared interest.
Umbrellas at the Signing
A large Bali or market umbrella, strategically
positioned, can shade the signing table, reducing
the glare fro all that white paper. Bali
umbrellas, or regular umbrellas can provide a pop
An Umbrella in the
Can you think of any lovelier picture, regardless
of the weather, than a couple walking back up the
aisle sheltered by one umbrella? Holding hands, or
the bride's hand tucked into crook of the groom's
elbow, she holding her bouquet, he holding the
umbrella, sending a message to the world that they
are in this marriage together.
Umbrellas for Guests
When your ceremony seating for guests in is full
sun, one of the ways to provide some shade is to
provide umbrellas. The only problem with this is
that, unless you are standing on some sort of
raised platform, most guests are going to have
their view of your ceremony blocked by open
umbrellas in front of them. Opt for large Market
Umbrellas, just make sure that where they are
positioned they will actually shade the guests!
Whether you choose a clear bubble umbrella, such
as the Queen always uses in order to maintain
maximum visibility, a regular umbrella, an
extra-large golfing umbrella, a ceremonial
umbrella, or a lace parasol, is personal
choice..As is the colour. Sometimes an umbrella is
just an umbrella. Sometimes it is not. It is up to
you, but it is well to have a clear idea of how
the umbrella will be used, and what, if any,
symbolic message or statement your use of it will
make, before you make the decision.
And then there is Bing
Although written years earlier, Bing Crosby had
great success with Let A Smile be Your
Here are some of the lyrics for your
information, and to remind you, that, even if the
weather is not on your side, on your wedding day
your smile is the most important accessory you can
Let a smile be your umbrella
On a rainy, rainy day
And if your sweetie cries just tell her
That a smile will always pay.
Whenever skies are gray don't worry or
A smile will bring us sunshine and
you'll never get wet.
So let a smile be your umbrella
On a rainy, rainy day.