Let’s talk symbols…
When a wedding ceremony is being designed, the marrying couple have an opportunity to make decisions that will make it their wedding. The current popularity of civil ceremonies arises because of this design freedom and because of the growth of secular views within society. Most personally designed or bespoke wedding ceremonies have at their core two key parts; one intangible and one tangible.
The vows represent the core of the relationship but are intangible; they are that part in the ceremony where the couple try to put into words all the thoughts and emotions that characterise their union and commitment. The law views this part of the ceremony as so key to the creation of the marriage that it prescribes some of the wording within these vows. Notwithstanding the legal requirements, the couple are free to describe their commitment to each other and its enduring nature, in whatever way they want.
The next stage in the ceremony may involve a tangible symbol of the marriage being the giving of rings. Some couples make the decision not to use such symbols; while others may give just one ring; however, most couples will give each other a ring. The history lesson attached to wedding rings is interesting and over many centuries, rings have been fashioned from grasses, rushes or reeds to more enduring rings of wood, leather or bone. The use of metals such as iron, gold and platinum are more recent choices and have evolved from highly decorative engraved objects to today’s plainer simpler band of metal (normally gold). It is estimated that in the USA some twenty tons of gold is annually fashioned into wedding rings.
So why do we exchange rings? I believe it has to do with “transition” a “rite of passage”; a tangible symbol of having moved from being single to being married. If you look at the ceremonies throughout life; birth to death, we mark stages of our journey with symbols of transition, the wedding ring is just such a symbol. Now much has been written about the supposedly deeper symbolism within the wearing of a ring, for example, the finger on which the ring is worn and its direct link to the heart. I prefer to think of the circular nature of the ring; the endlessness of the symbol and the endlessness of the relationship. I also think about the tangible reminder the ring provides to me of the vows exchanged as part of the ceremony and how the ring I have given now encircles a finger on the hand of the person I’m committed to, for life.
So, the next time you look down and become aware of that band of metal, reflect on the vows you made that day, how they and the ring are forever linked; then one more time thank the universe for its generosity.