Michell é brant Celebrant

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Key cast members in the production of a Wedding

If a Wedding was the play, the Bridesmaids and Ushers would be important supporting actors.  And what production would be complete without a star filled cast?

Both originate from Roman law which dictated that 10 witnesses must be present at a wedding to fool evil spirits who they believe “attended” the marriages with the purpose of causing unrest and mischief.

The Bridesmaids and Ushers wore identical clothes to that of the bride and groom – the purpose of this was to confuse the evil spirits who presumably would not know who was really getting married.

Even as late as 19th centuryEngland, there was a belief that ill-wishers could administer curses and taint the wedding. In Victorian wedding photographs, for example, the bride and groom are frequently dressed in the same fashion as other members of the bridal party.

Traditionally, these male members of the wedding party performed many behind-the-scenes duties to help the wedding ceremony have a flawless execution without burdening the more visible bridal party with mundane tasks. As weddings have become less regimented, however, many of these duties have been combined with those for groomsmen, often making these roles one and the same. Couples planning larger weddings or very formal affairs, however, may still want these valuable assistants to be part of their entourage on their special day.

Let’s face it, the bride can’t be expected to do EVERYTHING, so why not get in some helpers!

The flower girl and the tradition of walking before the bride and tossing petals date back to Ancient Rome; carrying sheaths of wheat and herbs for blessings of fertility and prosperity.

Hundreds of years later, Elizabethan brides and grooms would have a flower bearer in their wedding procession immediately following a group of merry musicians.  This flower girl would carry a silver bride’s cup adorned in ribbons and holding a gilded rosemary branch.  The entire path from the bride’s home to the officiating church was carpeted in rose petals and soft rushes.  Many tiny bouquets were prepared as gifts to wedding guests and the bride’s family home was decorated with knotted ropes full of blossoms and greenery.

It is the beautiful young Victorian image of a flowergirl that is most popular today… She is dressed in white and wears a sash of satin.  She carries a decorated basket full of petals to welcome the newly weds.

The flowergirl is symbolic of the connection between childhood and womanhood, the whimsical reminder to all that childhood is a magical, innocent time.

More wedding traditions coming soon…

By Michell é brant

www.idocelebrant.com

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“Swept her off her feet”….. without so much as a ransom note!

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As I research more and more about the traditions of the wedding ceremony, I grow concerned that this ritual has actually evolved from a collection of absurd events and histories around the world. Come with me as I explore further.

Traditionally, the bride stands to the left side of the groom. Why? By now we know that these things do not happen by chance, of course there must be a reason for it!

Among the Northern European “barbarians” (a name given to them by the Romans), a groom placed his captured bride (there’s that word again!) to his left to protect her, as he kept his right hand free to use for defence, close to his sword of course.

The theme of abduction continues when we contemplate being “swept off her feet” which refers to the symbolic act of carrying the bride across the threshold of her now home. {While we are on that subject just make a note, brides, that if you trip and fall as you enter your new home, you will have bad luck, like – forever!)

Even the beautiful honeymoon can be related back to the “captured” scenario. It is believed that back in the day, the Groom thought he could use it as a cooling off period for her family. It was his hope that when he and his new missus returned from the local beach or desert retreat, all would be forgiven and perhaps she hadn’t been missed too much anyway!

A different, and much more enjoyable theory is that the honeymoon originated in Babylonia about 4000 years ago. The bride’s father would supply his new son-in-law with all the mead (honey beer/wine) that the young man could drink. Their calendar was lunar-based, and, as it turned out, this tradition, called the “honey month,” was just about the time it took the groom to consume his gift. Ultimately, this time just after the wedding became known as the “honeymoon”.

But, back to the kidnapping and capturing…. Over time, the potential brides wised up to the horrible threat of being made to wear bling, wear white, stand on the left and taken away on some sort of distasteful holiday. The women put a new game plan in place. Why not dress identically to each other and confuse the groom and his best men?

Terrific idea ladies, except now you all get kidnapped and here is the arrival of the “brides maids”.

“Surely this weird abduction scenario has to stop there?” I hear you ask…

Just one more I promise – the Wedding Veil.

The veil is reminiscent of the act of throwing a sack over the prospective bride’s head while she was being carried off. Roman superstition also held that wearing a veil would confuse the evil spirits that loomed near the bride. It was said that the spirits might be jealous of the new couple’s happiness and that covering the bride’s face would keep them from recognizing her.

Another concept is that in ancient times, marriages were arranged by families and were often nothing more than good business deals. It happened more often than not that the first time the couples saw one another was standing at the altar on their wedding day. To ensure the groom wouldn’t have second thoughts at the sight of a bride perhaps less attractive than he’s assumed, veils were used to cover the bride’s face. The veil was not lifted until the very end of the ceremony, only after the groom had already said, “I do.”

At this point I interject and say “Hey, wait a minute, what about the chicks? Maybe men should have worn a big sack over THEIR heads in case they would see their honking nose and beady little eyes run a mile. I am sure I am not the Only woman to have this thought in centuries go by.

And so you have it ladies…. Basically if you go by this school of thought and the adequate proof that goes along with it, the wedding ceremony is nothing more than a way for a man to trap you and ward off other potentially more handsome and adorable suitors!

More wedding traditions coming soon…

By Michell é brant

www.idocelebrant.com

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What makes the best man the “Best” man?

ImageI am a fan of many things at weddings and one of them by far is a good man, the best man to be precise. As a celebrant I have the very great honour of being right up close and personal to those hunky ‘best men’ in their suits and ties; all smiles and giggles.  Absolutely gorgeous and, if I may be so bold, a terrific perve!

The tradition of a best man has its origin with the Germanic Goths.  Back then it was preferable for a man to marry a woman in the same area or community.

But panic ensued when all the “good ‘uns” were taken!  And to the neighbouring towns the men would go.

As any good wing-man will tell you, it is not a good idea to enter unchartered female territory alone!  And so the groom-to-be would choose his “best man” to accompany him on the mission.

By 200 A.D. the best man took on more responsibility and was more than just a guy to point out the hotties and help kidnap the best one.

See, the bride’s family could attempt to forcibly obtain her return at the wedding itself.  (Heaven’s knows why they would want to get their daughter back?!)  Therefore it was the job of the best man to be armed and alert at the ceremony, by the grooms side in case of any mishaps.

A slightly nicer version of this wedding tradition is that this kidnapping was actually planned between the families beforehand. As a way for young warriors to gain status, villages would stage mock raids and fighting. The groom would merely role play kidnapping the woman and the brides family wouldn’t fight back very hard. The grooms men and the best man would still protect the bride and groom using real weapons, but serious injury would be unlikely.

The best man would then continue his duties after the ceremony by guarding the door of the newly wed’s retreat.  Perhaps to keep peeping toms at bay?

Of course much of this is German folklore but it is substantiated by written documentation and artefacts.  Records that indicate that beneath the altars of many churches of early peoples (the Huns, Goths, Visigoths, and Vandals) there lay an arsenal of clubs, knives, and spears. The indication is that these were there to protect the groom from possible attack by the bride’s family in an attempt to recapture her.

Another popular theory is originates in the 1800’s during the Wild West period. There are confirmed stories of women being kidnapped during her wedding ceremony by cowboys who felt they should be the husband. The couple began choosing a good friend that could protect the wedding party from any wedding crashers.

Today, the best man is an important position in any wedding ceremony. He has to make sure the groom arrives on time and is prepared to meet his bride, control the groomsmen, give a speech and keep the wedding ceremony running smoothly.  And let’s not forget that all important bachelor party!

More about wedding traditions coming soon!

By Michell é brant

www.idocelebrant.com

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Traditions of the engagement

ImageOn my quest to find out more about “why we do what we do” in the wedding industry, I have discovered some interesting facts about the engagement.

Engagement rings can be traced back to Anglo Saxon history, when the gift of a ring became a token of promised love. The circular band became a symbol of eternal love and unity, and in later years the diamond, because of its composition, became a sign of the strength of never-ending love. We can trace the custom of a wedding band back to the Egyptians who presented their brides with circlets of hemp or rush.  For more information about the ring itself, you can visit the entire history at http://wp.me/p21VLI-R

The Middle Ages in England was also a time when a groom would slip the ring part way up and then down his bride’s thumb, then first and middle fingers, reciting: ‘In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost’ as he touched each one before fixing it in place on the next finger in line; the third finger of the left hand.

In some parts of Europe and theUSit has been the right finger.  There doesn’t seem to be any actual reason for this except that when a man and woman face each other when reciting their vows, the man reaches out for her hand with his right.  Of course this assumption goes on the theory that most are right handed.

And why is the ring finger to “ring finger”?…  Personally I think it is just the prettiest finger of them all!

And let’s look at the competition – the thumb is to short and stumpy, the index finger is too busy, the middle, too long, and the pinky too small (and it would obviously fall off)– the ring finger is the only real option.

In Elizabethan days, it was very fashionable to wear the ring on the thumb and so the ‘ring’ finger was challenged briefly.  But this was also a time when they wore corsets so tight, they broke ribs when standing and thought a good dose of ale would cure everything.

So they came to their senses and the ring finger won out.

The ring pillow is a tradition that started with the coronation crown for royalty.  It has evolved as a symbolic way to bring the most precious of all gifts to the bride and groom.

As for the “Marriage Announcement”, well this one is very interesting indeed!  Originally the couple announced the engagement to the community so that if anyone wanted to jump in and interject.  Luckily now, it’s very rare to have one’s notice in the paper followed by “but wait, I saw her first”.

More about wedding traditions coming soon!

By Michell é brant

www.idocelebrant.com

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Anissa and James at a penthouse on the Gold Coast

Anissa and James at a penthouse on the Gold Coast

Congratulations guys!

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Wedding Traditions . . . Why doesn’t a bride just wear blue?

ImageTraditions and the concept of repeating actions performed by our ancestors absolutely fascinate me!  Why DO we do the things we do?  Why wear white?  Why not blue or green…  Why exchange rings?  Why not handkerchiefs? ….  And why have do bridesmaids wear the same colour?

All these things and more combine to make up the amazing tradition that is a wedding and I have delved in deep to find the answers to some stubborn questions.

Wedding traditions go back about as far as early civilization records. Although some have altered or been forgotten, for the most part they come from around the world and come from religious or supernatural roots.

The word “bride” comes from old English for the name for “cook,” while the word groom comes from “male child.”

The term “wedlock” comes from the old English word “wedd” which means “to pledge.” “Lock” comes from the old English term “lac,” which means to carry out an action. That, in keeping with the original meaning wedlock, which was the pledging of property, as payment for his daughter, to the bride’s father.

The tradition of asking for the bride’s “hand in marriage” comes from a Roman custom called “joining of hands.” In a symbolic purchase, the groom would give the bride’s father a coin, and the bride would then be passed from her father’s “hand” to her husband’s.

Thesedays we don’t flip the old man a coin and wisk the fair maiden away, there is another custom at play – the proposal.  Why does the man get down on one knee?  This goes back to the days of knighthood when it was customary for a knight to dip his knee in a show of servitude to his mistress and master.  The knight would kneel before a tournament and wait for “his” lady to toss him her ribbon or colors, as an indication of her favor.

Another possible source for this custom may be connected to the practice in some religions for congregants to kneel (genuflect) during prayers and at other religious ceremonies, like weddings. That interpretation gives proposing a solemn, spiritual connotation with overtones of respect.

And while we are on the subject, the proposal, until recent decades, has been solely a man’s duty but there has been a shift and now women can make Leap Year Proposals.  This special privilege given to women on the 29th of February dates back hundreds of years to when the leap year day was not recognized in English law. The day was simply “leaped over” and ignored. Hence the expression “leap year.” Since the day had no legal status, one could assume that standing traditions could be broken. Many unmarried women took advantage of this glitch in the law by proposing to the man they wished to marry.

More about wedding traditions coming soon!

By Michell é brant

http://www.idocelebrant.com

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Celebrating life after death

ImageAfter a long hard journey of thought, I recently decided that I would expand my services as a celebrant to include funerals and memorial services.

Some people think I’m bonkers for doing it.  “Why on earth would you put yourself through something so morbid?” they say.

But I believe that Life Celebrations should include death. 

Death is our only real truth.  We will all die one day and wouldn’t you want someone capable and articulate to speak about you at your funeral?  I know I would.

A funeral is a time to celebrate life.  To remember a person who has put their own unique imprint onto this earth, your life and the lives of those around you.  It is a time to share, support, a time when the community comes together and really looks after one another.

In all honesty I know I only ever see some of my rellies at funerals!  It ends up being quite the social occasion too.  It should be a positive and memorable day for everyone.  Although emotionally difficult, it should be a time to celebrate life itself and to remind the ones left behind that each day is precious.  So make it count!

So this weekend, I met with 6 other Funeral Celebrant students and we embarked on 2 days of solid study. 

Day 1 was quite the emotional rollercoaster.  Memories, concepts and touching stories whirled through my brain.  In all honesty, I went home and had a good cry just to release the emotions pent up inside.

On Day 2 I felt much more stable and ready for anything.  We wrote and performed a ceremony (for a fake person of course!) and wrote Euologies as well.  I was so pleased with the results and we all felt a true sense of achievement from having done it.

A funeral ceremony is very different to a wedding or naming ceremony.  It has a different structure, different wording and a different overall purpose.  But after the weekend I feel that I am capable and ready to help grieving families to articulate the essence of their departed loved one.

I have been to my share of funerals in the past, from young children, to teenagers and elderly relatives too.  Each service has left a great impact on me.  I truly look forward the honour of being able to celebrate a life in this way.  😀

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