A Jewish Interfaith wedding ceremony at the Hotel Vancouver

The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver was the setting for a New Year’s Eve to remember. We came for a wedding. We left having shared powerful moments of connection, the likes of which we rarely experience these days. Truly, there was something special in the air that night.

Rebecca and Geoff’s wedding was all about honouring each other, sharing their love with family and friends, and upholding traditions in meaningful modern ways. Not to mention having a totally glam but utterly unpretentious time!

Modern Celebrant, Michele Davidson created a Transformational Wedding Ceremony for Rebecca and Geoff to tell their remarkable love story. She seamlessly integrated their family traditions (Jewish and Greek).  Scott of Contrast Studios got some fantastic shots of this heartfelt ceremony and indeed of every moment of this amazing evening.

The ceremony was so unique and so moving, that we (Michele and Scott) wanted to share our experiences of it with you!

Prior to the larger more public ceremony, an intimate group of family gathered to hear Michele give the reading of Rebecca and Geoff’s beautifully crafted and worded Ketubah. The Ketubah is the Jewish Marriage Contract and it reflects the emotional and moral covenant between the couple. The Ketubah is signed and witnessed, much like the marriage register.

Then we were off to the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver’s glamorous ballroom for the larger ceremony. Let’s look at how the truth and beauty of Rebecca and Geoff’s transformational wedding ceremony unfolded.

The groom and the bride walked down the aisle with their extremely proud parents, who stood near them throughout the ceremony. Rebecca’s gown was specially ordered from France. You’ll see it in Scott’s fine art photographs. It was GORGEOUS!

Then Michele began the process of transformation by settling us to see, hear, and feel what becoming a married couple meant to Rebecca and Geoff.

The ceremony, while universal in tone and intent, observed a number of Jewish wedding customs that were of significance to Rebecca.  Geoff, though not Jewish, connected to the meaning that underlies these traditions. Michele enjoyed blending these wonderful rituals into the ceremony.

For instance, Rebecca and Geoff’s ceremony was held under a wedding canopy called a ‘Chuppah’. The Chuppah represents the shelter and peace of a loving home, and is a gathering place for hope and happy memories.  Geoff and Rebecca, with the help of their friends, built their own Chuppah!

Another Jewish custom is the ancient ritual of Circling. Traditionally the bride circled the groom seven times upon entering the Chuppah, which is said to break down any walls between the couple and help them to enter the spheres of each other’s souls.  A circling ritual is also present in Geoff’s mother’s background. She is of Greek heritage where crowns joined by a ribbon are placed upon the couple’s heads and exchanged three times after giving of the rings. The couple then circles the wedding platform three times.

When Michele explained circling to Rebecca and Geoff during their work together in the months before the ceremony, they were delighted by these commonalities and wanted circling to be a part of their wedding ceremony.

In a nod to these egalitarian times, Michele suggested Rebecca and Geoff circle each other.  Rebecca began by circling Geoff three times, her beautiful dress and veil floating about her as she did. Then Geoff too his turn, and finally they circled once together.

The signature piece of Modern Celebrant ceremonies is Michele’s storytelling. It is the personal narrative, the story of the couple, that makes her ceremonies such deeply felt experiences.

Rebecca and Geoff’s wedding ceremony was so enthralling for guests. They were on the edge of their seats!  Narrative combined with familiar traditions reminds us of the poetry and the truth of our human lives. It lifts us up out of our individual selves into an experience much more universally felt.

Guests loved hearing about Rebecca and Geoff partnership and what it meant to them to set out on the path of marriage. Young and old connected by sharing light moments and laughter, as well as tender tears when words about the couple’s delight and passion for each other illuminated the ceremony.

Michele shared Rebecca and Geoff’s own words about what wearing and giving the rings means to each of them before the wedding bands were placed on their fingers.

This was followed by a lovely Jewish tradition called The Seven Blessings. Seven groups of family and friends came up to offer words of blessing. The Seven Blessings are traditional in Jewish weddings, however Michele adapted the words to feel more suited to Rebecca and Geoff as an interfaith couple. The readings of the blessings were powerful and clearly touched many guests… moments of profound connection that are only possible in deeply intentional ceremonies.

Once blessed, the marriage register was signed. And Michele read the Ketubah to guests. The room was still as men and women alike let the meaning of the words settle in their hearts.

The Big Reveal: On the day of the wedding, Michele and Scott were excited to see what this creative couple dreamed up with their wedding planner, the lovely Corinne Colledge. Scott’s fantastic images give us all a glimpse. Let’s just say the big reveal was a collective ‘WOW!’ and that the couple danced a first dance of such beauty that Michele and her husband signed up for ballroom dancing classes two days later!

Michele’s Take: This was truly what I call a Threshold Experience. Rebecca and Geoff wedding ceremony took them on a journey to leave behind one way of being and step forward to embrace a wonderful new adventure. Through ceremony Rebecca and Geoff committed to creating a new world together, with all the colours and textures that life brings to those who live it and live it fully. Everyone present felt part of their journey of transformation. And, I just have to say that Scott is an artist. He believes in the power of visual storytelling. Together we are an amazing team!

Mazel Tov Rebecca and Geoff!

You can see more of their wedding images on Contrast Studio’s blog.

 

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