We were running late due to an unfortunate combination of scant sleep, a canine incident, and concern over our appearance (the event was at the Ritz, yikes). Fortunately, my on-the-way observation that I've never been to a wedding that started on time proved accurate, and we arrived just in time for the bride's entrance to Handel's "Entrance of the Queen of Sheba."
The ceremony was brief and power-packed with meaning and tradition. There was a reading from Kahlil Gibran -- the slightly counterintuitive one about don't stand in my shadow, you can't grow in the shade and so forth. Next, there was a repetition of traditional Western vows over the exchange of rings.
But then, in succession, was a pair of traditions that were moving in their depth and simplicity. First, a Turkish tradition: the red ribbon that was attached to the rings was cut into pieces by the bride and groom and given to the members of the wedding party. If there was an explanation, I didn't hear it, but I took it to be a literal binding of the couple to the support of their closest friends.
Just now, my husband Mowgli (not his real name) brought me the program, which thoughfully explains that the cutting of the red ribbon makes the marriage official.
Then, a Lebanese tradition: A call-and-response blessing involving the entire audience. The officiant told us that we should stand and raise our right hands, and repeat the phrase, "God bless you" when indicated. We the audience were called upon to say it three times, and each time, it felt both powerful and meaningful.
Whenever the assembled witnesses are asked to give their support of the couple being joined, I am profoundly moved, because I think couples need all the help and love they can get. Last night was no exception, and I think it may have been the most elegant occurence of such a tradition.