From the many country weddings I’ve either been involved with directly or have reported on for magazines and book chapters, here are reflections and descriptions of three that especially touched me. Perhaps you'll adapt one or more to embellish your countryside ceremony as well.
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1. Making candles for the ceremony or for wedding favors as a pre-wedding activty for the wedding party.
I wouldn’t have known this could be so affecting until I saw it in
various forms. In one case, the wedding party was working together in a
big country kitchen pouring warm wax into cleaned seashells to craft
candles for the after-wedding dinner. The candles being made were rustic and natural, perfect for the country wedding.
Maybe that’s why both guys and gals were enjoying themselves, a true friendship between male and female which reflected a best-friend foundation for the couple getting married. The project wasn't overly feminine but rather earthy -- which tends to attract both genders, and in fact it was also rather challenging and gave a sense of satisfaction when completing. There wasn’t the sense of tension I got when observing another pre-wedding preparation -- pink ribbons were being attached to artificial perfumey pink manufactured candles with reluctant guys trying to appear engaged in the group activity. Even the girls and women felt a little tense, and the gal in charge somewhat treating the guys as though they were marginally useful clueless cogs. (But both genders can too easily micro manage and project that feeling onto the other gender in various situatons.)
Perhaps that one didn't work out so well because it was a bit too girly and a bit too mindless regarding the factory-style help others were expected to participate in.
Another time, the engaged couple and the groom’s mom set up a home factory to make lots of small poured soy wax candles as wedding favors. It was very bonding for just the three of them. Everyone loved taking the homemade candles home after the ceremony.
In general, candles
are made to burn either free-standing or as “container” candles,
meaning hot wax is poured into decorative containers that hold the
candle as it burns. In the case of the latter, I’ve seen country
weddings adorned with various charming container candles including small
jam jars, seashell or fresh water clam shells -- great for the sea or
riverside country wedding but sometimes hard to get fresh water shells
large enough. Saltwater clam shells are a little larger, but both would
do best with a longer burning wax such as beeswax or soy.
For country weddings, I’ve seen candle containers from mismatched tea cups collected from second-hand stores, other mismatched small containers in the wedding colors -- for example, little dishes, cups, cream pitchers, etc. as long as they were green or blue or whatever the major color of the country wedding was.
2. Setting something free.
wedding seems very appropriate for the tradition of setting something free to take wing.
There are environmentalist-sanctioned butterfly farms that raise and sell butterflies for release. Naturally, I’m not suggesting capturing something wild, interrupting its cycle and imprisoning it just for a ceremony. You can, though, even purchase kits to raise your own painted lady butterflies and pre-determine the date of their needed release. It takes them approximately three weeks to grow from caterpillars into butterflies, and then they can be released outside if the temperature is at least 50 degrees F. They only live for two to four weeks, so try to make sure most of their short life span is free in nature.
For very eco-minded farm weddings, I’ve even seen the springtime releasing of ladybugs (traditionally done for eco-friendly aphid control) turned into a fun group ceremony act. Garden centers sell ladybugs for release in spring. There are mail order services for them, also.
And as far as white doves, actual mourning doves are quite vulnerable for release at weddings away from their home site. So dove release farms usually raise stronger white homing pigeons. Also very beautiful and related to the dove, they have a legendary powerful instinct to find their way back home within a certain radius of their farm. Search online for white dove release services to see if there’s one in your area.
3. Crossing a bridge: Real or symbolic.
outdoor wedding locations may include an actual bridge as part of the
procession aisle. It may be a decorative foot bridge over a small stony
creek, an old rustic log bridge over a stream or pond, or even a country
road temporarily closed down for the ceremony with a bridge that
crosses a river.
Crossing a bridge is not only a charming addition to a country wedding, it symbolizes the choice of a new beginning -- going from one way of being to another. But if your wedding farm has no bridge, I’ve seen symbolic ones created very easily and effectively. The most rustic was simply two six-foot long cedar logs laid side-by-side along the bridal pathway about five feet apart. The bride and groom walked between them as a symbolic bridge. The “bridge” was decorated with potted flowers on the outside edge of each log. At the beginning of the bridge, both the bride and groom came towards it from separate smaller winding paths which symbolized their earlier life experiences that led to their union. They met at the beginning, crossed it together, then continued down the outdoor flower-strewn wider aisle together towards the outdoor altar.
You may also be interested in the following Great Group Activities articles:
Barn Dance: Great for a country wedding reception
May Day Celebration: Adapt the traditional May Day celebration for a springtime wedding
Bonfire: Adapt this bonfire activity for your wedding -- an autumn wedding would be especially suiting
Treasure Hunt: Adapt a treasure hunt to your country wedding. Want the kids to find the wedding favors treasure hunt style? Want the guys to find out where to crash the bachelorette party treasure hunt style?
DIY Wedding Flowers: Take your wedding group out to the country to pick your own and assemble your own wedding flowers