Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Personalizing a Catholic Wedding

You guys, I need your help. Vanessa emailed me with this dilemma:

i'm having a catholic wedding - not our first choice, but we have to make our families happy as well - and part of the ceremony is they place a "unity cord" (in the shape of the figure 8). the ones that i've seen used in our culture's weddings are rope-like or rosary-like looking, which i'm not too keen on.

i was wondering if you can suggest something that we can do that aren't so ugly (i mean, rope? to what, hang ourselves with?) or too religious (fiance and i are not really religious, i mean, we have our own way of expressing our beliefs).

When H-town and I were in the early stages of thinking about our ceremony, I got excited about the Mexican wedding tradition of a lasso made of orange blossoms. (You can read about the tradition on this assy website, but be sure to mute your computer before clicking through.) Apparently orange blossoms symbolize fertility and happiness, though my thought at the time was to ask my aunt to use flowers from her garden.

We didn't end up doing it, but I still like the idea. Has anyone done something similar? Or do you have other suggestions to offer?

I searched high and low for a good photo of a floral lasso, but no dice. I def wasn't gonna post this.


  1. What about a ribbon, or a bunch of ribbons?

  2. We had a Catholic wedding ceremony- I've actually never seen the "Unity Cord" tradition done- we didn't do that. I think I've heard of it in Hispanic Catholic weddings?

    Anyway, I wrote a bit about our ceremony before and after:

    There are many options for making a Catholic ceremony yours while honoring the faith at the same time. We got many comments on our ceremony, especially from non-Catholics, who said it was very us, very personal, and they were pleasantly surprised by that.

  3. I suppose this is a time where Vanessa and her honey can get creative with the whole thing.
    For instance, a craft shop might have enough small loop linked chain to use, that you could say symbolized the strength of Christ's love for his children (since it's a catholic wedding), and nobody has to know it's a shoutout to your private kinkier habits. ;)
    You could also look for something like those thick braided satin-y cords used to tie back heavy curtains in the olden days, you know? Like tassel rope: I still see that stuff in the shops. Ribbon's a fine idea, too.
    If there's a particular color or aesthetic that's guiding other design elements in the ceremony, I'd let that guide the choice of what to use. If the priest will use any object you like, then sky's the limit; if he's a stickler and wants to use a rosary, then get a mala--a string of simple, nondescript prayer beads that inspired the modern rosary--you can tell him the rosary as a Catholic prayer tradition was borrowed from the Hindus by Marco Polo. ;) (mine is small, subtle, and made of sandalwood.)

  4. hello everyone,

    thanks so much for the responses! i am looking into your suggestions right this moment (at work!lol). thanks again!

  5. wedding forums are usually hellish. but you may be able to ask some girls on here:

  6. My first thought was a beautiful or meaningful scarf, but only because I have a ton of brightly colored silk scarfs from our travels. Particularly if this is a Central/South American catholic ceremony (I never saw this in my Irish/Spanish Catholic interactions, so I'm making assumptions) you could dial down the religion and up the cultural influence by taking local fabric/ribbon/scarf/embroidery from your families' countries of origin.

    Alternatively, if you want the orange blossoms, you might be able to sew a few of them, or fabric flower approximations, onto a ribbon. I swear there are popular wedding photos running around the blogosphere of floral ribbons hanging from trees, so something like that could work.

  7. hi there! i was married in the catholic church too and here in our country we use cords all the time. i, myself, used my parents cords because of its sentimental value. however, there are also other types of cords that have spawned due to sheer creativity and of wanting to be different from the others. some used pearl strands, others swarovski crystals. please copy paste link below to see:

    i know this is not as expensive- looking as you would want it to be but im sharing this just the same so you'll know what im talking about. good luck on your wedding!

  8. I have read about women who, for their handfasting ceremony, would actually braid/spin their own bindings, using significant colors, ribbons, and even (yikes) hair.

    That last one might push the envelope, er...

    But I was thinking that if I had to have a unity cord, I would probably make my own, by twisting ribbons or fabric together and sewing/attaching meaningful symbols to them (such as beads or baubles). That sounds tacky, but in my head it makes sense...

  9. just remembered, i have one friend who made herself a cord out of gold and semi precious stones:

  10. Via Offbeat Bride:

  11. rope's not always so bad....

  12. I've never heard of the "Unity Cord" in a Catholic tradition. I have heard of the Irish/Celtic tradition of "Handfasting," though, and personally I think that tradition sounds beautiful. Don't let terminology throw you. And as to what to use.. have you ever tried spinning? You could actually make your own rope or cord (it's really not that hard) in any color or fabric you wish. Or ribbons would be cool too.

  13. How about using a vine of greenery or leaves? kind of like a green lei
    seen here:

    It adds a natural touch without the noose connotation. You could also add flowers.

  14. I had a Catholic wedding and the good thing was I didn't have to go through a full mass because my husband isn't Catholic. The bonus to this is that we could toss out stuff like a unity candle or other things we didn't want to include.

    The point here is - if it is something you don't want to do, you don't have to do it. (Even in the Catholic church). If you want the cord, by all means find something pretty. If not, don't include it in your ceremony. Here is a link to some literature that might be helpful:

  15. I think the second image on this page is really nice, and it also tells you what the colours represent.
    Good luck with finding something you are happy with.

  16. Hello everyone,

    thanks for the response! i love all your ideas, especially the ribbon and mala beads! i really appreciate all the help!

    Thanks ms. east side bride for the post!

  17. My fiance is Filipino and the cord is a part of the extra things they do at Catholic ceremonies. I've been thinking about what to use too! I thinking of using beads, but I like the idea of a "lei" style cord.