A wine ceremony symbolizes the marriage bond persisting in both times of joy and sorrow. It emphasizes the idea that in a strong and healthy partnership, joys are multiplied and sorrows divided when you share them.
Although the ritual refers to sweet and bitter wine, I recommend choosing one red and one white wine as the two different colors present a visible contrast that emphasize the difference between joys and sorrows. The wine is symbolic so it really shouldn't be a burden to swallow. Pick wines you like!
There are many ways you can adapt the ritual so it fully captures your unique personalities. I have had:
- an artistic couple use a single wine in pottery goblets they had made themselves, one beautiful and the other deliberately ugly.
- a couple use a single wine in two identical glasses (it is symbolic after all).
- non-drinkers who liked the symbolism include the ritual using sparkling white and purple grape juices
- a couple who preferred beer use a pilsner and a stout.
Rituals of sharing do not have the same symbolism as rituals of unity so they can both be smoothly integrated into a wedding ceremony if the couple would like to do both. Rather than the focus being on the coming together of two people into one relationship, rituals of sharing focus on what this commitment means in practical terms. Marriage isn't for better or for worse, it's for better and for worse. These rituals are visible metaphors for the commitment the couple is making to be with one another in both good times and in bad and remind us life is better when shared with someone we love.
The following is an example of what an officiant might say during a Wine Ceremony. Like most rituals, the officiant's explanation accompanies the actions so light background music can be appropriate, but playing a song would not work very well.
It is the goal of marriage to achieve a blending of hearts and lives—but let there be spaces in your new life together, so each may encourage and nurture the individual growth of the other. Even so, your separate lives will become one life; your separate homes, one home, your separate fortunes, one fortune. Over the horizon of the future, there come toward you even now hours of brightness and hours of shadow, for such is the nature of life.
(Present the goblet of “sweet” wine.)
Life has, indeed, many bright and happy experiences, of which this sweet wine is a token. As you drink of it together, may it serve as a symbol of the joy that comes with loving and sharing, and may your happiness be tempered with gratitude and modesty and a bountiful sympathy for those who are less fortunate than you.
(Bride and Groom each take a sip of the wine ~ Present the goblet of “bitter” wine.)
But when hardship and sorrow and disappointment come, of which this bitter wine is a token, may you care enough to help one another with courage and compassion, neither one blaming the other for folly or failure, or regretting the obligation of marriage to share and bear together the chances and changes of a life deeply lived.
(Bride and Groom each take a sip of the wine.)
Marriage is a connection of two people uniting in love and trust for a common purpose. May you forever live in harmony as your joys become more intense and your burdens lighter because you experience them together.