The Auspicious Spring Wedding Series ~ Beltane

Spring weddings, Beltane handfasting,

This blog post is one of a series of three posts that explore the Pagan and Wiccan historic perspective and modern  approach to the three spring sabbats and how well-suited they are for a beautiful spring wedding or handfasting.

 The festival of Beltane is more commonly known as May Day these days.  Beltane is a Fire Festival.  It is still very popular with many people.  Originally a Gaelic tradition, Beltane is observed by Pagan and Wiccan followers as a time for lighting a bonfire, dancing, and performing rituals Beltane means ‘fire of Bel’ or some say ‘bright fire’.

Bel is the ancient Celtic God of light and he is often referred to as the bright and shining one.  The Gaelic word ‘teine’ means fire.  Together they make ‘Bright Fire’, or ‘Goodly Fire’ and traditionally bonfires were lit at sundown on the 30th of April to honor the Sun and encourage the support of Bel and the light of the Sun to return and nurture the emerging future harvest.

This is the beginning of the ‘lighted half’ of the year when the Sun begins to set later in the evening and the temperatures grow warmer. To our ancestors Beltane was the coming of summer and fertility.  Nature is in bloom and the earth is full of fecundity and life.

Handfastings traditionally occur at this time because, according to the ancient story of the God and Goddess, they were Handfasted at this time.  It was ancient tradition for handfasting vows to be made for a trial period of a year and a day.  After living together for this time, the couple will then either choose to renew their vows or part company.

The trial period in a handfasting is still often practiced these days for couples who want to get to know one another more deeply before finally tying the knot.  Many modern Pagans understand, as apparently our ancient ancestors did, you cannot truly know someone until you have lived with them.

Therefore, there is no shame if you decide that you do not get along well with your chosen partner and you would prefer not to take the relationship any further.
The Beltane celebrations would consist of feasts and bonfires were lit throughout the countryside.   Participants would jump through the fires to invoke protection throughout the year.  They also believed that the fires had healing properties.

The Celts would also drive their cattle between the fires to keep them in good health and to protect them.  The fires themselves represent the returning light.

Beltane is the spring counterpart to Samhain. While in the autumn, everything is dying, in spring it comes alive, glorious and bursting free from the earth.  Beltane is one of the four Celtic fire festivals marking the quarter points in the year.  For Pagans, fire has sacred purifying qualities – it cleanses and rejuvenates both land and people.

Pagan, Wiccan, wheel of the year, sabbats

 

 

 

 

 

Pagan/Wiccan Wheel of the Year

The Beltane bonfire ritual goes back to early Ireland on Beltane when the community would light a giant bonfire and share the fire to light their home.  The fire would pass on through the land.

The colors of Beltane are green, red and white/silver.  Green represents growth, abundance and fertility. Red represents strength, vitality, passion and vibrancy.  White represents cleansing and clearing and the power to disperse negativity.

The Maypole dance is a time-honored tradition and can easily be worked into a wedding.  Beltane is about fertility, sex, passion and life and they have a rich history.  With men going one way, and women going the other,  each person holds a ribbon  attached at the top which sheaths the Maypole in a colorful pattern as they dance round and round, weaving ribbons as they go.  The May Pole is of course a phallic symbol.

The circling and weaving in and out around the maypole is like a meditation all its own.  The dance is a sort of rhythmic ecstasy that transports the dancer into a sort of life-affirming mindfulness.  Indeed, it is a good time to rediscover your own sensuality.  Hosting your own Maypole dance could be a very fun and unique way to engage guests at your Beltane wedding or handfasting.

Spring is the time for renewed hopes and dreams.  So If you are planning a spring wedding or handfasting of your own, the season is sure to inspire!

Happy Handfasting!

The Auspicious Spring Wedding Series

spring wedding, vernal equinox

The Spring Equinox Wedding

This blog post is one of a series of three posts that explore the Pagan and Wiccan historic perspective and modern  approach to the three spring sabbats and how well-suited they are for a beautiful spring wedding or handfasting.

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the official start of spring is 20th March.  Referred to as either the Spring Equinox or the Vernal Equinox, both night and day at this time are exactly 12 hours all over the world.

The word equinox is Latin, meaning “equal night” and the word vernal is defined as fresh youthfulness or the newness of spring.

For Pagans, Spring Equinox is also called Ostara and is named after the English/Saxon Goddess Eostre or Ostara who represents the dawn.  As a spring Goddess she oversees the budding plants and the burgeoning fertility of the earth.  Her symbol is the hare.

The Horned God, known as Pan, Cernunnos, Hern the Hunter, and Dionysus are the masculine aspect of nature and consort to the Goddess.  At the time of Spring Equinox, the God and the Goddess are often portrayed as The Green Man and Mother Earth in ceremonies and rituals.

The Green Man is said to be born of Mother Earth in the depths of winter and to live through the rest of the year until he dies at Samhain (Halloween).

Unlike at the festival of Imbolc where you have to hold in your mind’s eye a cherished vision of spring, at the festival of Ostara the signs of spring are popping up everywhere and are undeniable.  The migrant birds are returning, the trees are showing little green buds, and the daffodils are blooming.

You can now breathe a sigh of relief that winter’s firm grip is actually releasing and the wheel of the year, like clockwork, has turned once again.

The Spring Equinox is symbolic of rebirth, renewal, and growth.  In ancient Italy, it was traditional for women to plant seeds in the gardens of Adonis on this day.

The custom persists to this day in Sicily where women plant seeds of grains, lentils, fennel, lettuce, or flowers in baskets and pots.  When they sprout, the stalks are tied with red ribbons and the flowers are placed on graves on Good Friday, symbolizing the triumph of life over death

The symbolic plant of Spring Equinox in Druidry is the trefoil or shamrock which is also customarily worn on St. Patrick’s Day.

The three leaves shaped like hearts were associated with the Triple Goddess of Celtic mythology, otherwise known as the “Three Morgans”.  The shamrock is symbolic of the regenerative powers of nature.

Similar to those observed at Easter, symbols for Ostara include birds, butterflies, eggs, rabbits, flowers and seeds.  These symbols represent the fecundity of spring and are easily incorporated into a spring wedding theme.

Many people choose to get married on this day because of its symbolism. The equality of the day and night can be used as a symbol for the equality of the spouses and their balanced significance in the relationship.

March Equinox is on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 at 12:15 pm EDT.  This is when the sun will cross the equator.  When choosing a Spring Equinox wedding, many couples share their vows at the exact moment of the Equinox.

I can’t think of a better way to start the spring out than with the definitive gesture of a spring wedding held during the actual Vernal Equinox.

Happy Spring to All!

A Pagan Take on the Auspicious Spring Wedding

pagan weddings, handfasting, wiccan sabbat

Imbolc Weddings and the Goddess Brigid

This blog post is one of a series of three posts that explore the Pagan and Wiccan historic perspective and modern  approach to the three spring sabbats and how well-suited they are for a beautiful spring wedding or handfasting.

We begin with Imbolc or Candlemas as it is often called these days even though it happens to fall on the 2nd of February and is still well within the clutches of winter.  Imbolc is about setting your focus on the promise of the spring to come – which at this time of year is just around the corner.

Since the Celtic year was based on both lunar and solar cycles, it is most likely that the holiday would have been celebrated on the full moon nearest the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.  Ideally when the crocuses and dandelions rise up through the snow, or when the sun aligned with the passage tombs among the pre-Celtic megaliths.

In modern times it is usually celebrated on the closest new or full moon to the 2nd of February.  This is when lunar energy is at its height and can be felt the strongest.

One of four major Pagan sabbats or holidays, along with Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain, Imbolc is a fire festival which celebrates the waning of winter and the promise of the returning light and warmth of the sun.  In between these sabbats, Pagans celebrate the seasonal solstices and equinoxes.

This is a time of selecting the seeds you want to sow in your garden for the coming spring; a time to make choices about what you want to grow and take shape in your personal life as well.  Hence, this is a good time for a wedding ceremony or any other ritual of dedication and devotion, as well as any that mark new growth and potential that you may wish to nurture and encourage within.

Imbolc is pronounced “IM-ulk” or “EEM-owlk” (the b is silent) and the term ‘Imbolc’ derives from Old Irish and means “in the belly,” or alternately “ewe’s milk.”  The meaning there lends significance to the holiday as a celebration of fertility, reproduction, and the young which are all overseen by the Goddess Brigid.

Early Christians adopted this holiday and superimposed their own version of it for themselves by calling it Candlemas and declaring it as a day to bless all of the church’s candles for the coming year.  The ancient Egyptians and the Babylonians were also believed to have observed an equivalent holiday to Imbolc, although it is especially attributed to the ancient Celts.

Also called Brigid’s Day, Imbolc honors the Celtic Goddess of fire, fertility, midwifery, poetry, and smithcraft.  The name Brigid (pronounced Breed) means ‘Exalted One’.  The name refers both to St Brigit, the powerful 6th century abbess of Kildare, and the pre-Christian Goddess Brigid; whose sacred fires were kept perpetually burning in her honor at Kildare.

She is still devoutly worshiped today by many modern day Pagans and Wiccans.  The nuns of Kildare still keep Brigid’s sacred flame burning.  Although, they would say this is for St Brigit of course.

Many of the stories associated with St Brigit, as well as the sacred sites and the rituals honoring her are clearly pre-Christian in origin.  The Goddess and the saint are inextricably linked as one.

As both Goddess and saint she has been associated with holy wells, sacred flames, and healing for thousands of years.  The lighting of candles and fires represent the return of warmth, new life, and the increasing power of the sun as we catch a whiff of the promise of spring on the winds of late winter.

There are other deities associated with the promise of the return of spring.  For example, in Greek mythology, this is when the Goddess Persephone lights her lamp in the underworld and begins her journey upward to return to the earth’s surface.  She’ll arrive in the spring, along with the budding flowers and the tender shoots sprouting from the tips of the bare branches of the waking trees.

The Goddess Brigid is said to walk the earth on Imbolc eve.  Traditionally, before going to bed, each member of the household may leave a piece of clothing or strip of cloth outside for Brigid to bless.  The head of the household will smother the fire and rake the ashes smooth.

In the morning, they look for some kind of mark on the ashes, a sign that Brigid has passed that way in the night or in the morning.  The clothing or strips of cloth are brought inside and believed to now have curative powers and are laid upon sick animals and people throughout the year to heal and protect anyone who comes in need.  Once blessed, the cloth was then known as Brigid’s mantle or cloak.

Brigid’s Crosses were traditionally made on Brigid’s Eve.  Brigid’s cross is either a three-legged or four-legged cross which has been identified as having its roots as an ancient solar symbol pre-dating Christianity.  Traditionally the rushes were picked by hand on 31st January.  They were blessed and the crosses were made in a sun-wise direction, from left to right.

They were often placed in the eaves of thatched roofs, in the cattle-byre or by the hearth to bring good luck and prosperity for the coming year.  You can easily find Brigid’s crosses today to work into any wedding ceremony in which you may wish ask for her marriage blessing.

With such rich symbolism of new beginnings and the promise of the coming spring, Imbolc is certainly a romantic and poetic time for taking your vows.

The special place Imbolc holds on the ever-turning wheel of the year conveys a powerful sense of one’s turning toward the light of new hope and a new life – an auspicious time for a wedding, wouldn’t you say?

Imbolc wedding, coming spring
Imbolc in February holds the promise of the coming spring.

Earth-Centered Wedding Ceremonies

earth-centered wedding vows beneath a tree

Last month’s post was about one type of custom wedding known in the ancient western European tradition called Handfasting.

Another type of nontraditional wedding ceremony is the Earth-centered wedding.  The term Earth-centered is a broad one and there are many different types hailing from many different cultures.  What these ceremonies all have in common is that they honor the natural world and our connection to the Earth in some fundamental way.

The wedding customs of many tribal indigenous cultures around the planet have much to contribute to the earth-centered wedding ceremony due to the inherent veneration of nature and of our ancestors within these tribal traditions.

Earth-centered weddings tend to be performed outdoors – in parks, gardens, woods, on beaches and riverbanks overlooking the water.  Some couples choose to have their ceremony while actually standing in a body of water.

There are those couples who choose to work Native American ceremonial elements into their custom wedding.  Another popular Earth-centered theme is the Pagan/Wiccan type of ceremony in which you call the 4 directions, and use smudging or salt water for purification and call upon the ancestors to witness the rite.

The Celtic and Viking wedding themes are very popular among the Earth-centered custom wedding genre as well; with symbolic gestures such as the couple exchanging swords, drinking mead and riding into the ceremony on horseback.

You may find that a full ceremony directly handed down through generations of Native tradition is right for you and your fiance, or you may simply want various elements of tradition to be worked in to something more contemporary.

A great deal of thought and emotional investment goes along with planning a wedding.   It seems only natural for a couple to want to weave something heartfelt and deeply personal into such a moving experience that may actually help them to feel more spiritually connected and invested in the actual marriage ritual itself.

So whether you’re intrigued by the sound of a Native American, Celtic, Norse or other Earth-centered traditional wedding, or merely seek to add a few custom elements into your celebration as a nod to your heritage; there are numerous customs to choose from.

Handfasting ~ Renewing an Ancient Custom

wedding with ceremonial handfasting cord

If you have been invited to a Handfasting you may find yourself wondering what that term even means.  So let’s take a look at this ancient wedding and betrothal custom that has seen a revival in these modern times.

A Handfasting ceremony is a beautiful marriage ritual based upon ancient Celtic tradition.  Handfasting was seen as a rite of betrothal, some say lasting a year and a day.  If all went well, the couple would have a second Handfasting ceremony which would be the formal binding together of heart, mind, body and spirit.

The term Handfasting originates from the Old Norse term hand-festa, meaning “to strike a bargain by joining hands”.  In modern times, Handfasting is a ceremony most often practiced today by members of the Pagan faith.

The Pagan and Wiccan religions (as there are many factions) are positive, life-affirming spiritual paths where the living world of nature is viewed as sacred and imbued with the same spark of the divine that humans are believed to be.

Neo-Paganism is a combination of the ancient and the new. Being a tradition of nature worship that stretches back to the ages of pre-history and having no formal book of rules; it is a living – breathing spiritual path that is free to evolve and to adapt to changing times.

The custom of tying the bride and grooms hands and wrists together during the marriage ceremony is a large part of what distinguishes a Handfasting marriage ritual from all other types of weddings.

A specially made cloth or three cords braided together of specifically chosen colors were typically used and in some traditions – not untied until the marriage had been consummated.

Handfasting has evolved and changed over the centuries, however some traditional parts of the practice are still used in a variety of ceremonies.  Each couple has the choice before them on which old traditions they may want to include and which traditions of the modern world they’d like to incorporate.

The Handfasting ritual can be worked in to any wedding ceremony, just as the ring exchange can be.  Whether or not a couple chooses to have a Handfasting does not make or break the legality of the marriage.

Rather, the couple must take the proper steps to ensure that their marriage is recognized by the government, if that is their desire, by obtaining a wedding license and having a licensed officiant perform the ceremony.
Each Wiccan and Pagan path has different decrees concerning the color, length, and of number of cords used to Handfast the couple.

One custom may have the couple facing each other, binding both pairs of hands of the bride and groom. Another custom is to have only the right hands bound.

Some couples choose to tie the knot themselves, while others prefer to have family members or the Priest/ess tie the knot instead.

There are many variations of the Handfasting rite. It all depends on the bride, groom, and High Priest/ess whom they chose to preside over their wedding ceremony.
This is the highlight of a Pagan wedding and this is often when the rings are exchanged and the vows are spoken and the blessings upon the couple and their union are offered.

How long the cord remains physically tied is entirely up to the couple (a few brave souls even remain bound until they retire to their honeymoon suite).

The Handfasting ritual is a beautiful, magickal rite of passage.  Many non-Pagan and non-Wiccan couples are adopting this old custom, much like when couples borrow from other traditions to craft their own ceremony to match their distinctive personalities.

Here is a short list of things to look for when you attend a Pagan/Wiccan Handfasting.

  • The wedding party may gather in a circle around the couple and the officiant rather than seated in rows.
  • There will be an altar with images of the ancestors of the couples’ families, Goddess & God statues, candles
  • The four directions will be called at the beginning of the ceremony and released at the end. The elements of earth, air, water, and fire. These are symbolic of the basic building blocks of life and creation. The air we breathe, the water in the oceans, and so forth. The elements can also symbolize certain concepts: earth for the physicality, air for intellect, water for emotions, and fire for passion and strength of will.
  • Common phrases used in Pagan rituals: These include “blessed be” and “hail,” these are similar to “amen” or “cheers.” “Merry meet” and “merry part” are greetings that are often used at the start and end of rituals. “So mote/may it be” is an affirmation and indication of an agreement.
  • The Handfasting may also be completed by the traditional act of jumping over a broom or besom as it is called in Pagan/Wiccan circles. This is symbolizing the leaping into their new life together and leaving behind the old as a broom sweeps away and clears old energy.

So now you know what to expect when you attend a Handfasting.  The Handfasting is really just a very warm, down to earth and folksy tradition that has carried over into our modern world.

And for many of us, that is precisely what we love about it!

Rock Creek Mansion Handfasting Ceremony

non traditional | gay wedding
Handfasting ceremony, gay wedding,
Ceremonial Handfasting Cord

It was such a joy to have the opportunity to see Billy and Agnelo celebrate their love by having the honor of officiating their ceremony which included a handfasting at the lovely Rock Creek Mansion in Bethesda Maryland.

They entrusted to me the task of creating their handfasting cord, this was especially endearing since my energy was weaved into it as well as theirs. 

Their attention to every detail of their celebration was impeccable from the photographer and the flowers ~ to the elegance of the venue.

Photos courtesy of Jessica Maida

 

Should You Seriously Consider Hiring a Wedding Planner?

the bride and groom

One might expect that planning your own wedding would be a romantic experience, and one can see the reasoning behind that thought.  But there are several elements in planning a wedding that can easily overwhelm the bride and groom; when they should instead be allowed to feel like they are on Cloud Nine!

A couple may be tempted to think that if  they have control of the wedding planning, they will save themselves money and ensure they get precisely the wedding that they envision.

This can be a good argument and may work out to be just fine for couples holding smaller events or working with a tight budget.

I must admit, throughout my time as a wedding officiant, some of the most beautiful weddings I have officiated were done on a shoe-string budget, with the bride and groom planning every detail themselves.

These events had a certain organic feel.  Certainly less polished and often laced with a bit of chaos, which can be a lot of fun if you happen to be a sort of spontaneous, independent and thrill-seeking couple.

After all, even the most organized couple will not be able to control the flow of a ceremony plus a reception burdened with the minutia of the many important details involved such as guest lists, seating arrangements, scheduling and paying vendors for their services, etc., etc.

The knowledge that you are about to get married is an absolutely huge and delightful comprehension!  Like I said, Cloud Nine!  Some little detail or two may fall through the cracks but that’s ok!

How can anyone effectively plan the seating, and the menu, or remember to order the cake when you’re flying so high?  It’s understandable.

Some couples loathe the thought of even the slightest hint of chaos attending their wedding; knowing it would surely send the bride into a torrent of tears for something not to go exactly as planned.

A polished, robustly choreographed – full service planned event is the wedding for these folks.

There is a possible happy medium with a partially planned event and many planners offer details about both options on their websites. Check out BridalBliss and Lotus Production Complete Wedding & Event Planning as good examples.

As for expense, the right wedding planner can help you to keep costs down because they have a working knowledge of local vendors of weddings from past experience.  They have the experience of working within different sized budgets and have most likely scouted out the differences in cost between vendors.

An experienced coordinator will know roughly how much each service and product should cost.  Whereas the couple can easily get confused about what the real costs are until they see the total sum of the bill.  This is where planers really help because they are financial advisors specialized in weddings.

A wedding planner worth their weight will fight for the couple and their wedding vision until the very end of the event.  The person who shares the same idea and focuses on it will push each necessary aspect and make sure that the family and friends stick to the planned timeline.

Also, consider that planners have plenty of experience dealing with vendors and can talk their way into getting a discount.

Hiring a wedding planner doesn’t necessarily mean outsourcing your entire wedding.  A wedding planner only handles what you want them to; support at the start to get you on the right track, on-the-day coordination only, or indeed the whole shebang.  So if do you want to drive your wedding planning, you can focus on the fun parts… and leave the boring bits to someone else.

Check out this example list below of services involved in a full service wedding planning from Bridal Bliss.  This gives you the full spectrum of services available to you.  A few items on the list may have never occurred to you before about wedding planning, so it’s a good eye opener in your own planning.

 

Pre-Wedding

  • Wedding planning timeline preparation and creating a wedding checklist
  • Establishing priorities, developing and tracking the budget
  • Ceremony +  reception venue location
  • Vendor recommendations, negotiations and bookings
  • Contract review
  • Vendor management
  • Creation and execution of a design scheme
  • Assistance in ordering save-the-dates, wedding invitations and all printed materials
  • Tracking of guest RSVP’s
  • Wedding favors & accessories
  • Coordinating accommodations, transportation and child care
  • Marriage License
  • Etiquette information
  • General advice and consultation
  • Unlimited meetings and coordination time
  • Attendance at vendor meetings
  • Confirming all details with the appropriate vendors prior to the wedding
  • Facilitating the ceremony rehearsal

 

Wedding Day

  • Directing the ceremony processional
  • Coordinating and assisting with the setup of the ceremony and reception
  • Setup of wedding accessories such as guest book, place cards, favors, etc.
  • Coordinating pinning of boutonnières and ensuring VIP’s receive flowers
  • Acting as the point of contact for all vendors
  • Assisting the family, wedding party and guests as needed
  • Distributing final payment and gratuity to vendors
  • Providing a stocked emergency kit
  • Dealing with any unforeseen hiccups
  • Coordinate load-out
  • Unlimited time on-site with your coordination team allowing you to enjoy every moment of your wedding day without any worry of background details

All-Inclusive Wedding Weekend package:  This option includes everything listed above as well as……

  • Stuffing and sending save-the-dates and wedding invitations
  • Procuring and delivering guest welcome bags
  • Coordination of the Rehearsal Dinner + Post-Wedding Brunch

 

You may or may not decide to hire a wedding planner.  But it won’t cost you anything to give them a call and find out the range and price of their services.  Even the slightest form of assistance could be your best way to a smoother, less stressful and more romantic wedding planning experience.

Best wishes and happy planning!

 

 

A Bridal Bouquet of Essential Oils for a Blissfully Calm Wedding Day

Your wedding is a very sacred and special event – one that you are surely anticipating with joy and excitement.

Though the planning and coordination of such a happy occasion are very necessary, it can be a challenge not to get too stressed out.  You understandably want everything to be perfect.  And it will be – especially if you remember to take time for yourself and find effective ways to unwind before the big day.

For many brides that means scheduling some spa time, meditation sessions, or a few yoga classes but a growing trend these days is aromatherapy for stress relief and for grounding yourself in present moment awareness.  This is done by using not just any fragrant oil, but by using instead therapeutic grade essential oils.

Try not to fall for terms like “fragrance oils” because they are not natural at all. They are synthetic!  They’re used to scent the cosmetics, candles and cleaning products that are produced on a large scale.

 

Fragrance oils are generally used to:

  • Make soaps.
  • Make scented candles.
  • Give cosmetics a certain fragrance. A lipstick that smells like cherries, for instance.
  • Make body products or bath foams, etc.
  • They are also used in the making of commercial perfumes.

 

Even though they may be more expensive, therapeutic grade essential oils are a lot healthier.  Essential oils give you complete control over what touches your body.  They are simply what they say they are on the label – nothing more, nothing less!

They not only smell beautifully, certain essential oils can also help you to minimize stress and achieve moments of clarity and calm so that you may focus on what is really important.

Therapeutic grade essential oils are typically grown and harvested with sustainable, ecologically friendly practices.  Many oils and tinctures of plants have been around for thousands of years, this is how we know they work.

Aromatherapy using essential oils works holistically with your own emotions and energies.  This can be very effective once you learn which scents work best for you personally. 

For aromatherapy purposes, essential oils can be massaged into the body.   Drops of essential oils are often added to air diffusers and steamers for easy inhalation.

Check out this line of lava stone diffusers small enough to keep in your purse or pocket; along with necklaces and bracelets for hours of aromatherapy benefit while you are on the go.  Go to drops of joy jewelry.com.

When applying directly to the body, combine with your favorite carrier oil such as fractionated coconut or grapeseed oil to prevent any possible skin sensitivity reaction.  You can also bathe with drops of your favorite oil in your bath water.

 

Following are some aromatherapy and essential oil tips to use for your big day:

 Lavender

Lavender has an amazing ability to calm you down and help you to sleep at night.  Place a few drops on your pillow case and the scent of lavender will help to soothe your senses.  It’s great for frazzled nerves anytime!

 Lemon

Lemon is great for helping you to wake up and feel refreshed.  Lemon is energizing, clarifying and detoxifying.  It’s great for aromatherapy or you can put it in your water the morning-of as a pick me up.  Wild Orange oil, used topically and aromatically for energy is a great compliment to lemon oil.

Black Spruce

Black spruce has woody, evergreen notes and offers a range of healing benefits—most notably respiratory support. It promotes lung function and works as a decongestant, helping with asthma, bronchitis and the common cough.  It reminds you to breathe when things get hectic, to reconnect with your breath.  Add two drops of black spruce essential oil to a bowl of hot water. Position your face about 12 inches above the bowl, drape a towel over your head and breathe in deeply for about a minute.

Red Mandarin

Red mandarin has a citrusy, faintly floral scent that immediately lifts your mood and relieves tension.  Its aromatic components are really nice for calming the nervous system. Whereas lavender is more sedating, red mandarin is more balancing.  Try diffusing it in your home or office to evoke a sense of harmony.  Red mandarin also helps stimulate circulation, harmonize hormones and reduce fluid retention; making this oil a go-to-favorite for the symptoms of menstruation.

Sandalwood

Known for its rich, warm and exotic aroma and grounding properties, sandalwood has been used in meditation for centuries.  With all the frantic pre-wedding energy, it can help to induce peace and stillness, even if just for a moment.  It slows your thoughts and helps you to think in a more mindful and deliberate manner.  Sandalwood is also prized in the skincare genre for its moisturizing and soothing properties.  Place a few drops into a warm bath to soothe the mind and soften the skin.

Marjoram

Marjoram has an herbaceous aroma and a number of medicinal benefits.  An antispasmodic, it helps alleviate muscle aches and pain and relaxes physical tightness from stress or from your pre-wedding workout plan.  Try diluting a few drops and apply to the back of your neck or anywhere you happen to feel tension.  Marjoram also possesses protective properties, clearing germs where it is applied.

So, as you see you have options for natural stress relief and soothing your nerves on and before the big day.  And don’t forget to absolutely, unequivocally pamper yourself during this pressing time.  It will make a more blissful bride out of you – guaranteed!

How to Plan an Earth-Friendly Wedding

Are you and your fiancée an eco-conscious couple?  Are you driven by a natural curiosity of how to advance your life together in ways that reduce your carbon footprint on the planet?

If so, an earth-friendly wedding is a great symbolic first step in your new life together!

More and more people around the world are joining the “going green” movement and this even applies to tying the knot and the honeymoon.

In decades past there were always those occasional weddings where a couple of green ideas worked their way in – like an organic vegetarian menu, the bride might choose a locally made wedding gown, or the couple may re-use heirloom wedding rings.

But this trend has grown from incorporating just a few green ideas to actually designing the entire celebration to reduce the impact of the event on the planet.  This may include finding reception halls that recycle, hiring caterers who use locally grown organic ingredients, decorating with potted plants that can be transplanted and using soy-based candles, rather than the petroleum-based wax.

People in the wedding business say the eco-friendly or “green” wedding has arrived!    And this green-wedding appeal has expanded to spur a mini-industry of stores and websites offering couples biodegradable plates made of sugar cane fiber to flowers grown according to sustainable farming practices.

Green Wedding Planners are a rising trend as well.  A typical green wedding may take place on a farm or vineyard and include compostable plates and utensils, organic and fair trade-certified food, locally brewed beer and organic wine and wedding rings that are 100 % reclaimed, recycled and ecologically responsible.

Your Green Wedding Planner will have all the right connections to bring these earth-friendly elements together, making it a bit easier for you to think about other important things.

But meanwhile, here are 5 Green Wedding Tips to help you get started.

 

Set an Eco-Friendly Tone for Your Wedding

The tone of your wedding can be set from the beginning by choosing an outdoor venue such as a farm or vineyard.  This will cut back on electricity needs to start with.  Decorate with soy candles for lighting in an evening ceremony or reception.  They are more environmentally friendly than the petroleum based variety.

You can also choose a venue such as a museum or an art gallery.  This is a great way to support a venue that you and your fiancé happen to love and support, as long as the proceeds go to the benefit of the establishment.

Choose Environmentally Friendly Sourced Wedding Rings

A rising trend with many jewelers these days is to source fare-labored gem stones and to use recycled gold.  You can even ask your jeweler about the origin of the diamond for any ring you are hoping to purchase.

There are jewelers that specialize in responsible sourcing such as Brilliant Earth.  Additionally, consider using heirloom jewelry.  That would be the ultimate act of re-using and recycling.

Include Green Products on Your Wedding Registry

The ultimate compliment to starting your earth-friendly life together is to assemble your very own collection of environmentally safe household products and items for your home and garden.  There are green-only wedding registries such as Are Naturals and The Ultimate Green Store.

Use Local Vendors

Use local vendors to keep carbon emissions down and to support your local economy.  Organic is a good idea, but not if it has been flown in from thousands of miles.  Local is a better option in this case, so treat your guests to a feast of locally grown delicacies.

To seriously reduce your carbon footprint, the meal should be as vegan friendly as possible–a nice, hearty pasta is always a universally loved main course.

Purchase Organic In-Season Flowers

One of the most essential components to a wedding is your choice of flowers.  Depending on the flowers you choose for your wedding, you could be choosing wedding flowers shipped from as far away as Africa.  To avoid this emissions nightmare, try and choose flowers that are in-season and locally sourced for the time of year you plan on getting married.

For organic and sustainably farmed flowers you can go to The Bouqs.com .  But if you have your heart set on a flower that isn’t in season and a seasonal replica won’t do, then look for flowers that are VeriFlora-certified.  This means that the blooms aren’t grown with chemicals or grown under harsh working conditions.

Happy Green Wedding Planning!