The Stewarts’ Sentimental Ceremony

You’ve probably been skeptical about dating websites, they’re proliferous and infamous for catfish schemes, but for some, they fill their purpose.

juliann and lawFor Juliann and Lawrence, is what tied their fates together. They immediately connected on many levels. Both have deep roots in family, culture and their home of Northwest Washington. So when they decided to get married, they wanted to share those deep roots as an integral part of the celebration.

Juliann and Lawrence were married in scenic Port Townsend, Washington. It was a beautiful day at the Northwest Maritime Center, which sits right on the water.

The ceremony took place in the courtyard adjacent to the marina beach. Juliann’s father walked her down the stairs to meet her new husband.

To personalize their ceremony, they did a few things to include their close family and culture. They honored those who could not be present, either because of death or illness, by handing out deep pink roses to that individual’s  closest family member, which they took down to the beach to toss out to sea. The emotion in watching family honoring those gone before was tangible.

roses port townsend beach

They also honored the Scottish heritage they both share with a tartan handfasting, a cultural tradition dating back to the Pagan Celts that has been adapted for Christian ceremonies over the centuries. Lawrence also bestowed a sash in his own Stewart family tartan upon Juliann to initiate her into his family clan.

stewart tartan

Juliann and Lawrence’s wedding ceremony is a perfect example of how you can include your family and culture in your special day. Diane Kolanović-Šolaja from Dee Kay Events said, “From having Grandma’s pecan pie at the dessert table or having henna delicately painted onto your hands, your culture is your heart. Celebrate it!” There are ways to incorporate family and cultural traditions that will connect you as a couple to the guests joining you on your wedding day.

An article from Bridal Guide details ideas to include cultural traditions in your special day, but they first offered this advice: “Stay true to yourself and don’t be afraid to make cultural customs your own. ‘With some thought and planning, you can give even the most traditional cultural elements a modern twist,’ says Cathy O’Connell from Celebrations of Joy. Tonia Adleta from Aribella Events advises combining different sensory elements, such as interactive food stations and a steel drum band or a bagpiper, to create an experience that guests are unlikely ever to forget.”

Explore what your heritage has to offer in wedding traditions. Jewish weddings traditionally include a chuppah, a canopy meant to provide sanctuary from evil spirits, and represents the couple’s home together. In France, instead of wedding cake, the traditional wedding dessert is croquembouche, which is essentially cream puffs stacked into a conical pyramid shape and emphasized with spun sugar. Brides from many cultures wore colors other than white – various Asian cultures wear red or another bright color, Irish brides traditionally wore blue. Also in Ireland, the traditional wedding ring is a claddagh ring, with symbolism that represents friendship, loyalty, and love. (You can find more traditions here at Business Insider and Bridal Guide.)

Something that everyone at your wedding can appreciate is a family favorite dessert. It can be a sentimental touch to include your family by inviting them to add to your menu. Ask an aunt to make her famous cookies, or a mom to whip up her special lemon bars. Include a little card with the dessert that details what it is and who made it.

If you have a relative with special, professional talents, consider asking them to contribute their gifts. An example could be a cousin or sibling with musical talents performing on your wedding day.

(For more ideas, check out the article from Pop Sugar.)

You may also consider what your options are for the officiant of your wedding. Maybe a close, long-time friend from church would be willing; maybe someone close to you is a judge and could perform a courthouse wedding; or maybe even a family member who has the authority could marry you. It may depend on your religious/civil preferences and options, but don’t discount the idea.

Your culture, your family – the things that have shaped who you are – can be an essential and sentimental part of starting a new life with someone. Don’t forget to include them when beginning a new life with the person you love.

Juliann and Lawrence have now been happily married for nearly 5 years, and they’ve added two young sons to their family who will carry their family history with them the rest of their lives – who would’ve thought that it would have all started on a dating site?


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