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Love that Binds

Marina Telfer, left, and the Kope/Whetstone family (courtesy photo)

Ceremonies are a funny thing. They are a public pronouncement of the most private of beliefs, the merging of the explicit with the intimate, a loud hurrah! of the echoes in the heart. Though my husband and I struggled with the dichotomy of a marriage ceremony, which is both immensely private and completely public, we came to cherish this organized parade of our feelings. 

My husband, Zachary, and I married in 2008 when our sons (my biological sons from a previous marriage) were 13 and 6 years old. We wanted the ceremony to unite the two of us as husband and wife and also to unite the four of us as a new family. 

Luckily for us, Zachary’s aunt, Marina, officiates weddings and helped us find a number of nontraditional ways to express our commitment. We included a small altar with some of our favorite family artifacts, including a lanterned peace flame, which the four of us used to light a four-wicked candle. 

The most powerful moment of our ceremony, however, was the binding of our hands with a beautiful prayer braid that Marina made of seven cords. One represented each of the four of us, another signified love, another stood for light and a last represented growth. Several days prior to the wedding, our extended family sat in a circle with us, and as Marina braided the brightly colored cords, each spoke aloud a memory, a prayer or a hope for our family’s union. Ceremonies are a funny thing. They are a public pronouncement of the most private of beliefs, the merging of the explicit with the intimate, a loud hurrah! of the echoes in the heart. Though my husband and I struggled with the dichotomy of a marriage ceremony, which is both immensely private and completely public, we came to cherish this organized parade of our feelings. 

My husband, Zachary, and I married in 2008 when our sons (my biological sons from a previous marriage) were 13 and 6 years old. We wanted the ceremony to unite the two of us as husband and wife and also to unite the four of us as a new family. 

Luckily for us, Zachary’s aunt, Marina, officiates weddings and helped us find a number of nontraditional ways to express our commitment. We included a small altar with some of our favorite family artifacts, including a lanterned peace flame, which the four of us used to light a four-wicked candle. 

The most powerful moment of our ceremony, however, was the binding of our hands with a beautiful prayer braid that Marina made of seven cords. One represented each of the four of us, another signified love, another stood for light and a last represented growth. Several days prior to the wedding, our extended family sat in a circle with us, and as Marina braided the brightly colored cords, each spoke aloud a memory, a prayer or a hope for our family’s union. Ceremonies are a funny thing. They are a public pronouncement of the most private of beliefs, the merging of the explicit with the intimate, a loud hurrah! of the echoes in the heart. Though my husband and I struggled with the dichotomy of a marriage ceremony, which is both immensely private and completely public, we came to cherish this organized parade of our feelings. 

My husband, Zachary, and I married in 2008 when our sons (my biological sons from a previous marriage) were 13 and 6 years old. We wanted the ceremony to unite the two of us as husband and wife and also to unite the four of us as a new family. 

Luckily for us, Zachary’s aunt, Marina, officiates weddings and helped us find a number of nontraditional ways to express our commitment. We included a small altar with some of our favorite family artifacts, including a lanterned peace flame, which the four of us used to light a four-wicked candle. 

The most powerful moment of our ceremony, however, was the binding of our hands with a beautiful prayer braid that Marina made of seven cords. One represented each of the four of us, another signified love, another stood for light and a last represented growth. Several days prior to the wedding, our extended family sat in a circle with us, and as Marina braided the brightly colored cords, each spoke aloud a memory, a prayer or a hope for our family’s union.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, as our two sons, my husband and I clasped our hands together, Marina bound the braided cords around our hands. She turned to the audience and pronounced us “The Kope/Whetstone Family” and asked, “Will you support this new family?” to which the audience responded, “We will!” We walked back down the aisle, me grinning wildly, holding hands as a foursome. 

The ceremony changed the tenor of our family relationships. My husband and I felt that afterward there was a new, tangible bond among the four of us. We were reminded that day of the power of a ceremony, when it is designed and conducted in a genuine and personal way to share publicly the love that binds us all.