(Ritual) food for thought!

(Ritual) food for thought!

With it being Shrove Tuesday today, my thoughts – not unnaturally – have turned to food and drink. Obviously, today is technically a religious day, and many religions feature food and drink in their festivals. None more so than Judaism, I’d say.

One example is due in a matter of a week or two. That is the festival of Purim, and the eating of hamantaschen – Haman’s ears, or poppy-seed parcels – is closely associated with this. (Haman is the villain of the story.)

I don’t often conduct full religious ceremonies, but, every so often my services include some emphasis on food or drink. Perhaps that will give you an appetite (sorry!) to include something similar in your ceremony.


A very popular, simple ritual at a wedding can be the Loving Cup. In this case, a goblet of wine (or whatever drink the couple prefer) is prepared. Bride and groom will sip three times from the goblet, passing it to each other each time.

I ask them to drink to the love they’ve shared in the past. Next, to drink to their love in the present, on this their wedding day. And finally to drink to their love in the future and forever more.

On one memorable occasion the groom was extremely nervous. He took the invitation to ‘sip’ to mean ‘gulp’. The alcohol clearly went to his head and he became very relaxed and amusing for the rest of the ceremony!


Although this can only be relevant to a limited number of readers, a lovely ritual I have witnessed comes from Russia.

The bride’s mother bakes a large plaited loaf of bread. At the appointed time, both bride and groom start eating it – from the opposite ends. They take one bite each.

My role was to ask the guests to judge who took the bigger piece and I pointed out that whoever gets the bigger piece will be assured to be the head of the household! (I think the bride always wins!)

So, as you tuck into your pancakes, give some thought to the value of food and drink! If you want to talk to me about rituals, then feel free!

Photo: Matt Penberthy

Wedding Day Health – civil celebrant and wellness consultant collide!

Wedding Day Health – civil celebrant and wellness consultant collide!

In addition to being a civil celebrant, I am a wellness consultant, so why not put my two areas of expertise together? Pleased as I would be to conduct your wedding, I’d like to help ensure that you enjoy wedding day health!

So here are a few useful tips.

Before the Wedding


In the run-up to your wedding, try and get as much rest as possible. I know, there’s often last minute planning, seating arrangements  or problems with suppliers to contend with, but you obviously want to avoid stress as much as possible.

At least, manage some early nights – and maybe a bit of pampering (massage etc.). Then you’ll perform much better.


Everybody should drink about 2 litres of water a day (on average) as a given. You certainly should not neglect that. Being hydrated can avoid back pain and can also have a positive effect on your skin.


You may well be focusing on how you are going to look on the day, but don’t neglect regular meals. Ensure you eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

During the Wedding

photo courtesy of Neli Prahova

Food (again!)

The bride, especially, is likely to find that everyone wants to talk and there’s little opportunity to eat anything. So if it’s a buffet, get someone to fetch a plate or two for you. At a sit-down meal, make sure you don’t spend all your time circulating. You should be able to enjoy your meal too. You do need to eat and keep your strength up (if only, to be able to cut the cake!).


There’s likely to be a lot of drink flowing, and why not? However, you might do well to have a glass of water between each glass of alcohol.


See if you can arrange a little quiet time to relax between the day and evening receptions.  That will enable you to get through a delightful, but demanding, day comfortably.

After the Wedding


Depending where you are going, beware of too much sun, especially early on. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water, if it’s safe (there are portable bottles with filter systems available).

Bring a mini-medical kit with you (we usually take a few magnets, actually!).

Finally – although this could have gone in the “Before Your Wedding” section – ensure you have received any vaccinations you may need.

Wishing you a healthy wedding and honeymoon!

With thanks to Neli Prahova (www.neliprahova.com) for the photo.

Michael Gordon is a civil celebrant based in London.