When Aliya and Ori were planning their beautiful family ceremony on a hill in Hawick, where Aliya spent many happy times as a child, the forecast was for thunderstorms and heavy rain. Ori’s family assured us that all would be well; his mother had predicted clear skies and she was always right about the weather. Besides, they had brought the sun with them from Israel.
And so it was, that on a surprisingly calm and sunny day in July we all made our way up the hill wearing sandals and carrying picnic baskets to their chosen spot. Aliya and Ori both come from big, loving kitchen families – they love to spend time cooking together – and the whole day was infused with an intimacy and joy made even more poignant by the personal elements woven into the ceremony.
We began with a gorgeous Handfasting. Each of the twelve people present placed a colourful ribbon onto Ori and Aliya’s joined hands; the ribbons each representing something important that they wished to bring to mind and weave into their shared commitment for the future.
The first four ribbons represent the four elements of Fire, Earth, Air and Water, which Ori and Aliya believe are present in all of nature and in all of us, and whose energy determine and shape so much of our lives. The next four represent Joy, Partnership, Communication and Trust – values and qualities which they hold particularly dear. The ninth ribbon represents their past; their ancestors and their own personal histories, everything which has brought them to this place and this moment. The tenth ribbon stands for Aliya and Ori’s friends and family, and the important role each person plays in their lives.The eleventh ribbon represents the unknown; the mystery and hidden secrets of life. And the final ribbon stands simply for love.
We spoke about love and connection, and trusting your heart to guide you in seeking what is right. Aliya wanted to acknowledge her relationship with the Amazon and her connection with the forest and the river. Like the river, love is completely unpredictable and mysterious. And like the river, love always wins.
Ori’s brother and Aliya’s sister gave heartfelt readings and we shared stories of the many wonderful adventures Ori and Aliya have enjoyed on their travels through Ecuador, the Sinai, the Mediterranean and the Amazon. And, of course, their greatest adventure of all … raising their sweet little one, Amaya.
I shared some secret thoughts that Aliya and Ori had shared with me when I asked about their love and connection. They exchanged emotional, personal vows after which Aliya’s sister played some soulful flute music for us as we each took a moment to contemplate the commitment Aliya and Ori were about to make, and send a well-wishing thought, prayer or blessing their way.
Then Aliya and Ori exchanged rings and Marriage Vows and it was my absolute pleasure to declare them married to the loving cheers of their family.
Aliya shared some Israeli sweets – Ori’s favourite – as a surprise for everyone. Then we celebrated their beautiful little one, Amaya. We heard that Amaya means ‘night rain’ in Japanese, which is apt as it rained all night when Amaya was born. And how her middle name means ‘snowdrop’ in Welsh which is also apt as snowdrops were in bloom when Aliya and Ori found out they were expecting Amaya.
Aliya and Ori spoke some thoughtful, wise words to Amaya to wish her well in her journey as she grows. And it was my honour to declare Amaya’s full name and welcome her to the world in the presence of those who love her.
To honour Ori’s Jewish heritage and in lieu of the smashing of glass for luck, Aliya and Ori had gathered some shells from Scottish and Israeli beaches. They enjoyed crushing the shells under their flip flops as they walked through the pathway of shells and into their future together.
After the ceremony, Aliya’s brother-in-law told me this was the most loving, beautiful ceremony he had ever experienced. I couldn’t agree more … everything about Ori and Aliya’s day was gorgeous and unique to them. And a big thank you to Ori’s mum for holding back the weather!
Wishing you all a thousand blessings in your lives together, Aliya, Ori and Amaya. Thank you so much for sharing these details of your day with us all. It is so helpful for others to read these kinds of personal details when planning their own ceremonies. Thank you!
Photos by the wonderful Sanne at Sanne Gault Photography.