When I think about marriage, it conjures up images of warmth and protection. I have always felt safest when I am encircled in my husband’s arms. Perhaps that it why I am so enamored with the idea of the wedding prayer blanket as a unity ceremony. I also love that during this very public day, you can create a moment of intimacy. Wrapped together under the shawl, you stand separate as a couple yet you are surrounded by everyone’s love.
If you have ever attended a Jewish wedding, you have likely seen this unity ceremony take place under the chuppah, which is essentially an enlarged version of the traditional tallit (Jewish prayer shawl). Native Americans and Buddhists as well as several Middle Eastern cultures and Christian faiths also utilize prayer shawls to bless marriages and signify their new journey as a couple.
Since the Jewish faith requires the tallit to have four blue tassels, your “something blue” is built right in. Often the shawl is intricately embroidered with designs and blessings, such as “Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam asher kidishanu b’mitz’votav v’tzivanu l’hit’ateif ba-tzitzit.” (“Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to wrap ourselves in the tzitzit.”).
The wedding prayer shawl is often given to the newlyweds just before the ceremony by a family member who has handsewn the garment while reciting specific prayers. A spiritual quote or prayer is usually pinned to the shawl. Since it is also meant to be used during prayer throughout the marriage, the shawl can also be given as a gift after the ceremony. The Knitting/Crocheting Prayer Shawl Books from ShawlMinstry.com and the Offset Shell Prayer Shawl Pattern created by Sandi Marshall for About.com are excellent resources for getting started.
Wedding Planning Inspiration
If you plan to incorporate a prayer shawl into your marriage ceremony, consider sharing the comfort with your guests. Offering throw blankets as wedding favors is especially appropriate as we head into the autumn and winter wedding season. Along with your names and wedding date, pin on a note with one of the following quotes:
Wrapped in Love.
From this day forward may love always warm your heart. (Source: Wedding Wire)
May all your ups and downs happen underneath this quilt. (Source: Red Dawn)
A good friend is like a warm quilt wrapped around the heart. (Source: Memory Quilt Ideas)
May your lives be joined together like the pieces of this quilt.
Many different pieces joined together, surrounded by love.
“Let the promise of my love cover you like a warm blanket.” – Matthew White
“This quilt signifies the comfort and beauty they bring to each other and will continue to bring to each other. Together within this blanket, they will sign their marriage into being.” – Sara Cotner, “A Priceless Wedding: Crafting a Meaningful, Memorable and Affordable Celebration“
Related Articles on WeddingTraditions.about.com:
- Tree Planting Unity Ceremony
- Sky Lantern Unity Ceremony
- Handfasting Unity Ceremony
- Jewish Wedding Gifts