When is the best time to plant a tree? How about at your wedding? I know, the normal answer is ‘twenty years ago, and the next best time is today’. Still, the symbolism of planting a tree for the future of your marriage is pretty strong.
As an officiant I help couples customize their ceremony and get a lot of questions about adding new elements. I have been marrying people long enough to remember when unity candles were brand new. Then came the sand ceremony. Now I’m seeing branding (a block of wood, not the groom!). All of these can be very powerful additions to your ceremony: especially if it means something to the two of you. I want to take a moment of your time to ask you to consider the message planting a tree together sends.
Trees are beautiful in every season. In the spring, they bud and flower. In summertime, their green leaves dance in the breeze. Fall brings another riot of color. Even in winter they can break up an otherwise bleak landscape.
As far as function goes, trees put down deep roots and are a source of stability for the soil. Their leaves offer shade and comfort on the hottest of days. When their wood has lived its life it can provide lumber to build your home and fuel to warm your hearth.
A Sample Tree Planting Ceremony
Preparation: Plant a small sapling in a decorative container such as a half whisky barrel or festive large pot. Place it either near the front of the ceremony area or on a wagon that can be pulled to the front at the appropriate time. Have a garden spade and watering can ready.
At the appropriate time during the ceremony the officiant says:
There is an old proverb that says the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The next best time is today. That is particularly true now. Bride and Groom have chosen to celebrate their wedding by planting a tree. I invite you two to take a moment to water this tree and to turn the soil around its roots. [Bride and groom water and turn the soil as the officiant continues.] Bride and Groom just as your marriage will provide you with a solid and sure foundation, this tree will put its roots deep down into the soil. Be sure to water and amend its soil even as you remember to take time for tending your relationship with each other. Its branches will reach toward the sun offering you both beauty and comfort for many years. So too will your marriage be a constant source of love and joy in your lives together. Plant it where you will see it often so that with each passing year it will remind you of today’s celebration.
A while back I helped a couple celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. We gathered with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren under an oak in their back yard. Their kids all knew the story and one of them shared with the rest of us that their parents had planted this tree in the first year of their marriage. Watching their great grandkids race and dance around its trunk really brought home the power of the image for me.
Now, when a couple brings a sapling in a barrel planter with a garden spade and a watering can to their wedding, I see it and them far out in their future. My wish is that your marriage is a source of comfort and beauty for you as well for years and years to come.
Rev. Dr. Rob Hundley has conducted 100s of weddings from cathedrals to mountain meadows. For more wedding ceremony ideas, contact him on his website, revrob.net.