November 18, 2019
Years ago, when I started officiating weddings, I stumbled onto a ceremony element that was practical and surprisingly meaningful. It’s called a Wine Box.
So, I say practical, but I was just looking for something besides a Unity Candle. Unity Candles are traditional and work as a beautiful centerpiece in a large church sanctuary or cathedral. But they do not work well outside or in a barn venue. The candles would blow out and then I would insert a corny joke about keeping the flames lit.
That’s where the wine box came in. It is a simple idea. You get a box. An actual wine box made for the day or a homemade box. It must be big enough for a bottle of wine and have space for two letters. That’s it.
Before the ceremony, the couple each take time to write a letter to each other: a love letter. During the ceremony, the couple places the bottle of wine inside the box along with the letters. They seal the box and commit to opening the box on their box on their anniversary. On that first anniversary, they drink the wine, read the letters, remember all the cool things that happened on wedding day and through their first year as a married couple. Then they return the letters to the box, place another bottle of wine inside and repeat this the following year. And they do this every year, as many times as they possibly can.
It is beautiful and simple. But there was a surprising result after many ceremonies. The comments, compliments, and questions about the box came from the older guests. It never failed that someone would come up and ask where I got the idea or simply say that was their favorite part. There reactions sometimes outweighed the reaction from the couple themselves. I realized these older guests knew what 10, 25, 40 bottles of wine looked like and the work that goes into making that a reality.
Returning to a physical element from your wedding ceremony is powerful.
I love the whole process. Returning to a physical element from your wedding ceremony is powerful. No one really does this with candles (unless the power is out) or containers of sand (unless the cat or children knock them off the shelf). I often joke with the couples on wedding day to open the box on their anniversary, unless they have a huge argument, then they should open the box immediately. In reality, it can be a reminder or at times a life preserver. 10 years from now, the couple will have scope and perspective. The words may seem simplistic or even naïve. The years change you. But this simple reminder is a good thing. While I wish I could put every couple’s feelings of joy, excitement and love in a magical bottle, this may be the closest thing.
The wine box can be a tradition, a reminder or at times a life preserver!
Already married? This might be a fun activity to retrofit. Go through the box process and see if you can find a copy of your vows. Many times, couples will write letters to each other on wedding day. What did you do with them? Get them out, read them and start the box from where you are.
-This can involve parents. Many times it is the couple that just writes letters. But you can also involve parents. This does capture the symbolic heart of the unity candle ceremony. Having the mothers light the candles represents the joining of two families. But having your parents write letters is also very special.
-It does not have to be a wine box. I have done whiskey boxes, scotch box, whatever. I even once did a moonshine box! And for those who don’t drink or for some venues that don’t allow alcohol, you can simply do a letter box.
-I have seen some couples keep a small glass container to the side of the box for the corks. Every year the corks keep piling up. Another small visual reminder.
-You can order a box (just visit Etsy and search wedding wine box). But some of the best boxes I have seen have been made by family members. If you have a parent or relative who does woodworking, just ask them to make a box for the ceremony. It becomes even more meaningful.
Misty and David found (or made) a wooden box to hold a bottle of wine and each of them wrote a love-letter to the other, expressing their feelings, why and how they fell in love and their hopes for the future. They have kept these letters secret and they will seal them in the box with the bottle of wine.
They are going to open the box every anniversary. They will drink the wine and read the letters, remembering all the wonderful things that happened today and during their first year as a married couple. They will then put in a new bottle of wine, place the letters back inside and reseal it. Every year in celebration of their love David and Misty have promised to open the box, drink the wine together and read the letter that they wrote to each other in preparation for today, as a reminder of their love.
Like good wine, a great love will deepen and mature with age. As a part of today’s ceremony, John and Susan have captured their thoughts leading up to this day in personal notes to each other. Also, they have asked their parents to compose notes as well, containing their thoughts and their most important piece of advice to the couple as they journey through life together. These notes will be sealed in this box to be opened and shared together with a bottle of wine on every anniversary celebration.
It is at this time I would ask the parents to come forward and place their note and a bottle of wine inside this box.
And I now ask that John and Susan place their letters to each other with a bottle of wine. On that joyous day next year, they will get to reflect on the events and emotions they shared today. Or, if you should ever find their marriage in serious trouble, the wine and love letters would be there to help. Before making any rash choices or decisions, John and Susan have promised to open the box, drink the wine together and read the letter that they wrote to each other in preparation for today, as a reminder of their love. I will now ask the couple to seal the box.
Behind me on this table is a wooden box. It's nothing fancy, just pieces of plywood nailed together, but Kim and Steve have vowed to place this box in a place of honor by the fireplace in their living room as a constant reminder of their commitment to each other.
Kim and Steve found this box to hold a bottle of wine and two wine glasses. Each of them wrote a love-letter to the other, expressing their feelings, why and how they fell in love and their hopes for the future. They kept these letters secret and they will seal them in the box with a bottle of wine and two glasses.
They will open the box on their anniversary, in celebration of their love. Or, if the pair should ever find their marriage in serious trouble, the wine and love letters would be there to help. Steve and Kim have promised to open the box, drink the wine together and read the letter that they wrote to each other in preparation for today, as a reminder of their love. After placing their letters inside, Steve and Kim will nail the crate shut to symbolize their firm promise.