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Wedding Ceremony Unity Ritual Spotlight: Chocolate Tasting + Sharing

Charles Schulz wrote, “All you need is love – but a little chocolate now and then never hurt!”

At the end of their first date, Jesse surprised Amity by handing her a bag of homemade chocolate chip cookies. Sharing chocolate remained a theme for this couple when Amity, to celebrate their first anniversary, presented Jesse with a special box of Moonstruck handcrafted chocolate truffles.
“Besides being good for the heart, chocolate brings to it a complexity of flavor—it is inherently sweet and bitter. By sharing in this chocolate, you are showing that you will share in every happiness together. Every joy and every sadness. And together you will face the hardships and adversities of life, always confident that the good will return.”—Alisa Tongg, Celebrant
Inspired by Jesse’s connoisseur passion, this couple used chocolate in their wedding ceremony to illustrate the traditional promise to love “for better or worse”. Amity and Jesse’s chocolate tasting ritual served as a promise not only of the years to come, but also a reminder of the times they have already shared. 

In their generous and inclusive style, Amity and Jesse then invited their family and friends to also partake in their special wedding chocolate.
For the future they hope life will bring many occasions to celebrate their passion for each other as well as for exquisite chocolates. Amity and Jesse honeymooned in Portland, Oregon, the home of Moonstruck.
“As you have shared in these chocolates, may you find your life's joys heightened, it's bitterness sweetened and all of life enriched by your love for each other.”—Alisa Tongg, Celebrant
Emily Wren Photography
Moonstruck Chocolate
The Manor House at Prophecy Creek
Two Little Birds Planning
Robertson’s Flowers

Rachael + Ed, With A Little Help From Their Friends

Rachael + Ed set their promises in stone at the Mountain Springs Lake Resort on a perfect May day. Their wedding ceremony involved thoughtful physical participation, involved many senses and will not soon be forgotten by their family and friends.
Rachael's Aunts and Uncles who usually play for family weddings, serenaded the guests with a moving performance of "Sunrise, Sunset" as the wedding party processed up the aisle.
The sun shines on Ed as Rachael arrives.
"Today two families and a great group of friends are coming together for Rachael and Ed. In this spirit of love and unity, we will now participate in passing the sign of Peace..." Alisa Tongg, Celebrant
Ring Blessing: Rachael + Ed's rings were passed through the crowd, giving friends a chance to add their own silent prayers, wishes, hopes and dreams for the couple and their marriage, before the couple exchanged them later in the service.
 “This is the man whose generous heart and quick wit never fail to bring laughter to those around him wherever he goes.” Alisa Tongg, Celebrant
Ed proposed to Rachael at the foot of a bridge in Central Park (his groomsman Pat was hiding in the bushes taking pictures). To honor their love story, they brought a stone from that same spot to be used as an oathing stone during their ceremony. The Celts had a custom when making agreements, they believed that words spoken near stones would get set into them, therefore making agreements more binding. When Ed and Rachael exchanged vows, they placed their hands on their oathing stone, setting their promises directly into it.

Rachael and Ed set their promises in this oathing stone harvested from Central Park, from the foot of the bridge where they got engaged.
After Ed and Rachael's first kiss, they finished their ceremony with my Seven Steps into the Sunset, that's where seven friends each bestow a blessing upon the couple as the couple takes symbolic steps back down the aisle. For this couple, who were surrounded by the most supportive and loving family and friends, this was a particularly beautiful moment to behold. When I asked Ed what his hopes were for the future, he said, “we hope to have a strong family and strong marriage. We’re looking forward to the next part of our journey as our love continues to grow…”
"May you choose to see beauty in the world and find the courage in your partnership to pursue your dreams together."-Alisa Tongg, Celebrant

These beautiful and soulful moments were captured by none other than the talented Jessica DeLorenzo of DeLorenzo Photography

Ganga + Joe, Dreaming Together

Joe and Ganga wanted a wedding ceremony that would tell their love story while combining the traditions from their Catholic and Sri Lankan Buddhist cultures. They were married at Philadelphia’s Top of the Tower this summer, surrounded by family and friends who had traveled from all over the world to witness the start of their marriage.
The best of both worlds, the bride wore two dresses for the occasion.
For Joe and Ganga, when love came knocking, it was easy to let it in. When Joe and Ganga met for their first date, they made plans to meet for drinks at the Black Sheep Pub, on the corner of 16th + Spruce Street. This particular location was selected because Ganga and Joe had discovered that they lived in the same neighborhood, on the same street, just two blocks apart. Joe was Spruce + 17th and Ganga was at Spruce + 15th. 

Leading up to this date, Ganga’s sister Dunisha, impressed with everything she knew about Joe and his genuine nature, was excited for Ganga and encouraged her by saying, “now THAT sounds like the kind of guy you need in your life!”
Ganga with their dog, Daphne

Conversation flowed easily between these two, and Ganga says, “Needless to say, it was a great first date.” Joe agrees, and says that “since our first date, we have been inseparable … we do everything together.” He says, “since that first date, things still continue to get better and better.” Living so close was certainly an advantage and they developed a very close bond early on. It didn’t take long for them to realize they were perfect for each other. 

Shortly after they moved in together, Joe left work early and came home to clean up and prepare for Ganga. He lit some candles, made sure “Marry Me” by Train was playing softly in the background and when Ganga walked in the door, he was holding a ring box. Joe went down on one knee…but then he says, in the weight of the moment, his mind went blank and he “completely forgot what he wanted to say.” Thankfully as a doctor, Ganga is used to reading vitals signs and physiological clues – and she understood Joe perfectly and accepted. They spent the rest of the evening calling friends and family and enjoying a take-out meal so their dog Daphne could celebrate with them.
The high-fiving couple, Joe and Ganga, made sure that their pup Daphne was also represented on their wedding cake.
Their Wedding Ceremony Joe and Ganga stood on a traditional Sri Lankan poruwa or “wedding stage” as way of honoring Ganga's Sri Lankan heritage as well as their desire to build a family together.

Remembrance: A week before he passed away, Ganga's father, Indran Ranasuriya told her that he "would send someone to her". And he did, just a few weeks later Joe came into Ganga's life. Always close to her heart and in her thoughts, as a remembrance to her father, Ganga had a brooch pin made with her father's portrait and fixed it to the bouquet she carried throughout the celebration.

Nuptial Knot In this beautiful Sri Lankan tradition the bride and groom’s pinkies are bond together with a golden thread. This is done as a reminder that the bond of love is a precious one, but one that is fragile and must be protected and cared for. Water is used to bestow a blessing of purification on the new commitment. Ganga’s Uncle Ranjith was asked to tie the couple’s nuptial knot using this delicate gold thread, then said a marital blessing as he poured water over their bond pinkies--making sure to collect all the drops in this heirloom brass pitcher and bowl set.

As the Joe and Ganga’s pinkies were still bound, three bridesmaids delighted everyone by singing two verses from the Jaya Mangala Gatha, bestowing a traditional blessing on Joe and Ganga.
"These are the fingers that send you loving texts throughout the day so you know he’s always thinking about you,…and the hands that retrieve out-of-reach items from the top shelves in the kitchen, twist open your bottles of Diet Pepsi and bring you back gifts when he’s been out.” --Alisa Tongg, Celebrant
Joe places a wedding band on Ganga's finger, "She's warm and friendly, hardworking and organized, intelligent and very goofy. She's got an infectious laugh and you love her dimples when she smiles. Everything Ganga does, is done with love. She's the 'sweetest, funniest and smartest person' you know."--Alisa Tongg, Celebrant
"May your future be a bright one, and may your love for each other provide an example to those around you."--Alisa Tongg, Celebrant
At the conclusion of their ceremony, Ganga and Joe lit an oil lamp to signify the start of and their shared hope for a bright and energetic future.

For the future, Joe says that he hopes that they “will keep joking and having fun as they grow old together.” And Ganga adds, “I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s my best friend. We do everything together, we want the same things in life and want to achieve those dreams together…”

Joe and Ganga are congratulated by their sisters.

Thank you to Anthony Duca, for being so generous and sharing these images from Joe and Ganga's colorful and lively wedding celebration. All photographs by Duca Studio.