The bride dipped her little finger in honey, and then in the groom’s mouth. The groom did the same. “May your marriage be sweeter than the honey you have both tasted today,” the officiant announced.

The wedding I attended this past weekend in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, was perfect. The bride and the groom were both stunning. They said their personal vows on the beach as the sun set in the background and a full moon was on the rise.  And as they sealed their marriage with a kiss, what seemed like many thousands of rose petals shot out of a contraption I’ll just call it a rose cannon, because I have never seen anything quite like it before.

More than the setting sun and the shooting rose pedals, however, what interested me most were the symbolic items that surrounded the bride and groom at the ceremony. These items comprised the sofreh aghd, the Persian wedding ceremony: A mirror, representing light and brightness in the future; candles, symbolizing energy and clarity; an assortment of herbs and spices to guard against the evil eye; a flatbread and coins to symbolize prosperity; eggs for fertility; a bible to symbolize God’s blessing for the couple, and so on—you can read more about the Persian marriage symbols here.

And perhaps it was because I attended this wedding solo, and I was missing my husband fiercely as I climbed into bed that night, exhausted from an evening of dancing and drinking, it was the symbols I could not get out of my mind as I lay in bed. I started thinking of the kind of symbols that might be appropriate to Mike and me—not at the beginning of our marriage, but 33 years in, with hopefully many more to follow. Here’s what I came up with in the middle of the night, when I should have been sleeping–a few symbols of our marriage of 33 years:

A Piece of Sailcloth: It’s rough, it’s tough and it’s long lasting…and it’s meant to get through any storm. The sailcloth also represents a life that we would like to have in our next stage, retiring on a sailboat.

Eggs: The hard-boiled kind, no longer fertile. Eggs also represent an empty nest, and the fact that we are no longer spring chickens. Eggs are also, more literally, what we cook for dinner three times a week now that the kids are all gone.

A Piece of Twine with Three Strands: representing the three fabulous human beings we created and nurtured, who will carry on our legacy, and whose lives (hopefully) will continue to be intertwined, long after we are gone.

A Bowl of Salt Water. Representing years of sweat (both from exercise and hard work); representing the ocean; representing tears that we have shed together.

Two Gray Crayons Tied With a Pink Bow. For getting through my breast cancer together and growing old together.

A Piece of Steel: symbolizing resilience.

A Small Pillow: symbolizing that we have fallen asleep together almost every night for 33 years.

A Turtle:  To remind us to slow down.

Johnny Walker : Because Johnny is my husband’s best friend…I can’t leave him out now.

A Bowl of Lemons: Because sometimes life does give you lemons. Because lemons are clean and fresh and because the color yellow makes me smile. And because Mike drinks his scotch with a twist.

A Mini Globe: Because we want to continue to travel the world.

A Butterfly: representing playfulness

This Imogee:

…Representing the best, and most important medicine.





A Star of David: Because being part of the Jewish community has been, and will continue to be, a big part of our lives.

A Bird of Paradise:  For remembering those we have loved and lost.

A Dime: Because if there is one thing we have realized in 33 years of marriage, it’s that life can turn on a dime.

Two big rocks: because that is what we are to each other.


What symbols would represent your marriage?  Be nice now….I was.


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