Ceremony for the Marriage of Faendryl in the Diaspora

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A Ceremony for the Marriage of Faendryl in the Diaspora is an Official GemStone IV Document, and it is protected from editing.

A Ceremony for the Marriage of Faendryl in the Diaspora

by Silvean and Lylia Rashere


Herein the authors have attempted to answer a real need among the Faendryl of the diaspora for guidance in the right conduct of a wedding. While we have endeavored to collate what we believe to be the best practices, it is not our intention to claim that this text is either exhaustive or definitive. Weddings serve a public function, but they are intensely personal as well; your wedding is your own.

To be physically distant from the glory of New Ta'Faendryl casts a certain pall over life, but distance cannot extinguish the passion of a people who walk with power and beauty wherever they may wander. To those among you who would become a mirror of the Patriarchal vision through the bringing together of two as one, we commend this work.

The Ceremony

At the appointed time, the persons to be married, at least two witnesses, and the officiant gather in an appropriate place.

The officiant faces the gathering and says:

Brothers and sisters, we have gathered here to witness the joining of two lives as one in sacred matrimony. Korthyr Faendryl, our first Patriarch, built a great basilica and shining city so that we might rightly understand his unifying vision for our people. In a world filled with signs, the inviolable covenant of marriage serves as one of the strongest sources of hope in our contemplation of Korthyr’s wisdom.

Declaration of Intent

The officiant addresses the bride by name:

Bride's name, is it your free intention to take this man as your husband; to be bound together as one, now and forever?

The bride answers:

It is my free intention.

The officiant addresses the bride once more:

Bride's name, once more I ask you, is it your free intention to take this man as your husband; to go forward two lives as one for the honor of the Patriarch and the glory of the Faendryl people?

The bride answers:

Once more, I answer you, it is my free intention.

The officiant addresses the groom by name:

Groom's name, is it your free intention to take this woman as your wife; to be bound together as one, now and forever?

The groom answers:

It is my free intention.

The officiant addresses the groom once more:

Groom's name, once more I ask you, is it your free intention to take this woman as your wife; to go forward two lives as one for the honor of the Patriarch and the glory of the Faendryl people?

The groom answers:

Once more, I answer you, it is my free intention.

The Blood Ritual

The officiant produces a suitable vessel containing wine, holds it up before the assembly, and says:

Since time immemorial, special gifts of sovereignty and wisdom have been manifest in the sacred blood of the Faendryl. Yshryth Faendryl, our fourteenth Patriarch, called upon us to use these gifts to ease the pains of a chaotic world by tempering the savagery of the lesser races with the promise of civilization. In the mingling of blood, we once again affirm the shared commitment of all Faendryl: one people, one Patriarch, one hope for the future.

The officiant produces a cutting instrument, a stickpin or small blade is customary, and holds it up before the assembly.

The officiant helps first the bride and then the groom to pierce the fourth finger of the left hand and then bleed at least one drop into the wine.

The officiant raises the vessel of blood and wine before the assembly and says:

With the Patriarch and all the prophets of the Faendryl people, we bear witness to the mystery of this sacred blood by which two are made one.

The officiant offers a drink from the vessel of blood and wine first to the bride and then to the groom.

The Solemn Vows

It is acceptable for the couple to join hands and exchange their own vows at this point if desired. If not, the officiant will lead them in the traditional form, beginning with the bride:

Love works a sorcery all its own and with these words you shall be consecrated to me. I, Bride's name, take you, Groom's name, as my husband and do solemnly vow to cherish you as my eternal companion.

At this point, a ring or other spousal token is given from bride to groom. The groom proceeds with the guidance of the officiant:

Love works a sorcery all its own and with these words you shall be consecrated to me. I, Groom's name, take you, Bride's name, as my wife and do solemnly vow to cherish you as my eternal companion.

At this point, a ring or other spousal token is given from groom to bride.

The Patriarchal Decree

The officiant asks the bride and groom to kneel, places his hands upon their heads, and says:

With the eyes of the Patriarch, I have witnessed the blood ritual. With the ears of the Patriarch, I have heard the solemn vows. With the hands of the Patriarch, I embrace the couple kneeling before us. And with the very voice of the Patriarch, I now pronounce that they are husband and wife.

The bride and groom rise and greet each other before departing with the rest of the wedding party.

End of Ceremony

Additional Rituals

A variety of additional rituals, including appropriate literary and musical performances, may be woven into the ceremony above as desired. Poems or songs in honor of Chesylcha Sukari Faendryl or the presiding Patriarch are frequent selections. Among ritual acts, the breaking of the rod and the planting of lor trees are the most popular.

Breaking of the Rod

Just before the couple greets each other as husband and wife, the groom holds up a wooden rod and makes a show of breaking it before the assembly. While the original meaning of this practice is somewhat obscure, it is now seen as an act of mourning for the Elven Empire.

Planting of the Lor Trees

From an essay on weapon and armor materials written by Drendale Vekrathin and Selkar Stonegrotto:

"Often called lovers' trees, it was the custom of the Faendryl elves to plant lor trees as a pair, and there are records of some of these famous pairs living well past 600 years. First found in abundance within the extensive forests surrounding the early Faendryl settlements, the lor has declined in succeeding centuries and is now quite rare. Efforts to initiate plantings of lor trees in other parts of the Elven Nations have met with little success, resulting in workable lor wood being extremely rare and expensive when it is found. The lor, with its graceful lofty boughs has long symbolized wisdom or having long sight with a clear vision of what is beyond and yet to come. For this reason, the most common use of lor wood is in the production of staves."

Japhrimel Laurentiu Faendryl and Gweniveer Moonglae incorporated the planting of one lor and one sephwir into their wedding ceremony prior to the vows.

Questions and Answers from a Discriminating Faendryl Gentleman

Who should officiate a Faendryl wedding?

The officiant should be a respected and learned Faendryl. It is customary for this person to do everything in their power to receive permission to perform the ceremony in the diaspora from the Patriarchal throne prior to the wedding. The act of requesting such permission is sufficient in itself for a valid ceremony.

Can a Faendryl marry another race?

In my opinion, it is permissible for a Faendryl to marry either an Elf or a Sylvan. This will require some changes to the ceremony above.

Can two Faendryl of the same sex marry?

This is permissible.

Where should one conduct a Faendryl wedding ceremony?

It is most desirable to conduct such a ceremony in a Faendryl embassy or in a natural setting.

What should one wear at a Faendryl wedding?

Local customs have become controlling in this regard. I recommend tasteful attire and liberal use of the Faendryl colors, i.e., scarlet and grey. It is traditional but not required for the bride to approach the wedding wearing a velvet or lace cowl that is then removed in view of the officiant and groom.

What is appropriate for a Faendryl wedding reception?

Displays of dancing prowess and sorcery are common. Essentially, the same things that are appropriate for Faendryl anywhere and everywhere: power and beauty, refinement and good taste.

Questions and Answers from an Elegant Faendryl Lady

The importance of time-honored ritual among the finest families is unrivaled. I felt, though, that many brides and grooms might wish more specific information about the small, sweet things that also make a wedding memorable. Having spent more time away from the grandest weddings and social events of high Faendryl society, I believe I can shed some light on how traditions have changed over time and blended with particularly charming local customs. The details of how a bride might wear her hair or what the flowers in her bouquet mean to her may not change the course of history as her choice of husband might, but they are important in their own right.

About that bouquet – which local flowers are appropriate?

Taste should be the guiding hand for all the couple's choices, but some flowers are particularly appropriate for a Faendryl ceremony. Tesseitre Carhiesel Illistim has written a magnificent treatise on the language of flowers, and I shall not try to outdo her encyclopedic work. It is the definitive glossary for the language of flowers. Because of their links to cultural touchstones, their lovely scent or their beauty, these blooms are especially favored by Faendryl brides:
Amaranth – The deep purple-red of amaranth blossoms never fades even after drying, making it a particularly apt symbol of everlasting love. The plant's unusual common name, love-lies-bleeding, links it to traditional Faendryl blood bonds in marriage. Some romantic tales suggest the gift of an amaranth has the power to make the recipient swoon with love for the giver, another possible origin of the love-lies-bleeding name.
Blaestonberry – The pink and white blooms with their almost candy-like fragrance connote sweetness and innocence. They are lovely in a bouquet for young brides but rarely appear in wedding flowers for renewal celebrations.
Carnation – Although it is a common flower, its showy colors and spicy scent are appropriate for wedding arrangements; however, they are more typically used in decorative pieces than in bouquets. Red carnations symbolize love and devotion, and pink is for pride. Yellow carnations can signify distaste or disdain, a message some Faendryl brides in inexpertly arranged marriages chose to send subtly with their bouquets.
Nightshade – Long associated with sorcery, the nightshade and all its variants are favorites of Faendryl grooms and brides. In some languages, its name means "beautiful lady" both for its allure and its use as a dangerous, but devastatingly effective cosmetic.
Lily – All kinds of lilies are appropriate for Faendryl weddings as they represent elegance and status. Small snow lilies and lilies of the valley are associated with a giving nature; fragrant stargazer lilies represent a happy union between great houses. Tall, slender calla lilies have little scent but great visual drama and are often associated with intellectual or spiritual beauty.
Queen's Lace – Like the Imaera's lace that grows in fields and common areas, queen's lace takes its name from its delicate appearance. It symbolizes one who cannot be commanded, and like yellow carnations, it was once used to send a subtle message in poorly matched arranged unions. However, its meaning has mellowed and changed with time to represent a marriage in which neither spouse commands the other.
Peony – In some traditions, peonies represent shyness, but that is not so in Faendryl custom. The large, showy blooms with their intoxicating fragrance are a symbol of pride or of fully blossomed, mature love. They are a favorite for vow renewals and for couples who are mature when they marry.
Rose – Every rose's color tells its own story. Red is, of course, for love, but even shades of red can tell an interesting tale. Deep reds and wines signify passion while bright reds suggest young love. Pink and blush roses, the symbols of first attraction, are not as often used in Faendryl wedding arrangements. Roses may also be chosen just for their beauty and fragrance with no particular meaning attached to them.
Violet – Their regal purple color and associations with the intellect make violets a favorite bloom to tuck amongst showier flowers in a bouquet. The unassuming flowers are also associated with promises to love and honor even in small ways, which is why a bouquet wholly of violets is sometimes used to signal devotion until the end of days.

Should the bride and groom write their own vows?

Historically, Faendryl weddings did not include personal vows from the bride and groom during the ceremony. Such professions of love were considered intensely personal and meant solely for one another; they were often exchanged after the wedding and in private. This tradition spared couples whose marriages were political pairings or unions of state the need to create a work of romantic fiction. Custom dictated that the wedding couple retreat from the festivities for a brief time before the reception for these private vows. As my husband noted, the etiquette of saying personal vows has relaxed considerably as local custom has blended with tradition. Only the strictest traditionalists would raise an eyebrow at public avowals today.
Themes for vows are as varied as the couples who write them. For those who adhere to the custom of exchanging private vows, there are no rules or guidelines; no one else will hear them, and each can speak freely to the other. For publicly spoken vows, eloquence and dignity are the usual hallmarks of a Faendryl wedding as it is celebrated locally. Extolling the virtues of the beloved, recounting a tale of how the couple met or realized their love or particular promises are usual subjects for self-written vows – though typically not all of the above, if only for the sake of brevity.

Who is in a traditional Faendryl wedding party?

The wedding party's size varies tremendously. Small families may be represented only by the bride and groom with no attendants while large ones may have a retinue of handmaids and pages. Traditionally, cup-bearers and rod-bearers for the ceremony, if any, are young; however, the practice of allowing small children to toddle before the wedding party inexpertly strewing flowers or handling the rings with sticky fingers is a strictly local custom. If the marriage is an arranged one, the arranger may also have a place in the wedding party, but he or she is more typically accorded a place of honor with the families of the bride and the groom.
Maids or matrons of honor are a regional tradition rather than a specifically Faendryl one, but many Faendryl brides readily embrace the custom of having a close friend stand with them at the wedding. Similarly, the concept of a best man is not native to all Faendryl wedding celebrations, but many grooms find the notion appealing and welcome it. In some weddings, these members of the wedding party hold the traditional rings, wristlets or other ceremonial jewelry the couple has chosen.
Many traditional Faendryl weddings represent a union of families and political entities as well as of one couple, but that is not always the case for the far-flung Faendryl of our region. Some couples have family to stand with them, but others do not; their families are too distant to travel readily to a frontier wedding. Because of this, wedding attendants have earned a more prominent place in wedding ceremonies of the diaspora.

What do the bride and her wedding party traditionally wear?

Local and regional tastes often prevail in wedding attire, largely because the difficulty and costs of procuring entire suits of traditional wedding silks in distant lands – for example, in a port town on the border of the Turamzzyrian Empire – are prohibitive. Some brides have adopted the custom of wearing white, but that is more a matter of fashion than tradition. White is a symbol of innocence, and innocence is not typically as highly prized as keen intellect, great power, or other virtues the bride possesses. Because of this, any color is suitable, but many brides choose hues that are most flattering to them. Jewel tones go equally well with the magnificently wide range of skin colors found among the Faendryl and are often favored.
Silk is the traditional choice for bridal attire because of its rarity, beauty and price, but beyond that common thread (so to speak), brides have an astonishing array of choices that align with standards of beauty and taste. Some brides prefer ethereal layers of fine silk that float as the wearer moves; others embrace richly embroidered fabrics heavy with goldwork or silverwork designs. Laceron, a beaded thread of gold or silver, is popular for wealthier brides. The overall effect should be one of regal grace and beauty rather than excess, though, and many of the details on a bride's gown are only visible upon close inspection.
As my husband noted, wearing a veil or cowl is a local custom that has permeated Faendryl wedding traditions as well. Originally meant as a way to conceal the bride from unwanted magics such as Evil Eye spells from a spurned suitor or two, veils are now largely used solely for their own beauty or for the spectacular effect of lifting them at the end of the ceremony. Veils may be as simple as a length of sheer fabric draped about the bride's head and shoulders or as complex as a beaded and gilded length of finest silk that obscures her from view until the ceremony's conclusion. Some brides may also choose to wear flowers in their hair in lieu of a veil. Personal tastes come to the fore with this untraditional but lovely addition to wedding attire for the bride.
The wedding party members, like the bride, have tremendous latitude in what they wear. It is, however, customary for the bride to seek her handmaids' agreement rather than dictating what they must wear. Traditionally, a Faendryl wedding is about more than a couple's union, and it would not be seemly for a bride to deliver orders to her groom's sister when the latter is of a higher social status outside the wedding's ceremonial roles. Because of this, consensus rather than command is preferable. Regardless of their social status, as part of the wedding party, maids generally wear less ornate clothing and jewelry than the bride on the wedding day.
Grey is a favorite color among brides and the wedding party both because of its significance to the House of Faendryl and its ability to set off vivid hues spectacularly. Often paired with scarlet, it is the color of choice for many grooms and groomsmen, most of whom prefer to let the bride's more elaborate gown speak for the couple's wealth and taste. Black, sometimes considered a somber hue or a color of mourning locally, is also beloved of many Faendryl brides and maids; like grey, it beautifully highlights other rich colors. It is also a color associated with sorcery and as such is always appropriate for wedding attire among guests.

What foods are traditionally served at Faendryl wedding celebrations?

Few things are as much a matter of taste as . . . well, taste. Couples should choose a menu primarily by their own likes and dislikes. Do not feel obligated to serve a traditional dish such as nine fishes in paper or preserved lemons if they are intolerable to you. However, it is worth noting some customary dishes and the often charming tales behind them:
Almonds – This is one of those happy occasions in which local custom and Faendryl tradition overlap, possibly because almonds are delicious to everyone. Often dipped or rolled in colored sugars, the almonds are traditionally served in silver cups with six almonds apiece. Each represents a different wish for the couple – happiness, mutual love, affluence, a life filled with beauty, prestige, and a quick victory over enemies.
Honeyed lemons – Symbolizing the transformation of bitterness into sweetness through connubial bliss, salt-preserved lemons rolled in honey are an admittedly acquired taste. Many couples now adapt the dish by serving pastries flavored with lemon and honey instead of the tart, salty wedges themselves.
Spiced rolton or goat – It is customary to serve chopped, spiced meat, usually rolton or goat, in a single large dish; everyone takes their taste of it with the fingers or with a bit of flat bread to symbolize unity under the Patriarch. "By sharing one dish," this custom suggests, "we are one people." The bride or groom who blanches at eating meat can replace the dish with grains served from the same great platter. It is the social nature of dining together, not the food itself, which makes the statement.
Doves in cameline – Any small bird, such as quail or pitohui, is appropriate for this dish. Many times, the doves released at the end of a ceremony will reappear on the plate at the height of the reception. Cameline sauce flavored with cinnamon, saffron, and ginger is always festive, but it is especially so with roast fowl.
Nine fishes in paper – Although served at a celebratory feast, this dish has a dark history. It commemorates the nine Patriarchs murdered in the centuries between the death of Khalar Andiris Faendryl and the ascension of Geniselle Anaya Faendryl, the first of the three Matriarchs. The paper wrapping in which the fish are cooked symbolizes Yshryth Silvius Faendryl's immemorial speech that again brought unity to a troubled House and solidified the position of the Patriarch as supreme.
Wedding cakes – The symbolism of a sweet delight in which everyone shares is, of course, appropriate to a wedding, but it is also a means of expressing prestige. These towering confections are dramatic enough to elicit a gasp when they are brought into the reception hall and unveiled. According to local custom, single people should save a crumb of the cake and wrap it in a lor leaf or bit of birch bark. Place the cake under a pillow, and it is said to reveal the face of one's eventual beloved in a dream.

Are renewals of vows common?

Many Faendryl couples choose to renew their vows, and although they are meant to last eternally, renewal ceremonies often mark a change or new phase such as having children or departing on a lengthy journey. The moons change their faces and rivers their course, yet they remain; the same philosophy governs renewal celebrations, which are typically less formal but no less festive than a first wedding. Among some families, renewals are often a gift-giving occasion, but one in which the couple gives to the guests. Wealthy couples have been known to compete at throwing ever more lavish renewals, but traditionalists frown on excess as much as on parsimony.
Last Revised on Volnes, the 21st day of Koaratos, during the reign of Korvath Dardanus Faendryl, Patriarch XXXIX, honor to his name.

Published on November 16, 2014.