A crucible, for anyone not actively practicing chemistry or alchemy, is a container or a situation in which different elements interact, leading to the creation of something new.
A wedding is like a crucible because you pour two people into it and they emerge transformed – not as one person, of course, but as a newly married entity.
For the wedding officiant, it can be a little confusing as to where to place all those alchemical elements in order to get the desired transformation. For example, why do the vows tend to come with the ring exchange? Why do some couples choose readings? Why does the kiss come last? That’s when it is helpful to think about the wedding as an hourglass.
In this digital age, I feel compelled to define what an hourglass is. It’s how we used to keep track of time. An hourglass is a glass vessel divided into two compartments by a very narrow waist. Sand pours down from one end of the vial to the other in the space of an hour. (If you happen to still own one, it can be an effective and quiet timekeeper for meditation sessions.)
As you will see in the diagram I’ve created below, the wedding starts with a bunch of scattered elements (aka relatives and friends) arriving together at an agreed-upon place and time. That’s why we officiants start by acknowledging out loud why we are here, “gathered together,” so everyone can start on the same beat.
The rituals and readings slowly funnel everyone’s attention to the key spot, the narrow waist of the hourglass, which is when the crucible effect – the transformation – takes place. After that, we open things back up again, and generally end with a community gathering such as the wedding reception. I’m tinkering with this concept, so for any new officiants, I welcome your comments!