Is a labyrinth the same thing as a maze? Why would someone want to get lost at their own wedding?
A labyrinth is different from a maze. A labyrinth is a single pathway that you can follow into the center and back out again. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth never forces you to make choices, and there are no blind alleys or wrong turns. Because there is only one pathway to follow in a labyrinth, you cannot get lost in it.
Can people of all religious traditions have a labyrinth wedding?
Yes, because the image of going into the center and coming back out again is so simple and so universal, it works with any religious or spiritual tradition. A Christian couple might design the ceremony using the service from the Book of Common Prayer, just as a wedding canopy, or chuppah, could be built in the center of the labyrinth, for example, at a Jewish wedding. A labyrinth can also work particularly well for couples who do not have a traditional religious background, as it can be the framework of a ceremony that the couple create themselves. The labyrinth is a clear space for whatever we wish to bring to it--traditional, nontraditional, or anything in between.
How can I find an officiant who is willing to perform a ceremony on a labyrinth?
It is possible that your own priest, minister, rabbi, or spiritual director is already familiar with the practice of using labyrinths for walking meditation, which is becoming more popular and more well known all the time. If they are not open to the possibility of incorporating the labyrinth into your wedding service, then you must decide if having a labyrinth wedding is more important to you than having that individual perform the service. If the labyrinth ceremony is your priority, you will need to look further to find someone either by networking, word of mouth, or maybe even through the internet. We are blessed in this country with countless religious traditions to choose from and people within them who range from the most conservative to the most liberal.
Does any labyrinth work for a labyrinth wedding?
Yes, but you will find that most are not ideal. The 11-circuit Chartres Cathedral labyrinth is a very long pathway that becomes tedious to use for a ceremony. The classical seven-circuit labyrinth usually has a very small center that will not accommodate more than one person at a time. In addition, both of these labyrinths have narrow pathways which might be OK while each person is walking into the center alone, but which become impossible to navigate when the couple walk out from the center together at the end of the ceremony. A simple three-circuit labyrinth with extra wide pathways and a spacious center solved both of these problems for me and is what I recommend for labyrinth weddings.
Making your own labyrinth
There is something so special about being able to walk a full-size labyrinth, you may find yourself wishing you had one of your own. While creating a labyrinth has its challenges, it is not impossible. You may not have a field in which you can mow a labyrinth, or a garden or yard with enough space. Even so, you can create your own labyrinth.
The portable labyrinths used by the Labyrinth Project of Connecticut for public walks are made from duck, which is very thick canvas. They are large and heavy, and are each constructed in two or three sections to accommodate storage and travel. For public walks, such durable, industrial-strength canvas is crucial. To create a portable labyrinth for your own use does not require you to go to such lengths. All you need is a flat white king-size bedsheet to make a wonderful, personal portable labyrinth.
Use the seed pattern on the first page to draw the three-circuit labyrinth on the sheet (use an indelible marker that will hold up to washing). Suddenly, you have a labyrinth you can walk anywhere there's space to lay out the sheet. In addition to walking, you can sleep under the labyrinth. Imprint the labyrinth on your dreams!
Labyrinth instructions reprinted with permission of the publisher, Penguin Compass.