Published: Wednesday, Mar. 17th, 2021
A Love Letter Ceremony, where partners exchange sealed letters during their wedding, is a thoughtful alternative to common unity rituals.
This ritual allows couples to privately share their love and wedding day sentiments on paper, and then revisit those emotions later, on a meaningful date like an anniversary, when the letters are finally opened and read.
The exchange can be combined with a wine box unity ritual, embellished with a handmade chest, or enriched with letters from parents and other elders, making it a versatile unity ritual.
This decorative art is an elaborate technique for folding a handwritten letter into its own protective envelope, using multiple creases, folds, strips, and slits of the letter itself to secure the ‘lock.’
Originally, letterlocking acted as a centuries-old version of email encryption -- a method of sealing sensitive personal letters away from prying eyes. The method was used by regular folks and royalty alike, popular since the time paper was invented, all the way up until the 1800s. And because each person preferred different folding patterns and styles of ‘locks’, often sticking with one or two favorite styles, it almost served as a second, heartfelt signature!
A partially opened love letter, via Letterlocking.org
With these romantic and exciting origins in mind, it’s easy to see how letterlocking can add a charming element to modern weddings… as two lovebirds seal their words of devotion away in a ceremonial fashion for later reading.
Instead of simply securing your letter in an envelope and slipping it away until an anniversary reading, consider a traditional and truly individual touch that inspires feelings of romance, curiosity, and Renaissance flair! (This is also a great addition to a medieval themed wedding!)
To get started, here’s a short instructional video of Queen Elizabeth I’s signature spiral lock, used on a personal letter to Henry III, King of France.
The above technique is demonstrated by Jana Dambrogio, MIT Libraries’ conservator and the kickass researcher who coined the term ‘letterlocking.’
Other types of locks and fascinating history can also be found on Dambrogio’s website.
Or read Navigating Your Wedding Ceremony and learn how to craft a one-of-a-kind custom ceremony from start to finish.
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