When planning our wedding (which you can read all about here), the most important thing to me was making sure that it felt like us. I wanted our venue, our clothing, our food, our ceremony, our invitations, our signage, our décor, our music–all of it, everything–to feel like us. I was not interested in a “cookie cutter” wedding and [in the kindest possible way] I didn’t care in the least whether people thought us weird or strange for our choices. In the end, not only was this the right way for us to plan our wedding, it also resulted in dozens of our guests remarking that they’d never been to a wedding that fit the marrying couple quite so well. Given my intentional planning, those words were taken to be highly complimentary.
Of all of the details and perhaps off-beat things that we planned so that our wedding would feel like us, my favorite was our foot washing ceremony. In fact, my favorite five minutes of our entire wedding day was our foot washing ceremony.
Many couples add a special mini-ceremony to their wedding ceremony–like a sand-pouring ceremony, a unity candle, a rope tying ceremony, planting a tree, or even nailing together a box with love letters and a bottle of wine to open during their first fight. All of those ceremonies are nice, but none were us. They were all a little too formal or forced and didn’t seem to fit with our vision. We wanted something real, gritty, even a little messy. Enter: the foot washing ceremony.
(I’ve dreamt of doing a foot washing ceremony at my wedding for years, but have had a lot of girlfriends scoff at the idea because “it’s weird.” But, of course, Riley loved the idea and thought it suited us perfectly. We prayed throughout our entire engagement for our wedding to exude Jesus–we desperately wanted our guests to experience the way He has wrapped us up in His perfect love and brought us together–and this ceremony was such a lovely reflection of Christ’s sacrificial love.)
John 13:2-5 (NIV)
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
When it came down to planning our foot washing, it was surprisingly difficult. I could find almost nothing online about how to gracefully incorporate something that’s so gritty (but beautiful!). Since we wrote our entire ceremony, I decided to tack it on to the wedding to-do list and create a plan myself.
The necessary items for a foot washing ceremony are: something to sit on, something to wash feet in, something to hold water, and something to dry feet off with. In my opinion, it’s also necessary to have a song playing or some other “distraction” to hold your guests’ attention while you and your husband enter into a tender moment together. (There are also a few logistics involved, like removing shoes and switching places, which take time and require concentration, so a “distraction” buys time, too.)
Here’s what we did: First, I bought a big white bowl from Home Goods and a pitcher and towels from IKEA. The chair was provided by our venue. (I have no idea where the pitcher was when our photographer took the above photo! I’m assuming our wedding coordinator was filling it up!)
I then asked our friends, Ross and Lauren Tyler, to perform “Love Goes On” by Hillsong during our foot washing. (I love that song and the lyrics fit the day perfectly…you can read a snippet of them below or watch the full performance below!) The Tylers have absolutely incredible voices (as you can hear in the video below) and we loved the idea of incorporating live music into our ceremony.
Ever our heart will seek
Jesus in everything
From sky to ocean deep
Your love goes on
Through every rise and fall
We are forever Yours
One thing we know is sure
Your love goes on and on and on…
“Love Goes On” by Hillsong
Finally, we spoke with our officiant (who is also our good friend), Chris, and asked him to offer an explanation before the foot washing so that our friends and family would be clued in to what we were doing. You can hear his brief-but-clear explanation in the video below! (As he says, this was the very last element of our ceremony before we were pronounced husband and wife, on purpose. That way, the first thing we did as a married couple was humbly serve one another. What a beautiful foundation to build a marriage on!)
You can watch our foot washing ceremony below or directly on YouTube here.
If you’re getting married, and a foot washing ceremony fits into your vision for your wedding day and marriage, I truly hope this post has been helpful. I’ve been there–I know how hard it is to find information on something so unique! Here’s to acts of service and gritty, real, authentic, gorgeous marriages that reflect our sweet Jesus.
use the images below for Pinterest