Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be publishing several posts on meaningful rituals. Please read the initial post on rituals before reading the specific ideas for ways to incorporate a ritual into your ceremony. Although these are written for women getting married, they can be adapted or modified for men and for other transitions, like becoming a parent. And I’d love to hear about the meaningful rituals you incorporated into any of your life cycle transitions.

For those who balk at the idea of an emotionally vulnerable shower that involves intimate sharing, a Ropes Course is a powerful and meaningful way to ritualize the transition into marriage while bonding with one’s friends.

A Ropes Course is an adventuresome way to challenge one’s fear through participating in a series of activities that involve heights. Each Ropes Course is different, but they all consist of a number of separate challenges varying in height and difficulty. High Ropes Courses range from balance beams to cable crossings to complex climbing structures. As you climb the high challenges, you are attached to a safety rope and belayed similarly to rock climbing. If at any time you fall or decide to come down, the belayer will safely lower you back to the ground.

A Ropes Course is an apt metaphor for entering into marriage. Like marriage, this adventure will challenge you to overcome your perceived boundaries, expand your comfort zone and accomplish more than you’ve imagined possible, for this experience has the potential of stripping you bare and allowing you to see that which is essential. Through challenging one’s fears in a supportive environment, each person has an opportunity to come up against their growing edge and see how far beyond their edge they’re willing to go.

Lauren describes the experience and what it meant to her:

“I knew that I didn’t want to have the traditional bridal shower where we sat in a restaurant and I got a lot of underwear. And I also knew that doing something more emotional like sitting in a circle and talking about marriage didn’t appeal to me. I’m an action person; I learn best through activities and I also wanted to have a lot of fun on that day. So the Ropes Course seemed ideal.

“I had never done a Ropes Course before so I had no idea what to expect. But when we got to the location and the leader demonstrated what we would do, I felt terrified! As I climbed up the ropes I could feel my terror increase, but when I got to the top and jumped, I felt exhilerated. It was a direct experience of feeling scared, seeing all my friends below cheering me on, pushing past the fear, and just jumping and trusting that the ropes would hold me and I was safe. I went from terror to joy in a matter of minutes, and this is exactly how the leap into marriage has been…”

Bungee jumping and skydiving are other adventurous initiations that utilize the principle of air. They can be effective alternatives to the traditional (and meaningless) bachelor party.

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