We are getting hitched as the moon passes between the sun and Earth during the Great American Eclipse on August 21, 2017. It's a bit of an odd time to get married, 11:30am on a Monday, but our friends and family are up for it, so we are hauling our SoCal friends to the bride's family's 100+ year old farm property. Any advice? – Angela
Great question! Every now and then, the cosmos do something really cool. We refer to these happenings as “Celestial Events,” defined by Wikipedia as “an astronomical phenomenon of interest that involves one or more celestial bodies.”
Celestial events range from common phenomena like full moons to awesome-looking, much less frequent occurrences such as meteor showers and eclipses to awe-inspiring, rare miracles like the planets aligning.
If you're planning an eclipse wedding during the Great American Eclipse (or another celestial event), here are some tips to keep in mind…
Do your research
While celestial events may sound obscure and hard to foresee, surprisingly, they’re generally predictable and listed online! As the first step in this process, we recommend checking a resource like Sea and Sky’s Astronomy Calendar, which lists predicted celestial events by year, as well as the date they’re expected to happen on.
Navigate to the year you’re eyeing for the big day and scroll through the events, looking for one that’s interesting to you or meaningful to your relationship. Unless you already have one in mind, of course, as you do!
Align that celebration
When you find a fitting celestial event, chat with your partner and wedding vendors about holding your ceremony at the same time as the occurrence.
Keep in mind that your wedding’s time of day, as well as your venue, will both play a role in how conspicuous the celestial event is. Many celestial events, like meteor showers, are most visible at night, while others, such as a solar eclipse, are seen during the day. Be sure to schedule your wedding during a time that your event of choice is most likely to be viewable.
I’ve found that it’s much easier to discern things in the night sky when you’re not around a bunch of lights. With that in mind, you may also want to consider holding the wedding in a natural or rural setting.
Include the event
Rather than simply hold your wedding at the same time as a celestial event, the experience will be much more powerful if you tie it into your celebration in different ways. Here are a few ideas:
So much meaning can be derived from celestial events. Do some brainstorming around metaphors that can be drawn from the cosmic experience (especially if they align with your spiritual practices) and incorporated into your vows. There are all kinds of directions you can go with this. On a general level, comparisons can be drawn between the rare, unique nature of the celestial event and the rare, unique nature of your relationship. Depending on the celestial event you choose, there are all kinds of more specific metaphors that can add color to your vows.
Binoculars or a telescope would make a great addition to the reception, bringing guests together over the celestial event while giving them something to share and talk about.
Consider choosing a location that complements the celestial event. Perhaps you could use an observatory as your venue. Or, maybe your celebration could be held outdoors, with you and your guests camping under the stars after the ceremony.
With some creative thinking, the sky's the limit when it comes to interesting ways to fold a celestial event into your wedding.
One crucial aspect about all of this to keep in mind is that what happens in the sky is 100% outside of your control. Any time you try to sync a wedding with an event that you have no control over, there’s a level of risk that the two may not align perfectly.
Maybe clouds will block out the celestial event. Maybe the source that provided you with the event’s date and time will have incorrect information. Maybe the traffic nearby will be unmanageable. There are all kinds of unpredictable situations that may make a clear viewing of the celestial event difficult.
My advice with anything wedding-related is to be open and accepting of whatever ends up happening. Any planned experiences at a wedding may not happen exactly as you envision and being okay with that is the path to an enjoyable celebration. As a matter of fact, I think that that the spontaneity of a wedding and the reality that there are so many different scenarios that could play out is what makes the celebration so exciting.
Say a storm rolls in and obscures the sky, the fact that your wedding is happening in conjunction with a once-in-a-lifetime event is amazing and that should be celebrated. Say that you make a mistake when scheduling the wedding and you miss the celestial event; luckily, there’s a seemingly infinite amount of other amazing things in the night sky that you can focus the telescope on.
Check in with local parking and traffic authorities to make sure that your venue will be accessible when you're there, too.
So start your marriage with a big bang: tie your wedding to a celestial event (like your eclipse wedding!), be open to whatever possibilities it presents, and then marvel at the wonders of the cosmos while celebrating the magic of your relationship.