Wishing Wells (and why they shouldn’t just be ‘somewhere to put the money’)

If you’ve been playing along at home, you’ll know that The Wedding Whisperer decorated some of the Porta-Loos at this years Relay for Life in Nelson. I’d tossed in a wishing well, because it seemed to fit the visual theme, and once it was there, it seemed logical to add a sign inviting Relay-ers to make a wish and drop it in the well.

That little ‘throw-away’ action prompted this post.

Without anything further being said or done to promote the idea, a steady stream of people came, wrote out their wish and put it in the well. Some came back and made more wishes as the event progressed.

They varied from a quick, almost furtive scribble and drop, to communal chats and consensus over the exact wording, which ranged covered the range from the pragmatic “I wish the wind would quit” and generic “Peace to all” to the heartfelt “I wish I had a pony and mum and dad were back together again”. Extravagant wishes – [Justin Bieber, anyone?]’ made with the same fervency as  ‘I wish my cat Tigger would come back and live with us”, and “I wish I had a warmer jacket”

And always, the underlying wishes of Relay for Life: I wish that no-ne would die of cancer. I wish that my mother will get better. I wish that my baby is Resting in Peace. I wish my mum could know I made the netball team. I wish you were here. I wish they will find a cure. I wish I could see my granddad again. I wish I can be here for the next Relay for Life.

Reading through the wishes this morning, after I had unpacked the car, was an extremely moving experience. I’ll be taking the wishes in to the Cancer Society later today, and hope they can find an appropriate way to share them.

Wishing wells are one of the newer traditions associated with weddings – essentially a pretty place for guests to put their envelope gifts and cards. I’ve always thought it was the perfect excuse to invite guests to also write a few lines of good will or advice, or whatever, for the couple. A guest book used to serve that function, but so often it simply becomes just another list of guests names. By actively inviting your guests to make a wish or a blessing for you, you create an opportunity for them to share their heart with you. Sure you’ll get some nonsense “I hope you didn’t buy your bed from Farmers- they stand behind everything they sell!” but I guarantee you’ll also get some thought-provoking and moving responses, with messages you’ll treasure for years to come.

Reading through the giant pile of wishes accumulated during the Relay, I’m even more convinced that this is a tradition that deserves to be adopted and embraced. I feel so strongly about it, that I’m getting cards printed up to include with each of our wishing well hire kits.



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