The Unity Candle is probably the most well-known of the unification ceremonies. In this ceremony, either the bride and groom may light their individual candles, or alternatively, the parents of the newlyweds may light the smaller taper candles, from which the bride and groom light the central unity candle. This ceremony symbolizes the union of two lives becoming one. The couple may keep the candle and re-light the candle each year on their anniversary. There are several biblical and other readings that reference the light within each of us that can be incorporated nicely.
The Tree Planting Ceremony symbolizes the joining together of two individuals or families by marriage. This popular ritual is conducted by placing a potted tree or sapling on a table with trowels and a watering can. Soil from the bride and groom’s childhood homes can be added to the pot, in addition to dirt from where the marital home is located, or any other place of significance. The bride and grooms’ parents or children can participate in this ritual, to signify joining of the families. The newlyweds can later transplant the sapling at their home or can work with a local non-profit to have the tree planted locally in the community. The tree symbolizes resilience, flexibility, strength, intertwinement, and need for continued care and nourishment.
The Sand Ceremony is a popular alternative to the Unity Candle because no flames are involved, and it lends itself well to beach themed weddings or outdoor ceremonies where it may be windy. Its meaning is simple and beautiful—two becoming one. The couple mix two different colors of sand into one container, thereby symbolizing their lives and hearts entwined. Once combined, it would be extremely difficult to separate the sand out again, just as the couple are so joined together. This is a great idea for blended families since children can also add sand to the family vase. Family members can bring sand from their favorite beaches or family beach homes.
One of the secrets of being happy with the one you love is to take hold lightly and let go lightly. Consider incorporating a Butterfly Release in your ceremony to celebrate your loved one and to honor the transformation of your love into marriage. As you release the gentle creatures, may your love transform itself and everyone it touches into its highest form. A Butterfly Release works best in temperate weather. There are several mail-order services that provide butterflies for your big day!
Hand Fasting is one of the oldest of the alternative unity ceremony ideas with its origins in Celtic and Pagan wedding customs. Hand fasting is the joining of the bride and groom’s hands and wrists using vines, cord, rope, or ribbon tied into a knot. It is often said that this is where we get the expression “tying the knot.” Hand Fasting often takes place during the vows, as a promise from one person to the other to bind their lives together. The Hand Fasting cords can be kept as a keepsake and framed, woven or otherwise preserved as a symbol of unity.
This is a great way of honoring the Bride & Groom's mothers or other family members during a wedding ceremony. The Rose or Flower ceremony allows the bride and groom a way for them to show gratitude for the love bestowed upon them. This ritual often occurs at the beginning of the ceremony to give thanks to the parents who raised the newlyweds and requires at least two roses.
Another version of a flower ceremony is that all of the guests, relatives and then the couple add a flower to a vase to create a beautiful bouquet--from which the marriage is seeded and blooms! The bouquet symbolizes the support that loved ones contribute to the couple and each other!
Believed to be an Irish wedding ceremony tradition, the warming of the rings takes place when the couple’s wedding bands are passed around by guests during the ceremony. Each person is asked to briefly hold the rings in their hands while also saying a short, silent prayer for the couple. Then the rings are returned to the couple with a final blessing, for a long, happy marriage.
Your wedding day is a day with loved ones, so it's only natural to want to include those friends and relatives who've passed away or who are unable to travel due to health conditions. Your inclusion of a deceased loved one or a relative with a health condition can be a private observance by including a symbolic white rose in your bouquet or as public as a brief “moment of silence” and a prayer for blessings on their behalf during your ceremony. Many couples may also honor a departed loved ones with a special table with sentimental photos.
A wine or beer ceremony can be a great choice for beer and wine connoisseurs. The ceremony is performed by drinking the beer or wine from the same cup or the bride and groom can feed the beer or wine to the other at the same time from separate cups to signify drinking from the same cup of life, no matter sweet or bitter, with the intention to nourish and support each other throughout their marriage. This ceremony needs a table with one to two glasses and your beer or wine of choice.