The Unity Ceremony

There are many ways to symbolize the bringing together of two families by adding a unity ceremony to the ceremony. The unity ceremony embodies so many powerful emotions and the mood of this event changes dramatically when each couple brings their own personal style, ideas, and personality to the service.  It can be fun, silly, and joyous and full of laughter. It may be rooted in religious or cultural tradition and hold and extremely deep symbolic meaning for the bride, groom, families, and attendees. Or perhaps it's the bride and groom's way to express the blending of their family to their small children who may not be old enough to grasp the concept of marriage. What we love about the unity ceremony is the bride and groom get to share a special moment between each other surrounded by loved ones.

All of the below can be tweaked to allow for children of the bride and groom or mom & dad to be incorporated into the commemoration. And some are meant to involve all of the wedding guests so that they may to be involved to support your love and new journey in life.

 

Unity Candle: Traditionally, the unity candle ceremony begins with two tapered candles and one pillar candle. A family member from each side lights one of the tapered candles to symbolize the love and allegiance that each family has for either the bride or the groom. The bride and groom then use the tapered candles to light the pillar candle thus bringing the love of both families together in a united love for the new couple. The tapered candles are either left burning (to symbolize that the bride and groom have not lost their individuality) or they are blown out to indicate that their two lives have forever merged.

Group Unity Candle: Alternatively, a spin on the unity candle ceremony is to have all wedding party guests join you in lighting a candle. The first is lit by the pastor who then lights the matron of honor's and/or best man's candle and the flame is passed on until all guests are holding a lit candle.

 

Group Unity via Green Wedding Shoes

Group Unity via Green Wedding Shoes

Salt Covenant via Centered Ceramics

Salt Covenant via Centered Ceramics

Salt Covenant: The salt covenant's roots lie in ancient times when agreements and promises were sealed by a salt covenant. Each person would take a pinch of salt from his sack and place it in the other person's pouch of salt. The agreement could not be broken unless a person could retrieve his grain of salt (which of course is impossible). The idea is for the bride and groom to combine their pouches of salt as a symbol of the unbreakable promise of love. The egg vessel represents eternity. 

Sand Ceremony: The sand ceremony is said to have originated from Hawaiian and Native American traditions where the bride and groom scooped sand from the beach/earth in their hands and combined the sand together.  Today's sand ceremony, in its simplest form, features two glass containers that are each filled with a different color of sand (colors chosen by the bride and groom to represent their personality) and placed on either side of a larger glass container. They alternate turns filling the vessel with layers of colored sand. The layers of color show that both the bride and groom have retained their unique identities and personalities. Yet, looking closer, it is virtually impossible to define the exact point where one layer ends and the next begins -- the grains of sand can never be separated.
 

Sand Ceremony via When Pigs Fly Events

Sand Ceremony via When Pigs Fly Events

There are different ways to make the sand ceremony your own such as pouring sand from your hometown in as well, or topping it off with glitter! You can replace the sand all together with birdseed, candy, sugar, or buttons.  

Handfasting via Style Me Pretty

Handfasting via Style Me Pretty

Handfasting: Made popular in Ireland and Scotland during the early Christian period, handfasting is the act of lashing the bride and groom's hands together using ribbons, rope, cord, etc to create an infinity symbol. It is a symbolic way of "tying the knot." 

You can make this ceremony special by incorporating items of sentimental value such as a piece of your grandmother's wedding gown, trim from your baby blankets, or shoelaces from your goodluck shoes. Adding in ribbons that fit your wedding colors and even special charms or lockets with pictures can further personalize this statement of union.

Wine Box Ceremony:  For the couple who loves wine or perhaps for a vineyard wedding, the couple may want to design a wine box to store their favorite wine. You can have the box painted or carved with your initials to personalize it. You can also write love letters to one another and store them in the box with your wine. If you choose this ceremony option; during the wedding ceremony, you will seal the box and vow not to open the box until an anniversary of your choice. The only other time that the box can be unsealed is when they are having thoughts of separating at which time they will drink the wine and read the letters which will hopefully remind them why they fell in love and chose to be together in the first place.  

You can switch this up by locking away a different bottle of liquor if wine is not your drink of choice!  You can also seal the box yourself with a hammer and nail which adds another section to this unity ceremony (and smiles).

Water Ceremony: The water ceremony is similar to the sand ceremony in that you start with two smaller glasses filled with water. The bride and groom combine their glasses into one larger vessel of water.  There are two ways that you can do this one. First, you can start off with two colored glasses of water and when they combine they turn into a new color. The second is to start with two clear glasses of water. Hide a color tablet or drops of food coloring in the bottom of the larger vessel and when the clear waters combine they "magically" create a colored glass of water.  A fun way to show your great chemistry for one another!

Tree Planting via Valerie Joy Photography  

Tree Planting via Valerie Joy Photography

 

Tree Planting: This is a great way to incorporate nature into your ceremony. A separate table is set up that holds a small tree/bush/flower pot. The bride and groom each scoop soil into the pot thus planting the roots for their new marriage. If you want to incorporate both sides of your families into the ceremony, Moms or Dads can also scoop soil into the planter. You can choose a tree, bush, or flower that represents something meaningful to you as a couple and then replant the plant at your home. Like a tree, your marriage must be resilient. It must weather the challenges of daily life and the passage of time. And just like the tree you are planting, marriage requires constant nurturing and nourishment. We love this representation of love! 

Tree Watering: Similar to the tree planting, the tree watering is another great way to bring in nature. Again, you can choose a tree that has some meaning to you as a couple and then replant it afterwards at your home. It's a special way to remember your big day. The bride and groom both pour water onto the tree. You can personalize the watering can and/or the pot by asking guests to sign it as a guestbook or just having your bridal party doodle some well wishes. Another option is to have the watering can/pot available at your bridal shower and have all of your friends and family take part in getting excited for the big day. We recommend putting rocks on top of the soil so that the water doesn't splash on you. 

Tree Watering via Three Nails Photography

Tree Watering via Three Nails Photography

Bread BreakingThe Bread Breaking Ceremony is a Bulgarian tradition of sharing and breaking of the Pitka bread. Traditionally the mothers will come forward to join in this portion of the ceremony. They will offer the bread to the bride and groom and hold a dish with honey.

Bread Breaking via Style Me Pretty

Bread Breaking via Style Me Pretty

Umbrella Shower via Offbeat Bride

Umbrella Shower via Offbeat Bride

The second part of this ceremony is to determine who will be the leader of the household. The bride and groom each take a firm hold on the bread. On the count of three they pull on and tear the bread. Whoever gets the larger half of the bread is the winner and according to tradition will be the leader of the household. The bride and groom each dip a piece of the bread into honey and feed the other. This ceremony of dipping the bread in honey and feeding it to the bride and groom symbolizes the sweet things that life brings.

Glass Breaking: I love the sound of breaking glass! Used in traditional Jewish weddings ceremony this option is used to signify the end of the ceremony and the time of celebration.

Broom JumpingAn African and Celtic wedding ceremony option is based upon tradition which symbolizes the clearing away of negativity with a sweep of the broom and creating a threshold for the couple to cross over into their new life together.

Umbrella Shower: An Indonesian tradition, the couple sits under an umbrella and is showered with a mixture of goodness! The mixture includes tumeric rice, coins, candy, and a betel nut. Turmeric rice is a sign of prosperity and yellow stands for everlasting love. Coins remind the couple to share their wealth with the less fortunate. Candy Indicates sweetness and fragrance throughout the marriage. A betel nut set near the couple is a reminder that their different customs should not spoil their harmonious marriage. 

Dove ReleaseDoves choose one partner for life and make this commitment until death.  It is said that if doves are seen on your wedding day, a happy home is assured.  It is the belief that releasing doves is a ceremony option that signifies new beginnings.

Butterfly Release: An American Indian Legend says that if you catch a butterfly and make a wish, when you release it your wish will come true.  Many people choose to have this ritual performed at the end of their wedding ceremony.

Image via The Knot

Flower Blessing: We love any idea that gets all of your guests involved in wishing you well wishes, blessings, and love. You offer vases filled with flowers and ask your guests to take a flower and bless your future together. Perhaps they may lay the flowers down the aisle, replace them in vases on your arbor, flower the ground in front of a pair of bicycles, or place them in two circles on the ground at the arbor for the bride and groom to stand.  

Veil and Cord: The couple arrange to have two Veil Sponsors come forward during the ceremony and place a white veil over the shoulders of the bride and groom. The Veil (white) has come to be a symbol of purity. Its original meaning was the symbol of the presence of God, as the cloud was a symbol of His presence. It is placed over the shoulders of the couple to symbolize their union and being “clothed as one” in unity. The Veil Sponsors, or two others, will call the Cord Sponsors to place a knotted cord over the heads of the couple to form an eternity symbol laying on their shoulders. The Cord is a symbol of the couple’s bond; that indeed they are no longer two but one in their new life as a couple.

Unity Painting: For the artists out there, what a fun and creative way to combine your love. Releasing your passion on the canvas will surely create a masterpiece. We love, love this idea but then again we are covered in paint half the time.  

 

Painting via The Jackson Blog

Painting via The Jackson Blog

Wishing Lanterns: Chinese wishing lanterns are small hot air balloons made of paper, with an opening at the bottom where a small fire is suspended. They are best done at night so that you can watch them glow across the night sky. This makes a remarkable picture when done in a large group at night time. Please advise that there is growing concern over the safety of these lanterns and they are not permitted in some areas of the country. 

Tying the Knot: Some couples choose to take a literal approach to tying the knot! You can tie the knot around a piece of wood or use nautical rope. 

We hope that this helps to inspire. You can be so creative with this symbol of union. We read about a couple who welded a piece of metal together and another who (along with their child) poured three fish from smaller bowls into one larger bowl (using this to show their child their family is becoming one). This is a special moment in the relationship so it can be whatever reflects that love!

What defines you as a couple?