Let’s face it—we’ve all been to a wedding or two that bored us to tears. Weddings with a formulaic and predictable ceremony aren’t always engaging. However, a good officiant can help you symbolize and commemorate your marriage with a fresh twist using these meaningful and fun unity rituals! These work for any religion, and you can customize them to suit you. Here are just a few favorites. Some are more traditional, and some are new; all declare your devotion to your future together as spouses for life.
First, get a decorative wine box (Amazon or Etsy has many options) and a nice bottle of wine that will age well. Each member of the couple writes the other a note describing the good qualities they find in one another, their reasons for marrying, and how they’re feeling before the marriage. Don’t show each other what you have written. During the ceremony, the officiant has the couple put the wine, letters, and any other mementos from the day into the wine box and seal it. On your fifth anniversary, open the box, drink the wine that has aged well (like your marriage), and read the letters you wrote to one another. It makes for a romantic time capsule.
Tie the Knot
This ritual is an ancient Celtic tradition, sometimes called handfasting. The couple joins hands, and the officiant ties a knot around them. They then say a prayer, blessing, or short, sweet declaration. The couple can keep the ribbon or cord used to join their hands, and it makes a lovely memento from the wedding day.
This one is an oldie but a goodie! Each member of the couple takes a lit tapered candle, representing them as an individual, and lights a central pillar candle, symbolizing two becoming one. The officiant may also say a few words about the meaning of the ceremony.
For this ritual, two carafes of wine and a central “common glass” are set up at the ceremony site. As with the candle-lighting ceremony, the officiant explains how the carafes represent each member of the couple. Each member pours from their carafe into the common glass, thus representing the blending of their lives in marriage. They then toast one another and take a sip from the blended wine, symbolizing that they will now share all that is to come. Plus, you get a head start on the party! One caveat to this ritual is that fine-wine drinkers or hosting wineries may be horrified that you’d take two great wines and blend them to make an amateur blend!
In today’s eco-conscious world, a tree-planting ceremony appeals to modern-day partners. First, pick a tree that is meaningful to you. Maybe it’s the type of tree you once shared a kiss under or one that represents a place you traveled to together. You can also choose a tree that has a particular symbolic meaning. For example, oak represents life, health, and family unity, and maple represents longevity, abundance, and protection. Place the tree and root ball in a container, then add the soil together. Couples can collect soil from places of significance, like childhood homes, parks, or other sentimental spots. The couple then waters the tree in tandem. The officiant explains how the tree represents a marriage taking root, growing, and flourishing as the couple becomes officially married!
The lasso ceremony originated in Spanish culture and takes place after the vows have been made. The officiant wraps a ribbon, rope, garland, or rosary around the couple in the shape of an infinity symbol. The officiant speaks some words about the joining of lives and eternity. At the end of the ceremony, the officiant removes the lasso, and the couple can keep it as a wonderful reminder of their wedding day.
Glass or Sand Blending
For a glass or sand blending ceremony, each member of the couple should have a pouring vessel of glass pieces or sand. They each add the contents of their vessel into a common container, creating a blend representing the inseparable blending of their lives in marriage. If using glass, you can even send it to a company that can create a lovely sculpture, bowl, or picture frame from the glass, representing your unity.
This one is an old Korean wedding tradition. You place two decorative ducks on a table during the ceremony. These represent the bride and groom, and the parents usually gift them to the couple. The officiant explains that when the ducks are facing each other, bill to bill or kissing, they are in harmony. If ever there is disagreement in the marriage, a partner can turn the duck away to advise the other of their unhappiness. Some ducks have ribbons tied around their bills to represent that the couple should think before they speak.
If you’ve been to Europe, you’ve no doubt noticed the lovers’ tradition of putting locks on bridges, representing a lock on the relationship. This is a fun new tradition where you each have a padlock. You can decorate each of the locks to represent yourselves. The officiant will then direct you to lock them together and discard the keys. The keys could even be tied to a helium balloon and released. The idea is that your hearts are joined forever in wedlock!
Warming of the Rings
This is a romantic and spiritual way to involve all your friends and family in the wedding. If you’re using this idea, it’s best to have a congregation of less than 50, or you’ll be there all day! An assigned person will begin the process by having the congregation pass the rings from one person to another after they have held them for a few moments. Each person can wish the couple health, happiness, and any other good wishes they want to bestow on the rings. When the rings come back to the couple just before the ring exchange, they will contain that which is priceless: the well-wishes of all their family and friends.
There are many other rituals you can incorporate into your ceremony that will make it memorable for both the couple and the guests. A good officiant can guide you through each of these seamlessly. Talk to your planner about any staging that may be required as part of the setup. Using one of these rituals, you can kick up the entertainment and sentimentality a notch! Happy unity, happy blending, and happy life!