- 1. Lighting the Unity Candle
- 2. Handfasting or Ribbon Binding
- 3. Circling
- 4. Blending Paint or Painting
- 5. Wine or Liquor Blending
- 6. Releasing a Lantern
- 7. Sand Pouring
- 8. Planting Trees or Potting Plants
- 9. Ring Warming
- 10. Bury a Time-Capsule
- Traditional Unity Ceremonies from Different Cultures
- Wrapping Up
Throughout history and in most religions and cultures, marriage is seen as a sacred union between two individuals. Unity ceremony rituals symbolize this joining of two individuals and the merging of their families into one as well as their commitment to each other.
It’s often been defined as ‘a symbolic ritual woven into the wedding ceremony. Among the most common unity ceremonies are handfasting, circling, and the lighting of a unity candle.’
These rituals usually represent Humanist wedding ceremonies rather than traditional ones. Such a ritual in your ceremony can be of any kind, considering your and your partner’s personalities and preferences.
Whether you’re looking for something unconventional, traditional, or secular, we’ve rounded up a few ritual ideas for you to include in your wedding ceremony, to make it a memorable day for you and your guests.
1. Lighting the Unity Candle
This is one of the most popular unity ceremonies performed and involves the couple lighting up a single, large candle each using their own smaller candle. This symbolizes the coming together of two individuals as a single unit.
In the case of smaller families, you can also involve your families in this ritual by getting everyone to light the candle together to symbolize the merging of families.
The ceremony also represents the joining of two different individuals each with their own personalities and identities in the eternal bond of marriage. The flames are the embodiment of passion and love, and also show this element of their marriage.
Usually, the mothers of the couples light the candle first, however you can personalize the ceremony in any way by involving both parents, grandparents, siblings, or even someone important to you and your partner in lighting the candle with their blessings.
2. Handfasting or Ribbon Binding
Originating from ancient Celtic tradition, Handfasting is the ritual where the right hand of each partner is tied together with cords. This is done while they stand holding hands forming a figure eight, symbolizing eternity. It’s seen as a symbol of the couple’s commitment to one another.
This is traditionally done when the vows are being read by the Officiant. However, many have made this ceremony their own by adding little twists and tweaks to it. For example, some use different materials instead of the traditional cords to tie their hands. There are also several kinds of knots and different cords used for the ceremony.
The LGBTQ+ community has embraced this ritual by replacing the cords with multi-color ribbons that represent their pride.
You can involve your loved ones in this ceremony by having each of them tie a cord in turn instead of having the officiant do it. You can even add some charms and decorations to make it more colorful and creative.
Some modern variations of the handfasting ceremony include Rope Braiding or Tying the love knot.
This ritual is a take on the well-known Jewish wedding tradition where the couple takes turns circling each other. Traditionally, the bride circles around the groom.
The symbolism of this ceremony is the circle of love and protection that the couple is placing around each other and the creation of their new family. It’s believed to provide magical protection from temptation and evil spirits.
A modern take of this ceremony is having both partners circle around each other and get the families involved as well in the circling. The number of times can be a number that’s significant to the couple.
4. Blending Paint or Painting
This is a creative way to celebrate the coming together of two individuals in one sacred bond of marriage. Blending Paint or just painting together symbolizes the merging of the lives of two different individuals with their own hues and creating something entirely new.
Especially appealing to artistically inclined couples, having a ceremony where you create a painting together or just splash some colors around can make things interesting and fun. Additionally, it’s also a great way of expressing your feelings and creating a unique piece of art that will represent you and your partner as a couple.
5. Wine or Liquor Blending
For the cocktail and wine lovers, make your own special cocktail on your special day. This ceremony is performed by the couple each with a different wine or liquor pouring them together into a vessel creating a new and unique blend and drinking them together.
This is a fun way to celebrate your wedding with your loved ones as you share this unique blend with your family and guests as they make a toast to your happy life together.
You could also customize it by using different liquors together or using non-alcoholic beverages such as tea, and fruit juices.
Another great way to use wine in your wedding ceremony is by having the Wine box ceremony where a wine that ages well is sealed by the couple into a box with some letters to each other or letters from loved ones and this box is only to be opened on the 10th anniversary of the couple.
6. Releasing a Lantern
Want to make your wishes for your marriage come true? Include the ritual of releasing a wish lantern as part of your wedding ceremony. The couple can release a single sky lantern to symbolize their combined wishes for their married life ahead.
This is an ideal ritual to incorporate into your wedding, especially if the ceremony is to take place in the late evening or at night. Not only will it hold significance but it will also have a great visual effect. It can also be in the remembrance of someone close to the couple.
You can fill up the night sky beautifully with the lanterns by having all your guests release lanterns as well. The lanterns can be customized in any way you like, with different colors or with writings on them.
7. Sand Pouring
In this ceremony, the couple takes turns in pouring colorful sand from their own individual vases into a single large vase. Each partner has differently colored sand and is poured into a beautiful vase. The result is mixed sand in unique patterns of your own creation.
The joined vase symbolizes both the partner’s hopes, dreams, and values being merged into one as the grains of sand are poured in. It’s a great choice of ritual for a beach wedding.
The vessel into which the sand is poured in can also be one that holds special meaning to you, it might be anything from an heirloom to a vase you use in your daily lives. This ceremony can be made all the more special by giving each of your guests a shell to which they pray for the well-being of the couple. These shells can be collected and placed in the vase along with the sand, adding to the blessings and beauty.
8. Planting Trees or Potting Plants
This is a ceremony for a nature-inspired wedding and is perfect for environmentalists. It would include the couple planting trees together. This is not only a sweet gesture towards the environment but also symbolizes the beginning of the couple’s new life together. It also gives the message that the relationship of marriage is like a tree, it will only bloom with love and care.
It is especially a conscientious choice of the ceremony if you’re having an outdoor wedding. And as they are planting the tree, each partner may use different soil to represent the joining of their lives.
9. Ring Warming
This is one of the most heartwarming ceremonies where the couple’s rings are passed down the aisle to every guest present. Each one holds and bestows their blessing on it before they pass it on. This is a great way to involve everyone in the room and make your ceremony unique.
Wedding rings are a visible symbol of the commitment the partners have toward each other. The goal of this ceremony is to get all family, friends, and loved ones to bless the rings before the bride and groom exchange them. It can be done in a few ways, either by passing the rings through the room before passing them back to the couple or by keeping them in one location and having all guests bless them before the ceremony begins.
10. Bury a Time-Capsule
Time Capsule by Timecapsulevault FR. See it here.
This is a romantic ceremony, where the couple makes a time capsule with letters to each other to be opened on their first wedding anniversary. This can also be for a much longer period of time. It can be a reminder to them of the love they shared at the time of their marriage. The family and friends can also put their good wishes into the box.
Burying a time capsule is usually done with someone very special to you in hopes that you have a great relationship for a very long time. In a similar fashion, burying a time capsule together can be a wish for the longevity of the marriage.
Traditional Unity Ceremonies from Different Cultures
There are several unity ceremonies around the world that can act as an inspiration for your ideal wedding ceremony. Here’s a brief look at a few of these ceremonies from various cultures.
A Lasso Ceremony
A lasso ceremony is a variation of the handfasting ceremony, typically performed at weddings in Mexico, the Philippines, and some other Spanish cultures. In this ceremony, the officiant places a flower garland around the couple and twists it into an infinity symbol. This symbolizes the couple being together for eternity.
Stefana Crown Unity Ceremony
This is a part of a traditional Greek orthodox wedding ceremony. During the marriage service in Greek weddings, the bride and groom are crowned. This is because they’re considered the royal family of God while being the Kings and Queens of their own domain. The ceremony was named after the crown which is called ‘Stefana’. These crowns symbolize the glory and honor bestowed by God.
Tea Unity Ceremony
Traditionally a ceremony held in Chinese and Vietnamese weddings, the tea unity ceremony typically follows the vow exchange ceremony. The couple kneels on red cushions and serves tea to the elders of the family after which, they begin sipping the tea themselves.
This ceremony not only symbolizes the unity of the couple but also pays respect to the elders of the family. The tea used is usually the Pu-erh, Jasmine, or green tea. A modern take is having the couple make the tea themselves and serving it to each other first and then to the family members.
There are unlimited options when it comes to unity ceremony rituals that you can perform during your wedding and they can be customized according to you and your partner’s preference. These may be traditional or unconventional representing the couple’s individualities, ideas, culture, and way of living.
In most cases, these ceremonies can be personalized further by involving friends, family, and your loved ones in each step of the ritual, so that they can form a meaningful connection to your special day.
While these ceremonies are being performed, you can have some music played in the background. It can be music that’s meaningful to you or you can even have your guests since a song or recite a poem.