Ceremonies and Rituals

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handfasting

This is an ancient Celtic tradition. The officiant shares a reading while wrapping a cord over the couple’s hands and looping it in a “knot”. This ritual also provides the option for the attendants/bridal party to be included by passing the cord down the line as they offer blessings/words of wisdom. 

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sand ceremony

During this ceremony the couple each has an individual container of sand. They join together to pour into one larger container. It is symbolic of the fact that just as the grains of sand could never again be separated, so will the union be, forever entwined and forever inseparable. This ceremony can be done with just the couple, or with other family members and/or children.

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candle lighting

Two flames representing the individuals are joined to light a center candle. Each person lights a single taper candle. The couple then brings the flames together to light a larger middle candle. The tapers remain lit and are replaced in their holders to represent two coming together while maintaining individuality. 

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Wine

Ceremony

Partners share drinks from a single glass of wine (or whatever alcohol you choose). This symbolizes drinking from the cup of life and sharing all of its experiences together, both bitter and sweet.

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Love letter wine box ceremony

Partners write each other a love letter before the ceremony. The couple is instructed to write their partner a letter sharing this and to bring that letter to the ceremony. The officiant then explains that the box will become a time capsule that the letters will now be placed inside of. The couple is then invited to open this box on their 10-year anniversary, and drink the bottle of wine together as they read their love letters that have long been sealed in the box. 

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blanket ceremony

To honor an American Indian tradition, a blanket unity ceremony is performed which symbolizes the comfort and love a couple will bring each other. This unity ceremony idea traditionally includes blue and white blankets because the colors represent the couple's past and future together. 

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arras

The Arras consists of 13 golden coins that are blessed. This is a Latino wedding tradition that symbolizes the husband’s ability to be able to provide for his family and is a sign of his dedication to his wife’s well being and that of their future children. Couples of many cultures and spiritual traditions have embraced this ritual as a reflection of their values in marriage.

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whiskey pouring ceremony

Age your own wedding-day spirit in a barrel that's branded with your new monogram and plan to crack it open on a special wedding anniversary to honor your marriage. 

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canvas painting ceremony

Create something new with your partner as a unique alternative for a unity ceremony. Painting a canvas that's decorated with your initials and wedding date will be a piece of art that you can treasure forever. This wedding unity ceremony idea is a great activity for the newlyweds during their reception and a prime photo opportunity, too.

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exit under the sword arch

This tradition, which is reserved for military weddings, goes beyond the symbolic commitment newlyweds have for each other. The practice is a pledge of fidelity and protection from the military to the couple; service members literally shelter the newly married couple beneath the sword or saber arch as they exit the ceremony.

blanket ceremony

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Signing the ketubah/ marriage promise

A Jewish tradition. The Ketubah is a marriage contract that is also decorative art. The officiant will speak about the ketubah and the couple will sign it during the ceremony. 

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JUMPING THE BROOM

The "jumping the broom" ritual originated in the early 19th century, when enslaved African Americans weren't allowed to formally marry. Instead, to unite, the tradition was to lay a broom on the ground and jump over it together. Today, the act represents a "brushing away" of the past in order to start clean. 

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family puzzle

A four-piece puzzle made of wood is used and the new family assembles it together at the altar. Not only does a wedding unity idea like this offer a special moment for the bride and groom in front of all their friends and family, but it also provides them with a keepsake to treasure from their wedding day. 

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god's knot

Some couples choose to honor their Christianity by having a God's Knot tying ceremony. The Bible verse reads: "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12." The white cord represents the bride, gold the groom, and purple God. 

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lasso

This idea includes wrapping a lasso, rosary beads or garland in a figure eight around the couple's shoulders to symbolize their everlasting union. Some families pass their lassos down from generation to generation, making it an extra impactful moment. 

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Sundial ceremony

On the Aran Islands of Ireland, the Celtic sundial ceremony remains, to this day, an integral part of a wedding. The couple is invited to touch fingers through the sundial's hole—this serves as both a symbol and confirmation of their union. Witnesses may then offer the newlyweds well-wishes by passing a silk scarf through the hole (three times!) as those dreams are spoken out loud.

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receive "tilak"

During traditional Indian weddings, it is customary for the groom—at the head of the baraat, or groom's procession—to be welcomed by the bride's family upon arrival at the ceremony site. The bride's mother applies tilak, or red vermilion powder, to her future son-in-law's forehead to welcome him into her family and to protect him from evil.

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pass the rope

Passing around a rope to each attendee allows them to take part in the matrimony and signals their commitment to supporting the marriage. After the last guest has held the rope, it should be returned back to the couple, who braid it together (this symbolizes their union to each other and, if they're religious, to God).

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exchange vows under the chuppah

A Jewish wedding symbol, the chuppah, or canopy, as four corners and a roof that symbolizes the home and family you'll build together. And, while it's representative of a marital pact, it also implies a union with your community, as well. Typically, four family members stand by each peg of the chuppah, to express their lifelong support of and participation in the marriage.

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stefana crown ceremony

It's customary in Greek Orthodox culture for brides and grooms to appoint koumbaroi, attendants who place the wedding crowns on the couple's heads and the rings on their fingers. The crowns, known as stefana, are connected by ribbon and therefore serve as a symbol of the bride and groom's union, as well as their status as queen and king of their family.

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cleanse with water

The act of washing your spouse's feet (or their hands, if you prefer!) symbolizes the release of any past emotional blocks, so both parties can enter the marriage with open hearts. This cleansing ceremony works especially well in outdoor weddings where messiness is not a concern. Indoors, couples can hold their hands over a bowl or share a goblet of water to symbolize the purity of love. 

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pass the rings

Include guests in the ceremony by having each person bless your bands. Send one ring down one side of the aisle and the other down the opposite, giving every guest a chance to hold our rings and bestow their blessings and positive thoughts toward your marriage. 

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gather 'round

Perfect for smaller weddings, this take on a Quaker tradition involves inviting guests to form a circle together with the bride and groom. They may also be asked to share their thoughts on the couple.

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light a fire

Old African tradition employs fire to represent the union of two familial houses, by combining flame from each party's respective hearths. Today, this custom may be modified so that the newlyweds simply begin a fire together. As a special touch, invite your parents to kindle the flame.

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circle the groom (or bride)

In Jewish tradition, the bride circles the groom seven times to break down any barriers between them. Today, rather than the bride circling around her groom, the couple often encircle around one another.

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hasta kilap fastening

In this Indian wedding tradition, the couple's wedding clothes (like a scarf or a sari) are tied together over their hands. This signifies the meeting of two hearts and souls. After, family members scatter rose petals or rice grains over the newlyweds. 

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tea ceremony

A unity tea ceremony is a frequent tradition in Chinese weddings. Traditionally, the couple serves tea to their parents and in-laws in a separate room before the ceremony to symbolize the union of two families. This is a great option if you're looking for something a bit more private. 

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unity cross ceremony

There will generally be a decorative cross, and a holder with a cross outline.  The decorative cross will then be held in place by 3 pins, symbolizing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Usually, the bride, groom, and officiant will each place a pin.

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unity glass ceremony

A beautiful, non-traditional way to commemorate your wedding ceremony is to use glass crystals in place of sand during your unity ceremony.  After your wedding, you'll then have a beautiful, custom piece of art for your home!

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flower petal circle ceremony

In Jewish tradition, the bride circles the groom seven times to break down any barriers between them. Today, rather than the bride circling around her groom, the couple often encircle around one another.

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tree watering ceremony

This unity ceremony alternative is especially appropriate for nature-lovers or those looking to brighten up their home with a new plant. After planting and watering the tree during your ceremony, it'll grow and flourish in your newlywed nest alongside your marriage. 

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log cutting ceremony

This unique unity ceremony idea is an old German wedding tradition that serves as the first obstacle for newlyweds to tackle together. In front of family and friends, couples must rely on teamwork and determination to saw through a log together.

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guacamole ceremony

As you and your S.O. mix the ingredients, ask your officiant to share why this food is special to you. Perhaps you enjoyed chips and guac on your first date, or maybe every Tuesday is taco night at your place. Regardless of the reason, guests will enjoy seeing you do something that's special to your relationship.

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bonfire ceremony

Perfect for an outdoor wedding, this unique unity idea will certainly make your nuptials stand out. Create a designated fire pit before the ceremony, and signify your love by sparking a bonfire.

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Tie the knot ceremony

 You can literally tie a knot with your spouse to signify your bond. It is recommended to use a fisherman's knot to tie a piece of rope. Not only is it the strongest knot, it gets tighter with pressure, making it a beautiful representation of your relationship.

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reverse candle ceremony/guest candle lighting

A reverse unity candle ceremony can be just the thing to really create an intimate atmosphere for your unity ceremony.  You can even incorporate the "traditional" unity candle (lit by parents / mothers, and then by the couple).  You can also light your own individual candles from an already lit single candle, and then pass off the flame to light other candles, starting with your parents.

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time capsule ceremony

You can include tokens of love, old love letters, ticket stubs, airline tickets and more in your time capsule or memory box.  The sky is the limit on what you can include!  Pick a time or situation in the future that would be ideal for opening the box, such as an anniversary.

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Anniversary Box Ceremony

Creating an anniversary box during your unity ceremony is a beautiful way to honor the passing of time and your commitment to one another!  Some couples choose to place a bottle of wine and love letters to one another, to be sealed and not opened until a specific anniversary. Opening it every year (or every 5 or 10 years), drinking the bottle of wine, reading the love letters, and then placing a new bottle of wine and new love letters inside and re-sealing it until the next milestone, is a great way to keep the ceremony alive for years to come.

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lego heart ceremony

For the kids at heart, consider building a heart out of Legos!  Not only do you get to play with legos, but you can also have a beautiful piece of art to display in your home.

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pb & j ceremony

Like "Lady and the Tramp" with their spaghetti dinner, you and your beloved share a peanut butter and jelly sandwich you created together.