There are many different unity ceremonies or rituals, that couples can select from for their weddings. Most, however, are a symbol to show the uniting of the couple in marriage.
While some are more spiritual and based on religion, others come purely out of creativity.
Whether you're looking for a religious or cultural ritual, or you're simply looking for ideas to personalize your ceremony, there are many wedding rituals that to select from to all to your special day.
How to include a wedding ritual in your marriage ceremony.
There are many different unity ceremonies and rituals, that couples can select from for their weddings and most are a symbol to show the uniting of the couple in marriage. Some can also include family and friends that show their support for your marriage.
While some rituals are more spiritual and based on religion, others come purely out of creativity.
Whether you’re looking for a religious or cultural ritual, or you’re simply looking for ideas to personalise your wedding ceremony, there are many wedding rituals to select from.
So should I include a wedding ritual in my ceremony?
If you answer “Yes” to any of the following questions then a ritual would be a great addition to your ceremony.
Do you want to involve your children in the ceremony?
Do you want to involve your parents in the ceremony?
Do you want to say a special thank you and acknowledge your mothers and or fathers?
Does your family have culture or heritage traditions?
Do you want to do something special to celebrate your love at the ceremony?
Do you want to have something from your ceremony to keep in your home as a special memento of your wedding day?
Do you want to include a religious element in your ceremony?
So what wedding ritual should I select?
Look at who you want to include in your wedding ritual or what symbolic meaning you would like to have. Then look at all the different ritual options. If you can’t find a ritual to completely suit then why not adjust an existing one or create one of your own.
20 Marriage ritual options for your wedding ceremony
1) Sand Ceremonies
Sand Ceremonies are a unique way of showing the unity or joining of two people. It can also involve family showing they are an important part of the marriage union.
The grains of sand poured into a container become combined, symbolising the couple and or the children and parents coming together in marriage, and the joining of their lives. As it would be near impossible to separate the different coloured grains of sand, that’s how difficult it would be to separate the people involved in the ceremony.
The Sand Ceremony is also very popular as the blended sand is a beautiful keepsake and as the symbol for the couple or family joining as one.
2) Actually “Tying the Knot”
Both of the couples’ mothers present the couple with a long piece of thick ribbon or cord (2 or more different colours, maybe your wedding colours) which you will tie in a knot to symbolise the union of the two families. As a reminder of your special day, every year on your anniversary with the same piece of ribbon or cord you can again “tie the knot”.
3) Make a Time Capsule
You might not be able to wrap love in a box, but you can certainly capture the essence of your wedding day by creating a marriage time capsule. Anything can go into your capsule from love letters to each other, a bottle of your favourite wine, wishes, and advice from your family and friends or mementos from your time together.
The Time capsule not only gives you a charming way to store your wedding memorabilia but also allows you to have a visibly constant reminder in your home of the sacred commitment you have made to each other.
Some couples choose to open the Time capsule on their 5th or 10th wedding anniversary or on a day that they feel is significant to them. Then they add a new love letter for that time in their life.
4) Ring Blessing / RingWarming Ceremony
The ring blessing ritual can be a very special part of a wedding ceremony. It can involve just the couple, your family, your friends, or all of your guests. The idea is for the rings to be passed to each person involved in the ritual.
When the person is holding the rings they bless them with wishes and then pass them on to the next person. When the rings return to the couple they will hold in them all the best wishes of love from the people who have held them.
5) Hand Fasting
The Hand Fasting Ceremony is Celtic in origin that dates back to the medieval and renaissance period. It involves the tying of hands together to symbolise the coming together of the couple and symbolically tied together in marriage.
6) Rose Ceremony
For your first gift as a couple, you can give each other the gift of a single rose.
In the past, the rose was considered a symbol of love, and a single rose always meant only one thing; it meant the words “I love you.” So it is appropriate that for your first gift as husband and wife, that gift would be a single rose.
Another version of the Rose Ceremony is to present roses to your mothers to represent your thanks for the many selfless sacrifices they have made and for the unconditional love they’ve so freely given.
7) Chocolate and Champagne Ceremony
In this ceremony, the couple together eats some bitter dark chocolate and drinks some sweet champagne. The ceremony symbolises the idea that with marriage, you will have sweet moments and bitter moments, and either way, the couple will share them and weather them together.
8) Hour Glass Ceremony
A version of the sand ceremony, however on every anniversary you turn the hourglass. The idea is that when you each pour your sand into the glass you do it separately making the grains inseparable but not entwined. As each time you turn the hourglass the colours become more entwined so they are impossible to separate. Symbolising the strength of your marriage as it grows over the years.
9) Water Ceremony
The couple each pours different coloured water into a single glass, creating a third colour with the water. The new mixture cannot be separated into its original halves, signifying a lifelong, irreversible bond.
You can also use any coloured water. One option is to use yellow and blue. Yellow water symbolises you bringing sunshine and wisdom to your marriage and blue water brings confidence, trust, and loyalty.
10) Red String of Fate
An East Asian belief originating from Chinese legend and is also used in Japanese legend. According to this myth, the gods tie a red cord around the ankles of those that are to meet one another in a certain situation or help each other in a certain way. Often, in Japanese culture, it is thought to be tied around the little finger.
The two people connected by the red thread are destined lovers, regardless of time, place, or circumstances. This magical cord may stretch or tangle, but never break.
10) Covenant Sand Ceremony
From earliest times, salt has been known as a preservative and purifier that prevents decay and corruption. It is eternal, enduring, never changing, and abiding forever; it is the very symbol of God’s character and reliability. The term “Covenant Salt,” is indicative of the everlasting nature of the Covenant relationship between the children of God and their Creator. Entering into a Covenant of Salt means binding oneself to another in utmost loyalty and truthfulness.
Identical glass vials with equal amounts of salt are prepared for each person participating. During the ceremony, each person will pour their salt into one container that can be sealed, saved, and displayed in the home.
11) Tree Planing Ritual
Symbolic tree planting ceremonies are an age-old ritual, spanning many countries and numerous cultures. Putting a healthy, young tree in the ground or pot is a symbol of celebration: representing life, hope, growth, and continuity.
The unity tree planting ceremony can be used to symbolise the joining together of two individuals or the joining of two families.
You would have some water and two small buckets of dirt, one for each of the couple.
During a specific reading or song, the couple will each add dirt and water the plant together. After the ceremony, the couple would plant the tree in a special location to symbolise the putting down of roots, longevity, and strengths in their marriage.
12) Feet Washing Ceremony
A beautiful idea for a Christian wedding to symbolise being humble, thoughtful, and willing to serve God.
Have a beautiful jug with just a little water in it, a bowl, and a sponge.
The couple take their shoes off, placed the sponge in the bowl, pour the water on top of the sponge and lightly wash the other’s feet. Then they dry the other’s feet with a towel and place their shoes back on.
You can get special monogrammed towels to use after the wedding as a reminder of the special ceremony.
13) Unity Wine Ceremony
The carafe symbolises the cup of life. As you share this wine, you promise to share all that the future will bring. All the sweetness the carafe of life holds for you is sweeter because you drink it together, and whatever drops of bitterness it contains are less because they are shared.
The couple each take a carafe of wine and pour it into a single glass, which they both drink from. Just like the water and sand ceremony, the parts, once mixed cannot be separated. Additionally, the couple drinks the wine, symbolising how their love nourishes them.
14) Butterfly Wedding Ritual
According to American Indian legend – if anyone desires a wish to come true they must first capture a butterfly and whisper what they wish for it. Since a butterfly can make no sound, it cannot reveal the wish to anyone but the Great Spirit who hears and sees all. In gratitude for giving the butterfly its freedom, the Great Spirit always grants the wish.
Today releasing butterflies has become a popular new tradition and an unforgettable experience for all! The butterfly has long been symbolic of new beginnings, good fortune, and joy. Plus, releasing butterflies is a colourful, lively, and environmentally friendly alternative to rice, confetti, or balloons. The butterflies are released to carry forth the good news of your love and commitment for each other.
15) The Chord of Three Stands Ritual
The Chord of Three Strands is a great addition to a traditional wedding ceremony. It adds a truly unique element to your ceremony that friends and family will remember.
The Chord of Three Strands symbolises the joining of 2 people and God into a marriage relationship. Marriage takes three; you, you’re soon to be spouse and God. It was God who taught us to love. By keeping God at the center of your marriage, His love will continue to bind you together as one throughout your marriage.
Significance of the Colours of the Cords
Gold Strand – Represents God
The divinity of God is represented in Gold. The marriage relationship is initiated by, built under the authority of, and is intended to glorify God. Purple Strand – Represents Partner 1
As a new creation in Christ, the majesty of partner 1 is represented in purple. This partner loves the other partner and submits to the Lord, the Lord, in turn, will demonstrate great love in the marriage relationship.
White Strand – Represents Partner 2
Having been cleansed by salvation in Christ, the purity of partner 2 is represented in white. As partner 1 honours partner 2 and submit to the Lord, the Lord, in turn, will nurture and strengthen the marriage relationship.
16) German Cup or Wedding Cup Ritual
Centuries ago, in old Nuremberg, the Nobel mistress Kunigunde fell in love with a young and ambitious goldsmith. Although Kunigunde’s wealthy father did not approve of this pair, it was clear that she only wanted the goldsmith to be her husband as she refused many titled and rich suitors who asked for her hand in marriage.
Her father became so enraged that he had the young goldsmith thrown into the darkest dungeon. It did not end their love, and the father created what he thought to be an impossible task: “If your goldsmith can make a chalice from which two people can drink at the same time without spilling one single drop, I will free him and you shall become his bride.” The young goldsmith created a girl whose skirt was hollowed to serve as a cup and her raised arms held a ‘much smaller cup’ that swivels so that it could be filled and then swung towards a second drinker.
The“Wedding Cup” remains a symbol; love, faithfulness, and good luck await the couple who drink from this cup.
17) Truce Bell
A bell is rung on the wedding day, the happiest day of the couple’s lives, and then is placed in a central location in the home.
If the couple starts to argue, one of them can ring the truce bell, reminding them both of that happiness and hopefully ending the disagreement.
17) Tasting of Four Element Ceremony
Tasting the elements is an African-American wedding ceremony tradition whereby the couple is asked to taste four elements. This ritual dramatises the “Traditional” promise to love “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.”
Lemon, vinegar, cayenne pepper, and honey represent the sour, the bitter, the hot, and the sweet times of marriage.
18) Jumping The Broom Ritual
This ceremony can be traced back to many diverse cultures.
The “Jumping the Broom” is a ceremony in which the couple, signify their entrance into a new life and their creation of a new family by symbolically “sweeping away” their former single lives, former problems, and concerns, and jumping over the broom to enter upon a new adventure as (wife/ husband/partner in marriage).
The straws of the broom represent family; the handle represents the Almighty; the ribbon represents the tie that binds the couple together.
19) Unity Candle Ritual
The Unity Candle is probably the most of the most well-known of the unification ceremonies, but not entirely practical at outdoor weddings or in venues that prohibit flames.
This ceremony is a very recent tradition and has been known to symbolise a couple of different things. As the joining together of two families and their love for the couple however more often it is to symbolise the union of two individuals, becoming one in commitment
In this ceremony, either the couple may light their individual candles, or representatives of their respective families may do so.
Then the couple uses these two candles to light the unity candle. This symbolises that they bring the love of both families together in a united love of the new couple.
Then the couple lights the central pillar using their two individual candles.
20) Rock Ceremony
Also known as The Pebble Tradition, or Well Wishes Rocks
The Rock Ceremony is a great way to bring not only the unity of the couple into the wedding ceremony but also include everyone who attends your wedding.
This ceremony symbolises that before the couple met, their lives were on different paths with different destinations. But love has brought them together and joined these separate paths into one.
Friends and family are given a small polished stone upon arrival at the ceremony. Each stone represents the unique individuality of your guests, the life’s journeys they have traveled, and their presence at your wedding. During the ceremony, the guests are asked to hold the stone and make a wish or blessing for the happiness and goodwill of the couple.
The couple is also given a stone at this time to make their own wishes or blessing for their marriage.
The stone is then collected from the guests and placed into a container. The couple then adds their stones to the top.
No matter the wedding ritual you select it will be a great addition to a wedding ceremony. It adds a truly unique element that you, your friends and family will remember.