The symbolism of unity ceremonies varies in each tradition, but they all have one common concept: the unity of two people in marriage.
While many unity ceremonies have religious tradition or symbolism, there are quite a few unique secular unity ceremonies as well. I gathered as many ideas as I could fine so you can incorporate a ceremony that fits your personality!
Beer/Wine Pouring – Different, yet compatible. That sums up every relationship! Choose a wine and beer each, combine, and drink the blend together. If you’re not big alcohol drinkers or you’re hosting a dry wedding, try tea! No matter the beverage you choose, look for local crafters from your hometown for a special touch.
Blending Paint – Are you an artistic couple? This trendy ceremony is perfect! Simply pour different colored paints onto a single canvas and watch as the paint blends.
I’ve had the unique opportunity of witnessing a painting blend in person! Last year for Ophelia + Scott’s wedding in Buffalo, Wyoming, they created an artwork to commemorate the experience and hang up at home.
You can view their wedding video here.
Braiding – “A cord of three strands is not easily broken,” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. Tying the cords symbolizes the everlasting union of God, husband, and wife!
Branding – This fun ceremony is rare, but great for ranching and farming communities. It can also double as a guest book. Create a brand that you will use for years to come, and burn it onto a board at the wedding. The board can then be placed at the entrance of the reception site where guests can sign it, and then you display it in your home.
This is seriously one of the most unique ideas! You can also opt to brand a hide or rug if you don’t want to use a board or wood work. My very first wedding video with Cora Carroll Photography back in the Sioux Falls area of South Dakota incorporated a branding in their ceremony. I love how the couple knew that it would be something that brought out personality and more story to their relationship and wedding day. The character it included was absolutely priceless.
Glass Blowing – Similar to the pouring of sand (see below), this unique ceremony actually has you combining colored glass. After that, you bring the glass to a blowing studio, and they will hand craft it into a bowl or vase! Depending on the studio, you can also choose to make small gifts for friends and family out of any leftover crystals. There are even studios in the Black Hills that provide this service!
Handfasting – Originating from an ancient Celtic tradition, handfasting is the act of binding the bride’s and groom’s right hands together, symbolizing their commitment to each other.
Lasso – Also referred to as “el lazo,” this ritual is a tradition in Mexican, Filipino, and Spanish cultures. The ceremony takes place directly after the vows have been exchanged. At that time, the officiant (or a designated person) drapes a floral garland or rosary around the couple, twisting it into an infinity symbol.
Planting a Tree – Plant a tree, bush, flowers, or honestly anything you want that symbolizes your marriage. Make it especially unique to the two of you by adding soil that’s been gathered from both of your hometowns.
Pouring of Sand – A traditional unity ceremony, you can pour sand into glasses, vases, and other simple containers, or get photo frames made for these wedding ceremonies that you can display in your home.
Releasing a Wish Lantern – Cute, romantic, and like something out of a movie, this ceremony is usually done well after the actual wedding portion itself. After the sun has gone down, sneak away with your photographer and light a lantern that signifies the beginning of your journey together as a couple. For a more inclusive approach, get all of your guests involved and have a send-off like in Disney’s Tangled!
Pro tip: Check for any local restrictions; if you’re in a heavily wooded area, you may be unable to participate as it may be considered a fire hazard. Click here to check the current restrictions in the Black Hills.
Sealing Away Love Letters/Time Capsule – Come prepared to the ceremony with a letter to each other that will be stored in a time capsule. During the wedding, place all the items in a box or container and seal it together. Break it open one, five, or even ten years after your wedding to remember why you fell in love. Get your guests involved by asking them to bring photos, letters, or keepsakes to seal in the time capsule!
Unity Candle – One of the most common unity ceremonies. During a unity candle lighting, the bride and groom use different candles to light one central candle.
Pro tip: If you plan on doing this outside, think about a backup in case the wind picks up.
This blog was written during my time with Evergreen Media and published online by Black Hills Bride.