Today’s post is from EC celebrant Suzanne Holland. If you’ve ever wondered what a unity ceremony is or are thinking of including a symbolic ritual in your ceremony then read on. Suzanne shares her experiences and shows you why they are a great way to personalise your ceremony.
When I raise the idea of unity and symbolic ceremonies with couples I typically get a polar reaction. They are either really fond of the idea or (like my husband) struggle to understand why you would bother. But without exception, those couples who have chosen to include symbolism within their wedding ceremony have been thrilled with the result and at each wedding I have been approached by guests commenting on how lovely it was.
“What a beautiful representation of their lives coming together and what a lovely way to include their son Chase in the ceremony.” Wedding guest – March 2012.
First of all – what is a Unity Ceremony? A unity ceremony is included within your wedding ceremony to represent or symbolise the two individuals coming together in marriage. They are also a great way to include children, either of this or previous relationships coming together through marriage. Some you might have seen before are candle and sand ceremonies. Even within each ceremony type the options are limitless allowing you to truly make it your own. Today we’ll look some of the most popular styles.
Image by JDJ Photography via Classic Black and White Wedding
With a Candle Ceremony there are two candles which represent the bride and groom as individuals. These can be lit before or during the ceremony by the mothers/parents of the couple or by the bride and groom themselves. Later during the unity ceremony the flames from the individual candles are used by the couple to light their unity candle. The individual candles are then either kept alight to represent them continuing as individuals within the relationship or extinguished to represent them no longer being alone. If you’re including children, the flame from the unity candle can then be used to light candles for each child representing the couple’s united love and support for them.
A Sand Ceremony is more common for outdoor ceremonies and involves two individual vases or containers of different coloured sand representing the bride and groom as individuals. Some couples also include a third colour for the parents or celebrant to initially pour as a foundation for the marriage. The bride and groom then pour their sand into the unity vase representing their coming together. Just as the sand can never be separated back to its original state so too are the lives of the bride and groom forever intertwined. This is another great one in which to include children. They’ll have fun choosing a colour to represent them and when pouring, the children’s sand is surrounded by sand from the bride and groom symbolising the love and support from both of them.
Other ways to include symbolism in your wedding include handfasting or tying of hands ceremonies, balloon release ceremonies, wine box ceremonies or any variation on these themes. These ceremonies represent the couple coming together, an eternal bond, a journey together in life or a shared passion. In the example of the wine box, not only do you have the symbolism on your wedding day but in 10, 15 or 20 years time you can sit down with the love of your life for a private moment where you open your wine box, reflect on your marriage and your wedding day and enjoy a nice bottle of wine that has matured and strengthened, just like your relationship.
So if you are looking for ways to make wedding ceremony a little different have a chat with your celebrant and see whether one of the ceremonies above takes your fancy. Maybe we’ve inspired you to come up with a unique way of symbolising your union. If so, we’d love to hear about it.
Ms Gingham says: I’ve seen tree planting ceremonies appear more and more too. I love this idea as you can see the tree grow and strengthen with your marriage. A bit concerned about dirt on the dress but I’m sure there’s a way around that!
“Engage Celebrants is a network of young, professional and above all fun celebrants. We aim to get the word out to couples about just how great a civil ceremony can be and the importance of choosing the perfect celebrant to bring your dreams to life. “