Special Ceremonies & Rituals
Special Ceremonies & Rituals
As a modern marriage celebrant, I actively encourage couples to blend the old and new to create marriage ceremonies that have special meaning to their lives and their families. This can be done by integrating traditional marriage rituals into the ceremony and celebration, as well as creating your own unique ideas. During the Introductory and Planning Meetings, we can discuss your ideas in detail to plan a marriage ceremony that is truly personal to you. Scroll down to see few ideas to spark your imagination!
The sand ceremony symbolises the inseparable nature of marriage - the blending of two different beings into a single inseparable unit.
At its simplest, a sand ceremony involves the pouring of two different coloured sands into a single vessel. The sand symbolises the couples' separate lives, separate families and separate sets of friends. It represents all that they were as an individual, and their lives before their marriage.
As these two different sands are poured into the main vessel, the sand is mixed together as one. As it is now impossible to separate the different grains of sand, this symbolises the impossibility of separating the married couple.
Sharing of Wine
The sharing of wine ritual has many symbolic meanings: a couple's intention to share both the bitter and the sweet experiences of life; sharing wine as a promise to share all that the future will bring; and the sweetness of life when couple shares it together. There are many variations to the sharing of wine ritual, including:
- Wine being poured into one glass or a goblet, then presented to the bride and groom who drink in turn
- Two glasses are poured and the couple drinks while their arms are locked
- The couple pour white wine in one container, and red wine in a second container. The bride and groom, in turn, pour the wine into a third container from which they take a sip.
The ritual of the stone ceremony is a great way to include everyone in the wedding. As the guests arrive for the ceremony, provide them with pens and smooth stones in an empty vase or bowl. Hand each guest a stone and explain that they are to write a blessing or a wish for you both as a newly married couple such as love, happiness, health, strength, wealth, success, family, luck, friendship and patience. The stones can then be collected and placed in into the vase or bowl and kept as a memento.
The unity bowl ceremony is used to honour multiple generations of the bride and groom’s families. The bride and groom choose a bowl that will have a prominent place in their home. Each participant is given a small bag that is filled with coloured stones - each bag signifying their individuality.
The grandparents generally pour their separate colours into the unity bowl first as the foundation of the wedding of the bride and groom. Each set of parents, siblings, children and friends in turn pour their stones. The bride and groom add their stones last. The bowl becomes a mosaic of coloured stones reminding their family members and friends how they have each coloured the lives of the bride and groom.
Hand Fasting Ritual
The hand fasting ritual is an ancient Celtic wedding tradition. Traditionally, a couple’s hands are tied together with a ceremonial cloth, or are bound together with ribbon or cord.
The hand fasting symbolises the coming together of a couple and their intention to join their lives and fortunes. They are bound by commitment, joy and sadness, suffering and victory, anger and reconciliation.
The use of doves at weddings can be traced to ancient Greek and Roman times when doves were a gift to the groom from the bride. The White doves are recognised as symbols for peace, love, unity, prosperity, hope, faith and new beginnings.
The significance of releasing white doves on your wedding day is that doves choose one partner for life and make this commitment until death. They are devoted and dedicated to their mates, so they are a true representation of love and the eternal commitment you have made.
Butterflies symbolise new beginnings, rebirth, transformation, and the spirit of freedom and happiness. It is also believed that when you catch a butterfly, you say your wish to it and then when you release it into the air, your wish comes true.
The release of butterflies is usually at the conclusion of the ceremony. It can be done in different ways: with just the bride or groom; or incorporating the bridal party and even the guests. Every release is unique and special. The colourful touch creates a lasting impression and makes a great photo or video moment.
Chemical Reaction / Unity Reaction
A chemical reaction results in an entirely new compound from two or more separate ones. They are unique on their own, but brought together they form something new.
A chemical/unity reaction ceremony usually involves pouring two different liquids (usually two distinct colours) into one glass container. The combination of the two chemicals creates a chemical reaction that is a spectacle for wedding guests. It also creates a unique mixture representing the bonding of the couple to one another, inseparable by any force.
Unity Candle Lighting
This unity candle lighting ceremony is a ritual used to signify the universal joining of the couple as a new family. There are many variations of this ritual, including:
- The lighting of a single unity candle by the bride and groom
- The lighting of numerous candles representing generations: parents, grandparents, siblings, children
- The mothers, or parents, come forward and light their candles from two candles that are lit prior to the ceremony. The two single candles represent the two families alone, one for the bride’s family and one for the groom’s family. They then turn to light the candles of their child, who in turn lights the unity candle
- Candles are distributed to all guests as they arrive. At some point in the ceremony the bride and groom turn to the best man and maid of honour to light their candles. They, in turn, pass the light to other members of the bridal party and then it is extended through to the parents, then all the guests. Given this variation of the ceremony takes time, it is best done in smaller gatherings.
Involvement of Children
If you or your partner have kids, you may want them to feel part of your special day. There are countless ways to get children involved in your ceremony, such as:
- Reciting a poem
- Biblical readings
- Giving a speech
- Kids that are gifted musically may want to perform during the ceremony
- Special vows for the children to respond to
- Giving them a special gift to mark the day.
The coin ceremony originally comes from the Spanish culture. Thirteen gold coins, which represent the universal principals of marriage; love, trust, commitment, respect, joy, happiness, harmony, wisdom, wholeness, nurturing, caring, cooperation and peace, are presented in either an ornate box or gift tray and given to the groom.
The groom then pours the coins into the bride's cupped hands. This symbolises the groom’s responsibility as a provider - he committed to supporting his family and mutually contributing to the relationship. Acceptance of the coins by his bride symbolises her commitment, trust and confidence of her husband’s responsibility.
The rose ceremony involves the exchange of two roses by the bride and groom. This ceremony is usually done in two different ways:
- The bride and groom offer a single rose to their mothers or a respected female contributor in their life. The exchange represents the merging of their families
- The bride and groom exchange a single rose to each other to represent the giving and receiving of their love.
Warming of the Rings
The warming of the rings ceremony can be done a few different ways. A common ritual is to have the couple’s wedding rings passed among their guests during the ceremony. When each guest is holding a ring they are asked to say a blessing, prayer or wish for the couple.
Once everyone has said their part, the exchange of rings takes place. As the couple places the ring on their partner’s finger, the exchange not only involves the two, but it becomes an intimate exchange of the loving thoughts, personal blessings and sentiments of the couple’s family and friends.
The seven steps ritual is generally performed at Hindu wedding ceremonies. Traditionally the bride’s sari is tied to the groom’s kurta. He leads - her pinky finger linked with his pinky - in seven steps around a fire. A Hindi priest chants the seven blessings or vows for a strong union as they take their steps.
By walking around the fire they are agreeing to uphold the seven blessings. With each step, the couple throws puffed rice into the fire, representing prosperity in their new life together.
A way to adapt this into ritual into a contemporary ceremony is to light a controlled fire, such as a candle, and place it on a small table. The bride and groom can then take seven steps hand in hand, around the table while the seven blessings are spoken in English.
Crossing the Threshold / Jumping the Broom
The practice of having couples jump the broom while holding hands during a wedding ceremony is symbolic of starting a new life with another person and sweeping away their past. This new life requires a leap of faith.
By taking the leap, the couple make a gesture of dedication to working together through the tough times ahead and the willingness to care for and defend one another.
Bell of Truce
The bell of truce ritual is an Irish tradition. A bell is given to the couple by the celebrant or family member. It is rung by the groom, then his wife and then taken home.
In future, if there is an argument or harsh words being exchanged, either of the couple can ring their bell. The sound is to remind them to stop and reflect upon their argument and to remind themselves of the promises they made to each other on their wedding day.
Tasting of the Four Elements
The tasting the four elements is an old African ritual. The bride and groom taste four flavours that represent the different emotions found in a relationship.
- Sour (lemon) - there may be sour times that develop in marriage
- Bitter (vinegar) - bitter problems may be encountered
- Hot (pepper) - there will be hot and testing times in the marriage
- Sweet (honey) - there will be sweet and delicious times in the marriage.
By tasting each of the flavours, the couple symbolically demonstrates that they will be able to get through the hard times in life - they can 'weather the storm' and, in the end, remain and enjoy the sweetness of love and marriage.
The unity tree planting ceremony can be used to symbolize the joining together of two individuals, or the joining of two families and friends.
This tree represents life and is still young and yet to grow.
Without soil and water this tree will not stand the test of time. Family and friends are invited together with the couple to take part by adding soil to the tree. The couple then water the tree to represent the future growth of the marriage.
Beyond weddings, I can also offer my expertise and professionalism for a range of special ceremonies, including:
- Renewal of vows
- Commitment ceremonies
- Naming ceremonies
- House warmings
- Special anniversaries
- Coming of age
- Special birthdays.