Bonded in holy matrimony.
A unity ceremony is symbolic way to conclude your wedding vows together and “become one” as an officially married couple. The ceremony symbolizes your two once-separate lives, now coming together as one.
“For couples who want to honor their heritage or family traditions, but may not connect as much to the traditional religious explanations that typically come with them, I’ve often worked with couples to either modernize or make more fitting the verbiage that we include,” says Bethel Nathan, Ordained Officiant Open to All of Ceremonies by Bethel.
This may be the veil, coins, and cord ceremony for Filipino couples, or the lasso ceremony for Mexican couples, for example. Ultimately, honoring heritage and tradition might be the most important thing to you, so don’t feel like it can’t be done respectfully with newer or different explanations.
Another thing to consider, when thinking about unity ceremony ideas, rituals and components, is whether you want your guests to participate in the ritual with you. “Some more easily allow for that, whereas others are meant to be for just the two of you, with your guests watching and cheering you on,” Nathan advises.
1. Eat together
There are options where you eat or drink something together.
“For something yummy (and special) to drink, you can do a wine blessing, a wine blending, or a wine box with a love letter (and sometimes that is left open all night for guests to add notes into). Or, you can easily transition those to include beer instead, including creating a ‘black and tan’ together. I’ve had couples include honey or whiskey or other traditional or meaningful tastes in the ceremony,” Nation reveals.
2. Chocolate ceremony
“For those who prefer the symbolism of chocolate, couples can include a chocolate ceremony where they each taste a single kind of chocolate together (sometimes having pieces for each of their guests to enjoy with them, too), or even a variation where they taste 4-5 kinds together (thinking of this as a chocolate version of ‘for better and for worse’).
I often suggest that couples who include chocolate or wine or any other taste in the ceremony make this an ongoing tradition in their relationship, therefore finding and enjoying a new wine/chocolate together to mark important moments in their relationship in the many years to come,” she says.
3. Create something new
There are also options where you create or tend something together, be it a puzzle or a painting, a cup of tea or coffee, or the planting and watering of a tree.
According to Nathan, “Depending on the relationship, these can be described as ways of supporting each other as well as enjoying new things together, or creating something side-by-side as partners.”
4. Sand ceremony
“Many destination wedding couples are getting creative with their unity ceremonies by having a ‘sand ceremony’ instead,” suggests Jen Avey of Destination Weddings Travel Group. “Couples will choose two different colors of sand and pour them into a vessel (generally a small vase), and have the colors intertwine as the sands build up. It becomes a great keepsake for them to take home from their beloved wedding destination!”
More couples are requesting to do a wine blending ceremony in lieu of lighting a candle. “This works particularly well for a vineyard wedding, but can be great for any wine-loving couple,” advises Heather Jones of Wente Vineyards.
It’s quite simple to put together. Says Jones, “You have two separate bottles of wine, then you blend them during the ceremony and drink from the carafe that combines the two varietals. Now, many may tell you to pick a white and a red for the visual, but really, it’s just best to select wines that have meaning to you.”
6. Tea ceremony
Inspired in part by the traditional Chinese Tea ceremony, some couples are including a tea blending ceremony. “They blend their two favorite teas together and then drink from it, as a symbol of their newly shared lives together,” Jones says.
“I’m partial to the ancient Celtic tradition of handfasting, in which couples have their hands bound together to symbolize their unity as you ‘tie the knot,’” says Kylie Carlson of The International Academy of Wedding & Event Planning.
What’s nice is that you can select a cord or ribbon for the ritual, and then save it to pass down to future generations.
8. Love notes
Consider writing love letters to one another prior to the big day, and then sealing them together for a future anniversary.
“This romantic gesture will have even more meaning as the years go by- and think of the flood of fond memories that will come back when you open your letters down the road,” said Keith Phillips of Classic Photographers.
Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer who focuses on health, wellness, and relationships. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.