When you start planning your wedding, you might not give much thought to the ceremony, but it’s forever my favorite part of each wedding day. We love when couples put just as much attention into their ceremony as they do their reception details. Every couple is unique, with their own love story, experiences and dreams for their marriage, so the ceremony should reflect those beliefs, hopes and experiences. Whether you choose to go with standard vows because you value the tradition or write your own to express your love story, whether you follow all the rules of tradition or make things up to represent your crazy lives, every decision you make about the wedding ceremony should mean something to you as a couple.

The same is true if you choose to incorporate a unity ceremony into your wedding. A unity ceremony is just what it sounds like – a ceremony during your wedding that signifies and symbolizes your union. And while there are popular options to select for this part of your ceremony, this is another area where you get to be as creative as you want to be. Did your love of playing music bring you together? Maybe you want to write a song together before the wedding day and perform it during the ceremony! Have your wild adventures been a huge part of your life together? Set up a map with an easel at your ceremony and throw a dart together to pick your honeymoon destination! Think about something that truly unifies who you are as a couple and who you want to be, and find a way to bring it into your ceremony.

Need to know the popular options to get your brainstorming started? Check out these 15 tried and true unity ceremonies.

Unity candle

A table is set with two small candles and a larger candle in the middle. The two small candles are lit, representing the lives of the individuals, and they come together to light the candle in the middle, representing how their lives are being joined together. Take it a step further and have your parents light the small candles at the start of the ceremony! Keep in mind, this ceremony doesn’t work well outside because of wind.

Sand ceremony

Similar to the unity candle, two colors of sand are in small jars, and the couple pours their sand into a larger, empty jar. The two colors of sand blend together to represent how each partner is unique, but once joined, cannot be separated.

 

Time capsule

A box is prepared beforehand with a bottle of wine placed inside, and the couple then adds some love letters they’ve written before the ceremony. They couple nails the box closed during the ceremony, to be enjoyed on the first anniversary. 

Unity cross

Two different crosses – one representing the bride and one representing the groom – are fit perfectly together and combined during the ceremony.

Flower ceremony

For those wishing to include the joining of their families in the unity ceremony, immediate family members are given a single flower as they walk in for the ceremony. The bride, groom and their families then take turns placing the flowers in a vase together to signify the families coming together around the couple.

Words of wisdom

During the ceremony, the immediate family forms a circle around the couple and shares words of wisdom. They may choose to speak from the heart, or the couple may request that everyone write down their token of wisdom. For religious couples, they may replace words of wisdom with a special family prayer over the couple.

Water & wine blending

Water and wine are in individual vessels, and the couple joins them together in a larger vessel. They may choose to take a sip of this water & wine together, to cheers their new marriage. In the same way, a couple may choose to create a cocktail with liquor and mixer to create a blended drink to enjoy.

Cord of three

Designed to represent how both partners are brought together in marriage with Christ tying them together, the cord of three ceremony includes tying three cords into a braid. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Bless the rings

With the sentiment of community and encouragement, the couple may choose to have the rings displayed before the ceremony for guests to bless the marriage. This might look like tying the wedding bands to a pillow and passing them from guest to guest so everyone can hold the rings before the couple exchanges them.

Feet or hand washing

With the intention of starting their marriage with a clean slate, the couple may choose to wash their hands in a decorative bowl before saying their vows. Christian weddings may add the extra meaning by doing a feet washing, where the couple washes each other’s feet as an act of supporting, serving and respecting each other.

Handfasting

Originating in Celtic tradition, the hands of the couple are bound together with rope or cloth, literally tying the knot to represent unity. Some couples choose to make this extra special by using fabric from family members’ clothing, such as a strip of cloth from a mothers’ wedding dress.

Blanket ceremony

Traditionally a Native American tradition, the couple is wrapped in a blanket during their ceremony to represent the comfort their marriage will bring.

Brittany & Keahi’s Playful Spring Wedding – Photo Credit: Amelya Jayne Photography

Crowning ceremony

A Greek tradition, linked wedding crowns are placed on the heads of the couple, which establish them as the king and queen of their home, together in unity.

Lasso or lei ceremony

Couples with Mexican, Filipino and Spanish heritage may call it the lasso ceremony, while Hawaiian couples opt for a lei ceremony, but both include a single rope of flowers being looped around the couple.

Lighting the holy fire

Hindu couples may choose to light a holy fire that acts as witness to the ceremony. The couple takes seven steps around the fire while reciting a Hindu pledge of marriage.

Tree planting ceremony

Whether the couple simply loves nature or wants to think of their marriage as the beginning of growth and new life, they may choose to pot a plant together. A tree, bush, or any long-lasting plant will do. The plant is partially planted in a pot, and the couple pours soil into the pot.