Ceremony is important to us individually and collectively. It has been used over many centuries and across all cultures to fulfil a very human need to step back and reflect on the significance of the major changes in our lives. Rituals and symbolic acts are an intrinsic part of wedding ceremonies, used to mark the joining of two people through marriage. Here are some to inspire you…
Exchange of Rings
A wedding ring is an unbroken circle, signifying something that is never ending… an outward symbol to others of continuing love. It is generally made of gold because it represents each of you offering the other the best you are able to give.
I give you this ring
As a symbol of my love and our marriage
And as a reminder of the promises
We have made to each other today
Warming of the Rings
The rings are passed amongst the guests so that each person is able to hold them for a moment and instil in them a wish, blessing or, for those with a religious faith, a prayer for your future life together. It is an opportunity to wish you health, happiness and all that is good in life. When the rings come back to you they will contain all the hopes, love and support of the people who are most important to you.
Hand fasting or hand binding is an old Pagan custom, dating back to the time of the ancient Celts. As you make your binding vows to each other members of your family or friends gently fasten your hands with ribbons. This is where the age-old expression “tying the knot” originated. You are offering and accepting each other’s hands in marriage. Just as the knots bind your hands so your lives are now bound together. Now there are two lives bound together in one heart and one home.
Lighting a Unity Candle
This ceremony uses the lighting of candles to represent two individual lives coming together to create a single union. Two small taper candles represent your lives up to this moment and can be lit by your respective mothers (or other family member) at the beginning of the ceremony. After you are pronounced married, you each take one of the smaller candles, place the flames together and light the bigger unity candle. The still lit smaller candles are placed back in their holders, symbolising each of your separate families and the new family of your union.
This ceremony uses the mixing of sand to signify the coming together of two families into one new family and is especially appropriate for beach weddings. You might want to use sand from beaches that hold special meaning for you, such as where you grew up, where you‘ve spent memorable time individually or together or perhaps, where you met. Typically, you each have a different coloured sand and take turns pouring it into a clear glass vessel, creating a layered effect. You can also invite members of your family, your children or parents or friends to contribute their own coloured sand, adding to the layers of colour and expressing the harmony of the entire family.