Symbolic Ceremonies // A Guide to Popular Wedding Rituals

alternative wedding ceremony

Many couples are now opting to include a symbolic ceremony as part of their wedding ceremony or renewal of vows. This is not essential and it may not be for you, but if you do wish to consider including a symbolic ceremony, then the following information may help you to identify which option suits you best…

alternative wedding ceremony ideas

What is a Symbolic Ceremony?
Symbolic Ceremonies are an additional element sometimes added to a service as a way to represent your unity through the use of rituals and objects. Symbolic Ceremonies offer a ‘visual’ element to the day, and often include keepsakes which you can treasure at home for long after your day. They can be used not just to symbolise the union of your love, but to also symbolise your union as a family as you may consider including children or other guests in the ceremony as well.

Many symbolic ceremonies hold their origins in spiritual religion, but whatever your beliefs a symbolic ceremony can be tailored to suit your own personal way of life, and can make for a unique and memorable addition to your day.

alternative wedding ceremony

Here are some of the most common examples of Symbolic Ceremonies that may appeal to you:

Hand Fasting
One of the more recognised additions to a wedding ceremony; Hand Fasting (or ‘Tying the Knot’) originally stemmed from Pagan ritual, but is often used in modern ceremonies to
represent the coming together of two people and their lives by the tying of their hands with a chord or a ribbon.

There are many ways to tailor this ceremony to suit the purpose of why you have chosen to include it, but generally the couple will place their palms together, and with each spoken promise or given virtue the chord is wrapped around the hands. The ceremony is then made complete with the tying of a knot to form an eternal loop in the material, before the hands are released and the the loop is taken home to be kept as a visual reminder of their bond.

Couples can opt to use one single chord, or else involve multiple coloured chords plaited together to represent a combination of different promises and virtues. You can even symbolise the union of different people being brought together by the marriage, by using the coloured ribbons to represent each person within the family unit.

You could even ask friends or family members to come forward and assist in adding their own cords to the finished piece…

Pagan hand fasting ceremony

Unity Candles
This ceremony involves the lighting of two single candles; each representing the two people as individuals and the energy and light that comes from their own being.

The couple then bring their individual flames together to light a central pillar candle or  ‘unity candle’ on the altar. This demonstrates the stronger energy that is formed in the flame, when they marry their own energies together, and the larger lit unity candle symbolises that they now light a clearer path for each other as one.

If you have children you can involve them too, by then lighting their own candles from the flame of your unity candle. This shows how together you have created a new energy and brought a new light into your life, through the blessing of your child or children.

symbolic ceremony at wedding

Sand Ceremony
The pouring of two different coloured sands into one shared vessel is a contemporary symbolic ceremony which is often used to represent the coming together of two people in a very visual and permanent  way.

The coloured sands celebrate you both as individuals made up of millions of tiny pieces that form the complex creations that we are as humans. By mixing these sands together into one container, we demonstrate how through marriage we still exist as individuals with our own ‘colour’ to be appreciated, but by combining our colours we create something which is more beautiful than was once separated. To separate these grains of sand later would not be impossible, but it would certainly be a challenge!

The container of combined sand also makes for a decorative keepsake which can be kept as a commemorative item in the home afterwards. Some couples even use an hour glass, and turn the sands each year on their anniversary.

sand blending

Crystals are believed to carry unique healing properties which can be used in a wedding ceremony to bring good virtues to the couple’s marriage, by transferring the energy from the crystals into the ceremony area and even the wedding rings themselves.

You may wish to hang special chosen crystals around the ceremony area, or else place them on a table near to where the couple will stand.  Some couples will even place their wedding rings on a crystal grid before the service, or else anoint the rings with energised water taken from a bowl of fluid with the crystals placed inside.

symbolic ceremony with crystals

Ring Warming
This is a lovely ceremony to use if you wish to involve the whole congregation in your ceremony. It needn’t be spiritual as such, more a celebration of the love shared with the people who joined you on your wedding day.

The couple place their wedding rings into a small pouch or jewellery box. This pouch or box is then passed from person to person amongst the guests, allowing an opportunity for each guest to take a turn in holding the rings whilst making a wish for the couple, or bestowing a blessing upon them.

Once the pouch has been passed around everyone, the couple can continue with placing the rings on to each others fingers in the knowledge that the rings have been ‘warmed’ with the kind wishes and the love of those friends and family they have chosen to join them.

A piece of music could even be played to accompany the moment as the rings are being passed from person to person. Or you could save time on your day by asking a trusted person to stand at the ceremony entrance and  ask your guests to take a moment to hold the rings and impart their good wishes before they take their seats in the service.

symbolic wedding ceremony with rings

Trees and Plants
Finally…. you may wish to plant seeds or a sapling at the site of your ceremony, or in a small pot to take home with you, as a way to represent your new life together and the continued growth of your relationship here after.

pagan tradition

There are so many options and different ways to tailor each of the above suggestions to make your ceremony most personal to you… or you could even begin a new tradition of your own! 

alternative wedding ceremony If you’d like to talk a little bit more about how you can bring an element of symbolism into your wedding day, contact Samantha today:

Phone: 07783 141 202
Twitter: @SamanthaKelsie
Instagram: @SamanthaKelsie
Follow the hashtag #OwnYourWedding

Please note: All images used in this article are of real couples who included a symbolic ceremony as part of their celebrant wedding ceremony officiated by Samantha Kelsie. And how gorgeous they all were too! 





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *