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Alternatives to the Unity Candle

(That don't appropriate rituals from other cultures.)

First, what's a unity candle?

The unity candle is a simple wedding ritual that involves the couple each taking a candle (already lit at the beginning of the ceremony by the couple's mothers) and simultaneously lighting a central candle to symbolize the merging of their lives. Usually it is done following the vows and before the newly married couple is invited to kiss. This ritual has been popular in the United States since the 1980's, especially among couples who don't claim other religious or cultural traditions. If you like the idea of a unity ritual but want something different than a candle, read on for four suggestions, along with an example of the wording you could use with it!


1. Unity Sand

During the 2000's when outdoor venues started to explode in popularity, couples realized they needed a replacement to the unity candle because once ceremonies were moved outside, the flame was likely to get blown out by the wind. The unity sand has similar symbology to the unity candle, as it involves the couple each simultaneously pouring a glass of colored sand into a common glass vessel. To add more personal touches to the ritual, you might try using sand from meaningful locations or in symbolic colors.


Your officiant could say:

Just as these grains of sand have been combined, never to be separated,

so too will your lives and futures be forever intertwined.


2. Tree Planting

Perfect for the climate-conscious couple, planting (or repotting) a small tree together during your ceremony is a lovely way to symbolize the beginning of a new chapter. Sometimes the couple might bring soil from places that are meaningful to them. After combining the soil in the pot, the couple waters the tree together.


Your officiant could say:

May your marriage take root like a tree in rich soil so that you may grow and flourish in your love for one another.


3. Wine Ceremony

Wine has been used in marriage rituals since ancient times, but couples are putting a fresh spin on it by first blending their wine in a unity ceremony before drinking from it. This ritual can also be done with beer, tea, or any other drink.


Your officiant could say:

May your lives be overflowing with love, and may your marriage get even better with each passing year.


4. Wedding Box

Sometimes called an "Anniversary Capsule," this trending ritual involves the couple filling a special box with mementos from the first chapter of their lives together. The box is sealed during the ceremony with the intention to open it on an anniversary (1st, 5th, 10th...). Boxes might include items like love letters, a bottle of wine, or keepsakes from favorite destinations or experiences together.


Your officiant could say:

We preserve this moment as a reminder that even though the features of our lives will change over time, our love persists.


...or anything else!

The secret to designing your own ritual is knowing that every metaphor has the makings of a ritual! There are as many metaphors for love as there are ways to love and be transformed by love, so why not create the exact union ritual that's right for you? One of the easiest ways to get started is by drawing upon something that's meaningful to both of you—like painting a canvas, brewing coffee, binding a book, assembling a Lego set, or whatever else moves you!


Are you planning a wedding?

Something New Ceremonies is a new kind of wedding planning service specializing in helping couples and first-time officiants design personalized wedding ceremonies that honor the magic of their unique love story. Want to know more about how I can help you plan the wedding ceremony of your dreams with a friend as your officiant? Send me a message!






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