Many couples opt to include a symbolic ritual as part of their wedding ceremony, renewal of vows or baby naming ceremony. You may not want to include extra symbolism - for you the vows and ring exchange may be exactly what you want to do on your big day - but if you want to explore other options, read on!
What is a Symbolic Ritual at a Ceremony?
Symbolic Ceremonies include a symbolic element which is added to a wedding, to represent your unity through the use of rituals. Symbolic Ceremonies offer an extra visual and interactive experience to the day, and often include keepsakes which you can treasure at home for long after your ceremony. 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, parents or other guests in the ceremony as well.
Many of the rituals 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.
Here are a selection of my favourite Symbolic Ceremonies:
Wine is a universal symbol of the richness of life and sweetness of love. So it is appropriate that you toast life at a wedding ceremony or a vow renewal with this ancient symbol.
In a blending ceremony, the bride and groom each take a carafe of wine - each wine from a different grape - maybe even one red and one white wine and each pours some of their carafe into a single glass, from which you both drink. The blending represents your two lives combining to make a new and successful marriage. Then as a couple you can toast your guests - your first drink as a married couple.
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 cord or 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 cord 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 loop is taken home to be kept as a visual reminder of their bond.
Couples can use multiple coloured cords 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…
As the name suggests - like in ancient times - you will have literally ‘tied the knot’.
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 them 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 your child or children.
Why not light the unity candle every year on your anniversary to remind you of your wonderful day?
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 hourglass, and turn the sands each year on their anniversary.
Once the pouch has been passed around everyone, the couple can continue with placing the rings on each other's 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.
Other symbolic rituals
There are of course other symbolic rituals some ancient, others modern and some from other parts of the world - 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. There are crystal ceremonies, water ceremonies, painted canvas ceremonies, love letters sealed in a box with a bottle of wine and jumping the broom to name a few.
If you are interested in finding out how we could include any of these rituals in your ceremony then get in touch - I would love to talk to you about your big day.
My name is Justine and I’m a Civil Celebrant in Kent. Message me at firstname.lastname@example.org or use my contact page for more details about my services and celebrations of love, marriage and life in the South East and further afield.