Speaking your wedding vows to one another in front of your officiant, family, and friends is one of the most emotionally powerful parts of the matrimonial process. In addition to vows, there are a number of ceremony rites that serve as visual representations of your love and lifelong commitment to one another. These rites are just as meaningful as the spoken words and serve as a beautiful addition to any wedding ceremony.
If you’re interested in having your officiant lead a ceremony rite during your wedding, you have a host of options from which to choose. Your final decision depends on your tastes as couple, as well as the location of your ceremony.
This ancient ceremony rite has Celtic roots, and was a common solution for couples in rural areas who had limited access to priests. Instead of waiting weeks or months to marry, the couple could participate in this ceremony. When you think about it, you’re literally “tying the knot” in front of all those you love!
In a handfasting ceremony, the bride and groom’s clasped hands are literally bound together with cords, rope, or ribbon. This symbolizes that they will be bound together for life. There are many ways to personalize your handfasting ceremony, including selecting cord colors representative of your relationship.
Some popular color choices for cords include:
Blue–representing understanding and patience
Pink–representing romance, honor, and partnership
What gives this rite even broader appeal is that it isn’t limited to people solely of Irish or Celtic descent. There is ample opportunity to be creative and modify the ceremony to fit your cultural background, religion, or belief system simply by quoting meaningful texts, excerpts, or poems. Even the number of cords you use and the meaning you give them is up to you.
This incredibly popular ceremony rite signifies the joining of each of your lives as husband and wife. It can even be expanded to symbolize the joining of two families, and is especially meaningful if either of you have been married before, or have children and are now coming together as one family unit.
Lighting the Unity candle requires three candles. There is one for the bride, one for the groom, and a taller candle in between. Both smaller candles are lit through the entire ceremony, but the Unity candle remains unlit. After speaking your vows, each of you take your smaller, lit candles and join them together in the middle, lighting the Unity candle.
When words cannot express your union, this action signifies the depth of your commitment.
While reminiscent of lighting the Unity candle, this contemporary ceremony rite is unique in several ways. Just as roses signify romance and love, the thorns below the blooms can signify challenges and conflict.
Both of you will be given a single rose after completing your vows. During this time, your officiant will give you instruction on how to use the rose. During difficulties or arguments, a single rose can be put in an agreed-upon spot in your home, to remind each of you of your devotion to one another.
This serves as a simple statement: “I love you.”
While red is a popular color for the rose ceremony, it’s really up to you. Perhaps yellow roses are your favorite or your bouquets are predominantly white. You have freedom in this area–like most aspects of your ceremony!
When taking part in the rose ceremony, you may choose to create a rose theme for your entire wedding, by sprinkling roses down the aisle, dropping rose petals in your guests’ champagne glasses, or selecting rose boutonnières for the groomsmen.
There are countless other ways to incorporate the romantic intensity of roses into your wedding, from stuffing single rose petals into your invitations to buying a rose embroidered gown for your flower girl.
When conventional ceremony rites just won’t do, you can take cues from some longstanding Hawaiian and Native American rituals made popular in recent years. Among them is the unity sand ceremony. This signifies who both of you have been in the past and who you will become together; a literal joining of your lives. Husband and wife alternately pour their select sand color into one container, creating a beautiful and lasting reminder of their lives together, to be kept on the bedroom dresser, mantle, or shelf, always in view.
An added bonus: This ceremony is a breeze-proof solution for outdoor weddings. No snuffed-out candles here!
The most important thing to remember when considering the ceremony rite you want for your wedding is that the decision is yours to make. All of these options allow flexibility for religious or cultural influences, so you can alter them to suit your individual needs. It’s all up to you as the couple joining together and how you want to express your love for each other.