Here are 10 unique ideas for your wedding ceremony! All the items in this list are suitable for a variety of weddings. If you see one you like, customize to fit your theme and personality!
1. Write Your Own Vows
One of the best ways to personalize your wedding ceremony is to write your own vows. By doing so, you create the opportunity to communicate to each other on a deeper level. Personalized wedding vows will include everything you want to say and leave out anything that doesn’t feel right for you. Additionally, it provides a chance for your guests to get a better sense of your relationship and what marriage means to you.
2. Include a Moment of Mindfulness
I hear so often from couples about how quickly the wedding day seems to fly by. It can really feel like one moment you’re getting hair and makeup done and the next moment you’re leaving the afterparty. Consider that you can mitigate some of that rushed energy by engaging in a little mindfulness practice on the big day. After all, you’ve spent months (perhaps years) planning this event – simply taking some deep breaths and being present throughout the day goes a long way toward actually enjoying the fruits of your labor. Your officiant can include a moment of mindfulness as part of their welcome remarks that invites everyone to be present in this moment.
Handfasting is an ancient tradition of Celtic origin in which the wedding couple’s hands are fastened together using cords or fabric to symbolize their union in marriage. Interestingly, handfasting is where we derive the phrase ‘tying the knot!’ Usually the celebrant performs a handfasting, accompanied by a recitation, during the wedding ceremony. There are many beautiful handfasting scripts to choose from or use as a template to create your own. For materials, one option is to use 3 or more differently colored cords, braided together, to represent the union of the families. Alternatively, use an important piece of fabric such as excess material from the wedding gown. Finally, as the celebrant literally ties the knot, they should leave the binding loose enough for the couple to slip their hands out easily. Now you have a lasting symbol of the bond created on your wedding day.
4. Ceremony Readings
Readings are a rather common feature of both modern and traditional style weddings. Yet, the choice of content will influence the overall tone and message of the wedding ceremony and is often a reflection of the couple’s emotional commitments. If the wedding is religious in nature, typically the readings will be as well. Whereas in a secular ceremony, you can pull readings from just about anywhere. Check out some of my suggestions for non-religious readings in this post! In either case, select readings that highlight what you find important about your wedding. Consider delegating the role of reader to individuals you would like to play a more significant role on the big day. Parents, close relatives, or influential friends are people you may want to consider elevating to reader status. They will certainly feel honored by the request.
It’s difficult to overstate the role music plays in nearly every event in our lives. Where weddings are concerned, there are a few ways for music to take on a more central and unique role. For example, a live performance of the processional sets a more intimate and ephemeral mood. Consider asking a musically inclined friend or family member to fill that role and be sure to ask well in advance to allow for rehearsal time.
Another way to bring music into focus is to invite your guests to all sing together. Group performances foster a sense of connectedness and community. If you decide to go the sing-a-long route, include lyrics on the program or place setting, depending on where it falls in your timeline. Whether you go the live performance route or use recorded music, select procession and recession songs that reflect your personality. You can even choose fun songs and encourage everyone to dance!
6. Ring Warming
The ring warming ceremony comes from Irish tradition in which the family and guests to hold and imbue the wedding rings with thoughts, prayers, well-wishes and positive energy for the couple. A ring warming typically takes place before the wedding ceremony and can involve all attendees or just the families and wedding party. There are various ways to incorporate a ring warming, but if you want all your guests to participate, there are a couple tried-and-true methods.
First, you can set up an area for ring warming to take place near the venue entrance. That way, everyone can put loving vibes into the rings conveniently as they find their seats. Alternatively, you may pass the rings around after everyone has been seated. In either case, safeguard against accidental dropping by fastening the rings to a tray, cushion, or box using ribbon. Likewise, appoint a ring chaperone to explain the ceremony and ensure the rings get to where they need to be safely. After your rings have been warmed, you will carry a daily reminder of all the loved ones who supported you along the way.
7. Plant a Tree
Planting a tree or other flora is a wedding tradition rich with symbols of growing deep and long-lasting roots, the nourishment of life, and connectedness with nature. This ceremony is ideal for outdoor venues with bonus points for backyard weddings. It does require some equipment and for you to get your hands dirty, however. As such, a tree planting may be more easily performed before or after the actual wedding ceremony, during the reception, or privately in a different setting. That said, there are ways to simplify the process such that it can be performed as a part of any wedding.
To perform the planting, the celebrant or officiant should offer some words explaining the significance of the proceedings. Then, you will each contribute some soil into the vessel containing the plant as well as some water. Alternatively, you may simply water an already potted plant, simplifying the process while keeping the symbolism. Transfer the tree or plant to a permanent home and care for it well as it brightens your home or yard.
8. Light a Candle
Often referred to as the Unity candle ceremony, candle lighting is a well-established and meaningful tradition. To perform this ceremony, you will need three candles: two representing each family and a third unlit Unity candle in a stand. Traditionally the mothers of the wedding couple light the family candles, however anyone can perform this step. You hold the lit candles while the celebrant shares some words to accompany the ceremony. Then, you simultaneously ignite the Unity candle as their two flames combine into one. The Unity candle remains lit for the duration of the wedding ceremony.
Bring your own personal flair to this tradition by choosing candles with meaningful colors, symbols, or a unique engraving. Similarly, use the candle holders to affix florals or other visual accoutrement. Prior to deciding on a candle-lighting, be sure to check with your venue coordinator as fire codes sometimes prohibit open flame. Consider also, that candles may prove difficult to light during an outdoor ceremony. If you run into one of these roadblocks, you may want to opt for the Unity Sand ceremony.
9. Mixing of Sand
The sand mixing, or Unity sand, ceremony shares much of the symbolism of a Unity candle ceremony. In fact, it was initially conceived as a replacement for the Unity candle, although there are some differences in execution. Perform the Unity sand ceremony using two or more vessels with differently colored sand and a third empty vessel to contain the resulting mixture. The result is a totally unique visual symbol representing the union of the newlyweds and their families. One popular choice of vessel is a picture frame engraved with names, the wedding date, poetic words, or all three.
When choosing sand, you can opt to source it from a meaningful location such as a favorite vacation spot, family home, or first date locale. Importantly, the sand should layer together, which means the couple and any participants they choose will alternate adding small amounts of sand to the main vessel. Pouring alternating layers provides an opportunity to weave in a vow exchange or readings.
10. Champagne Toast to the Married Couple
Usually a champagne toast happens sometime during cocktail hour or the reception, but there’s no rule saying it can’t be bumped up in the timeline. Having a toast to the married couple right after they are pronounced is a wonderful celebratory act and a nice segue into the evening’s activities. The main logistical concern for including a champagne toast in your ceremony is getting glasses into hands in a timely fashion, especially if your guest count is high. Recruit as many hands as you can to facilitate the process and work with your planner or venue coordinator. If you plan to do the registry signing immediately, this is a good opportunity to distribute bubbly flutes. Otherwise, your officiant will have to vamp for a few minutes. After everyone has a glass, someone should say a short and sweet toast. Congratulations, you have now kicked off your marriage with style!