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Wedding Ceremony: Symbolic Rituals

Updated: Aug 16, 2019

Lots of couples are now taking the opportunity to include symbolic rituals as part of their wedding ceremonies. This is a fantastic way to make the ceremony completely individual, and creates another special memory of your wedding day.

Some of these rituals are also a lovely option if you would like to include members of your family or friends.

There are many different rituals you could choose from, such as:

  • Handfasting

  • Sand Ceremony

  • Unity Candle

  • Loving Cup

  • Ring-warming


Bride and groom's hands bound with handfasting cord

Handfasting has been around for many hundreds of years, dating back to the time of the ancient Celts, and is thought to be where the phrase "tying the knot" came from!

You could choose any sort of cord or ribbon and, usually, several different colours are plaited together to reflect particular elements of your life together, or simply to match your overall colour scheme.

Sand Ceremony

Sand ceremony

This is a simple, but meaningful ceremony, which can be easily customised to suit your colour scheme, or any special interests (eg: football team(s)?), and is a lovely way to include your children, or other members of your family.

Different coloured sand is poured into a central jar, and this can be as few as two different colours, or as many as you wish! The end result is another beautiful, and completely unique, keepsake of your wedding day.

Unity Candle

Unity Candle ceremony

Two individual candles are lit, then these are used to light a larger, central candle. The candles are usually personalised and, again, this gives you a lovely keepsake of your ceremony.

This can be another wonderful way to include members of your family: sometimes couples ask their mothers to light the candles, or it can be a nice way to include other relatives from each family.

Loving Cup

Another ancient tradition. The idea is usually for both of you share your first drink together as a married couple, though the ceremony often includes three sips: one to remember the past, one to signify the present, and one to look towards your future together.

Quaitch or Loving Cup

A traditional loving cup (or ‘quaitch) is shaped like a two-handled bowl but, nowadays, many couples choose a crystal wine glass , or matching mugs - or anything else you like!

Cup of tea in a china cup

You can also choose your favourite drink, or one which has a special meaning to you - and it doesn’t have to be alcoholic.

A modern variation of this ceremony is a Unity Cocktail! As it sounds, this is the blending together of drinks which have a particular meaning.


The result can be a recognised cocktail, or something which is completely unique to you: I do know of a couple where one partner loved beer, whilst the other preferred whisky. So, they had a pint of beer and a shot of whisky at their ceremony; the shot of whisky was dropped into the beer, and both of them took a sip!


Two Wedding rings in the palm of a hand

If you wanted to include all your guests, then ring-warming could be something you might wish to think about. It is a way of involving everyone, and invites your guests to hold your wedding rings for a moment, and to imbue them with their love and best wishes for your marriage.

It usually works in one of two ways:

  • the rings are passed along the rows of guests during the first part of the ceremony, and then to the Celebrant so that you can exchange them in the usual way;

  • for larger groups, it is sometimes more practical to have the rings placed at the entrance to the ceremony room, which gives your guests an opportunity to ‘warm’ them as they arrive.

Either way, it is a good idea to assign one of your guests as the person who will keep an eye on the rings, and make sure that they make it safely to the Celebrant!

These are just a few examples of the countless ways you can personalise your wedding ceremony, and make it completely your own.

Of course, you may have some ideas of your own or, perhaps, you each come from a different cultural background and would like to include elements from each - fantastic! A Celebrant will love to work with you to create something which is particularly meaningful, and completely unique!

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