Adding Symbolic Ceremonies to your Wedding

You’re planning your Wedding!


There is so much to consider, and I am sure you will feel the list is endless, and it can be overwhelming.  At some point though you will be happy with your planning, having set your budget, thought through the venue, the style and theme of your wedding and of course what you will be wearing !!

Even though there are hundreds of other big and little things to do, don’t forget one really important element is your CEREMONY!  This is the day you make your vows and promises and share your love and joy.

So, it should be just as unique and special as you are! And as you’ve chosen a Celebrant to create your unique ceremony and lead these special moments for you, it really will be unforgettable!!

For example a new ritual came to my attention recently! One of my 2023 couples who are sealing their love in Bavaria have decided not to exchange rings as they’re doing this back home in the USA – so instead the bride has chosen to wear a wedding Dirndl which celebrates her marriage and the traditional dress of the location they’re choosing. The dress itself is covered with a beautiful apron at the waist. The Bow is traditionally tied on the left side which represents singledom -and the right side signifies they’re married. Bows are tied at the back by those who are widowed or those working in hospitality roles.

What we are going to do is to ask the groom to retie his bride’s apron strings and mark the transition in the ceremony from her single status to her married status.

How absolutely perfect is that!?

A woman is wearing southern Germany traditional dress called a Dirndl which has an apron over the skirt. The bow is tied on the left denoting the person is single. Married people tie the bow on the right. Widowed would tie the bow at the back.

A woman is wearing southern Germany traditional dress called a Dirndl which has an apron over the skirt. The bow is tied on the left denoting the person is single. Married people tie the bow on the right. Widowed would tie the bow at the back A woman is wearing southern Germany traditional dress called a Dirndl which has an apron over the skirt. The bow is tied on the left denoting the person is single. Married people tie the bow on the right. Widowed would tie a bow at the back.

As a Celebrant, we can create exciting, memorable ceremonies for every couple, adding lots of personal, quirky or traditional touches  –  some of which I will explain here:

The Ring Warming Ceremony 

ring warming dish

This is a beautiful little ceremony that is full of meaning, and is always a surprise for the guests – it allows them to take part in your ceremony right from the beginning.  The rings can be in  a pouch, on a ring cushion, in a glass ring box, or safely tied onto a ring dish and are passed between each of your guests.  I invite everyone to hold the rings for a few seconds, and warm them with their wishes or prayers for your future, for health and happiness and all that is good in life.   It is a lovely,  touching ceremony that allows you to include all of your guests before you actually exchange the rings and wear them, when they have been warmed with the love and support of your family and friends.  If you wish, you can add a small explanatory note on the seats or in your Order of Ceremony, which is what one of my couples did for their guests.  It makes a pretty keepsake too!

a small brown card with the words of a Ring Warming Ceremony for guests at a wedding
Ring Warming Card

The Hand Fasting Ceremony


This is traditionally what was meant by “tying the knot” – cords or ribbons or even sashes would be tied around the couple’s joined hands, as you can see from the photo, our own lovely royal couple did this in Church on their wedding day.  A modern hand-fasting can have cords created in the colours of your wedding theme, the tartans of your clans, and can have charms attached that signify fertility, fidelity and commitment. The cord colours also have their own special meaning which is also something to consider. Many couples will choose to use fabric that has a significant meaning – such as a piece of lace from their mother or grandmothers gown, or a piece of tartan. The ceremony is specially written and can include many cords or ribbons bound by family members and even guests and might last around 20 minutes.

Handfasting cordshand tying cord colour meanings in a colourful graphic

Jumping the Broom

This tradition is rooted in different cultures and depending on which it is, does hold different meaning. In England it is used as a symbol of sweeping away the old and preparing for the new. It is also said that the fastest over the broom will “wear the trousers ” in the Marriage! 😊. It is jumped together and hand in hand and is often chosen after a Handfasting by couples!  The brooms can be decorated in the colours of your wedding theme and kept as a souvenir afterwards!

Jumping over the Broom

The Sand Ceremony 

The Sand Ceremony is very popular as it has a lovely symbolic context – once the grains of sand from each vial pour in to the central vessel, those grains cannot be separated!  The Sand Ceremony also works well with coloured sands that match your wedding theme, and also allow more than two colours – so if you wish to include your children or family members in the Ceremony, that can be incorporated too!  A lovely way to blend two families!

You can also adapt this Symbolic Ceremony into a Spice Blending – choosing different spices and layering these up to form a similar pattern.  The meanings again will be about what qualities you will bring into your marriage – heat, warmth, bitter, sweet…. you can make it what you will!  One I found on the internet was about 7 spices that were harmonious together:

Salt – Balance in life, work and home   

Rosemary – Remembrance, Love and Fidelity

Nutmeg – Romance Poppyseed – Courage, Strength and Prosperity

Paprika – Passion

Lavender – Calm in the face of difficulty

Mustard Seed – Wisdom and Long Life

The Rose Ceremony

This is a lovely Ceremony and very simple – it involves the Couple giving a single Red Rose to each other as the first gift in their marriage. However like many ceremonies it can also be adapted and I love the idea of a Surprise Rose Giving which means before the ceremony starts but after the introductions and welcome, the couple give a single Rose, to their mothers, or new mothers in law!  How sweet is that!  Or of course, the the guests can each hold a rose and subject of course to the number of guests, the roses can be given or taken by the bride and become her bouquet as she reaches her partner!  Romantic?  You bet!!! 🌹

The Unity Candle Ceremony

This is a beautiful and poignant ceremony for the couple as they each light a taper and then together light their candle. Again, the ceremony symbolises two becoming one, two hearts, two families, two people.

The candles can be large or small, engraved with vows or just with the name of the couple and their wedding date.  There are a wide variety of candle holders and some beautifully embellished candles that will look stunning during the ceremony.

Hand or Foot Washing

glass bowl filled with water and petals ready for a hand washing ceremony at a wedding
Hand Washing Bowl with Rose Water and Petals for the Ceremony

This is a fairly new custom and seems to be gaining popularity as the symbolism is very tender and nurturing. The Washing of each other’s hands or feet is about the clearing and cleaning away the past, past choices, past mistakes and creating a new present from which to go forward together.

It’s also about care and vulnerability and accepting the role of carer in the relationship. It can also be seen to be about forgiveness, and how important it is too, to love with an open heart. So all in all a beautiful tender and romantic custom.

Wine Blending /Bridal cup

I love the idea of a ritual that blends two distinct or different elements. In a wine blending there’s the chance to demonstrate how the two wines made from the same fruit have their taste and qualities. Like marriage they may be sweet and sometimes a little bitter. The blended wine creates a new taste to reflect on and enjoy.

The Silver Bridal Cup is unique in that it allows two people to sip from it at the same time. My couple had beer and wine in a Bridal Cup and it was so cool watching them sip from their own and then each other’s beverage. Again every symbolic moment is written by me to reflect their relationship and personality. No two ceremonies are ever the same.

I have also come across several more : the 13 coins, the Signature Cocktail, and the Canvas Painting! Many have their origins in different cultures, but with respect and sensitivity can also be adapted and customised.

If you have found any more customs do let me know!

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