If you’ve ever seen a couple light a candle, pour some sand or braid a rope at their wedding ceremony and thought “that’s cool!” then a unity ceremony might be for you! But what is a unity ceremony and what unity ceremony ideas are there to choose from? We’ve got you covered!
From traditional customs to offbeat and fun ideas, unity ceremonies offer a chance to make your day even more personal. Check out these 18+ unity ceremony ideas that will add that extra magic to your “I do” moment!
What is a unity ceremony?
A unity ceremony is a special tradition, practice or moment that a couple engages in during their wedding to symbolize their commitment to one another and their new union. These ceremonies generally involve two things becoming one or the joining of both people to best symbolize the unity the couple has found.
Unity ceremony ideas can be derived from religious or cultural traditions, historic wedding practices or something fun and creative the couple wants to do. Some ceremonies also result in a physical object, such as a painting, that the couple can then display in their home.
Why do couples have unity ceremonies during their wedding? Do we have to have one?
Most couples choose to have unity ceremonies during their weddings to further personalize their day. They may want to add a unity practice that is really meaningful to them, something done by their family or religious group, or that they have a personal connection to. Unity ceremonies also give couples one more opportunity to focus on their connection and commitment to one another.
However, unity ceremonies are not mandatory. You can still have a personalized wedding day that focuses on your commitment without holding a special unity ceremony. If none of the wedding ceremony unity ideas sound good to you, don’t force it! You and your guests will enjoy your wedding a lot more if it feels authentic to you two, and not like you’re doing something just because you think you’re supposed to.
Lastly, we want to remind you to do your homework when it comes to unity ideas for your wedding. Especially if it’s not a unity practice you’re familiar with or not one from your own background, do some research to make sure you understand where the practice comes from and if it’s right for you. Appreciation can veer into appropriation when we start incorporating elements from other cultures, religions or backgrounds without any meaning behind them.
There are also some unity ceremonies that aren’t appropriate for everyone. For example, jumping the broom is a wedding tradition born out of a time when Black slaves were not allowed to legally marry, and so jumped over a broom to signify their union. Because of this history, you can see how it would be inappropriate for a non-Black couple to incorporate this unity ceremony into their wedding.
When does the unity ceremony happen?
Unity ceremonies usually happen during the wedding ceremony, typically after your vows and ring exchange but before your first kiss and pronouncement as a newlywed couple. Depending on what type of unity ceremony you have in mind, you can work with your wedding officiant and wedding planner to ensure you have it at the right time. You may also need to coordinate with them any supplies you’ll need for the ceremony.
18+ unity ceremony ideas for your wedding
From mixing sand and planting trees to tying knots and chopping wood, check out 18+ unity ideas for your wedding below!
Sand unity ceremony
One of the most popular ideas for a unity ceremony is a sand ceremony. In a sand unity ceremony, each member of the couple will have a vase filled with sand, usually of different colours. Together, they will both pour their small bottles of sand into a larger one, mixing the two types of sand together. A sand for unity ceremony is a simple way to symbolize two becoming one and makes a beautiful art piece. You can even have your unity ceremony sand transformed into even cooler art by a glassblower.
Beer, wine or cocktail blending
Why mix sand when you could mix drinks? A fun spin on the sand unity ceremony is to switch out sand for something much more delicious, like beer, wine or cocktail ingredients. For example, you can pour white wine while your partner pours red, creating your own rosé. Or you pour gin while your partner pours tonic water. Afterwards, take a sip of your new creation!
Prefer mocktails over cocktails? If you’re not alcohol drinkers, you can still do a beverage blending unity ceremony with juice, tea, coffee or your beverage of choice.
In Celtic wedding vow tradition, a handfasting ceremony is done so a couple can literally tie the knot. In this ceremony, the officiant will wrap rope around the couple’s hands, tying them together, while explaining the significance of the tradition with a handfasting script. The couple may also choose to exchange Celtic wedding vows to further deepen their connection to the ceremony.
One of the best ways to symbolize your growing love and commitment to care for it is with a tree planting ceremony. Assuming you don’t want to do a full landscaping job in your wedding clothes, it’s best to make this ceremony as simple as possible. You can shovel in some dirt that was already prepared or simply water a tree that has just been planted. You can also swap out the tree for a house plant or succulent if that makes more sense for your lives.
Unity candle ceremony
Another very popular unity ceremony is the unity candle ceremony. In this ceremony, both members of the couple will take a lit candle and light a third candle together at the same time. Sometimes couples will receive their individual candles from family or friends, symbolizing the love they are bringing to the marriage. This is another beautiful, simple and elegant unity ceremony idea.
Who says unity ceremonies only have to involve the couple? In this unity idea, you get to involve all of your loved ones. A ring warming is when a couple’s wedding rings are passed around so all of their guests can “warm” the rings with their love. That way, when the couple exchanges rings, they’re doing so with all the love and support of their guests. Worried about losing the rings or someone coughing on them? Instead of passing around each ring on its own, put them in a box!
Similar to handfasting, this unity idea involves braiding a cord but without wrapping the cord around your hands. This tradition comes from the Bible where Ecclesiastes 4:12 says that “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” The three strands traditionally symbolize the two partners and god but if you’re not religious, the third strand can represent your family and friends. During this unity tradition, both partners will take turn braiding the cord and tying a knot at the end.
Inspired by Thai tradition (and probably the movie Tangled), a lantern release is a beautiful way to symbolize your union and give your guests something beautiful to look at. A lantern release can be a sign of hope for a bright future ahead or can be used to make wishes for your married life. If you want to get your guests involved, this is a great unity ceremony to do at the end of your reception, where guests can release their own lanterns. Make sure you do your research to ensure you’re releasing lanterns in an environmentally-friendly and venue-approved fashion!
We love this unity ceremony idea! Together, you and your partner will create an anniversary time capsule for you to open on your first wedding anniversary. Your capsule can include love letters, mementos from your wedding day, a bottle of your favourite wine, etc. During the unity ceremony, your officiant can explain what items you’re putting into the box, which you can then seal closed together and open a year later!
An artsy unity ceremony idea is a paint blending ceremony. In this option, each member of the couple will have a different colour of paint. You’ll then apply both to a canvas in whatever design you choose, creating a piece of art that blends both colours and can be displayed in your home. You may want to test out your art materials ahead of time so you don’t accidentally get paint on your wedding outfits!
One of the funniest unity ceremony ideas we’ve heard of is a sandwich making ceremony. If you always say you go together like peanut butter and jelly, why not make it literal? On a side table you can have the sandwich ingredients ready to go. One partner will add peanut butter to a piece of bread while the other partner adds jelly to another piece of bread. Smash them together and take a bite of true love!
Another great way to involve your guests in your unity ceremony is with a unity toast. While toasts are usually saved for the wedding reception, we love the idea of all of your guests raising a glass in support of your union at your ceremony. Make sure to discuss with your wedding planner how you’ll work out all of the logistics for your wedding ceremony toast so everyone can cheers to your love.
Religious ideas for a unity ceremony
Looking for more religious or spiritual ideas for a unity ceremony? Check out a few options below! Remember to do your research before incorporating a tradition that is not from your own religion or culture.
- Prayer circle: Have your guests form a circle around you and pray for your marriage.
- Communion: Invite guests to receive communion at your Catholic wedding.
- Wash each other’s feet: Like Jesus, take turns washing each other’s feet to symbolize your love and humility.
- Circling: The Jewish hakafot tradition sees the bride circling the groom seven times, but is now commonly done by both partners.
- Hasta Milap: This Hindu tradition ties a scarf or sari over the couple’s hands to signify the meeting of their two hearts and two souls.
- Sofreh Aghd: A Persian ceremony that involves symbolic items displayed on a table to bless the couple’s union.
- Breaking the glass: A unity ceremony traditionally seen at the end of Jewish weddings to symbolize a turning point in the couple’s lives.
Another unity ceremony idea that involves your guests is a community vow. With a community vow, your officiant might say something like, “Loved ones of Peter and MJ, do you promise to celebrate their love, support them and encourage them in their marriage? If so, please let out a resounding ‘we do!'” To which your guests will all shout, “We do!” It’s a fun, simple and meaningful way to involve your guests in your ceremony and union as a couple.
Blanket wrapping is a beautiful unity ceremony that comes from Cherokee tradition. Each member of the couple is wrapped individually in a blue blanket, symbolizing their past lives. Then, they’re wrapped together in a white blanket, symbolizing their commitment to a new life together filled with peace. A shared blanket can also represent warmth and a shared future. To add even more meaning, you can use handmade blankets or ask loved ones to do the wrapping.
Want to work up a sweat at your unity ceremony? A German wedding tradition, baumstamm sägen, involves the couple cutting a log together with a handsaw to symbolize the hard work they are willing to put into their marriage. Luckily, to save the couple some time and to stop them from sweating through their outfits, this log is often partially cut in advance.
Is your love burning like a passionate flame? Prove it with a bonfire ceremony! While you don’t want your marriage to be up in flames or burned to the ground, a bonfire can symbolize new beginnings, new life and new light. It’s also quite the wow moment for your guests! Just be sure you have venue-approval before lighting a bonfire and a plan for how to safely put it out.
The crown unity ceremony comes from Greek Orthodox weddings where Stefana crowns are placed on the couple’s heads by their officiant or family members. These crowns are held together with a ribbon, connecting the wearers to each other and to god. The couple is blessed and the ceremony symbolizes the couple coming together in god’s kingdom.
Lasso unity ceremony
Traditionally seen in Mexican, Filipino and Spanish Catholic weddings, a lasso unity ceremony is another play on “tying the knot” to bring couples together. A lasso – usually a flower garland or rosary passed down by family – is draped over the couple’s shoulders to form a figure eight, representing their unity for eternity. The couple wears the lasso throughout the ceremony until it is removed by their officiant or special “lasso godparents.”
So there you have it, 18+ unity ceremony ideas that you can incorporate into your wedding day. Want to make your wedding day even more personal and meaningful? Check out our custom ceremony package where your officiant will write a ceremony completely personalized to your love story!