As you can see on my Pinterest site, I have a board that specifically relates to Unity Ceremony Ideas and in addition, my website also touches on some Symbolic Unity Elements. These elements can be introduced into a variety of ceremonies to make them unique and personal. They are used by Celebrants and although mainly used in Wedding Ceremonies, they can also be used in Family Unity Ceremonies, Anniversaries, Engagements, Renewal of Vows and many more.
Handfasting is widely accepted as being of ancient Celtic origin. During the Ceremony your hands are tied with ribbons to symbolise the bringing together of the two hearts in a marriage of strength and unity, if loosely tied it would signify that it was for a year and a day, if tighter, then it would symbolise being together for eternity. It is this part of the ceremony that the term ‘tying the knot’ is derived.
Traditionally, 3 cords/ribbons are used, with each being a different colour, you can braid the three cords together before the ceremony, or you can use one cord or even a material that is special to you both
- Jumping The Broom
Generally part of a traditional Handfasting Ceremony, it is becoming an increasingly popular part of many modern wedding ceremonies. Jumping the Broom is based upon a tradition which symbolises the clearing away of negativity with a sweep of the broom and creating a threshold for you to cross over into your new life together. It can also signify the joining of two families. This normally appears in the latter part of your ceremony and I would usually ask a member of the family, or close friend, to hold the broom or besom, as you jump into the next chapter of your lives together.
- Braided Rope / God’s Knot – Cord of 3 Strands
This can be an alternative to a Handfasting and it is based in part on Ecclesiastes 4:12, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Traditionally, there are 3 different coloured braids, gold, purple and white, but again the choice is yours. The gold is meant to represent the divinity of God, purple represents the Groom and white represents the purity of the Bride. You can alter this and during the ceremony explain the significance of the colours, instead of God, the gold could represent the strength of the relationship or the bond of children.
During the ceremony, I would hold a small metal ring with the three cords attached, symbolising the union of God (relationship/children), the Bride and the Groom. As a couple you would work together in braiding the cords and while doing so there could be a reading by a family member, I could explain the symbolism of the ceremony or you could simply play some music.
- Warming of the Rings
This is one of my favourite Unity Ceremonies, also known as Blessing of the Bands, because it involves as many of your friends and family that you wish. Before you say your vows and exchange your rings, I will ask that they be passed to all the guests, your closest friends or just close family, the choice is yours. This allows them to bestow their own blessings onto the rings and to add their own thoughts, wishes and hopes for your marriage.
I would suggest that they are passed around on a cushion, or a small purse or tied with ribbon to ease your concerns of them being dropped on the floor. To make you feel further at ease, the best man and chief bridesmaid could supervise the process. When the rings come back, you exchange the rings as usual but they are infused with all the love, hopes and best wishes from family and friends.
- Love Lock / Tree of Life Ceremony
This is another Unity Ceremony that can be used on a variety of occasions, in particular Wedding Ceremonies, Renewal of Vows and Naming Ceremonies. This is because it is not just the important couple that can become involved, it is perfect for parents, children and siblings to feel a central part of the ceremony.
I would suggest that it takes part near the end of the ceremony and it be placed on a beautifully arranged table. Parents and children could firstly move forward and to some chosen words or music, place their padlocks at the base of the tree, as it signifies family, this being the foundation of any relationship. You then move forward together and place your lock in the middle of the tree. This is a double padlock, with a personal engraving, locking only once and has no key, symbolising being joined together in a bond that can never be broken.
- Wine Ceremony
Throughout history and across different cultures, the taking of wine has played a traditional role in many wedding ceremonies, symbolising the richness of life and sweetness of love. However, it need not just be wine you can use any drink that can be mixed, beers, lagers, spirits or something non-alcoholic.
As a couple you each take a carafe of wine, perhaps one red and one white, and pour some into a single glass to create a wine that you will both drink. This symbolizes drinking from the cup of life and the sharing all of its experiences together, both bitter and sweet. The ’blending’ is symbolic of your union and the life you will create together.
- Unity Bowl / The Oathing Stone
A Celtic tradition where you place your hands upon the ‘Oathing Stone’, or hold the stone while saying your wedding vows, it is believed that holding the stone during the vows, in turn casts or sets them in stone. In Scottish tradition, an oath given near a stone or water was considered more binding. In a modern times the ‘Oathing Stone’ can be engraved with your initials in the middle, accompanied by the date of your wedding.
If you want to involve friends and family in the ritual, you can give them each a stone to hold in their hands during the ceremony, I ask your guests to take a moment in thought, to pledge their support through the peaks and troughs of your marriage, their oaths to you both, being again set in stone
At the conclusion of the ceremony, you can make wonderful memento by asking them to place the stones in a Unity Bowl, which can be displayed in your home as reminder of the vows you took and the support given to you by friends and family.
- Unity Puzzle
There are many ways to symbolise the joining of two families in a Wedding Ceremony and a Unity Puzzle Ceremony is a unique alternative. It demonstrates that your two lives have now become one, newly formed family. It has pieces that are different shapes and sizes, just as each family member is unique with their own special qualities. During the ceremony each family member comes forward and places their piece in the puzzle, I would suggest with some words or music if preferred. Once complete, with each family member in place, it not only creates a beautiful ornament as a keepsake, but symbolises the blending of your two families.
- The Unity Cross
The Unity Cross is a unique alternative to many Unity Ceremony ideas, in particular if you want a religious element to your ceremony. This multi-piece sculpture is assembled to symbolise your unity, representing how two become one. The groom places the outer cross in the wood base, the bride then places the sculpted cross inside the outer cross, you both then use the 3 golden pegs to lock the union (cross) together.
It can be displayed in your home after the wedding ceremony as a reminder of your wedding day and the union you share. In addition, the base of the unity cross has a drawer, you can place your vows in the drawer and on your first anniversary, read your vows to each other. It does not have to be your vows, it can be a promise or some simple words that mean something special to you both.
- Eternity Flowers
Hands up! I found this on another site and just felt it highlights how a couple can come up with their own version of a unity ceremony. It is simple but effective and again, ensures your friends and family feel a part of your special day.
Your guests simply came forward and pick flowers out of a vase, and lay them in two conjoined circles around you both, making the eternity symbol. The ceremony continues and you stand in the circles while you say your vows, symbolising the vows will remain in place for eternity.
So that is the 10, hopefully it has sparked your imagination because you can modify any of these or just create your own.
I am keen to try and get this information into the wider community and humbly ask that you share this blog on your preferred social media platform as below. If you have any questions or would like more information, please do not hesitate to get in touch via my contact details.
Peace, Love and Happiness, Jon X