Special ceremonies give your wedding ceremony that extra oomph and say a lot about you, your beliefs and what you hold dear. The roots of these “special ceremonies” may be traditional or cultural.
Here are some special ceremonies that you can add to your wedding:
– Unity Candle. This is perhaps one of the more popular unity ceremonies used during weddings. At the beginning of the ceremony, the mothers or parents of the couple each light one candle – one representing the bride and one representing the groom. This symbolizes the bride and the groom’s lives as individuals. After the vows are spoken, the bride and the groom each get their respective candle and light the larger unity candle. Then, they blow out the smaller candles they are holding. This symbolizes their union – they are no longer separate, but united as one. Before deciding on this ceremony, inquire from your wedding location if lighting candles are prohibited or not.
– Breaking the Glass. Just as broken glass has a finality to it (you can’t put it back to what it was before), so is marriage. The breaking the glass ceremony highlights the symbolism of how two individuals have said goodbye to their past and look forward to the future with their partner. This ceremony is Jewish in origin and is usually added after the officiant has pronounced the couple as man and wife. The glass is wrapped in cloth. The groom steps on this on the floor while the audience cheers on and sing Mazel Tov. Take note: again, be sure to ask from the wedding venue if this is allowed.
– Jumping the broom. This is also ideally placed after the pronouncement of the couple and after they have kissed. The couple is given the opportunity to jump over a broomstick to symbolize how the broom will clean away “bad luck” and each other’s past. The broom symbolizes a clean, new start for the couple. This is African in origin.
– Circling the groom. This is right after the bridal march. The bride, upon reaching the end of the aisle, goes to the groom and circles the groom seven times. This is reminiscent of the creation of the earth, where God created the world in seven days. Circling the groom symbolizes the couple making a new “world” for themselves when they marry.
– Coin ceremony. This symbolizes the financial union of the marriage. This tradition is Spanish in origin. Here, the groom gives his bride 13 gold coins. This symbolizes how the husband is to provide for the family and how the wife is to be the steward of the family’s finances. In modern ceremonies, after the groom pours the coins into his wife’s hands, the wife then pours the coins into the groom’s hand. This shows that the couple is mutually responsible to provide for and be stewards of their family’s finances.
– Handfasting. This is an ancient tradition with Celtic origins. Handfasting can be used to celebrate a betrothal (where the couple is traditionally engaged for a “year and a day” and married after). It can also be used during the wedding ceremony. Here, the bride and the groom’s hands are bound together by colorful cords while the officiant explains the significance of the ceremony and while the couple recites their vows to each other. It symbolizes the union of two people (body, mind and spirit).
– Honoring the mothers. This is usually done before the bride is presented to the groom (after the bridal march) or before the recessional. The bride takes two pieces from her bridal bouquet and gives each piece to her mother and her mother-in-law. The flowers (may be a single rose) are given with a kiss. Some brides hold a variation of this, where they have their bouquet fashioned into three smaller bouquets. Before the bride goes to the altar with the groom, she divides the big bouquet into three and gives two of these to her mother and her husband-to-be’s mother.
– Releasing of the doves. Doves are loyal mates – once they have a partner, that partner is for life. Here, the bride and groom release two doves. This is ideally done after the kissing of the couples or during the recessional. Again, make sure to ask the wedding hall or location whether releasing doves are allowed.
– Rose ceremony. This may be used for the husband and wife. The couple exchange roses as their first gift to one another. This exchange is to symbolize one’s love to the spouse. The officiant may also encourage the couple to continue exchanging a single rose during anniversaries to remind them of their marriage vow.
– Salt Covenant. During the wedding ceremony, the bride and the groom each hold a pouch of salt and they pour it into one container. The container is then shaken. Salt is used to seal a promise during Biblical times, when salt was considered a precious commodity. Each time a covenant is made between two parties, these two parties each get a pinch of salt from their pouch and place it in the other party’s salt pouch. This marks the finality of the covenant. To break a covenant, you have to retrieve your grains of salt from the other’s pouch and the other party has to do the same from your pouch. As one’s grains of salt cannot be identified and retrieved from the other party’s pouch when the salt has already mixed together, it is also impossible to break the covenant.
– Sand ceremony. The sand ceremony is a variation of the salt covenant. Here, the bride and the groom hold vases filled with colored sand, one color for the bride, the groom and the officiant (optional). The officiant pours his colored sand into a larger vase, which acts as a base for the other sand. In religious ceremonies, the first base symbolizes the presence of God in their marriage. Then the bride and the groom alternately pour layers of their colored sand into the vase. Lastly, they pour the rest of their colored sand together. This symbolizes the couple’s life as an individual and their life together. Other variations include members of the family (such as the couple’s parents, or any children each may have had prior to the marriage).
Adding these special ceremonies provide additional layers to your wedding ceremony, making it all the more beautiful. But before you decide on including these in your ceremony, remember that your ceremony is a reflection of who you and your spouse-to-be are. You should both be comfortable with the ceremony.
Another thing to consider is your wedding and reception location. Your choice of wedding location will help set the mood of your ceremony. If you are planning to have a wedding in Sandy, Utah, be sure to drop by Western Gardens’ The Atrium, which provides a gorgeous setting for a wedding with its well-appointed and well-thought out facilities and equipment.