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Unity Rituals

Updated: Apr 19, 2022

Unity rituals – what are they and how can we add them to our ceremony?

At the end of my last blog ( I talked about the excitement of actually planning your ceremony, once you have booked your venue and celebrant.

One of the best things about having a Celebrant Led ceremony, is that you are only limited by your imagination! Unlike with more traditional types of service, you are now in control and you can add your own personal touches, cultural, faith, family or couple traditions, and blend them together to make a truly unique ceremony that reflects you as a couple. By adding a Unity Ritual, you really start to bring something special, that ‘je ne sais quoi’, to your day.

So – what is a ‘Unity Ritual’?

Honestly, there is no one answer to this – there are SO many to chose from, or you could design your own to capture the uniqueness of your love story! Ultimately, though, a Unity Ritual is a symbolic gesture to showcase the joining of two lives (or often, the blending together of two families).

Why are rituals so popular at ceremonies?

As humans, we are ritual creatures: throughout our lives, we create many different rituals, from singing ‘happy birthday’ and making a wish before we blow out the candles, to wearing our ‘lucky pants’ for an interview – big or small (not the pants!) these rituals help us to make sense of our world. As sentient beings, we need our story to be told and heard, and rituals are a fundamental part of this storytelling, helping us to express to the world what is important to us.

How do I chose the right ritual for my ceremony?

1. It shouldn’t be too complicated!

Overcomplicating your ritual may lead to something going wrong – and your guests might not understand what is happening – so keep it simple! The simplicity of lighting Unity Candles, or having a visually beautiful Sand or Rose Ceremony, far outshines the complexity of cocktail making or tree planting, which can become overlong and messy. However, that’s not to say you can’t have something more complicated if this is what you really want – but I strongly suggest practising A LOT before the day, so that you are both confident and skilled.

2. Beginnings - middles - and ends!

There should be a very definite, clear ‘beginning and end’ to your ritual – something tangible that says, this is what we are doing, this is what it means to us, and here is the result! The very best Unity Rituals are those that really mean something personal to you, and that your guests will understand. This can involve the words (or music) used during the ritual as well as the results, eg in a Sand Ceremony, the pouring of the sand symbolises you coming together as a couple, and this results in something that cannot be reversed – those grains of coloured sand, once mixed together, would be impossible to separate!

3. Engage your audience – bring a taste of the ‘Theatrical’!

As well as being personal, your ritual should also be visually stunning so as to engage your guests – this is the one day in your life, when adding a bit of drama is not only acceptable, it is practically mandatory! 😊 It will be much more engaging and exciting if your guests can see and understand clearly what is happening. Whatever you choose to use, make sure it is big enough to be seen by those in ‘The Circle’ – so have beautiful, ornate glass vases for your Sand Ceremony, tall, thick candles in ornate holders for your Unity Candle Ceremony, or long-stemmed roses in amazing, cut-glass bud vases for your Rose Ceremony.

4. Venue/location appropriate!

This is a tricky one, as you might have the most AMAZING ritual in your mind, but is it suitable/appropriate for your venue? Unity Candles may not be allowed inside listed buildings or wooden venues for example – for obvious reasons! They are also not always reliable in an outdoor location – one gust of wind, even a very slight breeze, and they are out! A Wine Mixing Ceremony or cocktail making, could be just too messy for your chosen venue – if the carpets are cream or you definitely don’t wish to get red wine splashes on your dress, these may be best avoided (as would anything chocolatey!)

We can talk more about suitability though, as there can be ways around this that might work (a bit of creative thinking is sometimes necessary 😊)

5. With great rituals, comes great (ethical and environmental) responsibility!

As a celebrant, I am always careful about what I will include in any of the ceremonies that I perform. Being careful, responsible, ethically sound and environmentally conscious is something that we should all value. Many celebrants will not carry out rituals that include live animals (dove or butterfly releases for example), and the decline of balloon or Chinese lantern releases is uplifting to notice. I am more than happy to talk about these things in more detail, so if you do have ideas and are wondering what the ethical or environmental impact might be, please do get in touch.

6. Finally! The 3 Fs – Fun, Fabulous and Fitting!

Weddings are no longer solemn and serious occasions, as they tended to be in years gone by (although of course we do recognise the solemnity of the occasion). The modern ceremony is so much more than a legally binding contract, signed between two people - couples today want to bring their own personalities into their day, with fun, laughter (and maybe a few tears!) The more joy that you inject into your day, the more memorable it will be for everyone – you really DO want people to say, ‘Wow! That was the best wedding I’ve ever been to!’

Make sure that YOUR day, is YOUR way! I look forward to speaking to you soon - happy planning!

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