The beauty of being an independent Celebrant is that when it comes to crafting the wedding rituals for your ceremony, anything goes!
Different cultures have their own marriage traditions. Being respectful of their origins we can weave most rituals into your own bespoke ceremony.
What wedding rituals can I incorporate into my marriage blessing ?
Your wedding can incorporate a blend of traditional and totally off-the-wall whacky influences to create your own bespoke ceremony.
You can opt for religious, non-religious or in our multi-cultural society you can adopt rituals from two religions in a mixed faith ceremony.
You can follow along the lines of the well-known declaratory words and contracting words of the register office marriage padded out with your own readings, poems, music and personal vows… or I can write your love story and commitment ceremony as a total one-off without any reference to traditional wording.
Your vision for your wedding ceremony
In our initial chats, we will discuss your vision for your wedding ceremony and one of my questions will be whether you wish to include any rituals. Which ones encompass your vision of a perfect wedding ceremony, vow renewal or elopement?
Have a little read of some of the better known ones, explained below.
Yes, the exchanging of rings is totally optional. In fact at my very first wedding, the groom was a butcher and had such enormous fingers, and regularly put his hands into such strange slimy places, that a ring simply wasn’t practical! So he and his bride exchanged watches instead.
A ring is a perfect circle symbolising your never ending love. Most often made of a precious metal symbolising purity, a ring is a visual recognition that you are committed to someone else and is the most popular of all of the marriage rituals.
Wording depends on whether you choose religious content or secular (non-religious), modern, humanist vows, poems or readings.
Each guest blesses the ring with their good wishes
Warming of the Rings
The warming of the rings ritual is great for including everyone in your ceremony! The idea is to pass the couple’s rings among their guests prior to the ring exchange ceremony. Each guest says a word of blessing and channels their positive energy into the precious metal.
Another option is for each of the couple to keep hold of the end of a cord which is passed around all of the guests (it needs to be a long cord!)
During the ring ceremony the rings are passed along the length of the cord so that everyone touches the rings which are warmed with the positive energy from all present.
And if you want to combine rituals why not use a red thread or “hilo rojo” as it is known in Spanish (see below)
Photo Andreas Holm
Spanish Arras Coin ceremony
In the Arras ceremony thirteen coins are poured by the groom into the bride’s hands to symbolise his commitment to provide for her. She then pours the coins into her groom’s hands to symbolise her commitment to manage the finances.
Modern couples may prefer to present each coin in turn with a different word of commitment such as honesty or faithfulness – the final coin being jointly presented in the name of love.
Being in Spain, this is a personal favourite ceremony of mine and if you would like to make it even more special, I would be delighted to perform it in Spanish for you.
The pouring of (usually) two different coloured sands into a vessel symbolises the blending of two separate beings into one inseparable unit. Just as you cannot separate the blended sand, so you cannot divide the married couple and the new family that they have become.
Photo Jack Hartley
Hand Fasting ceremony
This is another of the most popular ritual in modern times and is the origin of the phrase , “To tie the knot”, meaning to get married.
This Celtic tradition uses cloth, ribbons or cords to bind the couples wrists together to signify their unity… often with an infinity knot.
Photo Jack Hartley
Unity Candle ceremony
Another beautiful ceremony signifying the joining of two families is the unity candle ceremony.
This has many variations where one or more candles can be lit by just the couple, or their extended family.
A favourite variation is where a representative from each family (often the mothers as originally having “given light” to their children) brings a lighted candle to jointly light a third candle for the couple.
At evening wedding ceremonies, the couple’s candle can be used to light tealights held by each of the guests.
Top tip: use an electric camping lighter to ignite the flames as even the slightest breeze can make lighting the candles rather tricky!
Often two different wines are shared – a red and a white, or a sweet and a bitter wine. The wine ceremony symbolises unity throughout the ups and downs of marriage.
Variations of this ceremony include the couple drinking from the same glass, drinking from their own glass whilst linking arms and blending two different wines and drinking the blend.
Why not create your own cocktail and have a totally unique blend of ingredients named in your honour!
A favourite ceremony for beach weddings which involves everyone.
On arrival each person is given a large smooth pebble and a pen with which to write one word as a blessing, wish or sentiment to the couple. The stones are placed in a large bowl and read out.
Top tip: Just remember if you intend taking the stones home, either choose pebble-sizes or bring a very big suitcase!
Photo Jack Hartley
Sri Lankan Oil Lamp ceremony
Similar to the Unity Candle ceremony, an oil lamp is lit by a significant member of each family which jointly lights a third oil lamp for the couple (in Sri Lanka it may be one ceremonial oil lamp with three wicks)
In this ceremony the couple either exchange roses to symbolise the giving and receiving of love (a beautiful tradition to continue on future anniversaries) – or the couple offer a single rose to a respected female member of their family to represent the merging of the new family unit.
Top tip: a variation is to exchange rose plants to grow in your garden and for ever more be a special place where you can reconnect with each other and remember the vows you made.
Jumping the broom
Another Celtic tradition that is also really popular in Africa and the Caribbean is where the couple hold hands and literally jump together over the broom to symbolise sweeping away the past and a leap of faith into a new life together.
The bell at Cortijo Las Salinas in Jaen
Bell of Truce
This Irish tradition requires each of the couple to ring a handbell which is then presented to them as a reminder of the promises they have made at their wedding ceremony.
If they ever exchange harsh words, the bell can be rung as a reminder to stop, listen, reflect and love each other.
African taste ceremony
In this ancient tradition the couple taste four elements symbolising the contrasts they will face in their marriage and their willingness to enjoy the bitter with the sweet.
Lemon (sour); Vinegar (bitter); Pepper (hot); Honey (sweet)
This requires everyone to hold hands with one of the bridal couple at either end.
On a heartbeat, one of the bridal couple squeezes the hand of the person next to them , who squeezes the next person’s hand until the pulse of the heartbeat passes through everybody and back to the bridal couple symbolising them as one.
Hilo Rojo or Red Thread ceremony
This is the beautiful symbolic ceremony that ties the little fingers of the couple together via a long red thread.
As the ulnar artery in the little finger was said to connect directly to the heart, so Japanese legend says that two people destined to meet and be together are for ever connected by a red thread.
“An invisible red thread connecting those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place or circumstances. The thread can be stretched or contracted, but never break ”
What a beautiful symbolic ritual to weave into my your ceremony script – you might also like to combine it with a ring warming ceremony.
Photo of Debbie Skyrme, Juanma Segura
About the author: Debbie Skyrme is “Celebrant Spain”. Helping your elopement, vow renewal or wedding ceremony dreams come true in the Spanish sunshine by officiating personally crafted ceremonies.