Unity Symbols (Ceremony Ideas List)
Looking for inspiration? Check out our compiled favorites for your special moment!
There are two things that are absolutely required for a wedding to be a wedding. An officiant - you can't marry yourselves, you have to have a witness - and vows - the whole point of a wedding is to agree to marry someone, to bind yourselves together with enduring promises. Exchanging rings is also almost universal.
Back before the wedding industry boom, it seems that all weddings followed a traditional path and timeline. Today, weddings are much more diverse, with first looks, after-parties, jumpsuit and non-white wedding dresses, photobooths, and more (though some have argued that Pinterest makes every wedding the same anyway). Your wedding is a "choose your own adventure" day; you make the decisions about how you want it to look, feel, and flow. As long as you have an officiant and vows, it's a wedding. And yet, there are other traditional elements that most brides include, of course (walking down the aisle, a first dance, personal vows, etc.).
Today we're talking about unity symbols - the moment in the wedding ceremony where you and your spouse perform an action to demonstrate two lives becoming one. It's actually a very beautiful moment. The Kadlee team highly recommends it, but our only issue is that there are a very limited number of things you can do that aren't ridiculous. You want to keep it sweet, meaningful, and classy. Some symbols are religious, and some are cultural, so if you or your fiance doesn't like any of these ideas, it may be better just to go without!
To help make the decision easier on you, we've done our research and compiled a list of a few of the most popular (and more obscure) unity symbols.
**Note - while the unity symbol is being performed, we suggest music or some sort of reading to add more emotion to the moment! Silence can be awkward for your guests who are watching.
You each light your own candle and then bring them together in one flame, to represent each of your lives coming together to burn as one! This is one of the oldest ways to perform this part of the ceremony. It's also a beautiful, classy way to do it that can work with any couple (you can change the color and size of the candles, or even the shape, etc.) The only thing to remember is that this can be very tricky to get right in an outdoor ceremony! It can work with glass coverings, though, so just be sure to practice beforehand.
This symbol comes from an ancient Celtic wedding tradition where the bride and groom's right hands are wrapped (bound, or braided) with rope as vows are read out loud by the officiant. It symbolizes the devotion and commitment you have to each other, and also suggest something about the way you will work together for the rest of your lives as one! (This may be where the origin of "tying the knot" comes from - the hands are wrapped in such a way where, when the couples pulls their hands apart, they form a knot!)
You and your spouse each take a vase of sand (usually different colors, to symbolize your differences), and pour it into the same glass container. Once blended, the sand can never be separated, much like two people who are joined together should never be separated (a popular Bible verse that is often read aloud in conjunction with a sand ceremony is Matthew 19:4-6 - Jesus says, "'Haven't you read,' he replied, 'that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female', and he said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.'"). However, this is often used as a nonreligious ceremony unity symbol as well!
This ceremony is also great for blended families, as kids can be invited to pour sand in as well!
One variation of this we've seen is when couples pour colorful glass crystals into a display container, which is then send to a glass-blowing studio and turned into a sculpture they can display in their home. Great for artsy couples!
This comes from Jewish wedding tradition, but can be used in any ceremony! Both the bride and groom step on a glass, which is inside of a cloth bag, and break it, to cheers and "mazel tov"'s from the audience. The breaking of glass has multiple meanings. One interpretation is that it symbolizes the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem - a sorrowful occasion in the midst of joy. The Jewish belief is that the Temple will someday be rebuilt, and thus breaking glass is a representation of a commitment to stand by each other in hard times. Another interpretation is that a broken glass can never be fully put back together again; marriage is permanent, and fragile, requiring much care.
Planting a Tree (or Seed, or Flower, or Plant)
This unity symbol may seem like it's only for outdoor weddings, but potted plants can be brought anywhere! Planting something together is symbolic of starting a marriage - just like trees/seeds/flowers/plants, it will require nourishment to grow and flourish. It is something beautiful that you can watch grow even as your marriage grows!
Braiding Three Strands
This symbol comes from the Bible verse Ecclesiastes 4:12 - "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." (This is preceded by the simple and sweet verses 9-11 - "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.")
Though the context of this verse is not exactly marriage, it can be beautifully applied to Christian marriage - two together can help each other, and with God in their marriage, it will not be quickly broken. Most couples arrange to tie three strands around or next to a cross while this verse is read.
What are your favorite unity symbol ideas? We know there are more out there, but we only listed our favorites - are there any we should have included on this list that are meaningful, sweet, and classy? Let us know in the comments!
Kadlee believes wedding days are GREAT - which is why we do what we do (make beautiful silk bridesmaids robes that all your ladies can get ready in in style, and make it a little easier for photographers to capture pretty moments!) - but we believe marriages are better! We'd love for you to check out our website and see our products, share our blogs with other soon-to-be brides, follow us on social media, and send us your wedding photos! Visit Kadlee.com for more information and to get discounts on all of our floral collection.