Wedding rituals and how to use them to personalise your ceremony

Hand Fasting ritual

How many times have you sat through a wedding ceremony and felt like you had heard it all before?  This unfortunately can be the way for many wedding ceremonies, standard wording and a standard script.  The result is a feeling of deja vu everytime you attend one of these weddings.

Have you sworn that you will do things differently, that your wedding ceremony will be all about you? Good stuff, glad to hear it.  This article gives a run down of some of the most popular wedding rituals and enhancements couples are incorporating in their ceremonies these days to show off a bit of their personality.  

The Unity Candle Ritual

The origins of the candle ceremony are unknown but it is a common feature in Catholic weddings, especially here in Ireland.  It is also one of the more common rituals couples include in their civil or secular ceremony. What makes this ceremony personal is that usually a member of their families, and more often it is their mother’s, will light the individual candles that represent the couple.  I have yet to do a wedding with this as a part of it where the two mam’s didn’t get into a fit of giggles or end up putting out the candles or some other little mishap that gets them laughing, gets the couple laughing, and breaks any tension. Laughter really is the best way to ease nerves.  Really personalise this by using different coloured or shaped candles.

The Sand Ritual

Again with origins not really known, some saying it is a hawaiian ceremony, the sand ceremony is a great enhancement to do if there are children or a blending of two families.  Different coloured sands are poured by each individual into a vessel, representing them coming together. The sands once combined can never be separated again. This makes a great keepsake.

The Handfasting Ritual

The big one, and probably the most popular ceremony I get asked to perform as a celebrant.  The handfasting is the oldest wedding tradition in Celtic countries. It was how marriages were symbolised in Celtic times. Today many couples like to incorporate this ritual into their ceremony as a nod to the past.  I like to do this ceremony with colourful ribbons, but it can be done with the more traditional cords or hessian material. It is a great ritual to do if you want to involve guests as they can bring up the ribbons or lay them across the hands.  I tie the ribbons in a way that my couples then pull on them to ‘tie the knot’ and the handfasting is where that phrase comes from. You can really personalise this ritual by using cloth from a loved one, such as a parents scarf or tie. This is my favourite ritual to do and is the perfect way to conclude a ceremony.  

The Love Letters Ritual

This is another great ceremony.  The couple both write a love-letter to each other.  The letter is then locked in a box, I like to add in a bottle of wine, and the first time they have an argument they are to open the box, pour themselves a glass and read the letters they wrote to each other. I guarantee the argument will be forgotten! Really personalise this by making sure to include something in your letter that will make your partner laugh, this will be so important after an argument.

The Potions Ritual

I love this one because it is so quirky and I know a couple of people it would be perfect for!  The symbolism behind it is similar to the sand in that once the two liquids are combined they cannot be separated.  Some couples are happy to use different coloured waters, others go all out goth and use goblets and dry ice for effect!  Whatever way you do it, it is perfect for those who are looking to jump outside the box, have a bit of fun, and brilliant for Hallowe’en weddings. 

So there you have it, my top 5 wedding rituals to enhance your ceremony and add a bit of humour, a bit of fun and tons of your personality.  Whether you choose the more traditional candle ceremony, or a weird and wacky potions ceremony, it is still unique because it is yours, with your story and your guests.  Just because something has been done before doesn’t mean it has to be done the same. Put a bit of thought into the ritual and talk to your celebrant about ways to really make it yours.  Get in touch for more ideas by emailing yvonne@yvonnecassidyweddings.com

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