A unity ceremony is a tradition that can be one of the most beautiful parts of the overall ceremony because it’s a visual symbol of two lives coming together as one. Over the years, it’s also become one of the best ways for a couple to personalize their wedding. From lighting a taper candle to creating a cocktail, couples are finding sweet and sentimental ways to make the unity ceremony their own–and we absolutely love it.
Unity ceremonies provide one of the few moments on your wedding day that you get to slow down, pause, and reflect on the promises you’ve made to each other—be sure it is meaningful to you. We’ve seen some truly creative unity ceremony ideas over the years, so here are our favorites to help you pick the one that speaks to you!
1. Make A Unity Ceremony Sandwich
This one is one of the cutest, most lighthearted unity ceremonies that we have ever seen. Choose your favorite sandwich, prepare both slices of bread, and bring the sandwich together as a sweet—and tasty—metaphor for your new marriage!
2. Light A Unity Candle
This is by far the most traditional unity ceremony option, so it’s perfect for couples who want something a bit more classic. Before the ceremony, three candles are placed on the altar: two taper candles and one large candle—the “unity candle”—in the middle. At the beginning of the ceremony, a member from each family–traditionally the mothers–lights one of the taper candles. After you exchange vows, each spouse uses one of the candles to light the unity candle at the same time. If either or both of you have children, you can even get the entire family involved. Just add extra taper candles for each child and invite them to join you as you light the unity candle.
Shop unity candles: Wedding Unity Ivory Candle Set ($33.01); Champagne unity candle set ($45); Gold Unity Candles for Wedding ($39)
3. Plant A Tree Together
Many couples are drawn to the symbolism found in nature, which makes a tree-planting ceremony such a great option–especially for outdoor weddings. Before the ceremony, a tree is placed in a large pot near the front of the space. During the ceremony, you each take turns adding soil and water to the pot. Then, when the wedding is over, you can take the tree home and plant it in your yard.
We’ve even seen couples who get married in their own backyard plant the tree directly in the ground during the ceremony. This is a truly touching unity ceremony idea that will be a constant and ever-growing reminder of your commitment to each other.
4. Warm The Ring
We reached out to some of our Junebug vendors and asked them about their favorite unity ceremonies, and this is what Annie of Aislinn Events had to say about the ring warming ceremony:
“In this unity ceremony, the couple’s wedding rings are placed either in a lovely box or sometimes tied together. The officiant gives them to the first person and asks them to take a moment, hold the rings in their hands– warming the rings up–and put their happy thoughts, well wishes, or prayers for the couple silently into the rings. They then pass them on to the next guest and the rings make their way around to all guests before coming back to the officiant where the couple will then place the rings on each other’s finger.
This works really well with intimate or micro weddings but can be done at larger weddings as well. It brings extra loving, positive energy to the ceremony and is a wonderful way to include all of your guests in that special moment of your special day.”
5. Seal An Anniversary Box
This super sweet unity ceremony idea also serves as an anniversary surprise. Have a custom box made with your names and your wedding date, and place it on a table along with handwritten love letters and a bottle of wine. If you plan to wait for your five or ten-year anniversary, ask an expert to help you pick a wine that will age nicely.
During the unity ceremony, you will both place the love letters and the bottle of wine in the box and seal it shut–either with a hammer and nails or a lock. During the ceremony, you can have the officiant explain the significance of the wine you chose and the anniversary you plan to open it. When that date rolls around, enjoy a trip down memory lane as you enjoy a glass of wine, read your love letters, and remember your magical wedding day!
Shop anniversary boxes: Custom Engraved Wine Box ($55); Lavender Floral Wreath Wine Box ($55); Personalized Wedding Wine Box ($50); Personalized Wooden Wine Box ($47)
6. Pour Sand For Your Unity Ceremony
This is another oldie-but-goodie that continues to evolve as couples find modern ways to make it their own. The most common sand pouring ceremony involves two jars of sand that you both pour into a single glass. If you want to create a statement art piece for your home, you can use two different colors and layer them or create a unique design inside the jar. We’ve also seen clear frames in which you place a photo of yourselves and pour the sand into the background space.
If you have children, you can also use multiple jars of sand–labeled with each person’s name–to pour into the collective jar. You can then display the jar in your home as a reminder of your new, unified family.
7. Create A Cocktail
This might be our current favorite unity ceremony idea because it combines the sentimentality of tradition with a fun—and delicious—modern twist. If you are beer lovers, pour two different but complementary beers–usually a light and a dark–into a glass and enjoy your first brew as husband and wife. If liquor is your thing, gather up single servings of your favorite ingredients, shake them up, and enjoy your custom creation. We recommend choosing a simple cocktail, such as a single mixer and liquor so that you can pour it together effortlessly.
8. Take A Shot
If you’re super adventurous—or want an excuse to calm the nerves in the middle of your ceremony—you could skip the creating aspect and go straight for taking a shot of your favorite alcohol! We recommend investing in a beautiful personalized decanter and glasses. Not only will they be cute decor pieces at the ceremony and in your photos, but they will make great keepsakes for years to come.
9. Barrel A Whiskey
If you love the idea of incorporating your favorite alcohol into your unity ceremony but are looking for a more crafty way to do it, barreling a whiskey is a fun and unique idea. You get the best of both worlds–the symbolic gesture of combining two elements into one, and the promise of an aged whiskey for future enjoyment.
All you need are two unaged whiskeys, a personalized mini barrel, and a funnel. During the ceremony, pour both of the whiskeys into the barrel and seal it shut. After a few months, you’ll be able to enjoy your custom creation as you look back on your special day.
10. Handfasting By Fastening Hands Together
This tradition hails from Ireland and Scotland but has become popular with modern couples all over the world. Unlike all the other unity ceremonies that happen after you exchange vows, this ceremony–commonly known as “handfasting”–can be done before, during, or after the vows.
As you join hands or hold each other’s wrists, the officiant wraps the cord around them into a loose knot. Traditionally, couples use a dyed chord for this ceremony, but the options have expanded in recent years to include tartans, ribbons, scarves, or even small floral garlands. Whatever you choose, this is a beautiful symbol of eternal and infinite love.
11. Tie A Unity Knot
If you’re looking for a unity ceremony idea with a religious message, look no further than the cord of three strands tradition. The ceremony is derived from Ecclesiastes 4:12, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Although this ceremony typically symbolizes the joining of man, woman, and God as equal partners, it’s not limited to religious couples. Consider the third cord as representative of who supports you the most whether it be your family, friends, or community at large.
During the ceremony, take turns braiding the rope and secure it with a knot. After the wedding, mount the rope on a canvas or wood plank to hang in your home as a constant reminder of commitment and strength.
12. Sip on Beer and Wine
Okay, we know what you’re probably thinking. Another ceremony involving alcohol? While sipping on beer and wine may not sound like much of a unity ceremony, what’s better than sipping on something that only gets better with time? Much like your love. Plus, why wait to celebrate at your reception? There’s no greater time to celebrate than your ceremony while all of your close friends and family watch.
13. Brew Tea Or Coffee
If you prefer to skip the alcohol, consider sipping on tea or coffee. Both beverages can make for a sweet and sentimental unity ceremony. You and your partner can brew your favorite blend and exchange steamy sips before a steamy kiss.
14. Incorporate A Spiritual Moment
For those who would like to add a spiritual element to their ceremony, taking communion, forming a prayer circle, or singing a song of your faith are all moving ways to incorporate your spirituality into your ceremony! The unity aspect here is to include your family and friends in order to symbolize the joining of your communities in your marriage.
Another great option is to include a spiritual aspect from your heritage or the destination in which you are tying the knot. For example, include a Shamanic ceremony if in Mexico. Or, if you’re hosting a Middle Eastern affair, consider a traditional Sofreh Aghd.
15. Wash Each Other’s Feet
While this ceremony has Christian roots, washing the feet of another is a symbol of love and humanity–we find that purpose is one that is truly universal. It serves as an act of caregiving to symbolize your devotion to each other.
Now that you’ve picked your unity ceremony idea, have you considered all the other ways you can personalize your ceremony? If not, we’ve got a list of ways to personalize your wedding ceremony that will help remove the guesswork!