Why include a ritual in your ceremony?
Rituals and customs are as old as time itself and many are full of symbolism and magic and by incorporating a ritual into your ceremony you are adding a deeply spiritual and meaningful element to the ceremony.
Some rituals can be tailored to involve your children, which for blended families can be extremely empowering.
So, whether you are looking for an age old or modern ritual, or indeed you would like to write a ritual that has special significance for you and your partner, the choice is wide and together we can design the perfect ritual not just for your wedding but for any ceremony.
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Message in a Bottle
This is a lovely unity ritual that is designed to be revisited at a pre-determined special occasion, it may be on your 1st anniversary, the birth of your first child, any special occasion.
The ritual commences with each of you writing a message to your partner, I can provide you with high quality linen paper or you can choose to select your own.
Once you have written your message, you roll the message into a scroll and secure it with a thread that matches your wedding colours. This way neither of you will see the others message until your pre-determined occasion.
During the ceremony you and your partner place the rolled messages into a bottle which I hold for you, when you have placed your messages into the bottle, I will place the lid on the bottle and secure it. The bottle is handed to you with your marriage certificate.
The bottle can be as plain or ornate as you wish, you may have a bottle, or indeed any other type of jar or box that has a special meaning to you. I think a glass decanter makes a wonderful vessel for your message in a bottle as you can have it engraved, it also has a nice rounded neck that makes it easy to insert your messages.
The ritual of lighting a candle to remember a loved one who has passed over is part of many cultures. Keeping a light burning in remembrance signifies that the memory still lives on and burns bright. It is a ritual that promotes reflection and signifies remembrance.
The light of the burning candle dispels darkness and in Pagan ritual lights the way for the deceased to transcend between the worlds with a sacred flame of love and light.
The lighting of a memorial candle can bring to the ceremony the memory of those who we love and wish were able to be there. It is a lovely ritual to use at a wedding, life celebration memorial or funeral.
Candles can be as simple as a white pillar candle to one that is inscribed with the loved one’s name/s the choice is yours.
This is a beautiful wedding ritual that symbolises the joining of 2 people and their families together as one. Throughout history fire has represented warmth, security and passion; the light of the unity candle represents your love burning bright and true.
The ritual begins with the 2 outer candles being lit and then the central unity candle is lit from the outer candles.
I also think this is a lovely ritual to use with a blended family where the couple and each child has an outer candle they light and then they all light the central unity candle.
Apache Blessing and Tying of the Hands
This is a Native American ritual where the family provide a traditional rope which has a token representing their tribe wound within the rope. The couple’s hands are bound together showing the community that they are now one. This ritual is similar to handfasting but is usually accompanied by an Apache blessing.
This ritual can also be performed with blended families if the children are old enough to understand having their hands tied. The rope can be wound round yourselves and your children’s hands and the last line of the blessing modified to encompass the whole family. The tying of the hands serves as a physical representation of the union of the couple or the whole family.
Blessing of Hands
Our hands are expressive, and they symbolise power, strength, protection, hospitality, generosity and stability, as Aristotle said they are the ‘tool of tools’. We use our hands in gestures of greeting and friendship, it is said “when we give our hands, we give our heart”
This ritual can be performed at any point of the ceremony, but I like to perform it just prior to the ring ceremony as one flows beautifully into the other.
I will ask you to join your right palm to right palm and then left palm to left palm, this forms an infinity symbol with your hands symbolising a love that will go on for ever. I will then bless your hands using a blessing you have approved.
Warming of the Rings
The exchanging of rings is a symbol of your love and commitment to each other and this beautiful ritual is often used at Irish weddings as it involves everyone at your ceremony.
Put simply, your wedding rings are passed to each guest and they hold the rings in their hands and ‘warm’ them by offering their blessing, love and good wishes for you both so when the time comes to exchange rings these beautiful symbols have been warmed and blessed by the love of your family and friends making the exchanging of your rings even more precious.
There are many ways to conduct this ritual depending on the size of your wedding so let’s talk about it.
This is another beautiful way to involve everyone in your ceremony. As each guest arrives, they are handed a ‘blessing stone’ which they hold during the ceremony imbuing their stone with their love and good wishes for you both.
The stones are collected into a box or bowl during the ceremony as words of love and friendship are spoken either by your Celebrant or a chosen guest. The stones then become a beautiful memento of your day. You may like to collect the stones from a special place you both love or may prefer to purchase polished stones that have been engraved, the choice is yours.
Sand Blending Ceremony
Sand blending is a wonderful symbol of unity that by the pouring of different coloured sand into a single vessel symbolises the life-long commitment and joining of two lives or blending of two families. A sand ceremony will produce a lasting memento for you to display in your home. It is also preferable to a unity candle for an outdoor ceremony where the breeze can be a problem.
During the ritual you and your partner and/or special wedding guests will fill a vessel with different coloured sands, each colour has a different meaning and the words of the ritual can reflect the colours you have chosen.
- White: Purity, spiritual values, devotion
- Yellow: Harmony, balance, friendship
- Pink or Red: Love, passion, romance, happiness
- Green: Health, luck, prosperity
- Purple: Power, dignity, strength
- Brown: Nurturing, home and hearth
- Blue: Patience, tranquillity, longevity
- Silver: Creativity, talents, inspiration
Family Blending Wine Ritual
This is a wonderful ritual that allows both families to become an integral part of the wedding ceremony, and symbolises the blending of the two families. Prior to the wedding I ask each family to choose a favourite wine – generally a red and a white – these bottles along with 6 glasses are placed on a table.
During the ceremony I will explain to your guests the meaning of the ritual and will then ask the bride and grooms (bride & brides; grooms & grooms) fathers to come forward and open the bottles. I will then ask the bride and grooms (bride & brides; grooms & grooms) mothers to come forward and pour the wine into the glasses. While the glasses are being filled, I will tell your guests how a good wine is like a good marriage.
Once the glasses are filled, I will ask the bride’s parents to hand a glass of their wine to the groom and offer the couple their goodwill and toast the groom in welcome to their family. This is then repeated with the groom’s parents sharing a toast with the bride.
Tree planting Ritual
Want to have a living memory of your ceremony, then a tree planting ritual may be what you’re looking for. A tree can be planted to commemorate your wedding, the naming of your child or to remember the life of a loved one.
For this ritual you can choose any type of tree and each tree has its own symbology and meaning. Oak trees are often thought of as representing life, family, and unity. Maple trees symbolise longevity and protection. Apple trees are symbolic of love and fertility while the Golden Wattle symbolises remembrance and reflection. In fact, it doesn’t have to be a tree you plant, it can be a pretty shrub or a rose bush, the choice is yours. You may prefer to plant your tree or shrub into a container, this is probably the best choice for a wedding as you don’t want to be digging a hole in the ground in your wedding dress!
As your celebrant I will craft a ritual that explains to your guests the type of tree you have chosen and what the planting of the tree symbolises to you, creating a beautiful living memory for you all.
It is widely believed that the custom of Handfasting was first practised by the ancient Celts and this ancient tradition has become a popular ritual in a modern wedding ceremony. In ancient times handfasting saw couples committing to each other by having their hands ‘tied’ together with cloth whilst they exchanged vows. Hence the term ‘tying the knot’.
Today the ritual symbolises a couples love and commitment to each other by holding hands and being ‘bound’ together whilst they say vows of commitment to each other. I like to bind the hands using an infinity knot, which stays in the bindings when you release your hands. The bindings then become a keepsake of the vows you have exchanged. Any bindings can be used for this ceremony but I like to use ribbons platted together in your wedding colours.
The Oathing Stone is an old Scottish tradition where the couple place their hands on a stone while saying their wedding vows. The ritual is taken from the ancient Celtic custom of ‘setting an oath in stone’ and inclusion in your ceremony can be deeply moving.
Any stone can be used, I have a Rose Quartz Oathing Stone over which you may make your vows or you may have a favourite place where you can find an appropriate stone, some couples like to have the stone engraved with a Celtic love knot or their names and marriage date.
Drinking from the Quaich
A ‘Quaich’ is a shallow two-handled cup, which for centuries has been used by people throughout Scotland to welcome guests, celebrate with friends and to bid farewell to the departed. In the days of the Clans, Clan Chieftains used the quaich during the ‘Oath taking ceremony’ where clansmen swore allegiance to the Clan Chief.
The giving and receiving of the quaich was a symbol of trust. Historically the quaich was filled with a good single malt whisky, but you are free to fill it with whatever drink you prefer.
A Quaich Ceremony, is sometimes called “The Loving Cup” and is a lovely ritual to include in a Wedding Ceremony, because the symbology behind the Quaich is all about unity & trust. So, sharing a drink from the quaich can be a beautiful way of sealing your vows.
Jumping the broom
This is one of the oldest marriage traditions from the British Isles, predating even the handfast cord. Some scholars have traced the broom-jumping tradition to a centuries-old Welsh custom, ‘priodas coes ysgub’, or "broom-stick wedding".
In folk lore and neo-pagan religions, the broom or besom was used to sweep away negative energy, the broom was then placed at the door to prevent negativity re-entering the home. Today the broom represents the threshold of your home, and jumping the broom is symbolic of entering a new home and life together.
After the ceremony you can hang the broom over the door to keep the love and positivity in your home. Brooms can be as decorative or as simple as you wish.
Casting the Sacred Circle
Casting a circle is a ritual that consecrates the ground within the circle, neo-pagans and wiccans will cast a circle to create a sacred space where ritual celebrations or teachings or magic work may be performed. The circle is said to focus energy to achieve positive results. The circle is created by calling to the 4 elements; air, fire, earth and water and their guardians.
Casting a circle in which a wedding will take place is to create a sacred magical space where your marriage ritual will be completed. The circle can be cast by your celebrant, members of your wedding party, your parents or some of your guests, the choice is yours.
Once the ceremony is complete the same people then close the circle by thanking the guardians.