I personally love a symbolic ritual. I enjoy the drama, humour and historical links to traditions which are barely referred to anymore. Symbolic Rituals are very often an acknowledgement towards a country of birth, religion or culture and there are hundreds of them out there.
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Below are some of my favourite Symbolic Rituals:
Cocktail Mixing/Shot Ritual
The use of your senses (eg see, smell and taste) to contemplate your drink of choice. We will now make comparisons using it with your newly married life. It is also a fabulous excuse to raise your glass to a big, loud ‘cheers’ from your congregation!
Planting a tree
Planting a sap, either within a pot for relocation or in a permanent location, if marrying at home. Choice of tree is personal, but comparisons are made of its roots (family members can be included here and add soil to the sapling), blossom, fruit/flowers and growth in all weathers.
Hand Fasting/Hand Tying
A Celtic ritual from which we get the phrase ‘tying the knot’. Different coloured ribbons/cords are used to form a knot around the couple’s hands/wrists. The colours are chosen for a variety of symbolic reasons. Family and friends can be involved by choosing coloured ribbons for the couple and then bringing them forward and placing them over the hands during the ceremony. The knotted cord is then formed and is kept as a keepsake by the couple.
This ritual involves coloured sand (could also be sands from different areas/countries), poured into a glass vessel in turn. This ritual symbolises the blending of two lives, 2 families, 2 stories, 2 futures, etc. Family and friends can be included in this ritual (particularly good for including children), each person takes turns in pouring sand into the vessel. Coloured sand can be chosen by symbolic significance eg red for passion, depth of feeling, etc or for personal reasons.
A container of choice (non-perishable) is placed on a table within the ceremony space and items chosen by the couple are placed within it, eg copies of vows, letters to their future selves, a bottle of wine, etc. The couple take it in turn to place their items within the capsule and then the container is sealed. This action could be completed by a friend/family member, to add a fond memory to the occasion. On a predetermined date, eg a significant wedding anniversary the couples can open the capsule and reminisce on the memories of the day.
The couple must invest in a ‘truce bell/gong’ for this ritual. It is a beautiful way to deal effectively with the realities of married life, especially for our more passionate couples. Rules of engagement are set whilst enjoying the love and emotions of the wedding day. By ringing the bell/sounding the gong at home during a disagreement the sound will be reminiscent of the wedding day and happier times and should diffuse the situation. I do believe every home should have one of these!
See Lex Goodman’s blog on how the Truce Bell helped her get through her first year of marriage:
Broom Jumping Ritual
Traditionally an African/American tradition broom jumping signifies ‘taking the leap of faith’ symbolising a new beginning and sweeping away any previous problems and burdens of the past. The couple generally make the jump together once pronounced married. Guests enjoy taking part in this ritual after the ceremony has completed. It is also great for photo opportunities.
In many cultures, circling rituals seal the vows that are made during the ceremony. It is common for the couple to circle each other 3 times, during each circle they will state a vow or promise or alternatively the couple can offer each other questions and responses. Once each person has completed 3 circles each it is a beautiful gesture to have the couple walk a final circle together.
Candle Lighting Ritual/Unity Candle
Also called lighting of the unity candle. The ritual generally begins with family members from each family lighting taper candles symbolising the contribution and guidance that the families have given to the lives of the couple. The taper candles are then later used to light a centre pillar candle. This flame represents how brightly their love shines when the two separate lights become one.
Though often seen as THE symbolic ritual in ‘civil ceremonies’, rings can often be impractical for some professions to wear on a daily basis. However, the sentiment is based on the ring being a traditional symbol of eternity. It is seen and touched every day. The rings are often exchanged whilst reciting a few lines, for instance ‘I give you this ring, as a token of my love’
A beautiful ritual where chosen members of family or friends take the wedding rings and ‘warm them’ by saying a silent prayer or wish over the rings. As the couples journey continues over the years they take their loved ones warm wishes with them, wherever they are.
There are many different types of symbolic ritual available to enhance your celebration and strengthen your vows. Speak to your celebrant about your ideas, we are open to discussion and of course, giving you the best celebration possible!