Today I want to show some really nice options for civil wedding ceremonies. One of the great advantages of civil ceremonies is that they can be enriched by some “extras” that in the case of a religious ceremony are difficult to perform. As a bilingual wedding celebrant I have had the opportunity to include many symbolic rites in the ceremonies that I have prepared for couples and I must confess that I love them.
In fact, during my first meeting with the couples I always inform them of this possibility and encourage them to include them into their ceremony. Of course these symbolic rituals are something completely optional and not all couples are open to this idea, which is of course very respectable. Some of the following symbolic ritual you may already know: sand ceremony, rose ceremony, candle ceremony,… but I will show you some that are quite different and original.
Let’s start with the most traditional ones:
RITE OF SAND
The rite of sand is one of the most popular rituals here in Spain. This symbolic ritual represents the bringing together of two lives through the union of the grains of sand that can never ever be separated again. For this ritual you will need three containers and sand. One bigger container and two smaller ones. It is not necessary that the containers are very large but either too small. Have a look at the picture below and you will get my point.
When you prepare the sand you have two options. You can use actual sand, for example sand from your birth countries/cities or use colored decorative sand.
This ritual represents the first gift of the newlyweds. This ritual of the rose ceremony takes place after the “I do’s” and the vows. However, you can choose to do it even after the rings if you wish. Now that you are husband and wife, two roses are interchanged. Traditionally red roses were used but I usually use white roses in my ceremonies unless the couple prefers another color.
Once the roses are exchanged, I explain to the couple that it seems that nothing has changed and this is the same as with their wedding; now that they are husband and wife, it seems that nothing has changed, but in reality they have made the most beautiful and lasting gift of life: share the rest of their lives.
This ritual, also called the ceremony of light , is similar to the sand ceremony. You will need two small candles and a larger candle. The small ones represent the bride and groom and the big one symbolizes the new life in common. The couple will light the big candle together to symbolize their union.
The handfasting ceremony is a Celtic matrimonial rite where the bride and groom, looking into each other’s eyes, take their left and right hands forming the infinity symbol while the celebrant ties a knot around their arms to symbolize the union of the souls of the couple.
This ritual has become one of my favorites due to the emotions experienced at this moment. It involves tying the hands of the bride and groom with some cloth or ribbons. For this ceremony you have two options: it can be done with a single ribbon or with several ones.
This was actually the first time I performed this ritual and the script had been entrusted to me by an English wedding celebrant with a lot of experience with this type of rituals and as well as for me as for the couple and its family it was a magical moment.
THE LOVE LOCK CEREMONY
This ritual is based on the famous love locks that so many couples lock to well-known bridges when they are travelling. It is a way to immortalize their union forever by tying two locks together to a bridge and throwing the keys into the water.
To perform this ritual you will need two locks with small keys, a support to tie the locks and helium balloons to make the keys fly away. I always suggest my couples to prepare a beautiful frame with one or several pictures. To this frame you can screw a metal piece or something so that you will be able to lock the locks.
PLANTING A TREE CEREMONY
I love this ritual! It is so symbolic and so beautiful that it really is special. In my opinion, it is perfect for all couples who love nature. It symbolizes the growth and continuous care that a marriage needs, like that tree you have chosen to plant. Together you will take care of the tree and see it grow, just like your marriage.
For this ritual you can choose a tree of your liking, an orange tree, an olive tree, a palm tree… You can also choose to really plant the tree or just water it. For example at Audrey and Daniel’s wedding, we chose a small palm tree for this ritual. We prepared adorable gloves and the couple added dirt to the tree and then watered it.
TIME CAPSULE FOR WEDDINGS
Another ritual that I love is this time capsule ceremony. It’s about preparing a box with your favorite beverage. Traditionally a wine is chosen but if you are more into some kind of liqueur or special beer you can choose that and prepare it in the box next to some glasses. During the ceremony, I (or your celebrant) will explain that you have created your own time capsule and the idea is that at home before the wedding and separately, you prepare some notes. These notes can be love letters or wishes for the future.
The notes are introduced during the ceremony in the box and sealed with the idea of opening it on your 5th wedding anniversary to drink that glass of wine (or liquor) together and read the notes that you have written. When you are finished, you can prepare new notes, a new bottle and seal the box again until the next anniversary you choose.
There are a variety of symbolic rites that you can include into your ceremony. I always try to encourage my couples to choose something meaningful to them, something that adds an emotional touch to their ceremony and a ritual that they feel identified with. Apart from the rituals mentioned above, I have also performed cultural related rituals such as the Chinese tea ceremony, the Christian lasso ceremony or the Jewish breaking of the glass. Every year I learn new rites and rituals and I absolutely love how they enrich my ceremonies.symbolic rituals