Personalize Your Commitment Consider a ritual — it’s a powerful way to express your love, and the perfect complement to your vows. Unity Candle In this Judeo-Christian tradition, the bride and groom each use a lit candle to light a larger third candle that represents their union. This can also be performed by the bride and groom’s parents to symbolize two families coming together. Or, to involve guests, design a display where they may light a candle and say a blessing as they enter the ceremony. As more friends and family arrive, the space will become brighter with the glow of candlelight.

 Blessing of Rings

Before the couple exchanges rings, the wedding bands are passed among the guests (or, in larger weddings, just the first two rows) so friends and family can share their well-wishes for your marriage. Consider tying the rings to a pretty string of ribbon, or attaching them to a pillow. Once they’ve made their way around the room, the rings are then returned to the altar, with the love and support from your nearest and dearest symbolically attached.


This ancient Celtic ceremony has many modern incarnations. Prior to saying their vows, the couple joins hands, making a figure eight to represent eternity (right hand to right hand, left hand to left hand). Their crossed hands are then tied together with ribbon to represent two individuals coming together. For a more personal touch, consider using a piece of heirloom fabric in lieu of ribbon.

Water Cleansing

During this purifying ritual, the bride and groom stack their open palms together while the officiant pours a pitcher of water over their hands. The ritual symbolizes the release of any past emotional blocks, so both parties can enter the marriage with open hearts. This cleansing ceremony works especially well in outdoor weddings where messiness is not a concern. Indoors, couples can hold their hands over a bowl or share a goblet of water to symbolize the purity of love.

Friendship Circle

This spin on a Quaker tradition is ideal for a smaller wedding. Guests are invited to form a circle together with the bride and groom, and are asked to share their thoughts on the couple (you may want to ask one or two guests to prepare their thoughts ahead of time, in order to break the ice). Not only is this a great way for guests to get to know one another, but it gives the bride and groom a few moments to enjoy the presence of their loved ones.

Tree Planting

Planting a tree that commemorates the anniversary of your wedding and grows with your marriage is a thoughtful touch for ceremonies that take place at a family home. The tree should be almost completely planted prior to the ceremony, with soil reserved in two small containers. During the ceremony, the bride and groom should place soil from the two containers on top of the planting, representing two individuals coming together as one.