24 Wedding Unity Ceremony Ideas for Your Traditional (or Non-Traditional) Wedding Ceremony

Looking for "unity" ceremony ideas for your wedding?  Or perhaps maybe you would love some alternative options that are NOT a unity candle?  

We've compiled 24 great options to proclaim your love in a traditional or non-traditional wedding unity ceremony to make your wedding day uniquely "yours".

Did we miss anything?  Feel free to leave a comment!

Unity Candle or Lantern

If you want to stick to tradition, light two individual taper candles (traditionally lit by parents or mothers at the start or before the ceremony begins) and then have the bride and groom light a single candle together during the ceremony, using the two taper candles.  Beautiful and traditional.  If you want to put a spin on it, place the "unity" candle inside a lantern for a more tailored effect that can also serve as decor for your ceremony!

 Copyright 2016 - Laura Robinson Photography | www.laurarobinsonphoto.com

Unity Cross

If you'd like to incorporate a more religious element to your wedding ceremony, a beautiful unity cross is a lovely departure from the unity candle.  There will generally be a decorative cross, and a holder with a cross outline.  The decorative cross will then be held in place by 3 pins, symbolizing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Usually, the bride, groom, and officiant will each place a pin.


Unity Sand Ceremony

Incorporating a sand ceremony is a great option for just the wedding couple, or as an easy and fun way to incorporate children into the unity ceremony.  The idea behind the sand ceremony is that, when poured together, the grains of sand will blend, and they are not easily separated from one another. There are many variations of the sand ceremony, including using colored sand, using sand from meaningful locations or vacation spots, etc.  Sometimes, the bottles or vessels used to pour the sand will be labeled, and you can also get a beautiful engraving or etching in glass if you want to customize the container for your sand to have on display, perhaps with a meaningful message.

Unity in Glass - Custom Blown Glass from Glass Crystals

A beautiful, non-traditional way to commemorate your wedding ceremony is to use Unity in Glass glass crystals in place of sand during your unity ceremony.  After your wedding, you'll then have a beautiful, custom piece of art for your home!

Upon combining your glass crystals, you'll send your combined crystals back to Unity in Glass, where they will then create a custom sculpture, vase or bowl for you.  You can even choose the color of the glass crystals used!

For more info, visit them on the web (and be prepared to Ooooh and Ahhhh!)

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God's Knot / "Cord of 3 Strands"

Another unity ceremony rooted in scripture is the "God's Knot", also known as the "Cord of 3 Strands".  

From Ecclesiastes 4:12:

9 Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.


"Tying the Knot" - Literally Tying a Rope or Ribbon

"Tying the Knot" can literally mean a tying of the knot, with either rope or ribbon, or another suitable material.  This unity ceremony can be short and sweet or you can also incorporate a meaningful poem or text to be read, or even the history of "tying the knot". 


Unity Tree Planting

One of the most beautiful and natural ways to incorporate a unity tradition into your ceremony is the Unity Tree.  Pick a tree of any kind, perhaps one symbolic to where you're getting married (such as using an apple tree if you're having an apple orchard wedding, or a pine tree if you're getting married at a rustic lodge!)

Another special element you can add:  have the parents of the the bride and parents of the groom each bring "dirt" from the family home / farm for the wedding couple to turn into the soil with small shovels as a way to honor "where they've come from".

.... This photographer did exactly that during her wedding ceremony!  We were married at an apple orchard, and I surprised my handsome groom with a unity apple tree, and had asked his father to bring dirt from Canada (where he was born) and my grandfather brought dirt from our family's 150-year-old homestead.  Together, we churned the soil, and this tree is now planted in our backyard... a chance for us to grow our own "roots".  

Our Unity Apple Tree - Photo Credit: Julie Paisley Photography

Our Unity Apple Tree - Photo Credit: Julie Paisley Photography

Unity Plant or Rose Bush Potting

If a unity tree isn't your style, perhaps a unity plant or rose bush planting would be more up your alley!  Whether you choose a house plant or something to grow outside, this is another beautiful way to incorporate nature into your unity ceremony.  As your love grows, so too shall your plant!

Flower Circles

A lesser-known tradition incorporating nature would be creating a flower circle.  All of your guests may be given a rose or other flower / bloom.  During the unity ceremony, your guests may line up to place the flowers around the wedding couple, creating a circle of love out of the blooms.  This is a lovely way to incorporate your guests AND create some beautiful images of you two surrounded by flowers!

Reverse Unity Candle / Guest Candle Lighting

"It takes a village."

This is true for more than raising children... it is also applicable to marriage!  Not only is candlelight incredibly romantic, but a reverse unity candle ceremony can be just the thing to really create an intimate atmosphere for your unity ceremony.  You can even incorporate the "traditional" unity candle (lit by parents / mothers, and then by the couple).  You can also light your own individual candles FROM an already lit single candle, and then pass off the flame to light other candles, starting with your parents.  Usually, there is additional scripture, poetry or special music being played or sung during this time.


Hand Fasting

Looking for a unique take on the unity ceremony?  Check out handfasting, or the practice of binding the wedding couples' hands together to symbolize becoming one in their lives.

While it has roots in ancient Celtic tradition, the practice has become more mainstream and a non-traditional take on the traditional unity ceremony.

Word of advice:  If your hands remain bound after the pronouncement of marriage, it can be difficult to achieve a perfect first kiss and can be awkward to walk back up the aisle.  Just something to ponder...

Washing of Hands or Feet

A more intimate take on the unity ceremony is the ceremonial washing of the hands or feet, symbolizing a "clean slate" and respect for one another.  This is another tradition that actually has its roots in Christianity, from John 13:1-7, where Jesus washes his Disciples' feet as a statement of love, humility and service to one another.

 Copyright 2016 - Laura Robinson Photography | www.laurarobinsonphoto.com

Custom Wine Blending

For a beautiful (and tasty!) unity ceremony, consider a custom wine blending.  For the couple that loves their vino, creating a custom wine blend from two compatible wines is the perfect choice to create something together to symbolize your unity.  Like the symbolism from a sand ceremony, once blended, it is impossible to separate one wine from another.  

Unity Beers or Cocktails

Along the same thought, some couples really love craft beers or custom cocktails! For a non-traditional take on the unity ceremony, consider sharing a drink with your beloved.  CHEERS!

Time Capsule / Memory Box

Incorporating a time capsule or a memory box into your wedding ceremony is a deeply personal way to share your love with one another.  Include tokens of love, old love letters, ticket stubs, airline tickets and more.  The sky is the limit on what you can include!  Pick a time or situation in the future that would be ideal for opening the box, such as your 20th anniversary, for example.

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Love Letter Box

If you prefer, an alternate take on the time capsule is to write letters to one another.  This box can be sealed / nailed shut ceremoniously, OR you can opt to leave it accessible.  Perhaps you both include several love letters, to be read on certain dates or after certain occasions.... such as on anniversaries... or after your first big fight, after your buy your first home, after the birth of your first child, etc.

Anniversary Box

Creating an anniversary box during your unity ceremony is a beautiful way to honor the passing of time and your commitment to one another!  Some couples choose to place a bottle of wine and love letters to one another, to be sealed and not opened until a specific anniversary.  

A twist on the anniversary box is to open it every year (or every 5 or 10 years) and drink the bottle of wine, read the love letters, and then place a NEW bottle of wine and NEW love letters inside and re-seal it until the next milestone.

BONUS TWIST: Substitute the bottle of wine/champagne for your favorite whiskey or rum!

 Laura Robinson Photography | www.laurarobinsonphoto.com

A few more non-traditional unity ceremony ideas....


Unity Canvas Painting

Consider creating a custom piece of art for your home.  Take a small canvas, make sure it is propped at an angle on an easel or small ledge (and make sure to protect surfaces below from the paint!).  Using two or more colors of paint, begin to pour small amounts of paint onto the canvas and let it drip-dry.  The paint colors will begin to blend in places and you'll be able to see the individual colors as well.  Similarly to sand ceremony and custom wine blends... separately, they are individuals, but once you blend the paints together, they are impossible to separate (a perfect theme for unity!). 

Another take on this is to create a custom painting together in a few minutes time (perhaps during some special music or poetry reading!). 

Building a heart out of Legos

For the kids at heart, consider building a heart out of Legos!  Not only do you get to play with legos, but you can also have a beautiful piece of art to display in your home.  And come on... LEGOS!

Unity Sandwich / PB+J

"You're the peanut butter to my jelly..."

For the self-described "foodies".... just kidding... for the kids at heart, consider a unity sandwich!  There's "Lady and the Tramp" with their spaghetti dinner and then there is you and your beloved, sharing a Peanut Butter + Jelly sandwich you created together. And how about that... a snack in the middle of your wedding ceremony!  Win/win.

Passing of the Rings

If you're looking for another non-traditional way to incorporate your guests into your ceremony, the "passing of the rings" can work very well for a smaller or intimate wedding.  The wedding bands may be passed around to the guests to wish good luck and blessings over the wedding couple.

Wood Branding

Planning a rustic wedding?  Having a custom wood brand made with your initials or other symbol of your love can be a fun twist to incorporate into your day!  Just remember... a brand will be HOT.  So if you're a bit clumsy, maybe stay away from fires and brands...

Unity Puzzle

If you've always been looking for your "missing puzzle piece", a unity puzzle can be a great way to showcase your love!  This is also a great, non-traditional way you can incorporate children into a unity ceremony, with each person's name on a piece of the puzzle.  Large-piece, custom wood puzzles work very well for this!

Unity Tea Ceremony

In certain cultures, serving tea is a very meaningful tradition.  If you're looking for a way to honor your family in your ceremony, consider a unity tea ceremony!

Hopefully, this list of unity ceremony ideas has sparked your imagination.  The sky is the limit!

Make your wedding celebration unique to you.  Perhaps combine more than one of these traditions to make the unity ceremony uniquely yours.  (We did both a unity cross AND the unity apple tree!). 

Happy planning!

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