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Have you decided to get married in an unconventional way or completely alone, but you still have doubts about how to make your ceremony more unique?
As an intimate wedding & elopement photographer, I have some good advice to give you on symbolic wedding rituals!
Here is some inspiration for you on which rituals for a symbolic wedding ceremony exist and which ones could be a good fit for you! Whether for a romantic love escape for two or for a wedding with some guests and/or celebrant!
Plant a tree
The tree is the symbol of life in many cultures around the world.
During a wedding, planting a tree together means the birth and growth of a life together. The beauty of this ritual is that it is not of any culture or religion and therefore can be done at will, without cultural appropriation.
However, keep in mind that you cannot plant trees randomly and wherever you want. It is, therefore, necessary to organize a vase in which to plant it. Or in a modern way, plant a tree on the internet, giving yourself a paper certificate on your wedding day and doing good for the environment!
Rite of candles or rite of light
This rite is an ancient rite that seems to date back to paganism. The ritual of candles consists of lighting two candles (usually the long and thin ones) in the sign of one’s personality. Usually, parents turn them on, but you can also do it yourself.
After exchanging the rings, you can light the large candle with both of your candles, as a sign of the beginning of your new life together.
If your parents are not at your wedding but you want to take them with you simbolically, you can also have candles light in your home and re-light them when you get married.
wedding cord, also known as “God’s Knot”
Taken from the bible – there are three cords: the one in the middle represents god, and the side ones the spouses. By intertwining them, the union is symbolically created and at the end, a knot is made. Also called God’s knot. In fact, in English, you also say “To tie the knot” when you get married.
However, I think we can interpret it in a non-religious way and give the strings 3 different meanings. For example, values such as trust, loyalty and respect.
Handfasting is a neo-pagan / Celtic wedding ritual, which is used very often in the United States, Great Britain and Ireland.
This rite does not have great rules, but it is highly symbolic and attached to nature. In fact, the 4 ribbons stand for the 4 elements: Water, Fire, Earth, and Air and the colours of the ribbons have their own symbolism.
- Red: passion
- Yellow: trust
- Green: prosperity
- Orange: abundance
- Blue: sincerity
- Black: success
- Purple: possession
- Gray: contentment
- White: peace and serenity
- Rosa: the truth
- Gold: wealth
- Brown: the house
- Silver: the values
It can be you or a celebrant who tie the ribbons.
After giving you the promises, you have to take off the ribbons without untying the knot. And keep the tapes as a reminder of each other’s vows.
Here is a typical text to be quoted during the ceremony:
“Ye are Blood of my Blood, and Bone of my Bone.
I give ye my Body, that we Two might be One.
I give ye my Spirit, ’til our Life shall be Done.
You cannot possess me for I belong to myself
But while we both wish it, I give you that which is mine to give
You cannon command me, for I am a free person
But I shall serve you in those ways you require
and the honeycomb will taste sweeter coming from my hand.”
The origins of this ritual are unknown. However, it can be given many meanings and made completely unique.
This ceremony consists of pouring two different bottles of wine together and creating your own wine – a symbol of a new life together. Usually white and red are used.
The created wine will be put aside in a box, with letters for each other and opened on the day of the first anniversary or on another important date for you.
It is always a good idea to seek advice from a wine expert before making a bad mix.
Ritual of the sand
Much like the wine ceremony, it symbolizes a new life together.
Unlike the wine ceremony, the sand also symbolizes the individuality of people despite being linked. During this ritual, at least 3 glass containers are used. 2 have sand of different colours and in the third, the empty one, the sand is poured little by little.
Invitees can do this too – in this case, each colour stands for the wishes of the person pouring them out.
The best of this ritual is that you can do it at home, and take all your loved ones with you in a symbolic way!
The ring warming, an Anglo-Saxon rite, in fact, involves passing the wedding rings through the hands of your loved ones, as a sign of their prayer, affection and protection.
The wedding rings can be loose or put in a small bag. The important thing is that they manage to warm up.
Another very ancient Celtic ritual, linked to nature.
Holding a stone in your hands during the wedding celebration means combining the energy of nature and those of the couple created at the time of the exchange of promises.
To make everything even more unique, you can engrave your initials in the stone. Obviously, the stone must be held in the hand during the exchange of vows and kept as a sign of your connection.
Vows or letters
These rites are very classic and simple but at the same time perhaps the most intimate.
Writing promises or letters to read to each other creates a very emotional moment. And if you get married alone, it will be a moment where you can tell each other whatever you want, without anyone listening.
You can either read what your partner has written for you or read to your partner what you have written for him/her.
Toast for two
The toast is an ancient ritual, probably born spontaneously to thank the nature of good wine. The meanings are many and they are different in many languages, so it is good to give your own meaning to the toast during your wedding.
Toast to your marriage, to new life or simply to your health!
Did you like this post? Read more, or contact me for your wedding!
I will be happy to be your photographer and give you other tips on how to have an elopement for two !
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