Alternative Unity Ceremonies: can two lives be bound forever…with creativity?
The unity ceremony is a fairly recent addition to the traditional wedding and is supposed to symbolize the coming together of two separate lives (and families) – embodied in two separate flames – that join together as one. If you want to get really poetic, the light of the flame represents the light of two lovers bound together in unity. But I’d like to get creative with unity ceremonies so I’m bringing you a round-up of truly inventive alternatives to the unity candle ceremony – so you can come together and express your individuality at the same time.
1. Plant a Tree Ceremonies – Treehuggers & wedding lovers, this is a great way to come together and do the earth some good! Points if you can opt to plant the sapling somewhere significant – such as your favorite romantic spot, a significant location, or a family member’s backyard (or even your own home’s front yard). See, flames go out eventually but a tree roots firmly, deeply, and like your love, grows stronger and taller every day. Planting a tree is not only an activity that you can perform together, it’s one that symbolizes the potential for “evergreen” love. Just make sure to keep your whites away from the dirt. #ProTip.
Photography: Hunter Leone
2. Unity Sandwich – You’re feeling a little goofy and you want a fun spin on the candle & sand ceremonies, right? Have I got an idea for you: meet in the middle, Lady & The Tramp style, as you chow down on a “unity sandwich”. They say the way to your lover’s heart is through their stomach. I happen to agree: the way to eternal love is to start on either end of a foot-long sub and meets in the middle. (Kidding, folks! Slow eaters like me would take a half hour to get through a foot-long sub!) What expresses greater commitment than working through a joint effort together? Especially when the results are so delicious. Just a side note: make sure your guests are well-fed before you get your bites in otherwise they’ll resent having to wait while you’re having your cake and eating it too – er, sandwich that is.
Photography: Ashton Kelley Photography
3. Release Doves – They say that if you love something, you set it free. And while the whole point of a wedding is to celebrate two people who are committing to remaining with each other, through thick and thin (and their annoying habit of singing the lyrics to every Bee Gee’s song just slightly off-key), releasing pure white doves can be an incredibly liberating experience – both for the lovers and the doves. After all, birds of a feather flock together!
Photography: True Photography Weddings
4. Wedding Lanterns – No need to wish on a falling star anymore when you can symbolize the start of your marriage by lighting up the night sky with lanterns. A truly picturesque and unconventional idea that will illuminate your wedding – and make the ceremony unforgettable. Releasing a lantern into the night sky can be as symbolic and cathartic as making a wish – and releasing it into the world. It can also signify the release of worries and problems, lighting a way up to eternal and universal love. Here are a couple of ways to play it: The bride and groom can have each guest sign a giant lantern or write a wish on the lantern as they enter the ceremony. This way, their well-wishes go off into the ether with the lantern. Or else, you can provide each guest with a smaller lantern so that they can write on their own during the reception and both you and your guests can partake in the unity ceremony, releasing them all at once after a short speech. While a lantern ceremony is wonderful at any time of day, you can see that it makes for particularly stunning images after dusk. (Sadly, these are not legal in Ohio, but our international readers might enjoy them!)
5. Cairn stone building – Have you considered as a couple what the building blocks – the fundamentals, that is – of your marriage are going to be? Here’s a unity ceremony that brings that metaphor into action. From the commencement of early civilization to modern day parks, cairns (a.k.a. human-made piles of stones) have been crafted for practical and metaphorical reasons. They are meant to be directional markers pointing the way home, but they can also be the symbol of friendship and hope. I can’t think of anything else more fundamental to a good marriage – and a stellar wedding that goes off without a hitch – than these two traits. As two individuals build a cairn together they are essentially marking a path for others to follow suit. Lead by example or by cairn. Inspirational and creative. Bonus: If you’re blending families or or have children, this is a great way to get everyone involved in the unity ceremony.
Photography: Raven Shutley of You Are Raven
Are you planning a unity ceremony? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!