An important element in many ceremonies is the unity ceremony. The symbolic act of uniting two or more into one. This can be creatively accomplished through words or acts. Below I will share some of the more popular ones seen in weddings, commitments and vow renewals. Unity ceremonies are not required or necessary. Readings, poems and songs are sometimes done during the lighting of the unity candle. Having soft music play is also a good option.
Lighting of the Unity Candle
Lighting the unity candle consists of two taper candles and 1 large center candle. The larger center candle represents the unity of the couple as it is lit together by the couple from the individual tapers they each hold, representing their single lives before marriage. It is a time when parents of the couple or children can be involved. If the parents are in attendance, I would ask the parents to light one of the tapers and hand it to their child. Below are sample readings that would accompany the candle lighting. Make sure your venue provides a small table for the ceremony or you can rent a unity candle stand. (Check with your venue for their rules on open flames)
1. This candle you are about to light is a candle of Marriage. Its fire is magical because it represents the light of two people in love. This candle before you is a candle of Commitment because it takes two people working together to keep it aflame. This candle is also a candle of Unity because both must come together, giving a spark of themselves, to create the new light. As you light this candle today, may the brightness of the flame shine throughout your lives. May it give you courage and reassurance
in darkness, warmth and safety in the cold, and strength and joy in your bodies, minds, and spirits. May your union be forever blessed.
2. From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven. And when two souls are destined for each other and find each other, their streams of light flow together and a single brighter light goes forth from their united being. (Baal Shem Tov)
3. Groom and Bride will light the unity candle, as a symbol of their marriage. The candles from which they light it, represent each of them in the fullness of their individuality. They come as individuals and do not lose their identity, rather they create through their commitment the relationship of marriage. Therefore, three candles remain lit. One for each of them and one for their marriage, as symbols of their commitment to each other and to a lasting and loving marriage.
4. Poem by Harold Douglas
Soft mists embrace two golden flames, Alone they search the night.
Two souls adrift in dreams of love, They seek to claim the light.
The path is long from which they came, But sure they are it’s right.
Two flames embrace in dreams of love, Two Souls – Two Hearts Unite.
5. Groom and Bride, you have exchanged vows and rings expressing your desire to be united as one in a Christ-honoring marriage. As you enter marriage, may the light of his presence in your life and works through you be seen as a light in the darkness. May that truth be reflected as you now take the flames from two separate candles and blend them into the one center candle. May the Lord unite you with one faith, one hope, and one love.
6. The path to happiness, is so narrow that two cannot walk it unless they become one. As you light the center candle together you are saying goodbye to your individual lives and opening yourselves to the beauty of oneness, together as husband and wife.
An idea I use to make the sand ceremony a little more special is to have the parents pour a small layer of sand on the bottom of the vase to represent the foundation. I also encourage the couple to bring sand from their home state or city if possible.
Today [name] and [name] wish to participate in the sand ceremony. Similar to the unity candle, it indicates the joining of their lives, their hearts and their souls.
[Name] and [Name], these vessels of sands of various colors symbolize your individual spirits, and that of your families. Each container is unique, representing who you are. As these containers of sand are poured into a larger container, the different colors will join together to form something quite beautiful.”
Officiant: “Just as these grains of sand can never be separated, our prayer for you is that your lives together would be longer than the time it would take to separate the individual grains of sand. You are united today, not only in marriage, but as family.”
Bride and Groom, you have just sealed your relationship by the giving and receiving of rings and the exchange of a kiss, and this pledge is a relationship promise between two people who agree that they will commit themselves to one another throughout their lives. The most beautiful example of this partnership is the marriage relationship. You have committed here today to share the rest of your lives with each other. Today, this relationship is symbolized through the
pouring of these two individual containers of sand one, representing you, Bride and all that you were, all that you are, and all that you will ever be, and the other representing you, Groom, and all that you were and all that you are, and all that you will ever be. As these two containers of sand are poured into the third container, the individual containers of sand will no longer exist, but will be joined together as one. Just as these grains of sand can never be separated and poured again into the individual containers, so will your marriage be.”
Different color stones are put in a vase or an art- deco planter (picked out and provided by the parents or children) by the couple, children or family members participating. Then curly bamboo is placed in the stones and either at the ceremony or later dirt and/or water can be poured, by the parents or couple. You can choose wording to fit which process you use. Stone ceremonies are great for earth based ceremonies.
Would Bride and grooms parents please come forward to participate in the Stone Ceremony with Bride and groom?
“As a newly-combined family, you have chosen the Stone Ceremony to celebrate your uniting as a family. Each of you selected a different color of stones to mix together and unite your family as one. I now ask that you each, one at a time, put your stones into the very special vase chosen by your parents.”
“As each family member’s color joins everyone else’s color, it will not only unite you as a family, but it will also keep its individuality as well! This is a symbol of joy and long life, within a rainbow of stones.”
“When light hits this glass vase at this outdoor ceremony, the effect will be absolutely stunning! When you take this special vase home today, place it in a permanent spot in your home, right in front of a window, so that the colors can truly shine forever, and remind you of this special day!”
Another take on the stone ceremony
You can also choose flat stones and write words like trust, honor, love, etc and put them in a (square) glass vase so that the words can always be seen.
Parents please come forward with the vessel you have chosen for the bride and groom.
Please place your stones in the vase. The square represents the walls of the home being built, the stones the individual lives and stacking them shows the building relationship and love of this family you are all now a part of. Placing them together lovely indicates the new togetherness you will have as a family unit. May your new unity as one family be as easy to see as the glass encasing these stocks, as tough against strife and adversity and the stones themselves and may your uniqueness be a positive attribute to a healthy, loving and successful future. This lovely monument to your wedding day can be forever displayed in a place in the home you are building together.
“Your gift to each other for your wedding today has been your wedding rings – which shall always be an outward demonstration of your vows of love and respect; and a public showing of your commitment to each other.”
“You now have what remains the most honorable title which may exist between a man and a woman – the title of “husband” and “wife.” For your first gift as husband and wife, that gift will be a single rose.”
In the past, the rose was considered a symbol of love and a single rose always meant only one thing – it meant the words “I love you.” So it is appropriate that for your first gift – as husband and wife – that gift would be a single rose.”
“Please exchange your first gift as husband and wife. In some ways it seems like you have not done anything at all. Just a moment ago you were holding one small rose – and now you are holding one small rose. In some ways, a marriage ceremony is like this. In some ways, tomorrow is going to seem no different than yesterday. But in fact today, just now, you both have given and received one of the most valuable and precious gifts of life – one I hope you always remember – the gift of true and abiding love within the devotion of marriage.”
“Bride and Groom,, I would ask that where ever you make your home in the future – whether it be a large and elegant home – or a small and graceful one – that you both pick one very special location for roses; so that on each anniversary of this truly wonderful occasion you both may take a rose to that spot both as a recommitment to your marriage – and a recommitment that THIS will be a marriage based upon love.”
“In every marriage there are times where it is difficult to find the right words. It is easiest to hurt who we most love. It is easiest to be most hurt by who we most love. It might be difficult some time to find the words to say
“I am sorry” or “I forgive you”; “I need you” or “I am hurting”. If this should happen, if you simply can not find these words, leave a rose at that spot which both of you have selected – for that rose than says what matters most of all and should overpower all other things and all other words.”
“That rose says the words: “I still love you.” The other should accept this rose for the words which can not be found, and remember the love and hope that you both share today”.
“Bride and Groom, if there is anything you remember of this marriage ceremony, it is that it was love that brought you here today, it is only love which can make it a glorious union, and it is by love which your marriage shall endure.”
This is best for those couples that do not want to have to worry about the extra supplies needed for the more traditional unity ceremonies. The hands ceremony can be shortened to fit the couple without losing the meaning. For example if they don’t plan on having children that portion would be excluded.
“Bride, please face Groom, and hold his hands, palms up, so you may see the gift that they are to you.”
“These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and vibrant with love, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as he promises to love you all the days of his life”.
”These are the hands that will work along side yours, as together you build your future, as you laugh and cry, as you share your innermost secrets and dreams”.
”These are the hands you will place with expectant joy against your stomach, until he too, feels his child stir within you.”
”These are the hands that look so large and strong, yet will be so gentle as he holds your baby for the first time”.
”These are the hands that will work long hours for you and your new family.”
”These are that hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness”.
”These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes: tears of sorrow and tears of joy.”
”These are the hands that will comfort you in illness, and hold you when fear or grief wrack your mind.”
”These are the hands that will tenderly lift your chin and brush your cheek as they raise your face to look into his eyes: eyes that are filled completely with his overwhelming love and desire for you.”
”Groom, please hold Bride’s hands, palms up, where you may see the gift that they are to you. These are the hands of your best friend, smooth, young and carefree, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as she pledges her love and commitment to you all the days of her life.”
”These are the hands that will hold each child in tender love, soothing them through illness and hurt, supporting and encouraging them along the way, and knowing when it is time to let go.”
”These are the hands that will massage tension from you neck and back in the evenings after you’ve both had a long hard day.”
”These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through difficult times.”
”These are the hands that will comfort you when you are sick, or console you when you are grieving.”
”They are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness.”
”These are the hands that will hold you in joy and excitement and hope, each time she tells you that you are to have another child, that together you have created a new life.”
”These are the hands that will give you support as she encourages you to chase down your dreams. Together as a team, everything you wish for can be realized.”
Shortened Hand Blessing
”God, bless these hands that you see before you this day. May they always be held by one another. Give them the strength to hold on during the storms of stress and the dark of disappointment. Keep them tender and gentle as they nurture each other in their wondrous love. Help these hands to continue building a relationship founded in your grace, rich in caring, and devoted in reaching for your perfection. May Bride and Groom see their four hands as healer, protector, shelter and guide. We ask this in your name, Amen.”
Each member participating in the ceremony takes a flower, usually roses to the front of the ceremony space. They place the flowers on a small table or in two small vases. If using vases the brides family, children or friends place in one vase and the groom’s family, children or friends place their flowers in a separate vase. Later in the ceremony (possibly after the vows) the bride and groom go over to the table and place the flowers in a larger vase mixing the flowers or they make a bouquet together. The officiant can then read a poem or reading describing the significance of what is happening and/or soft music can be played. Preferably something touching and that has meaning to the couple. The arrangement can then be used on the head table of the reception or pressed or preserved to be placed in the home of the couple.
A flower starts out as a seed. Just as love does. Its an inkling of the potential to bloom into something lasting and beautiful. Flowers, not unlike love, need nurturing, attention and care to bloom and grow into its full potential of beauty. Just like a gardener planting seeds with the expectation of the wonderful surprise of the blossom, You all taking part in this ceremony today have planted an important seed into this relationship and will need to continue your important role each and everyday supporting and encouraging growth, love, trust, encouragement and most importantly love between (bride) and (groom). (if using specific flowers describe the flowers meaning)
The officiant can add Stock (bonds of affection) or Ivy (continuity, fidelity) to weave throughout the flowers.
Have a small loaf of yeast bread on the altar, and as you begin, break off two small bites of the bread and hand them to the couple.
“Here we have bread… a simple part of a meal… composed of simple ingredients: flour, water, yeast, salt. But without any one of these elements, the bread would not be a success. Without flour, the bread would have no substance. Without water, the flour would not bind together, and the bread would fall apart. Without yeast, the bread would be flat, tough, and hard. Without salt, the bread might look fine, but it would be lacking in taste and savor.
“So it is with a marriage: perhaps simple on the face of it, but take away any one of the essential components–love, sharing, trust, and companionship–and the marriage will be unpalatable and unpleasant. As you eat the bread I have given you, keep in mind that neglecting any of those four essential ingredients can ruin a marriage relationship. Keep the recipe for your marriage complete, and it will satisfy you both.”
(Of course, you will need to take any gluten intolerance into account!)