Around the world, weddings carry heavy significance. Though celebrated differently, traditional wedding ceremonies emphasize unity and love with customs unique to particular regions and people groups. But a big part of every wedding tradition is something called the unity ceremony were couples do a special demonstration to represent their commitment to one another as a new family.
Unity Sand and Other Wedding Ceremony Traditions
In American weddings, new couples will each pour their own wedding sand into a glass vase to form a beautiful pattern that illustrates the two lives coming together as one. Sometimes, children or parents will also be involved in this, to show the uniting of an entire family together.
Unity sand or unity candles are a common way to celebrate the joining of two to become one in Western culture. But there are many similar ceremonies used all around the world to demonstrate the same unity of the couple or the families during a wedding.
Native American Blanket Ceremony
Practiced by multiple Native American tribes around the United States, including the Cherokee and Dakota tribes, the blanket ceremony symbolizes the start of a new life together. In the beginning of the wedding, the bride and groom will both have individual blue blankets placed over them. At the point after the vows are taken, the officiant removes the blue blankets and places one larger white blanket over the couple, as a show of their new home that covers them both.
Traditionally, the blanket will be removed, folded, and stored in a safe place by relatives. The couple may open and use the blanket after the marriage has been consummated.
Hindu Fire Ceremony (Shilarohan and Laaja Homa)
In this ceremony, the new couple has not yet taken the vows, but they are ceremonially entering the next phase of life together. As part of the Hindu wedding, a ceremonial fire would be lit by the groom. The bride will step or climb over a stone, showing her strength and willingness to conquer difficulties and obstacles in the future.
Next, the couple will walk four times around the fire to signify the four stages of life. The bride leads for the first three, then the husband leads the last as a reminder of his new responsibilities to lead the family. The couple is then given barley, which they will put into the fire to show commitment to the welfare of society. Lastly, the husband marks the sindoor (red Kumkum powder at the wife’s hair part) on his new wife to show she is a married woman.
Chinese Tea Ceremony
Traditionally, the Chinese wedding tea ceremony is the formal introduction of the bride to the groom’s family. It should be done the day of the wedding, and symbolizes the unity of the new families. A special tea set, traditionally part of the dowry, will be used by the bride to serve tea to her new in-laws. The bride and groom will kneel or bow together to show respect as they serve tea to the family members.
Filipino Dove Ceremony
After the newlywed couple goes through the marriage ceremony and most of the reception, it’s traditional for Filipino couples to release a pair of pure white doves. The doves are said to symbolize peace and long life, and releasing them shows a blessing of prosperity for the couple. This is a tradition, thought the be inherited from ancient Egypt, that’s also seen in some other cultures around the world, but quite distinctly holds a place in Filipino weddings.
German Sawing Ceremony (Baumstamm Sägen)
One of the more unique unity ceremonies is practiced in Germany. When the couple is leaving the church after their religious wedding, they will immediately go to a log set up on a saw-horse. Together, the couple will use a two-handled saw to cut through a piece of wood. This ceremonially shows their commitment to work together to overcome barriers and obstacles in their life as a family.
So many beautiful and meaningful unity ceremonies are practiced in weddings. Each culture has their own way of showing that the bride and groom are now united into one family that will face life together from now on. Whether you use unity sand or something else, make sure you include something special to symbolize your unification and love on the day of your wedding.