You have just spoken your vows to each other. You are wearing the rings you have exchanged. At this point in your wedding you may wish to insert a brief ceremony that dramatizes the union of your love. You want to do something that combines two entities into one, symbolizing the joining of your lives. When a wedding takes place in a church, that is frequently the lighting of a unity candle.
Here in Southwest Florida, destination weddings are nearly always outside, in God’s cathedral. Out here, the wind blows freely, rustling your hair, and blowing out the Unity Candle…every time.
With that reality, here are 5 Alternatives To A Unity Candle for beach weddings.
The first is obvious: A Sand Ceremony. Two vials of sand are poured into a larger container. As the sands cannot be separated and poured again into their individual containers, so are you joined in your marriage. Each person chooses a color of sand, and they are blended. I recommend that the couple pour some sand from the beach where they marry into the jar first, forming the foundation of their sand sculpture, and reminding them of where they were married. If a couple has children, the kids will often pour their sand as well, demonstrating that they are a new blended family. Be sure to get a container with a wide neck, so the sand can flow into it easily. The ones with a tiny funnel are cute, but the sand clogs the funnel. And be sure the container has a lid or stopper, so your sand doesn’t end up in the bottom of your suitcase during the flight home! Search online for “Sand Ceremony” and you will find many options.
Second is The Knot Ceremony. Two pieces of rope, or one long piece of rope, are tied together using a Fisherman’s Knot. This is a simple knot. It is an overhand knot tied around the opposite piece of rope. When you pull on the two ropes, the knots slide up against each other, and lock in place. Some couples use two different colored ropes, others the same color. After the wedding, the knot and rope or ropes are mounted in a window box, and it becomes a wall ornament, reminding you of your locking your lives together in your marriage.
A third option is a Wine Ceremony. This has several variations. Two glasses of wine are poured into a third, and both of you drink from the glass. Or each of you pours a glass of wine for the other, hands it to your spouse, and you drink at the same time. It can be a red and a white poured together to make a blush. Again, it symbolizes the uniting of your lives. One caution about a Wine Ceremony in sunshine. A carafe of wine sitting in the open sun for up to 45 minutes will not be chilled when you finally drink it. It will be hot wine, so be prepared!
A fourth option is the Wine Box Ceremony. Each of you writes a love letter to the other, describing your love for each other, and remembering what brought you together. You seal the letter and address it to your spouse. At your wedding, you place your letters in a wooden box, along with a bottle of fine wine you both like. Then the box is nailed or screwed shut. The plan is that on your fifth wedding anniversary, you open the box, read the letters you have written to each other as you drink the wine, and fall in love all over again. However, if your relationship founders before that time, you are encouraged to call a truce, open the box, go off to separate places and read your letters. Then return, open the wine, and work on resolving your differences and reconciling with each other.
For a fifth alternative, you can do a Rose Ceremony. After the vows the bride & groom hold a single rose. The officiant explains how a single rose traditionally says “I love you”. It is appropriate that a rose should be your first gift to each other as a married couple. The rose demonstrates your love for each other. You then exchange your roses. Wherever you choose to live, you will designate a place in the home for roses (a single vase). On your anniversary, to remember the feelings on your wedding day, you both put a single rose of your favorite color in the vase. Should you have a fight or if there is a time you are having difficulty talking about something, you can put a rose in that special place to reaffirm your love, and to remember what matters most in your relationship.
Regardless of what you choose to use to express you commitment, make it special for yourselves. Or, you can choose to omit it. It is your wedding, so do what fits you and your wedding day. Good luck, and have a joyous day!
Rev. Dr. James R. Berger, Wedding Officiant.