The Sand Pour

Representative of the old Hebrew tradition, the Salt Covenant, which was used in exchange to seal friendships, agreements and contracts.  Typically two people in business with each other would carry salt pouches to blend with the other's to signify the covenant they were entering into.  Once the salt was mixed, it could never be separated, making transactions final and everlasting.  So as the sand is poured it represents the union of two people and families that can never be separated. 

Jumping the Broom

Jumping the broom originates in West Africa during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The locally made brooms carried spiritual value as a means of sweeping away past wrongs or removing evil spirits.  Brooms were waved over the heads of marrying couples to ward off spirits.  Jumping over the broom at the end of the ceremony symbolized the wife's commitment to the new home she had joined. It also represented the determination of who ran the household as whoever jumped highest was the decision maker. 

The Unity Candle

The lighting of the unity candle is a relatively recent addition to the traditional wedding ceremony.  The ceremony uses two taper candles with a large pillar candle in the center.  At the beginning of the ceremony, a representative from each family (usually the mothers) light the two taper candles. Later (usually after the vows) the bride and groom use the two taper candles to light the pillar candle together. The lighting can be accompanied by symbolic explanation, music or silence. 

Handfasting

A Celtic custom with medieval roots. The ritual involves binding the couple's hands together with ribbons or cords and was used as a sort of marriage license before weddings were recognized as legal responsibilities of the government and church. Each colored cord carries its own meaning such as red for passion.

Breaking Glass

A Jewish tradition where after the Rabbi announces the newlyweds, the groom smashes a wrapped piece of glass with his foot followed by a cheer of "Mazel tov!"  Tradition says that the couple will remain married for as long as the glass is shattered. 

Wine Drinking

There are several variations of wine drinking rituals, but generally it involves two small carafes of wine, one white and one red.  After exchanging rings, the couple pour the wines into a third carafe, creating a blend that could never be separated (similar in nature to the sand pour) and each take a drink to represent their individual lives becoming one.  This can even be combined with the Glass Breaking as the couple would then smash the glasses beneath their feet, further illustrating their union.  

The Marriage Tree

Planting a tree during the ceremony is an ancient tradition shared by many cultures around the world.  It can be a wonderful way to include all your guests by allowing them to each add their own scoop of soil that would nurture the roots of this new union.  It symbolizes the commitment and dedication to the growth of your love and lives together as well your friends and families becoming one as they each add to the foundation.  You can choose a tree and soil from significant places or times in your lives or select a brand new tree to represent your goals.  

Love Letter Capsule

A newer ritual for the more hopelessly romantic.  Before the wedding the couple writes love letters to each other and then seals them inside a box during the ceremony.  They can be accompanied by any significant object and a favorite bottle of wine or champagne.  The box would then be opened at a later date such as an anniversary.  

Abstract Artwork

Another new and unique ritual that can be both fun and rewarding for the whole wedding.  It involves setting up a large blank canvas and paint area.  The couple would make the first strokes or splatters during the ceremony and then it would be fair game for all the guests after the ceremony to add their mark. The blending of colors, styles and strokes not only represent the coming together of the couple, but of all their friends and family as well.  By the end you will leave with a unique custom work of art for your home.  Be warned, things could get messy!