Rituals to personalise your ceremony
Updated: Nov 27, 2019
One of the main reasons people choose a celebrant, is so that they can escape tradition and formula, and create a ceremony which is unique, personal and meaningful.
How you personalise your ceremony is very much up to you, but a celebrant is there to guide you with inspiration and ideas, including those for symbolism and ritual which you might not have previously considered, but will ensure your day truly reflects your personality. Here are some for you to ponder!
Ring warming ceremony
Perfect for a wedding or renewal of vows, this is a wonderful way to include your guests and allow them to actively participate in your ceremony. The rings are passed from guest to guest during the ceremony, receiving well wishes and blessings along the way. They are then returned to the bride and the groom who exchange them as a symbol of their love, while receiving the 'energy' from all those who have blessed their wedding bands. Alternatively, you can set up a table at the entrance of your ceremony venue giving your guests an opportunity to ‘warm’ the rings as they walk in - this is a better option for larger weddings! To avoid any disasters, rings are usually secured to a piece of ribbon and fastened to a cushion, or placed in a box.
Blessing (or wishing) stones are a unique way to unite family and friends in a simple, but meaningful gesture. They are ideal for a beach wedding or naming ceremony, but can be equally relevant in any other outdoor or indoor environment. Each guest is given a stone which they hold throughout the ceremony, transferring into it their blessings and wishes. Sometimes guests will be provided with pens to write their thoughts directly onto the stone. At the end, the stones are put into a bowl or a box, which the couple (or parents, if a naming ceremony) take home as a keepsake. For outdoor ceremonies, sometimes the stones will be cast into the sea (or river or lake) at the end, and as they are thrown, the guests will make a wish or a blessing for the couple or child being named.
This is a popular ritual for the coming together of families, and often performed at weddings and naming ceremonies. There are two ways of performing a symbolic sand ceremony: the more frequently seen is when family members each have a vial of different coloured sand, and one by one they pour it into a central vessel, where it layers in different colours, representing the coming together of individuals into one family. The alternative way is for the family members to pour the sand simultaneously, causing the grains to blend and create a new colour, representing a new stage in life. The same ceremony can be performed with water (with colour or without), blending to symbolise the unification of a couple or family.
The flower representing true love, the red rose, is most frequently used in this ceremony but you could use whichever flower you choose, or even a variety, or one which has particular symbolism to you. The couple each has their own flower, which they first exchange with one another and then place in separate vases. Family and/or guests then add their flowers to a central vase. The ritual is completed by the couple adding their flowers last to the central vase, symbolising the joining of two people and their families.
Although a simple ritual, planting a tree as a couple at a wedding - or as a family at a naming ceremony - is highly symbolic and can involve your guests if they all want to help! Naturally tree planting embodies new life, for which care and nurturing is required, and some people choose trees with their own symbolism, such as an Oak which represents strength of character and courage, or a Maple, representing generosity and balance. Other options include fruit trees, such as Apple symbolising knowledge and faith, or Pear representing longevity and comfort. There are many different and interesting options!
At a wedding, the couple have an individual candle which represents themselves. They can light it themselves or it can be lit by parents, close friends and passed to them. They then merge their flames to light the unity candle, symbolising their union in marriage and the coming together of families. Their own candles remain lit. There are many adaptations of this ritual, and it is used in both weddings and naming ceremonies, either of which can involve children or close family members. The unity candle is then kept, and lit on special occasions or anniversaries.
A simple but romantic ritual, dating back thousands of years, and from where we get the phrase ‘tying the knot’. The couple’s hands are bound together by rope, ribbons or even flowers, representing the binding of two lives together. Traditionally the couple would then stay tied together for the rest of their wedding celebration, but not many couples choose to do that these days!
These are just a few example of how you can use ritual to personalise your ceremony. A celebrant will know about these, and probably more, and will ensure any ritual is accompanied by a suitable readings, vows, pledges and words to create the perfect ceremony. All you need to do is ask!