Wedding rituals have been with us forever. They are used to signify the love and affection a couple have for each other and the commitment they are about to make. Rituals make a beautiful inclusion in any wedding ceremony.
Some couples prefer to include symbolic rituals that reflect their personalities, or represent them as a couple. In some instances rituals are included to add a cultural element to a ceremony. In others couples simply include a symbolic ritual for no other reason than they want to do something different during their ceremony.
And why not?
The giving and receiving of wedding rings is the most common ritual in Australian weddings but there are endless options available. The following are some examples of popular rituals often included in modern wedding ceremonies. These can be done in addition to, or as an alternative to, the exchanging of wedding rings.
You may well have some ideas of your own for the inclusion of rituals that are significant to you and will make your ceremony even more special to you, your family and your friends. If you have, please get in touch and I will happily discuss them with you.
The candle ritual is a favourite with many couples because it is a simple ceremony that holds powerful visual symbolism.
The candle ritual involves the lighting of three candles; two taper candles
representing the bride and groom and a third, larger, candle representing unity through the joining of two lives.
The larger candle can be re-lit on each anniversary of your wedding to commemorate your ceremony and to honour the love and commitment you continue to share.
The origins of this beautiful ritual are unclear but it is thought to have been started either by Hawaiians or Native Americans. Originally, a handful of sand would have been thrown it into the wind by the bride and groom. The grains of sand would become combined and impossible to separate, symbolising the joining of two lives and the inseparable nature of marriage.
The modern sand ritual retains all of the powerful visual symbolism of the original ceremony but it is performed somewhat differently. Today, the Bride and the Groom each pour separate containers of coloured sand into a beautiful commemorative vessel, to symbolise the blending of their lives together. This vessel then becomes a precious keepsake to be displayed in a special place in the home and serve as as a constant reminder of their union in marriage.
This ritual has its roots set deep in Celtic traditions of the Scots and the Welsh. Originally, the hands of the bride and groom were bound together with a rope, ribbon or cord. The wrapping and “tying of the knot” in the ribbon or cord forming an infinity symbol representing a oneness between the couple and symbolising the joining of their lives. It is also the origin of the expression, "tying the knot" that we still use to this day.
Today, hand-fasting rituals can either be designed with the entire ceremony centred around the binding of the hands or, as in most cases, as a simplified version that is used as an element within the wedding ceremony itself.
Rose (Flower) Ritual
There are many variations of the rose ritual; it can be beautiful way to symbolise a couples love for each other or to acknowledge their mothers.
To acknowledge the mothers the Bride may present a single flower from her bouquet to her mother as she walks down the aisle and at the end of the wedding ceremony, on her way back down the aisle, she also hands her mother-in-law a flower from her bouquet. Alternatively, the Bride and Groom can each present a rose to their mothers early in the ceremony as a gesture of their love and gratitude.
When used to symbolise their love for each other, the Bride and Groom exchange a single rose before placing their roses together in central container as they declare their love with some special words.
The rose ritual is popular because it can be used to symbolise marriage in a modern way. It symbolises that marriage, whilst beautiful like a rose, can also be prickly and thorny. In exchanging roses, a couple are acknowledging that the good can come with the bad making and committing to face whatever comes together - hence the placing of the two roses together into the vase.
The Stone Ritual is a beautiful way of involving everyone in the ceremony. Each guest receives a blessing stone as they arrive; stones specially chosen as symbols of love, good wishes and heartfelt blessings for the couple and to serve as a lasting reminder of their presence at their wedding.
By holding the stones during the ceremony, the guests are given the opportunity to transfer their love and blessings for the couple to the stones. At the end of the ceremony the stones are either thrown into the sea to symbolise the couple’s unity or, placed into a commemorative container to be displayed as a significant memento of their special day.
Warming of the Rings Ritual
The most common and visible symbol of a couple’s commitment to each other comes in the exchange of wedding rings. Warming of the Rings is a beautiful ritual that involves everyone present in this spiritual moment.
The ritual begins with the rings being passed to the Mother of the Bride before working their way around the congregation and back to the Mother of the Groom. On their journey, each of the guests is given the opportunity to hold the rings for a moment and “warm” them with their love and best wishes before passing them on.
When the time comes for the Bride and Groom to exchange rings, they are exchanging rings that have been warmed and blessed by the love, good wishes and heartfelt blessings of everyone present.
Memory Box Ritual
Unlike the previous rituals, the memory box ritual is not symbolic as such.
It is simply involves the preparation of wedding keepsake for the future which can be a beautiful thing to include in your wedding ceremony
Couples place meaningful items into a decorative box that they seal during the ceremony and reopen at some significant time in the future.
There are many ways this can be carried out and there are many different things that can be placed in the box. Couples with many of items, often pre-pack the box and simply seal it during the ceremony. It can also be a nice touch to involve family members or friends in the sealing of the box.
Be creative when it comes to choosing your own special items for your wedding day tradition. Ask your mum, grandmother, aunt, or someone close to you to suggest something special; that may be a family heirloom such as; a vintage dress, a veil or even a tiara or piece of jewellery.
Family members have a sense of pride when something of theirs has been chosen to be part of the bride’s attire – it is really quite an honour. Remember, the items you choose don't have to be expensive but they do have to be of sentimental value to both you and to the people providing them.