Traditional Ceremony Options

There are several unification ceremonies that can be done at a wedding. They most often take place directly after the
exchange of vows.  Unification ceremonies are not only a symbol of togetherness, they're also flexible elements of a
wedding. These ceremonies can be "opened up" to include important family members, such as the bridal couple's parents.
Children from previous marriages can play a part, as can the guest in a smaller wedding. Candle and rose ceremonies are
common choices for adapting in this way.  These ceremonies may be especially important in non-religious weddings, which
may end too quickly otherwise!  Below please find several options to incorporate into your ceremony:

Rose Ceremony

In the Rose Ceremony, the Bride and Groom give each other a Rose. Two roses are all that is necessary. The Rose
Ceremony is placed at the end of the ceremony just before being pronounced husband and wife. In the old language of
flowers, a single red rose always meant "I love you". The Rose ceremony gives recognition to the new and most honorable
title of "Husband and Wife".

The Officiant will say:  

"Your gift to each other for your wedding today has been your wedding rings - which shall always be an outward
demonstration of your vows of love and respect; and a public showing of your commitment to each other.”

“You now have what remains the most honorable title which may exist between a man and a woman - the title of "husband"
and "wife." For your first gift as husband and wife, that gift will be a single rose.”

“In the past, the rose was considered a symbol of love and a single rose always meant only one thing - it meant the words
"I love you." So it is appropriate that for your first gift - as husband and wife - that gift would be a single rose.”

“Please exchange your first gift as husband and wife. In some ways it seems like you have not done anything at all. Just a
moment ago you were holding one small rose - and now you are holding one small rose. In some ways, a marriage
ceremony is like this. In some ways, tomorrow is going to seem no different than yesterday. But in fact today, just now, you
both have given and received one of the most valuable and precious gifts of life - one I hope you always remember - the
gift of true and abiding love within the devotion of marriage.”

“Amanda and Adam, I would ask that where ever you make your home in the future - whether it be a large and elegant
home - or a small and graceful one - that you both pick one very special location for roses; so that on each anniversary of
this truly wonderful occasion you both may take a rose to that spot both as a recommitment to your marriage - and a
recommitment that THIS will be a marriage based upon love.”

“In every marriage there are times where it is difficult to find the right words. It is easiest to hurt who we most love. It is
easiest to be most hurt by who we most love. It might be difficult some time to words to say

"I am sorry" or "I forgive you"; "I need you" or "I am hurting". If this should happen, if you simply can not find these words,
leave a rose at that spot which both of you have selected - for that rose than says what matters most of all and should
overpower all other things and all other words.”

“That rose says the words: "I still love you." The other should accept this rose for the words which can not be found, and
remember the love and hope that you both share today”.

“Amanda and Adam, if there is anything you remember of this marriage ceremony, it is that it was love that brought you
here today, it is only love which can make it a glorious union, and it is by love which your marriage shall endure."

Unity Candle Ceremony

A Unity Candle Ceremony can be included in your ceremony. It is usually followed after the Exchange of Rings. Usually the
mothers light the tapers before taking their seats, however you can have children or other family members take part by
lighting the tapers.  A Unity Candle set consists of two tapers and a candle in the middle.

The two tapers represent your individual families and your individual lives before today.  The bride takes a single taper
and the groom takes a single taper and lights the center candle, then extinguish their individual candles. This represents
the closing of the chapters in their past life (Known as the “Book of Life”.) and the beginning of new chapters as you begin
to write a new book as husband and wife! In another version, the tapers are left burning, representing that even though
you have started a new life, each of you still maintains those characteristics that makes you individually unique.

If you are creating a new family and you do include children in the lighting of the Unity Candle, the bride and groom can
light the tapers for the children and then everyone can light the center candle together. This is a good way to involve
children from a previous marriage.

There are so many ways the lighting of a Unity Candle can work.  Below is just a sample. The officiant will announce:

“At this time, Allison and John are going to light their Unity Candle as a symbol of their marriage.  These candles from
which they light, represent their lives from this moment on.  Allison and John will light the center candle to symbolize the
union of their lives. As this one light burns undivided, so shall their love be one.”

“Allison will light her candle first, which represents “Love”.  John will now light his candle, which represents “Health and
Happiness”.  The lights that Allison and John have lit are distinct – each burning alone.”

“Allison and John, from now on, your thoughts shall be for each other, rather than for your individual selves.  Your joys and
sorrows shall be shared alike.  May the radiance of this light be a testimony of your unity.  May these candles burn brightly
as symbols of your commitment to each other, and as a tribute to your parents love.”

Breaking of the Glass

The traditional Jewish wedding ceremony includes a “breaking of the glass.” This tradition represents the destruction of he
temple in Jerusalem.  Many times couples save the pieces of glass from the ceremony in a symbolic box. The Groom is
offered a glass on a wooden pallet or wrapped in a cloth napkin, smashes it with his foot. The breaking of the glass
symbolizes the fragility of life, because whatever we see before us as whole can be broken at any moment. It reminds us of
the need to care for one another; for just as glass can be shattered easily, so can the marriage bond can be shattered
with a single act of infidelity or repeated acts of emotional irresponsibility.

Wine Ceremony

The years of life are as a cup of wine poured out for you to drink. This “Cup of Life” contains within it a wine with certain
properties that are sweet and symbolic of happiness, joy, hope, peace, love and delight. This same wine also holds some
bitter properties that are symbolic of disappointment, sorrow, grief, despair, and life’s trials and tribulations. Together the
sweet and the bitter represent “Life’s Journey” and all of the experiences that are a natural part of it. Those who drink
deeply from the “Cup of Life” with an open heart and willing spirit, invite the full range of challenges and experiences into
their being.

Officiant pours wine into goblet and holds it up and states:

”This “Cup of Life” is symbolic of the pledges you have made to one another to share together the fullness of life. As you
drink from this cup, you acknowledge to one another that your lives, until this moment separate, have become one with the
Holy Spirit. (Officiant hands glass to groom, who drinks, then hands it to bride, who drinks, who passes it back to Officiant.)”

“As you have shared the wine from these goblets, so may you share your lives. May you find life’s joys heightened, its
bitterness sweetened, and all of life enriched by God’s blessings upon you.”

A nice touch is to have the bride pour white wine while the groom pours red. You can then serve rosé at the reception to
remind everyone of the ceremony.

Jumping of the Broom Ceremony

The most widely known African-American wedding tradition is “jumping of the broom”. This takes place at the end of the
ceremony when the couple is departing.  What is “Jumping of the Broom”?  This tradition originated during the time of
slavery in the United States.  Slaves, not having rights as citizens, were denied the legal or religious rite of marriage.  It is a
ceremony in which the bride and groom signify their entrance into a new life and their creation of a new family by
symbolically “sweeping away” their former single lives, former problems and concerns, and stepping over the broom to
enter upon a new adventure as husband and wife.  The straw end represents the brushing away of all their old cares and
worries.  The strong wooden handle represents the strength of your commitment to each other, and the straight,
unconditionally committed path you will follow together in marriage. Some say that whoever jumps the highest will be the
boss of the house! Friends and family members of the bride and groom sometimes decorate the broom for them.

Knot Ceremony

In the knot ceremony, the mothers of the bridal couple are given a cord, which the officiant later asks them to give to the
bridal couple. The couple ties a lover's knot, which they may save to look back on later.

Releasing of Butterflies Ceremony

According to an American Indian Legend, if anyone desires a wish to come true they must first capture a butterfly and
whisper that wish to it.  Since a butterfly can make no sound, the butterfly can not reveal the wish to anyone but the Great
Spirit who hears and sees all.  In gratitude for giving the beautiful butterfly its freedom, the Great Spirit always grants the
wish.  So, according to legend, by making a wish and giving the butterfly its freedom, the wish will be taken to the heavens
and be granted.

A butterfly release is a unique experience.  After you have spoken your vows, hand your bride or groom a beautiful little
box with butterflies in it.  They will be truly thrilled!  Butterflies are symbols of the spirit of freedom and happiness.  Your
guest will surely appreciate this unusual opportunity to participate in the creation of your own Island beginning! It looks
great on videos and photos. What could be more appropriate than to affirm your vows to one another “on the wings of a
butterfly”?  It will hold a special meaning for all to watch as your butterflies are released like your wishes…to soar into the
heavens with good fortune.  Imagine designated wedding guests releasing butterflies as you emerge together from your
cherished ceremony.  You will depart under a veil of fluttering beauties which will remain for just the right amount of time
before they gently fly away!  Some butterflies linger for several minutes before departing.  You and your guests will never
forget the magical appearance of these distinguished and elegant creatures.

Butterflies for sale can be found on the internet.  However, they can be quite expensive.  There are many farms that raise
butterflies solely for this purpose.  Most couples select the Monarch Butterfly, however there are several types of
Butterflies to choose from.

Releasing of Doves

The Flight of the Birds signify a new beginning!! A White Dove Release  is one of
the most exquisite additions to your wedding ~ It is by far the most spectacular of all, and certain to please your guests!  
Snow White Doves being released into the sky above will certainly make your wedding a glorious occasion! The "newly-
united" couple emerge from the church to receive the
well-wishes and blessings of their family and friends. They may opt for an appropriate
poem of love to enhance the release and make the moment even more touching.  One sample of a poem is:

"Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful!  Your eyes are as doves behind your veil." You can find
several companies on the Internet who provide information on releasing Doves.

Sand Ceremony

If for whatever reason you choose not to use a Unity Candle during your ceremony, the sand ceremony can be a beautiful
and meaningful addition to your vows. Simply find three containers, one for the bride and groom to pour the sand into, two
for each of you to pour the sand from. You can find colored or plain sand at most craft stores. After the officiant reads the
text below (or any text you choose), pour the two containers of sand into the third container simultaneously. You may wish
to leave a small amount of sand in each container to symbolize that although you are now joined as one, you each remain

The Officiant will say:  

“Olivia and Nick, you have just sealed your relationship by the giving and receiving of rings and the exchange of a kiss,
and this pledge is a relationship promise between two people who agree that they will commit themselves to one another
throughout their lives. The most beautiful example of this partnership is the marriage relationship. You have committed
here today to share the rest of your lives with each other. Today, this relationship is symbolized through the pouring of
these two individual containers of sand one, representing you, Olivia and all that you were, all that you are, and all that
you will ever be, and the other representing you, Nick, and all that you were and all that you are, and all that you will ever
be. As these two containers of sand are poured into the third container, the individual containers of sand will no longer
exist, but will be joined together as one. Just as these grains of sand can never be separated and poured again into the
individual containers, so will your marriage be.”

Stone Ceremony

One newly-combined family with five children (plus parents, of course) chose bud vases holding seven different colors of
stones. At the same moment, everyone poured his or her vase of stones into a large Art Deco-style vase chosen by the
parents. Each family member's color joins everyone else's color, and yet each keeps its individuality as well! I then used
my hand to mix all the colors together, and to place a stick of curly bamboo (symbol of joy and long life) into the rainbow of

The Officiant will say:  

"Would Beth, Anna, Michael and Fred please come forward to participate in the Stone Ceremony with Susan and Mark?"

"As a newly-combined family, you have chosen the Stone Ceremony to celebrate your uniting as a family.  Each of you
selected a different color of stones to mix together and unite your family as one. I now ask that you each, one at a time,
poor your stones into the very special vase chosen by your parents."

"As each family member's color joins everyone else's color, it will not only unite you as a family, but it will also keep its
individuality as well!  This is a symbol of joy and long life, within a rainbow of stones."

"When light hits this glass vase at this outdoor ceremony, the effect will be  absolutely stunning!  When you take this
special vase home today, place it in a permanent spot in your home, right in front of a window, so that the colors can truly
shine forever, and remind you of this special day!"

Hands of the Bride and Groom Ceremony
The Officiant will say:  

“Linda, please face Eric, and hold his hands, palms up, so you may see the gift that they are to you.”

"These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and vibrant with love, that are holding yours on your wedding
day, as he promises to love you all the days of his life”.

”These are the hands that will work along side yours, as together you build your future, as you laugh and cry, as you
share your innermost secrets and dreams”.

”These are the hands you will place with expectant joy against your stomach, until he too, feels his child stir within you.”

”These are the hands that look so large and strong, yet will be so gentle as he holds your baby for the first time”.

”These are the hands that will work long hours for you and your new family.”

”These are that hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness”.

”These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes: tears of sorrow and tears of joy.”

”These are the hands that will comfort you in illness, and hold you when fear or grief wrack your mind.”

”These are the hands that will tenderly lift your chin and brush your cheek as they raise your face to look into his eyes:
eyes that are filled completely with his overwhelming love and desire for you.”

”Eric, please hold Linda’s hands, palms up, where you may see the gift that they are to you. These are the hands of your
best friend, smooth, young and carefree, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as she pledges her love and
commitment to you all the days of her life.”

”These are the hands that will hold each child in tender love, soothing them through illness and hurt, supporting and
encouraging them along the way, and knowing when it is time to let go.”

”These are the hands that will massage tension from you neck and back in the evenings after you’ve both had a long hard

”These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through difficult times.”

”These are the hands that will comfort you when you are sick, or console you when you are grieving.”

”They are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness.”

”These are the hands that will hold you in joy and excitement and hope, each time she tells you that you are to have
another child, that together you have created a new life.”

”These are the hands that will give you support as she encourages you to chase down your dreams. Together as a team,
everything you wish for can be realized.”

Officiant will then read the following:

”God, bless these hands that you see before you this day. May they always be held by one another. Give them the
strength to hold on during the storms of stress and the dark of disappointment. Keep them tender and gentle as they
nurture each other in their wondrous love. Help these hands to continue building a relationship founded in your grace, rich
in caring, and devoted in reaching for your perfection. May Eric and Linda see their four hands as healer, protector,
shelter and guide. We ask this in your name, Amen.”

The Blessing Stones

When a wedding is outside and near water, Blessing or Wishing stones are either gathered at the site or provided by the
couple not only for themselves but for the wedding party and guests as well. After the ceremony all follow the bride and
groom's recessional to the water, make a wish or blessing for them and cast their stone into the water. The ripples that are
made represent the love and good wishes for not only the couple, but for all the world... as our ripples cross and re-cross
one another's, so do our love and good wishes touch and retouch all around us and those with whom we come into contact.

Crossed Broom and Sword

Another old tradition is for the couple to jump over a crossed broom and sword (held by the best man and the maid of
honor). This symbolizes the cutting of ties to their parents and the ties being swept away.

Samples to Honor Deceased Loved Ones

Have a lit candle on the same table as the guestbook so that when people walk in they will see it.  It could be a white
candle on a crystal candle holder or in a glass.  You could then have one of the poems below framed, sitting next to the
candle, as well as a white rose at the foot of the holder.

You could also ask a family member, or a friend, read one of the following poems at some point while you are exchanging
your vows.


Sample 1:

Although we can't see you
We know you are here
Smiling down, watching over us
As we say "I DO"
Forever in our hearts
Forever in our lives
And so we say our vows
In loving memory of you.

Sample 2:

Although death has separated us physically, faith and love have bound us eternally.
Though we cannot see you, we know you are here.
Though we cannot touch you, we feel the warmth of your smile, as we begin a new chapter in our lives.
Today we pause to reflect upon those who have shaped our character,
molded our spirits and touched our hearts.
May the lighting of this candle be a reminder of the memories we have shared,
a representation of the everlasting impact you have made upon our lives.

Sample 3:

In Loving Memory of those who could
not be with us to share our special day

For those we have loved and lost along the way,
A flame to remember them burns here today.
For the laughter, smiles and memories remain,
Together today their presence sustains.
Never forgotten and loved forever more,
Today their blessings flicker and soar.

Sample 4:

What Is A Family? By Mary C. Fairbanks
What is a family, how do they start?
They start with a seed planted deep in your heart.
They come with a chorus full of great sound,
They come with great love, wherever it’s found.

Where did my family start, when will it end?
It started with two people, friend meeting friend.
It won’t end too briskly, it won’t fade away.
As you will soon learn on this wonderful day.

Our family can be anyone who wants in
Anyone who’ll stand by you through thick and through thin.
It won’t be contagious, hard work it will take,
But, if you link hands a firm circle you’ll make.

I invite you to join me and grab my right hand,
And circle around these two friends where they stand.
Come up and show them one family exists,
On their joyful day full of family bliss.

Join hands all around them and bless them with love,
As Our Heavenly Father has done from above.
For, families are fragile and may not survive,
Unless they have Angels to keep them alive.

This family is strong, we won’t break the bond.
We pledge to continue, this group will stand strong.
We stand hand to hand, we stand heart to heart,
And promise that never will we fall apart.

As mountains surround us, as rose petals drop,
As sunsets sleep vivid, our love will not stop.
This circle reminds us that family we’ll stay.
It’s our promise to you, on your special day.


The Family Medallion
The Family Ring Ceremony

Studies have shown that children accept a parent's remarriage more easily when they feel included in the wedding plans
and are given a special symbol of being embraced by a new family. So as an alternative to including children in the Unity
Candle Ceremony, by giving the Family Medallion, ring or other piece of jewelry as a gift to a child during the wedding
service, it provides a message of love and affirmation. When used during the wedding, the Family Medallion is given to
each child after the couple is pronounced husband and wife.  Couples may choose to present Family Medallion pendants,
rings, lapel pins or other jewelry during the wedding service or as a special gift. This presentation is appropriate for
children of all ages, even adult children. Children often attach the same emotional importance to their Family Medallion as
the bride and groom place on their wedding rings.

The Family Medallion symbol includes three equally merged circles. Two circles represent the marriage union while the
third symbolizes the importance of children within the family.

The Officiant will say:  

"Family and Friends, Samantha & Fred now wish to give Nicholas and Nichole a Family Medallion (or rings), not only as a
symbol of their commitment to them, but also as a symbol of their bond as a family."

"Do you Samantha & Fred, promise to honor and protect Nicholas and Nichole, and to provide for them to the best of your
Samantha & Fred... "We do."
"Do you promise to make their home a haven, where trust, love, and laughter are abundant?"
Samantha & Fred... "We do."
"And do you make these promises lovingly, and freely, and vow to honor them all the days of your lives?"
Samantha & Fred... "We do."
(After this vow, the Family Rings are presented to Nicholas and Nichole.)

The Officiant will say:  

"And now, Nicholas and Nichole, do you promise to love and respect your parent's new husband/wife?"
Nicholas and Nichole... "We do."
"Do you promise to support their marriage and new family?"
Nicholas and Nichole... "We do."
"Do you promise to accept the responsibility of being their children, and to encourage them and support them in your new
life together?"
Nicholas and Nichole... "We do."
Wedding of Your Desire
by Massachusetts Justice of the Peace & Notary Public Carol J. Merletti
(c) Copyright – Carol J. Merletti –  All rights reserved.

The information on this page may not be reproduced, republished or mirrored, in whole or in part, on another webpage or website
without the expressed written consent of the copyright holder and is strictly prohibited by International Copyright Law.
Carol J. Merletti
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