Ring-warming ceremony: a meaningful alternative to the unity candle

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I'm wondering about meaningful alternatives to the unity candle ceremony.

I've read up on some options out there, but really haven't found anything that I've fallen in love with. The sand ceremony is nice, but so many of my friends have used it that I feel like I'd be ripping them off. Exchanging roses with the mothers from each family seems a little too simplistic, my FH doesn't drink wine (or any alcoholic beverage, for that matter), and I have a black thumb, so I'm afraid I would kill a money tree plant (THAT can't be a good omen for the marriage!). Any advice for a truly offbeat and meaningful ritual that I can include in our wedding ceremony?

-Rachael

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with doing a sand ceremony just because your friends have done it. There's always that risk with nontraditional weddings that, rather than blindly follow tradition (ie walking down the aisle to Pachelbel's Canon because that's what everyone's supposed to do), you blindly refuse to do something that's been done before. If a sand ceremony resonates for you, tell your friends how much they inspired you, and then DO IT. It's not like your friends invented the idea and it could be a great opportunity to share with them how meaningful you found their weddings.

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That said, if you really want to do something else, there are options. I'm a big fan of the unity cocktail, but since your partner doesn't drink that one's definitely not going to work.

You'll find a nice round-up of unity options here, but it may be that a ring warming ceremony is the perfect solution.

The concept is simple: near the beginning of your ceremony, have your officiant let your guests know that your rings will be making their way through the assembled guests, with an invitation for each guest to hold the ring, say a silent prayer/blessing for your marriage, and then pass it to the next guest.

Then the officiant can pass out the rings, and continue on with the ceremony until it's time for you and your partner to present the rings to each other.

Obviously, there are limitations to a ring warming: it wouldn't work well for super large weddings, and if you're having a big wedding you may want to have someone watching the progress of the rings and keeping them moving in a timely manner through your guests.

Some people worry about rings getting dropped during the ceremony — if you like, you can affix them to a pillow or book or some other symbolic item for the passing.

If you'd like some inspiration, check out ring warming ceremonies featured on Offbeat Bride.

Oh and PS: if a ring warming doesn't appeal, you could always do a guest bouquet!

Comments on Ring-warming ceremony: a meaningful alternative to the unity candle

  1. My best friend incorporated both a ringwarming into her wedding, and I absolutely loved it. I think she actually got the idea from either me, or OBB the book! The officiant announced it would start with the Mother of the Bride and work its way back to the Mother of the Groom (there were approx. 75 at the wedding), and to avoid the rings being dropped or lost (!) they were in a small drawstring bag. They made the circuit in ample time before they were needed back at the front. If I wasn't planning on packing the people into my church for my own ceremony, I'd definitely make a ringwarming part of it!

  2. We had a ring warming, and it was such a beautiful moment. Most of our guests had never heard of such a thing, so our pastor gave a brief description of what it was, asked each of them to say a blessing over them, and then pass 'em along…we had SO many people come up to us afterwards, saying how meaningful and wonderful they thought it was!

  3. And just to note, a unity drink/cocktail doesn't have to alcholic. You can put anything you want in the cup from water, grape juice, or even a favorite soda.

    • A unity instant milkshake would be great – pour the milk, add the powder/syrup, stir together, drink out of 2 straws! 🙂

      • Ooh, you just gave me a great idea…a two-person straw! You wouldn’t be able to drink from a Y-shaped straw alone; you both need to work together in order to drink. It’s a great metaphor for marriage.

        I thought for sure someone would have thought of this already, but a google search turns up nothing.

  4. If nothing is striking you, maybe you don't need to add anything additional in. If after some research there is something that resonates with you two, then do it – even if you fear that it's copying somebody else. But don't feel that you need to add something just because other people have.

    Ultimately, it's about what works for you and is representative of you. The ultimate act of unity is that you're making a public promise to be together!

  5. My mom sewed us a Celtic knot ring pillow, and we tied the rings to that and passed it around during our ring-warming. It was pretty quick, since we only had 13 guests, but it made it that much more personal.

  6. I am so excited about this. My fiance and I *just* decided to include this in our September 12th wedding. All along we have been working to create an intimate wedding, and this is the perfect way to get our friends/families involved!

  7. One great tradition which I used is the Celtic Quaich – a small silver bowl with two handles. Usually the family will fill it with whiskey or scotch, and the family and couple each take a drink, with the last person drinking the last of it.

    http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1235/1444362744_52

    It's also used when friends are going away, and was used as a greeting between different tribes – the cup is passed with both hands on the handles, and is received with both hands, to show that neither is carrying weapons. If you're Scottish or Irish, it's a great ceremony to incorporate! We liked it so much that we did it 3 times at our reception; once for his family, once for mine, and once for our Regimental family. It was really touching.

      • what about with a soup broth? Or locally made cider? Mexican hot chocolate? Heck, you can customize it, fer sher!

  8. I love this. While I do find a Unity Candle very meaningful, I would love to use this ring warming idea as well!

  9. I know it’s not something different from the unity candle deal, but it’s a spin that might make it more appealing: you can give out tiny candles to guests as they come to the ceremony (they sell mini thin ones on religious sites for Easter vigils). From the back, the guests pass the flame until it comes up to the couple who them bring it together for their unity candle.

  10. Me and my partner were struggling to make our ceremony meaningful, then we found this book Handfasting and wedding rituals by Kaldera & Schwartstein. It has heaps of ideas for weddings, it also has the idea for the ring warming with the officiant saying
    "we will now pass the rings around, carried by (name) in this dish (pillow, bag), and we ask that each of you hold your hands over them and wish something good for the couple, who are to wear them on their fingers from now on. You may speak your wish aloud or simply make it silently. Your positive thoughts and energies will imbue these simple objects of metal with more than just the hopes and dreams of these two lovers. These wishes will show that they have a place in the community, and that it is blessing and supporting their union.
    Unfortunately, we will have too many people to do this, so instead we are giving people paper and pen at the beginning of the ceremony to write a wish or prayer to us and then will collect them all during the service.
    Or you could always include a handfasting ceremony into your wedding. To show that you are truly bound to each other.

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