From sand to science: 14 unity ceremonies to symbolize your new partnership

Updated Oct 12 2015
Unity Sandwich- "You may now…take a bite"
Behold… the UNITY SANDWICH! Photo by Patty Michels Photography

Unity candles, unity sand ceremonies, unity salt ceremonies, unity cocktails, and even the UNITY SANDWICH! Rachel and her groom decided that the ever-popular sammich was the ideal metaphor for their marriage.

Unity ceremonies are a great way to symbolize the bringing together of two individuals into one partnership and, at times, the blending of families.

Here are a few of my favorite unity ceremony options — a few you've probably seen before, two will require protective eye-gear, and a couple even involve science!

Unity candle

Our Newly Official FamilyUnity candles can be good for two or a whole family of people! Emily says, "We decided to light a unity candle to symbolize how our lives were going to burn close together from now on."

Salt covenant

IMG_6303.JPGCentered Ceramics came up with a salt ceremony. It works just like a sand ceremony, but the salt egg can become a fixture in your kitchen and used daily.

Sand ceremony

Claudia & Eddie's weddingWhen Claudia and Eddie got married, they brought together their children as well. So each family member had a colored sand that represented themselves and they combined them all together.

Your own take on a sand or salt ceremony

Salt and Pepper UnityWhat about taking the same concept of the sand ceremony but adding a personal spin… Celebrant Jessie Blum explained, "I love all things spiced and spicy — my husband is a salt fiend. So we did our own twist on a sand ceremony and poured white peppercorns and black lava salt!"

Bread breaking ceremony

Breaking bread
Photo by Shannon Michele Photography
Nicole and Sean shared a bread breaking ceremony: "The bread was from my favorite local baker, and was sweetened with honey butter I made from local organic honey."


handfastingHandfasting, or tying your hand together to symbolize the joining together in marriage, is very popular on Offbeat Bride.

Water ceremony

Photo by Whitney Lee
Photo by Whitney Lee
Cat and Andrew came up witha science-based ceremony: "Since Andrew is a Chemist, and a big science nerd. His favorite moment was our special version of a candle lighting/unity ceremony. We each poured a vase what looked like plain water into a large pitcher, causing an instant color change from clear to pink. Magic! (I mean… science!) The audience gasped and applauded, and we were beaming."

Tree planting ceremony

PlantingTribe member Sneff and her husband planted a tree together during their ceremony. Similarly, Mina and Adam planted an Evergreen sapling, as a symbol of their love.

Eternity flowers

Photo by Maggie Winters
Photo by Maggie Winters
We love this flower laying ceremony from Victoria & Jacqueline's wedding. "We loved the idea of incorporating the concept of eternity, and we'd tossed around the idea of a handfasting, but we ended up crafting our own ritual. All the guests came forward, picked flowers out of a vase, and laid them in two conjoined circles around us, making an eternity symbol. We placed this about halfway through the ceremony, so we stood in the circles through the rest."

Unity cocktail

Unity cocktailUnity cocktails are an Offbeat Bride favorite. We have an entire tag devoted to the them.

Wine lock box ceremony

wine lock box ceremonySarah and Todd did what they called a wine lock box ceremony. "Instead of a unity candle, we did a wine lock box ceremony. We sealed love letters and a bottle of wine into a box. Our officiant was thrilled to use the 'making of wine' as a metaphor for marriage. I LOVED getting to hammer nails in the middle of the ceremony." The photo above is from Flickr member Dirt2Mud's wine box ceremony. She explains, "The bottle was picked specifically as it should age well and be at its peak around our 5th anniversary when we will open the box. We also bought special break-resistant stemware."

Unity painting/art-making

Rose_Aaron_Wedding_214_CGA painting ceremony has been brought up by a few of our brides. From a unity finger painting to Tribe member Zombiefrog Bunny's painting of concentric spirals, creating art together is a good way to honor your passions and your new partnership.

Welding ceremony

csj_488_w600_h900Sarah Joy and Joseph are both pipe fitters so they had a welding ceremony. Warning: only to be attempted by trained professionals!

Unity volcano

The Unity Volcano Eruptus Forth
Photo by Jon Bolden
Kaci and Roy had a unity volcano — you know, that awesome science fair project!

We have SO many more ideas for you — pages and pages of them!

Thanks to all the amazing offbeat brides who brought us all of these ideas, now to the rest of you… what unity ceremonies did I forget about?

  1. I love the hometown soil idea, especially as his is a vibrant red clay. It may be a bad idea in the end for us as we'd have to smuggle his Aussie or my American soil into the other country without Customs confiscating it. :O

  2. My husband and I (both Christians) did a feet washing ceremony, and used pitchers of water presented to us from each set of parents. I loved the symbolism of serving each other.

  3. I love so many of these ideas! I'm not fond of a unity candle since I've seen it go poorly in the past. Long story short, it wouldn't light (probably a drafty room), but then the marriage ended shortly there after. I'm not usually superstitious, but it has made me hesitant to do one at my own wedding. I love the water pouring, salt, hand binding, and tree planting ceremonies! It's so good to know that I don't have to do a candle or sand if I want to do a unity ceremony!

  4. Husband and I literally tied the knot. He's a sailor so we picked up two pieces of rope and tied them together. We now have our knot in a shadow box with our vows behind it.

  5. We did a Uni-tea Ceremony. One pot had one flavor tea, which my dad drank from. Another pot had a different flavor, which husband's mom and dad drank from. They poured the rest of the tea into a third pot, which husband and I drank from.
    We liked the symbolism of taking into ourselves part of our families, a sort of blending of the two lines.

  6. Hi guys! The fiance and I are big history/political buffs, and wedding will be americana themed. Any idea on how we can incorporate that? Maybe write the vows on old-timey paper and wax seal initals as stated above? We also lovel traveling together and crossword/brain puzzles. Thanks in advance!

  7. My groom and I are going to be doing a Unity in Glass ceremony and I'm so excited about it! We purchased glass crystals in our wedding colors which we'll pour together as you would in a normal sand ceremony. After the wedding, we'll send the glass crystals back to the glass artist and he will make it into this really cool sculpture! If you haven't heard of it yet, definitely check it out!

  8. Oh my gosh! Someone else thought of this too??? We are totally doing a unity volcano- just like the people in the picture! We have lab coats and safety glasses. The lab coat should help not getting anything on my dress 🙂

  9. We are using the "Virgin White" liquor from the Six and Twenty Distillery (whose own story is based on a local love story from when this area was only trading posts and British colonial stakes) and putting it into a tiny cask to age for six months and then transferring it to a bottle to be sealed until our 25th!

  10. My fiancé loves to fish, so we're going to be tying a fisherman's knot. The symbolism is that this is the strongest knot and the more you pull on it the tighter it gets, symbolizing that any relationship struggles will only make your union stronger. We plan on then displaying the knot in our bedroom as a reminder that we can make it through anything.

  11. My husband grew up in Washington state; I grew up in Iowa – but we both grew up out in the country near creeks. For our sand ceremony, we combined sand from the banks of those two creeks. It's not super pretty, but the combination of the sand means a lot to us!

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