Common traditions that couples have incorporated into wedding ceremonies are usually found in their religious traditions or culture, and provide a wonderful element of their ceremony. I would be happy to work with you on your own unique and personalized wedding ceremony. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 505-238-7685.
Note: there is a Slideshow at the bottom of this page illustrating some of the Traditions below
1. The Unity Candle
2. The Unity Sand Mixing
4. Arras (coins)
5. Catholic Rose to Mary
6. The Rose Ceremony (exchange of red roses by the bride & groom): long, shorter, shortest
7. Seven Jewish Blessings/Chupa/Breaking of the Glass under the Groom's Heal
8. The Heart Lock Ceremony
9. The Handfasting Ceremony
10. Honoring Parents paragraph
11. Remembrance Paragraph
12. The Unity Cross
13. A Tree Planting
We have seen it so often that we expect it at the wedding, but the Unity Candle is not a mandatory part of the wedding ceremony. It is really a fairly recent practice that has added deep meaning for the couples who use it and the guests who witness it. It is simply a large pillar candle with two smaller lit tapers (candles) on either side, that the bride and groom light to show their separate lives as individuals becoming one as the married couple. Some things to think about when using a Unity Candle in your ceremony are the following:
*Decoration: your Unity Candle can be plain white or vanilla, or a color matching your bridal colors, or decorated with beads or gems. It can be decorated with hearts, crosses, rings, or just designs. The tapers are not usually decorated since the Unity Candle is the center of attention.
* Do you want to blow out the tapers after you light the Unity Candle or leave them alight? This is up to the couple and works either way. You are now a couple, but you are still individuals, yourselves as persons. So you can leave the candles burning and the Unity Candle burning. This is a personal choice for the bride and groom.
*It is becoming more popular with couples to have the mothers come up before the wedding ceremony starts to light the candles, and then return to the back of the gathering and come up the aisle as usual with family. A variation of this is to have the mothers invited by the officiant during the ceremony (after the exchange of rings), to light the tapers and then return to their seats with family. The couple then continues with the Unity Candle ceremony as usual. Again, this is the couple's choice.
*It is the couple's responsibility to arrange for the Unity Candle. You can buy it from the florist, or you may purchase it yourselves from a store. It is common for Michael's or Hobby Lobby to carry a good display of Unity Candles and tapers, and both often have coupons for 40% or 50% off.
*It is a wonderful custom for the bridal couple to take out the Unity Candle and light it on your wedding anniversary as part of your anniversary celebration or party.
Mixing of Sand/ The Sand Ceremony
Where the Unity Candle has reigned supreme for decades, a new practice is coming on the scene quickly. The Mixing of Sand has the same image and symbolism as the Unity Candle: two separate bottles or vases of colored sand are poured by the couple into a third, larger vase in the middle. The two lives are mixing into one life as a couple, making something new. Instead of two separate vases with different colors in each vase, there becomes a new blended color in the middle larger vase. There have been vases, bottles, glasses, and all sorts of containers used by couples. It is the couples choice of style and colors of sand.
Lasso (Lazo Cord) Use and History
The Lasso is associated with a wedding prayer during the ceremony. As part of the ceremony to symbolize unity, a large loop of rosary beads is placed in a figure eight shape around the necks of the couple after they have exchanged their vows. The symbolism of the lasso is to show the union and protection of marriage. Special members of the wedding party may be in charge of "lassoing" the Bride and Groom together after they kneel for the wedding prayer, usually a married couple, often the Padrinas and Madrinas. They drape what is usually a white satin circle of cord around the shoulders of the kneeling Bride and Groom, groom's shoulder's first. The lasso may also be tied around their wrists. The Lasso is also often, but not always, a large or double Rosary cord.
The couple wears the lasso throughout the remainder of the service. The loop is symbolic of their love, which should bind the couple together everyday as they equally share the responsibility of marriage for the rest of their lives. A double rosary lasso may also be given by one set of the parents and may be blessed with holy water three times in honor of the trinity.
At the end of the ceremony the lasso is removed by the couple who placed the lasso on the couple, or by the priest. The lasso is given to the Bride as a memento of her becoming the Lady of the groom's heart and home and shows their promise to always be together side-by-side.
The Lasso is associated with a wedding prayer during the ceremony. As part of the ceremony to symbolize unity, a large loop of rosary beads is placed in a figure eight shape around the necks of the couple after they have exchanged their vows. The symbolism of the lasso is to show the union and protection of marriage. Special members of the wedding party may be in charge of "lassoing" the Bride and Groom together after they kneel for the wedding prayer. They drape what is usually a white satin circle of cord around the shoulders of the kneeling Bride and Groom, groom's shoulder's first. The lasso may also be tied around their wrists.
Arras (Coins) Use and History
The custom of the coins originated in Spain. The madrina de arras holds the thirteen gold coins (arras) given to the bride by the bridegroom, signifying he will support her. Often presented in ornate boxes, pouches, or even on gift trays, this represents the bride’s dowry and holds good wishes for prosperity. These coins become a part of their family heirloom. It is an honor for these arras to be passed down through the generations and used by the next generation for family weddings.
*Groom’s pledge to the bride:
The groom gives the bride thirteen gold coins as a symbol of his unquestionable trust and confidence. The symbolism, which may be explained by the Officiant, is that the Groom recognizes his responsibility as a provider, and pledges his ability to support and care for her, their children and the home. Acceptance by the bride means taking that trust and confidence unconditionally with total dedication and prudence. There is no set blessing wording by the priest.
The moment the Officiant asks for the rings, after the vows he calls for the arras, and each one (you and your fiancee) say:
-The Groom says: "here are these arras, as a symbol that nothing would be missing in our home"
-The Bride accepts them by saying: "I accept them, as a symbol of the care I will have for our home"
*Why 13 coins?
The number 13 represents Christ and his 12 apostles.
*How to use in ceremony
The coins are presented to the Officiant by a friend or relative (usually the purchaser). The priest then blesses the coins and hands them to the bride who places them in the groom's cupped hands at the beginning of the ceremony. The coins are then placed on a tray and handed to an assistant to be held until later in the ceremony. Near the end of the ceremony the box and coins are given to the priest who places the coins in the box and hands them to the groom. This can be modified for clarity and speed.
The groom will then pour the coins into the bride's cupped hands and places the box on top. This represents his giving her control as his mistress of all his worldly goods. (Sometimes their hands are tied with a ribbon for this portion of the ceremony.)
*Wording on the Coins
These tokens generally have the words "Recuerdo Matrimonial" which translates as "Wedding Souvenir" or "Marriage Memory".
The use of the arras coins is a Latin American tradition for Hispanic and Filipino weddings, for Cinderella Weddings, Fairytale Weddings, Sweet 16 celebrations, Debutante Balls, Quincenaeras, and even Bat Mitzvahs
Rose To Mary
Some Catholic cultures have the bride and groom take a white rose to the statue of Mary, usually toward the end of the ceremony (after Communion when there is a Communion Service) and place it in a vase. The newly married couple then pray to Mary for the grace and support to be a good family and spouses (in Catholic tradition Mary is part of the Holy Family along with St. Joseph and Jesus), for children, and to continue their love for each other in the years ahead. When couples wish this, Bishop David provides the statue of Mary and vase, and usually the site venue provides the flower stand. (This tradition works very well indoors and in a wedding chapel, but it does not work well outdoors.)
The Rose Ceremony (where the bride and groom exchange a red rose with each other)
The Rose Ceremony is simple yet profoundly moving. The bride and
groom exchange two red roses, symbolizing the giving and receiving of their love
for each other throughout their entire married life. The Rose Ceremony also
conveys how to use the rose and its symbolism in difficult times in order to
forgive each other, using the following script:
Officiant, to the couple:
“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
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
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. Here the couple
exchanges a red rose with each other… 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.
N._________ and N._____________, 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 cannot be found, and remember the love and
hope that you both share today.
N.__________ and N.________, 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.”
The Shorter Rose Ceremony
Officiant, to the couple:
In the Rose Ceremony, the Bride and Groom give each other a Rose. Two roses are all that is necessary. The Rose Ceremony is usually placed at the end of the ceremony just before being pronounced husband and wife. It goes like this:
A single red rose always means "I love you". 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. Now for
your first gift as husband and wife I want you now to give each other the rose you hold.
The couple exchanges a red rose with each other…
N._________ and N. _____________, 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 in your home for roses; so that on each anniversary of this truly
wonderful occasion of your marriage, you both may take a rose to that special
spot in your home, both as a recommitment to your marriage - and a recommitment
that THIS will be a marriage based upon love.
And try to remember this: In every marriage there are times where it is difficult to find the right words. It might be difficult some time 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 to express what you really feel, Go to that spot that you both have selected and there leave a rose. That rose placed in that special location can say what matters most of all. The rose you place there will say 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.
N.__________ and N.________, if there is anything you remember of this marriage ceremony,
remember this, 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.
The Short Rose Ceremony
Officiant, to the couple:
A single red rose always meant "I love you".
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.
But for your first gift as husband and wife I want you now to give each other the gift of a single rose. So please exchange your first gift as husband and wife; a gift of true and abiding
love within the devotion of marriage.
The couple exchanges a red rose with each other…
Remember, the single rose says the words: "I love you".
There may be times filled with happiness, sorrow, tears or laughter, whatever it may be, remember love has given you wings; your journey begins today; N.______ and N.________, if there is anything you remember of this marriage ceremony, remember the love that brought
you here today, it is only love which can make your marriage a glorious union, and it is by love that your marriage will endure.
Jewish Seven Wedding Blessings (note: some sources place #1 as #7 and visa versa)
- Baruch Ata Adonai Elohainu Melech HaOlam, SheHakol Barah Lichvodo
You are blessed, Lord our G-d, the sovereign of the world, who created everything for his glory.
- Baruch Ata Adonai Elohainu Melech HaOlam, Yotzer Ha'Adam
You are blessed, Lord our G-d, the sovereign of the world, the creator of man.
- Baruch Ata Adonai Elohainu Melech HaOlam, Asher Yatzar Et Ha'Adam Betzalmo, b'Tzelem Dmut Tavnito, VeHitkon Lo Mimenu Binyan Adei Ad. Baruch Ata Adonai Yotzer Ha'Adam
You are blessed, Lord our G-d, the sovereign of the world, who created man in His image, in the pattern of His own likeness, and provided for the perpetuation of his kind. You are blessed, Lord, the creator of man.
- Sos Tasis VeTagel HaAkarah, BeKibbutz Bane'ha Letocha BeSimchaa. Baruch Ata Adonai, Mesame'ach Tzion BeVaneha
Let the barren city be jubilantly happy and joyful at her joyous reunion with her children. You are blessed, Lord, who makes Zion rejoice with her children.
- Sameach TeSamach Re'im Ahuvim, KeSamechacha Yetzircha BeGan Eden MiKedem. Baruch Ata Adonai, MeSame'ach Chatan VeKalah
Let the loving couple be very happy, just as You made Your creation happy in the garden of Eden, so long ago. You are blessed, Lord, who makes the bridegroom and the bride happy.
- Baruch Ata Adonai Elohainu Melech HaOlam, Asher Barah Sasson VeSimcha, Chatan VeKalah, Gila Rina, Ditza VeChedva, Ahava VeAchava, VeShalom VeRe'ut. MeHera HaShem Elokeinu Yishama BeArei Yehudah U'Vchutzot Yerushalayim, Kol Sasson V'eKol Simcha, Kol Chatan V'eKol Kalah, Kol Mitzhalot Chatanim MeChupatam, U'Nearim Mimishte Neginatam. Baruch Ata Adonai MeSame'ach Chatan Im Hakalah.
You are blessed, Lord our G-d, the sovereign of the world, who created joy and celebration, bridegroom and bride, rejoicing, jubilation, pleasure and delight, love and brotherhood, peace and friendship. May there soon be heard, Lord our G-d, in the cities of Judea and in the streets of Jerusalem, the sound of joy and the sound of celebration, the voice of a bridegroom and the voice of a bride, the happy shouting of bridegrooms from their weddings and of young men from their feasts of song. You are blessed, Lord, who makes the bridegroom and the bride rejoice together.
- Baruch Ata Adonai Elohainu Melech HaOlam, Boreh Pri HaGafen.
You are blessed, Lord our G-d, the sovereign of the world, creator of the fruit of the vine.
The Chupa is the canopy in a Jewish wedding covering the bride and groom, and the rabbi or Officiant. It shows a "sacred space" for this religious ceremony.
The Breaking of the Glass
The glass is wrapped in a napkin and at the end of the ceremony the wrapped glass is placed under the heel of the groom who smashes it, with all guests yelling out "Mazol Tov!" meaning "Happiness and Blessings!"
The Heart Lock Ceremony
The Heartlock Ceremony is a current tradition where the couple have a Tree of Life and they place a padlock without any key, on the trunk of the Tree of Life. This shows they are uniting their lives into one living being, themselves as a couple. Note: There is a photo of a Heartlock Tree of Life in the SlideShow below.
The Handfasting Ceremony
The Handfasting Ceremony is a traditional Celtic or Gaelic one where the Bride and Groom join their hands and the Officiant drapes and winds a colored ribbon or cord around the two hands, and then "ties" it. The couple can wear the cord or ribbon for the rest of the ceremony or take it off and placed in a safe place and keep it as a keepsake showing their two lives are now joined together. It is often blessed by the Officiant and is used in addition to rather in place of the rings. Some couples use multiple ribbons/cords, each of a different color, with each color meaning something different.
Honoring Parents Paragraph
The Parents Honoring Paragraph wording is similar to the following...
"Bride and Groom want to acknowledge their parents on this occasion, .... and ....who is with us in love and spirit. Bride and Groom offer their profound gratitude to their parents for all the love and care they showed in raising them. The unconditional gifts of love and support that you have continually offered have inspired them to become who they are today, and they thank you, from the bottom of their hearts, for guiding them to this celebration of love here today. Without you, this day would not be possible."
The Remembrance or Memorial Paragraph makes us aware of those loved family members or good friends who are not able to be at the wedding due to death, illness, or travel, and is similar to the following...
"We are reminded at this moment of the people who are dear to Groom and Bride who cannot be here today to share this moment. Let us pause for a moment and bring Bride's passed family members ___, and Groom's family members ___, & ___, into our thoughts and into our hearts. Therefore, it is all the more important that those of you here with Groom and Bride may stand as witnesses to the happiness which they have found together, and to the pledges they will make, each to the other, for the mutual service of their common life."
The Unity Cross is a current tradition using the Cross and outside shadow box which are separate, and which then the Bride and Groom assemble or put together after their Vows as a sing of Unity and Blessings by Jesus. They then keep the Unity Cross in a prominent place in their home reminding themselves and guests of the importantance of Jesus in their marriage.
A Tree Planting
The Tree Planting is where the couple has a shrub or small tree in a container (decorated or not, ornamental or plain from the plant store) and containers of dirt and/or water. They go the table holding all these items and pour the dirt into the container and then the water. The container is already filled with dirt but the symbolism is that the couple is starting a new life with their marriage, with the shrub in the dirt being the new life, and the couple needs to nourish and water the shrub...even as the marriage needs regular nourishment and watering...of love, patience, understanding, caring for each other, and so on.
A variation of this has the parents of the couple "plant" and nourish the plant, showing that the life of the couple comes from their parents...