Unity Rites: Unity Candles, Unity Sands, Handfasting
After the questions of intent and before the ring exchange, you could add a unity rite.
This is an activity that further underscores the point of the gathering: you're tying the knot, merging two families into a new one.
The symbolism behind the unity candle is the uniting of two families through marriage; each of you you lights a single (unity) candle from your separate family candles.
While you do, the officiant will explain that the side candles are lit by representatives from each family to symbolize the love and allegiance that each family has for either the bride or the groom.
As the bride and groom use these two flames to light the unity candle, they bring the love of both families together in a united love of the new couple. Generally, the two tapers are left burning in their holders. This ceremony works well indoors, where the wind will not interfere with your plans.
Identical in symbolism with the unity candle ceremony, the unity sands are more versatile and you get to take home a keepsake for the mantle. In addition, if the bride and groom have children more than two sands can be combined.
Besides being a touching activity for your guests, your kids will appreciate the attention and inclusion in the proceedings. Of course, it is best for children between 3 and 16... so they are both able and not quite mortally embarassed. If you think you would like to do this, explain to them and ask them whether they would like to participate.
Handfasting is the historical term for betrothal, or wedding. Handfasting is an ancient ritual, originating in the custom of tying a couple’s hands together to show that they are bound in wedlock.
The phrases "tying the knot" and "joining hands" are clearly connected to this rite.
Handfasting was was revived in the modern world by Pagans / Wiccans and has been used in recent times as an alternative to Unity Candle or Unity Sands.
In this photo we used my necktie, as the couple could not find the ribbon they had prepaged :)
The rose ceremony involves giving each other a flower, while the officiant explains that the most important gift is the tenderness your relationship deserves.
You will be urged to find a place for roses in your home, and to put a rose there whenever words are difficult to find.
Roses can also be used in a wedding to include children (they can bring the roses), or roses can be given to parents, to acknowledge their role in raising the bride and groom into becoming the people they are now.