Your Step-By-Step Guide to Having a Wedding Sand Ceremony

Plus, some places to buy sand ceremony kits for your big day.
Bride and groom performing sand ceremony at wedding
Photo: Suzanne Kroner Photography
jenna clark headshot
Jenna Clark
jenna clark headshot
Jenna Clark
The Knot Contributor
  • Jenna is a freelance writer for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in wedding traditions and planning.
  • In addition to The Knot Worldwide, Jenna contributes to other online publications including Insider, People, BuzzFeed and The Daily Beast.
  • Jenna graduated from Hofstra University with a major in public relations and a minor in creative writing.
Updated Mar 06, 2024
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If you plan on incorporating a wedding sand ceremony into your wedding day festivities, you've come to the right place. Although sand ceremonies for weddings aren't inherently difficult to execute, a bit of planning is usually a best practice to ensure everything is carried out effortlessly on your big day. That said, we've compiled a step-by-step guide that you can follow when planning your wedding with a sand ceremony.

Whether you're looking to keep your unity sand ceremony traditional or personalize it to make it your own, we've got options for you. Once you've agreed upon your vision for your sand ceremony, The Knot Vendor Marketplace is a great resource you can utilize to help find an officiant who can read the sand ceremony script and officiate the other elements of your ceremony and other wedding traditions.

We chatted with Aimee Monihan, wedding planner and founder of Destination Occasions which has planned hundreds of weddings with sand ceremonies in the last 24 years and wedding planner Tracie Morris of You're The Bride for tips and recommendations as to where to buy the best sand ceremony kits for weddings.

In this article:

What Is a Sand Ceremony for a Wedding?

To put it simply, a wedding sand ceremony is when a couple pours sand individually into a combined vessel. However, "its symbolization revolves around the lifelong commitment the couple makes to one another and the joining of their two lives as one," explains Monihan. Many couples opt to have a sand ceremony at their wedding as opposed to a unity candle ceremony for safety reasons, especially if their wedding is outdoors as they won't have to worry as much about the flames blowing.

Unity Sand Ceremony Color Meanings

Many couples opt to use two colors when it comes to the sand colors used during a unity. However, the number of sand colors a couple chooses to incorporate into their unique ceremony will depend on personal preference and intended aesthetic. Morris notes that many of her clients often choose to combine their wedding colors or their favorite colors. Some couples opt to have each member pour the same colored sand from individual vessels into a larger one while others opt to use sand collected from the spot where they had their first date, got engaged or shared another special memory (if at a beach).

Whether you and your partner use one, two or more sand colors in your unity sand ceremony, choosing colors that are special to you as a couple is important as the individual sand colors don't inherently have any meaning. "The [sand] colors have no meaning, they are just palette preferences that are either cohesive with the wedding design, or their [the couple's] personalities," explains Monihan.

Unity Sand Ceremony Script

Your unity sand ceremony script will be one of the most important elements of your ceremony. That said, Monihan provided us with a script that she has used when officiating weddings incorporating the unity sand ceremony.

"______ and ______, today you join your separate lives together. The two separate bottles of sand symbolize your separate lives, separate families and separate set of friends. They represent all that you are and all that you'll ever be as an individual. They also represent your lives before today. As you pour the sand together, you will now join your lives to become a committed couple and new family. As your sand unites into a unique pattern, each grain of sand combining, you are uniting in this new bond in your own unique and special way."

How to Have a Unity Sand Ceremony at a Wedding

Now that we've covered sand ceremony basics, these are step-by-step directions you can follow if you're planning a wedding with a sand ceremony.

1. Decide Who Will Play a Role in Your Wedding Sand Ceremony

One of the most important steps when planning out the unity sand ceremony at your wedding is deciding who will participate. "Traditionally a sand ceremony is just the couple getting married with their celebrant overseeing and speaking about what a sand ceremony is," says Monihan. "However, depending on the family, some couples choose to involve their parents or children as an extended unifying of families together."

That said, it is important to have a discussion with your partner and/or your officiant about who you'd like to cast (if any other people) aside from you and your partner so you can provide those individuals with ample notice and enough time to practice how you'd like them to show up for you during this ceremony on your special day.

2. How long does the sand ceremony take?

A unity sand ceremony is typically short, taking just a few minutes (usually under five) depending on the length of the script used and whether or not you have any additional individuals aside from your partner participating in your sand unity ceremony.

3. Select When You'll Perform Your Sand Ceremony

When it comes to your wedding ceremony order, the sand ceremony should be completed after the couple exchanges their vows. Although the exact moment a couple may choose to participate in the unity sand ceremony may differ, "it should definitely be during the actual wedding ceremony itself," explains Monihan. Keep the duration of the ceremony in mind when deciding when you'll perform it.

Agree with your partner and officiant about the time within your ceremony that works best for you so you'll be aware of exactly when you're expected to start pouring the sand.

4. Secure Your Containers and Sand

Monihan notes that a traditional unity sand ceremony typically consists of three containers: two smaller vases (which sit on the outside) and one larger vase (that'll be placed in the middle). That said, you need to determine what will serve as the container from which you'll pour your sand, your partner's sand and the container that will collect the combined sand.

Although you can opt for regular vases purchased at a grocery store or flower shop, we'd recommend opting for containers with sentimental value such as those that have been passed down in your family, given to you as a special gift or held the first flowers given to you by your partner. With this in mind, it is a best practice for your containers or vases to be transparent or clear that way the sand can be easily seen flowing from the individual containers and then when combined in the larger one.

Make sure that the sand is already in your and your partner's smaller containers and placed on a small table or platform before your wedding ceremony so it is all ready to be poured out and you won't have to spend any extra time preparing or risk spilling any on your formal attire.

5. Start Your Unity Sand Ceremony With The Script

When the day of your wedding ceremony comes and it is time for you to initiate the sand ceremony, your officiant will read the sand ceremony script before you and your partner pour your individual vases filled with sand.

6. Pour Your Sand Simultaneously

When prompted to pour your sand, Monihan notes that both you and your partner should be pouring each of your sand from your smaller containers into the larger one simultaneously. Nonetheless, Morris adds that some couples choose to have each partner completely pour their sand in separately–either way, the meaning of their lives intertwining stays the same.

7. Save Your New Container

Once the sand from both of your containers is transferred into the larger one, you can either pour out your sand or close the vase with a cork–we'd recommend doing the latter. That way, you can maintain the sand in the large vase as a keepsake and reminder of your newly sealed union.

Where to Buy a Wedding Sand Ceremony Set

Finding the right wedding sand ceremony set can be overwhelming as there are many options available. If you don't know where to start when it comes to shopping for your vases, sand or both together as a set, we've compiled a couple of store recommendations to help get your search started.

  • The Knot Shop: It would be a missed opportunity if we didn't highlight our very own shop. The Knot Shop has a couple of great options you can consider for your unity sand ceremony.
  • Etsy: If a customized wedding sand ceremony set is what you seek, check out the offerings on Etsy. With hundreds of small shops on the platform, there are a variety of kits you can browse through and purchase, many of which can be engraved with your name and wedding date.
  • Amazon: Amazon is a suitable place to shop for wedding sand ceremony kits especially if you're in a time crunch as many options can be delivered quickly, especially for Amazon Prime members. And, Amazon has options to fit a variety of budgets and style preferences.
  • Michael's: Although Michael's is known for its crafting supplies, Michael's also offers sand ceremony kits, sands and vases. The selection at Michael's tends to be accompanied by higher price tags, though, so be sure to keep that in mind before browsing.
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