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18 Heartfelt Wedding Unity Ideas to Add to Your Ceremony

From planting a tree to making guacamole.
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
by Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Associate Editor
  • Sarah is an Associate Digital Editor for The Knot, with special focuses in fashion, pop culture and wedding trends.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated Apr 06, 2021

There are plenty of ways to make your wedding ceremony special, from personalized vows to a thoughtful music playlist. But if you're looking for a heartfelt way to customize the formal portion of your big day, consider including a unity ceremony to honor your marriage. You might be familiar with common wedding unity ideas, like lighting a candle or pouring sand, but you aren't limited to these options. In fact, there are plenty of creative wedding unity ceremonies that'll personalize your big day. Whether you're looking for a cultural practice or a unique idea that shows off your personality, we're here to help. We answer the most common questions about wedding unity ceremonies below. Plus, we've also rounded up 18 modern wedding unity ideas that'll make your ceremony unforgettable. 

In this article: 

What Is a Wedding Unity Ceremony? 

A wedding unity ceremony is a symbolic act included in a wedding ceremony that honors a couple's commitment to each other. It's common to include a unity ceremony after saying vows and before exchanging wedding rings, but you can weave it into the schedule at any time. Some wedding unity ideas are pulled from cultural traditions, like a Greek Stefana crown exchange or a Hindu Hasta Milap ceremony. A cultural unity ceremony is a meaningful way to incorporate your heritage in your nuptials, especially if you and your partner are looking to fuse your religions or backgrounds. 

A wedding unity ceremony doesn't have to be religious though. Now, more couples are finding creative ways to represent their union that feels modern and personal. From planing succulents to blending wine, the sky's the limit when it comes to unique wedding unity ideas. In fact, the more personal your unity ceremony, the better—guests will always remember the special way you and your S.O. honored your partnership. 

Do You Need a Wedding Unity Ceremony? 

You might wonder if you need a unity ceremony at your wedding. Ultimately, the choice is yours. While you don't have to incorporate a unity ceremony after your vows, it's a thoughtful way to honor your commitment. Plus, most wedding unity ideas include a special keepsake (like a plant or a wedding day time capsule) that you can enjoy after the big day. 

If you're not sure what kind of wedding unity ceremony is right for you, work with your officiant to find a symbolic ritual that fits your vision. Whether you want to include a religious or cultural ceremony, or you have an idea for something totally unique, they'll help you weave it into the timeline.

Our Favorite Wedding Unity Ideas

If you're searching for unique wedding unity ideas, we've rounded up 18 fresh options to include in your ceremony. While you might be familiar with traditional unity ceremonies, like lighting a candle or pouring sand, these modern alternatives will make your ceremony unforgettable. 

Tree-Watering Unity Ceremony 

Plant parents, take note. If you and your S.O. are aspiring horticulturists, consider having a tree-planting ceremony at your wedding. This unity ceremony alternative is especially appropriate for nature-lovers or those looking to brighten up their home with a new plant. After planting and watering the tree during your ceremony, it'll grow and flourish in your newlywed nest alongside your marriage. 

Log-Cutting Unity Ceremony 

How about cutting a log at your wedding? This unique unity ceremony idea is an old German wedding tradition that serves as the first obstacle for newlyweds to tackle together. In front of family and friends, couples must rely on teamwork and determination to saw through a log together. While it may not be the most subdued wedding unity idea, it's a fun alternative for couples looking to shake up their ceremony with something memorable. 

Guacamole Unity Ceremony 

Guac, anyone? There are no rules that say your wedding unity ceremony has to be tied to religion. If you're looking for unique unity ceremony ideas, consider whipping up your favorite snack in front of your guests. As you and your S.O. mix the ingredients, ask your officiant to share why this food is special to you. Perhaps you enjoyed chips and guac on your first date, or maybe every Tuesday is taco night at your place. Regardless of the reason, guests will enjoy seeing you do something that's special to your relationship. (Psst: Don't forget to have a bag of tortilla chips nearby to enjoy your first dip as newlyweds.) 

Succulent-Planting Unity Ceremony 

Not everyone is born with a green thumb. If a tree-planting ceremony feels like too big of a commitment, opt for a more manageable plant instead, like a succulent. Task your wedding planner or a family member with setting up planting tools, dirt and a pot before the ceremony. Then, after sharing your wedding vows, mark your new beginning by planting a shrub together. 

Bonfire Unity Ceremony 

Perhaps a unity candle ceremony isn't bold enough for you. If you really want to wow your crowd, start a bonfire instead. Perfect for an outdoor wedding, this unique unity idea will certainly make your nuptials stand out. Create a designated fire pit before the ceremony, and signify your love by sparking a bonfire. This is an exceptionally great idea if you dream of serving S'mores at your wedding reception.

Knot-Tying Ceremony 

Getting married is called "tying the knot" for a reason. If you're looking for a symbolic wedding ceremony idea, literally tie a knot with your spouse to signify your bond. We recommend using a fisherman's knot to tie a piece of rope—not only is it the strongest knot, it gets tighter with pressure, making it a beautiful representation of your relationship. Spend a few days practicing your knot-tying skills before the ceremony to impress your loved ones. 

Handfasting Ceremony 

Handfasting ceremonies are rooted in Celtic tradition. In this ancient ritual, a couple's hands are tied together to symbolize the binding of two lives. While it's commonly seen in Pagan or Wiccan ceremonies, handfasting can be included in any religious or secular wedding

Stefana Crown Unity Ceremony 

If you or your partner are Greek, you might want to participate in a Stefana crown unity ceremony. This religious practice is often included in Greek Orthodox weddings. After a marriage service, the officiant (or a family member) places joint Stefana crowns on the couple. Both headpieces are tied together with a ribbon, which is blessed during the ceremony. The crowns represent the couple's welcome into God's kingdom.

Lasso Ceremony 

Common in Hispanic, Filipino and Latin cultures, the Catholic lasso ceremony involves a cord, flower garland or oversized rosary that's draped over the couple's shoulders. The lasso can be placed by the officiant, or the couple can choose "lasso godparents" (another married couple they respect) to lay the cord. While you can buy a new lasso for your wedding date, some are passed down through families to serve as "something borrowed." It's encouraged to use a special draping technique that begins on one person's shoulder and crosses over to the other's, creating a figure-eight shape. This symbolizes the couple's commitment to each other in front of their family, friends and God. 

Hasta Milap Ceremony 

If you're planning a Hindu wedding ceremony, consider including a traditional Hasta Milap fastening. In this Indian wedding tradition, the couple's wedding clothes (like a scarf or a sari) are tied together over their hands. This signifies the meeting of two hearts and souls. After, family members scatter rose petals or rice grains over the newlyweds. 

Tea Unity Ceremony

Unique unity wedding ceremony with tea
Jayd Gardina Photography

A unity tea ceremony is a frequent tradition in Chinese weddings, and there are a few ways to modify it for your big day. Traditionally, the couple serves tea to their parents and in-laws in a separate room before the ceremony to symbolize the union of two families. This is a great option if you're looking for something a bit more private. Or, if you want to include this wedding unity idea in your ceremony, pour two cups of tea to sip after your vows.

Wine Blend Unity Ceremony

Mixing two different wines symbolizes the hard work and nurturing your new marriage will need, just like how good wine needs years of hard work before producing a finished bottle. After making your custom blend, take a sip and toast to your future as a married couple. You can also buy your favorite bottle and seal it in a wine box to be opened (and enjoyed) on a future wedding anniversary.

Sealing Love Letters

Write love letters to each other before your wedding day, then craft a unity ceremony that gives you a few minutes to seal them in a special box that can be opened during a milestone anniversary. Not only is this an intimate moment for your friends and family to witness, it's an activity you can look forward to further down the road in your marriage.

Liquor Box Unity Ceremony

Instead of doing an anniversary wine box, consider storing a different spirit during the ceremony. It is your wedding, after all, so you get to call the shots. Whether you and your partner love gin, whiskey, rum or tequila, invest in a nice bottle to drink on a special anniversary.

Hand-Washing Unity Ceremony 

Yes, washing your hands during your wedding ceremony is a thing—and it's rooted in symbolism. A hand-washing unity ceremony signifies a clean beginning to married life. Buy a basin and a pitcher, and pour water over your S.O.'s hands and have them repeat for you. You can also ask your officiant to pour water over your hands to wash them at the same time. 

Ribbon Binding Ceremony 

Consider this a modern take on the traditional handfasting ritual. Instead of tying your hands together with rope, use colorful ribbons instead. Not only is this a great way to work in your color palette, it's a modern approach to a traditional wedding practice. 

Sand Unity Ceremony 

You've probably heard of a unity sand ceremony before, as it's one of the most popular ideas out there. After exchanging vows, partners will pour two separate containers of sand into one, symbolizing the blending of two lives. If you're looking for unity ceremony ideas to complete with your children, pouring sand is a safe activity for them to participate in too. Since each member of your family will have their own color, the result will be a heartfelt representation of each person. Display it in your home after the wedding day to look back on this sentimental unity ceremony. 

Candle Unity Ceremony 

Perhaps one of the most common unity ceremony ideas is to light a candle. This usually involves both partners lighting one large candle from two smaller sticks. To make this unity ceremony even more special, ask your family members to light the smaller candlesticks before passing them to you and your S.O.

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