13 Alternative Ideas for Your Unity Ceremony

Finish your vow exchange with a more personalized twist on the unity candle.
by Andrea Fowler

A unity ceremony is a symbolic conclusion to your vows before exchanging the wedding rings. One of the most well-known ceremonies is the unity candle. Traditionally, the parents of the to-be-weds each light one candle, then the couple takes the candles and use them to light one large candle to represent the bringing together of two families. 

Modern couples have started putting their own twist on traditions like the unity ceremony, crafting meaningful representations of religion, heritage, family or something else entirely. Let our 13 favorite unique unity ceremonies inspire your own.

  1. Tree Planting Unity Ceremony

    Tree-planting unity ceremony
    Lauren Fair Photography

    Planting a sapling tree is perfect for the eco-friendly couple, and it's something that can grow along with your marriage. Take the sentiment to the next level by mixing soil from two different places that are meaningful to you.

    From: A Rustic Glam Wedding at Beech Spring Farm in Orrtanna, Pennsylvania

  2. Handmade Basket Exchange

    Nigerian traditional unity ceremony
    Hyde Park Photography

    As a nod to the groom's Nigerian heritage, Megan and Tunde's parents exchanged handmade woven baskets for their unity ceremony. Each of their parents received a set, while the newlywed's set reflected their new last name.

    From: A Traditional, Formal Wedding at the Winfield Inn in Kyle, Texas

  3. Family Puzzle Unity Ceremony

    Puzzle unity ceremony idea
    Allie Skylar Photography

    The bride's stepfather etched a picture of the bride, groom and the groom's 4-year-old son into a four-piece puzzle made of wood, and the new family assembled it together at the altar. 

    From: A Classic Wedding at Valley Green Inn in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  4. Painted Canvas Unity Ceremony

    Painting a canvas during a unity ceremony
    Namuun Bat Photography

    Create something new with your partner as a unique alternative for a unity ceremony. Painting a canvas that's decorated with your initials and wedding date will be a piece of art you can treasure forever.

    From: An Intimate, Natural Wedding at a Private Residence in Big Bear, California

  5. God's Knot Unity Ceremony

    God's Knot unity ceremony
    Chris Mclaughlin Photography

    This couple chose to honor their Christianity by having a God's Knot tying ceremony. The Bible verse at the top read: "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12." The white cord represented the bride, gold the groom, and purple God. 

    From: A Classic Mountaintop Wedding at Grand Lake Lodge in Grand Lake, Colorado

  6. Unity Tea Ceremony

    Unique unity wedding ceremony with tea
    Jayd Gardina Photography

    Jessica and Steven participated in a unity tea ceremony that was a mix of their Chinese heritage and the traditional candle ceremony. “We each chose teas that represented ourselves and then combined the two and drank it together,” Jessica says. 

    From: A Traditional Wedding at The Loeb Boathouse Central Park in New York City

  7. Blending White Wine and Rosé

    A white wine and rosè wine unity ceremony
    Beth Photography

    Mixing together two different wines symbolizes the hard work and nurturing your new marriage will need, similarly to how good wine needs years of hard work before producing a finished bottle.

    From: A Casual Destination Wedding at the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

  8. Blanket Unity Ceremony

    American Indian blanket unity ceremony
    Amber Vickery Photography

    To honor an American Indian tradition, Anna and Chris had a blanket unity ceremony, which symbolizes the comfort and love they'll bring each other. 

    From: A Natural, Traditional Wedding at Chisos Mountain Lodge in Big Bend National Park, Texas

  9. Sealing Away Love Letters

    Sealing love letters into a box for a unity ceremony
    onelove photography

    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. 

    From: A Modern Garden Wedding at Lombardi House in Los Angeles, California

  10. Gin Box Unity Ceremony

    Gin-box wedding unity ceremony
    Carolyn Scott Photography

    Instead of doing an anniversary wine box, Matthew and Scott opted for a different spirit. "Well, we’re more gin drinkers, so we sort of invented our own gin-box ceremony," Matthew says.

    From: A Modern Industrial Wedding at the Cotton Room in Durham, North Carolina

  11. Whiskey Pouring Unity Ceremony

    Whiskey pouring unity ceremony
    Love Me Do Photography

    Age your own wedding-day spirit in a barrel that's branded with your new monogram, like Katie and Jeff did. "We poured unaged corn whiskeys from upstate New York and Brooklyn into a two-liter barrel," Katie says.

  12. Anniversary Box Unity Ceremony

    Anniversary box unity ceremony
    Lacoursiere Photography

    Custom-design a treasure box (of sorts) to lock up on your wedding day. It can hold anything from special photos to notes or a couple bottles of wine to open on a designated anniversary.

    From: A Nautical Lakeside Wedding at Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, Minnesota

  13. Family Unity Candle

    Family unity candle ceremony
    Julian Kanz Photography

    If you or your partner has children, consider including them in the unity ceremony. The inclusion of other family members might be the perfect twist on a traditional ceremony.

    From: A Simple Destination Wedding at Villa Le Mura in Perugia, Italy

Up Next
Couple leaving the ceremony
A Traditional Wedding Ceremony Order of Events
Whether your service is civil or religious, it'll likely follow the same general outline.
by the knot3 min read