Adding unique wedding traditions to your wedding ceremony is a great way to put an extra special touch to the day. Your wedding day is going to be unique no matter what because it is the only one with the two of you in it! However, a ritual or traditional ceremony can add depth to your wedding day. From deciding whether to do a first look to adding more symbolic rituals, incorporating special details chosen by the two of you will make the day truly remarkable. Below is a list of unique wedding traditions and practices that you can include to commemorate your union.
An ancient Celtic ceremony practiced for centuries, hand fasting involves tying the hands of the bride and groom together. This symbolizes the couple’s unity and commitment to one another. Using a pretty ribbon or braided cord, the ceremony is an easy one to add that speaks volumes.
Similar to handfasting but something that the couple does together instead of having done to them, is a knot tying ritual. A fisherman’s knot is a good choice for this ceremony because it is strong and dependable, able to weather any storms. In fact, the fisherman’s knot only gets more sturdy when put under pressure, which is a great symbol for a marriage. During the ceremony, the couple will collaborate on tying the knot. Using a braided cord ‘knot’ only will make for good photos and videos, but you have a memento to display in your home.
A traditional Native American ritual, sage smudging is used to purify and cleanse participants and spaces, such as homes or other buildings. A tightly bound sage stick is lit and when it is smoking, the stick is then waved around the participant to bathe them in the aromatic smoke. A couple can take turns smudging each other or having another wedding goer smudge the two together. The smoke is considered helpful in clearing negative energy and freeing the couple up to move on in their life together.
If you’ve spent any time at music or art festivals or in the yoga community, you have seen henna tattoos. Originally, the intricate designs and patterns of henna tattoos were part of the pre-wedding preparations in India. Brides in India would gather with their girlfriends and have a henna tattoo spa day. The art will typically last for 2 weeks. If you have Indian heritage or are dedicated yogis, this can be a great visual to add to your ceremony whether done before or as part of the ceremony itself.
Sawing a log
In this case, this is the opposite of taking a nap. A unique wedding tradition in Germany called Baumstamm Sägen is performed after the wedding vows. The newly married couple uses a two handed saw and proceeds to saw the log in half! The symbolism of this ceremony is to give the couple their first obstacle to overcome as a team, and giving them confidence in being able to face life difficulties together.
Hand or Foot washing
A hand washing ceremony is used within Buddhist, Native American and many other cultures. The ceremony focuses on leaving the past behind and entering into a new phase of life cleansed of past mistakes and shortcomings. Hand washing is an easy yet memorable symbol to incorporate into a ceremony.
However, if you have your wedding next to a stream or a gorgeous mountain cradled lake, adding a foot washing ceremony is a great symbolic ritual to include. Foot washing has been used by many cultures, but is predominately viewed as a Christian ritual symbolizing humility and a willingness to serve one another.
Tree Planting Ceremony
Also related to trees, but on a more environmental note, the couple can plant a tree to symbolize their relationship growing over time. Some couples choose to pot a tree together at the ceremony and then transplant it into their yard once they return home. It could also be an option to plant a tree at your ceremony site depending on the land management regulations. If you choose this route, make sure you are selecting a tree or plant that is indigenous and plant it in a location where trees are naturally occurring.
There are two takes on this custom that occurs within multiple cultures. In German weddings, guests smash porcelain dishes on the ground which serves to ward any evil from the newlywed couple. Germans seem to be particularly fond of having couples work together (see the log sawing tradition above!). After the guests make a mess, the newlyweds clean up the mess as a team proving once again that they are able to work together!
A typical Jewish wedding ceremony will include the newlyweds stomping on a glass. There are many different interpretations of this ritual. Some say that the number of pieces represent the years of happiness. Some say it is symbolic of the temple destruction in Jerusalem. But ultimately the tradition boils down to the Jewish belief that happiness and suffering coexist.
This one is particularly beautiful! A traditional Mexican ritual, a garland of flowers and rosary beads is looped over and around the couples shoulders in a figure eight. The figure eight formation is also known as an infinity symbol. The garland lasso or lazo symbolizes the couple’s union being for eternity!
A time capsule is a fun tradition for marking a milestone day. You can have guests include things as well! However, a cool variation on this idea is a wine box ceremony. The couple selects a special bottle of wine, perhaps a bottle of the same vintage that they drank on a day that held significance to them. The couple write love letters to each other and place them in a decorative box with the bottle of wine. They can select an anniversary to open the box and read the letters.
There are so many different types of unity ceremonies, from lighting a unity candle to pouring sand into a container. A unique spin on that theme is an Australian tradition, where newlyweds put a unity bowl in a prominent location in their home. As their family comes to visit, they leave colorful stones to represent how the family brings color to the couple’s life. As part of the wedding ceremony or reception, a couple could easily incorporate this concept, allowing their guests to participate in the ceremony.
We hope you have found some helpful ideas for how to include unique wedding traditions into your wedding day! Are there any that you know of that you think we should include? A final tip, sometimes families have special traditions that have been passed down through the family. Check with your family to find out if you have any unique wedding traditions in your heritage!