Although a wedding sand ceremony, also known as a unity sand ceremony, is not a new idea, it has increased in popularity in recent years as couples move away from traditional rituals such as the unity candle ceremony.
The origins of the ceremony are unclear, but it is thought that it was started either by Hawaiians or Native Americans, and that it symbolises the inseparable nature of marriage. Originally, the bride and groom would each have simply picked up a handful of sand and thrown it into the wind. The grains of sand would have become combined, and would have been impossible to separate, symbolising the couple coming together in marriage.
The modern wedding sand ceremony is usually part of the main wedding ceremony, often taking place just after the couple have been pronounced husband and wife. It is supposed to be their first task together as a married couple.
How a simple wedding sand ceremony works
Here are the four steps to a basic sand ceremony
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- A small table is placed at the ceremony location with a clear glass vase in the centre. This is often accessorised or engraved with the couple’s initials or names and the wedding date.
- Two smaller vases containing different coloured sands are placed either side of the central vase, one for the bride and one for the groom. These sands can be in the wedding colours.
- During the wedding sand ceremony, the couple take turns to pour sand from their individual vases into the central vase, creating a layered effect.
- Finally they pour the remainder of the sand into the vase at the same time so that the two colours combine and can’t be separated, symbolising their unity in marriage. A poem or reading can be recited at the same time as the sand is poured.
Three variations on a wedding sand ceremony
A religious variation of the sand ceremony is possible, where the central vase is one third filled with white sand before the ceremony. This represents God and his role as a base for the couple’s happy marriage.
A parents’ variation of the sand ceremony is a great way to involve the couple’s parents. Each set of parents has a vase with different coloured sand. The parents take turns to pour their sand into the central vase before the couple, creating a layered effect. This symbolises their support of the couple in marriage.
A children’s variation of the sand ceremony is perfect if the couple have children together already, or have children from a previous relationship. Each child has a small vase with coloured or white sand, and they pour this into the central vase just before the couple finish pouring in their sand. This provides a layer where the couple’s and children’s sands are mixed. The children can then pour the rest of their sand on top of the couple’s sand.
Wedding sand ceremonies are ideal for outdoor or informal weddings, and work especially well for beach weddings where some of the sand can come directly from the venue giving it even more significance. If you aren’t getting married at the beach, wedding sand ceremony kits can be ordered with just about any colour sand. The central vase can be sealed with wax once the ceremony is over, and makes a wonderful keepsake of your wedding day.