Wedding traditions and rituals, but with a modern twist

Posted by in Auckland Celebrant Blog, Wedding Ceremonies, Wedding Ceremony Ideas, Wedding Ceremony Tips

Wedding traditions and rituals, but with a modern twist

Throughout your wedding day there are numerous significant moments. However it’s the ceremony that really is the most anticipated part of the entire celebration. This is where wedding traditions and rituals could be included.

During the wedding planning process almost every couple I meet consider ways to make their wedding unique in some way. Or couples want to do something different (usually from other weddings they have attended) so their ceremony is memorable. Understandably couples approach this in different ways. Some will create/make/build props for their theme, and others dress up in theme (such as Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings).

But what else can you do to add “something” to your wedding ceremony?  Consider including old ceremony traditions and rituals but with a modern twist to complement your ceremony, while adding a touch of elegance to your celebration.

1. Sand Ceremony

I have done a number of sand ceremonies and they really are beautiful!  What is a sand ceremony? You have two glass containers, each filled with different coloured sand. One colour represents you, and the other your partner.  The couple pours their jar into a third, empty jar, representing the unity. The symbolism of this ritual is very powerful. Each grain of sand retains its own colour, just as each person remains an individual and themselves – when grains of sand become mixed they cannot be separated.

Want a modern twist on the sand ceremony?

I have seen a couple that loved the beach combine shells, sand and sea water, instead of just sand. Another idea is to get some more jars and different coloured sand. Ask some of your wedding party or family to pour their jar at the same time as you.

Still keeping with the outdoors theme, one option is to together plant a tree into a large pot and then both water the plant. This is symbolic as marriage requires constant nurture and nourishment and the tree is a living reminder of the growing love you have for one another.

2. Handfasting Ritual

Handfasting Ritual in wedding traditions and ritualsHandfasting is an old pagan ritual that couples in the modern day have been adapting this for their own wedding ceremonies. Couples bind their hands together with a ribbon to symbolize the joining of their lives.

Interestingly Prince William and Princess Kathryn chose to have a handfasting ritual in their wedding ceremony.

Want a modern twist on the Handfasting ritual?

Instead of ribbon why not use fabric with some meaning such a baby blanket, a piece of clothing from a significant occasion in your life or during your relationship.

3. Unity Candles

Unity candle rituals can be found in Christian ceremonies. However today many non-religious couples include this in their ceremonies. The ritual starts when the bride’s parents light a candle, and then the groom’s parents light another candle. Then together, the bride and groom together use these two candles to light a third, larger candle of their own. This symbolism represents the joining of two families in a love that burns as brightly as a flame.

Want a modern twist on lighting a unity candle?

Unity Candles in Wedding traditions and ritualsStart with one flame and then one by one pass the flame to all of your wedding party and guests. Have an unlit candle passed out to each adult guest prior to the ceremony starting.

To start the candle ceremony, the bride and groom light a single candle together. Using their candle they light their bridesmaids and groomsmen’s candles (and the couple’s parents if they are near by). They then pass the flame along to light the rest of the guests candles.  The symbolism is very powerful because it’s a group sharing love as bright as a flame. Something to consider – the dim light of candles looks absolutely spectacular during an evening wedding!

4. Love Letter Wine Box Ceremony

Love Letter Wine Box Ceremony Wedding traditions and ritualsA love letter exchange is a romantic ceremony that will serve as a lasting reminder of the commitments made to one another. Prior to your wedding day each of the couple writes a heartfelt letter to the other encapsulating your thoughts and feelings, why you feel in love with them, your hopes and dreams for the future, etc. These letters are locked away in a wine box or custom made box during the wedding ceremony to be opened and revealed several years into your marriage – choose either 5, 10 or 15 years.  A bottle of Whiskey, Scotch or Tequila can easily be switched out for the wine. You could also include a CD of your favourite music or photos.

During the ceremony the sealed letters and wine is put in the box and gets nailed shut (4x nails), or locked with keys (2x keys). The Bride and Groom each hammer in a nail, then each choose a member of your wedding party to step up and nail the box shut. After your wedding, keep the box in a prominent place to act as a constant visual reminder of your love and commitment to each other.

5. Rose Ceremony

Rose Ceremony in Wedding traditions and ritualsThe Rose Ceremony symbolizes the couple’s giving and receiving of love for each other right through their married life, and reminding them to forgive each other during difficult times. This is often done after the exchanging of wedding vows and is the first gift the couple gives each other after they are husband and wife.

There are a few slight variations on the rose ceremony.

  • Some brides and grooms will present a single rose—a symbol of love—to their mothers early in the ceremony as a gesture of love and gratitude.
  • Mothers of the bride and groom can be invited up to present their child with a rose.

Rose Presentation to Honour Mothers

Prior to the ceremony starting, the couple places two roses (you can use any type of flowers here!) with a ribbon tied around them and on the ceremonial table at the front. This type of ceremony usually takes places after the celebrant’s welcome. The couple will present their mums with the rose while the celebrant tells the mothers what an important part they have played in their lives, etc. You can imagine what a touching surprise this is for the mums to be included in the wedding ceremony!


If you would like to incorporate an old or new tradition or ritual into your wedding ceremony get in touch with Auckland Celebrant to discuss your wedding day.

Glenys xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.