Wedding Rituals

Something Old, Something New

Purpose of Ritual: symbols of luck and connectivity of the past to blessings for the future

Location in Ceremony: Prepared before the service and carried during.

Tools/Preparation: Bride gathers artifacts to bring with her or wear to the service.Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a five pence in your shoe

Symbolism: Blue is considered a lucky color in Ireland. Something borrowed from a good friend is meant to symbolize friendship. A bridal handkerchief is usually something new for good luck and something old is the connection to family. The significance of five pence is that you will always be well off financially on your marriage.

Who is involved? This ritual is usually confined to the bride only

How is it Done?: Only in the preparation and wearing with no formal ceremony attached.

Script: No script is required unless an explanation is given (see symbolism) to the guests.

Butterfly Release

Purpose of Ritual:  According to an American Indian Legend – If anyone desires a wish to come true they must first capture a butterfly and whisper that wish to it. Since a butterfly can make no sound, the butterfly cannot reveal the wish to anyone but the Great Spirit who hears and sees all. In gratitude for giving the beautiful butterfly its freedom, the Great Spirit always grants the wish.

Location in Ceremony:     Just before the vows

Tools/Preparation:  An aerated box of butterflies. (Butterfly farm – Bonville NSW)

Symbolism:  According to legend, by making a wish and giving the butterfly its freedom, the wish will be taken to the heavens and be granted.

Who is involved?    Celebrant and couple

How is it Done?: Reading and explanation by celebrant before couple make a wish then open box together releasing the butterflies

Script:  We have gathered to grant this couple all our best wishes and are about to set these butterflies free in trust that all these wishes will be granted. You have given me wings with which to fly. Now I breathe in deep and spread them wide as we lift off from the silken petals into the wind where the butterflies glide.

Dove Release

Purpose of Ritual:  White doves are the symbol of Love, Peace and Hope. They pair for life, and at the end of each day they return to the same home for the night.

Location in Ceremony: Just prior to vows

Tools/Preparation:  A cage with 2 white doves

Symbolism:  White doves are the symbol of Love, Peace and Hope. They pair for life, and at the end of each day They return to the same home for the night.

Who is involved? Celebrant and couple or best man.

How is it Done?: Celebrant offers explanation and readings before couple open cage and release doves.

Script: As John and Angela release these doves, we ask you, their family and friends, to witness this very symbolic gesture, which heralds the beginning of their new life together.

Angela and John we wish you love, that, like the doves, continues to soar. We wish you peace as you work together to develop a home and we join in your hope for a long and happy marriage. Like a married couple, the doves are not obliged to be by each other’s side for every hour of every day. In the evening, however, whether their day’s journey has been together or apart, both doves return to the same home for the night. John and Angela, as the doves fly they will carry our wishes for peace, love and hope for your future life together.

Poem – Winged Flight
From today this winged love begins its flight
across the skies of time.
It will fly above the bounds of earth
and beyond the edge of now,
for when hearts and minds come
together as one,
the union takes mere mortals
to places never been.
The flight of love will allow you to
challenge your wildest dreams.
Side by side you will explore the
endless possibilities of your shared world
And your journey will soar and fly
with bearings sound and direction true.
May your winds be favourable
and your skies remain clear
as you guide your shared flight
towards the rising sun, for in the dawn of each new day
you will find the light to guide your way.
May you enjoy your journey
along the way, and may you feel
the gentle guiding presence of others
who share the skies with you,
the place of freedom,
adventure and endless hope.

Rose Ceremony

Purpose of Ritual:  a reminder of expressed love and forgiveness

Location in Ceremony:     After the vows and ring exchange.

Tools/Preparation:  2 red roses

Symbolism:  a symbol of love

Who is involved?    Celebrant plus bride and groom

How is it Done?:    In the Rose Ceremony, the Bride and Groom give each other a Rose. Two roses are all that is necessary.

Script:                   “Your gift to each other for your wedding today has been your wedding rings – which shall always be an outward demonstration of your vows of love and respect; and a public showing of your commitment to each other.
You now have what remains the most honourable title, which may exist between a man and a woman – the title of “husband” and “wife.” For your first gift as husband and wife, that gift will be a single rose.  In the past, the rose was considered a symbol of love and a single rose always meant only one thing – it meant the words “I love you.” So it is appropriate that for your first gift – as husband and wife – that gift would be a single rose.  Please exchange your first gift as husband and wife.
In some ways it seems like you have not done anything at all. Just a moment ago you were holding one small rose – and now you are holding one small rose. In some ways, a marriage ceremony is like this. In some ways, tomorrow is going to seem no different than yesterday. But in fact today, just now, you both have given and received one of the most valuable and precious gifts of life – one I hope you always remember – the gift of true and abiding love within the devotion of marriage.
_________ and _____________, where ever you make your home in the future – pick one very special location for roses; so that on each anniversary of this truly wonderful occasion you both may take a rose to that spot both as a recommitment to your marriage – and a recommitment that this will be a marriage based upon love.
In every marriage there are times where it is difficult to find the right words.
It is easiest to hurt who we most love. It is easiest to be most hurt by who we most love.
It might be difficult some time to words to say “I am sorry” or “I forgive you”; “I need you” or “I am hurting”. If this should happen, if you simply can not find these words, leave a rose at that spot which both of you have selected – for that rose than says what matters most of all and should overpower all other things and all other words.
That rose says the words: “I still love you.”
The other should accept this rose for the words which cannot be found, and remember the love and hope that you both share today.
__________ and ________, if there is anything you remember of this marriage ceremony, it is that it was love that brought you here today, it is only love which can make it a glorious union, and it is by love which your marriage shall endure.”

Unity Bowl Ritual

Purpose of Ritual:  This tradition is a way to honour multiple generations of the bride‘s and groom’s families, and/or a way to include any children that the couple may have.

Location in Ceremony: Prior to vows

Tools/Preparation:  Flat coloured marbles of mixed colours plus a suitable glass bowl.

Symbolism:  Recognition of the influence and generational ties that exist in families and a desire to honour and respect them.

Who is involved?    Celebrant, couple and wider family

How is it Done?:    The couple selects a glass bowl they would enjoy having in their new home. Each grandparent, parent, stepparent, godparent and so on is given a bud vase filled with a different colour of flat coloured marbles, with the separate colours signifying the individuality of each family member.
The grandparents pour their separate colours into the Unity Bowl as the foundation of the wedding of the bride and groom. Each set of parents does the same. After each set of grandparents, parents and so on have added their marbles to the mix, the celebrant stirs the colours with her hand, creating new mosaics each time.  Siblings and other special friends may be invited to participate, as well.
Then the bride and groom add their two colours, and I mix the Unity Bowl contents again. If there are children, they add theirs after the bride and groom, as we are honouring each generation.  Ultimately, the family members are reminded that each of them, in their own way, has coloured the lives of the bride and groom. Therefore, each has developed specific tastes, goals, morals, choices…and thus the bride knows she has found her perfect groom, and the groom knows he has found his perfect bride.
Finally, it is noted that, just as the mosaic has continually changed, so is change the most dependable constant in the couple’s married life. They are called on to embrace change, find what can be learned from each change, and to put their own hands in and stir up the design in the bowl with every change they encounter.
Thus they get to keep a memento placed in their Unity Bowl by all the family members and other loved ones who were present at their wedding–an emotional value that always grows with time–and also a reminder that change is always beautiful, as long as we keep the right perspective that we can always learn from change.

Script:                   See above

Warming of the Rings

Purpose of Ritual:  Family express their blessing and hopes for the couple

Location in Ceremony:     After vows and before ring exchange

Tools/Preparation:  None

Symbolism:  Simple blessing or prayers for couple

Who is involved?    All close family members

How is it Done?:    During this ceremony Penny and David will exchange rings. They have entrusted the keeping of the rings with David’s niece, Carina. These rings are the visible signs of their commitment to one another.
As this ceremony proceeds we ask that the families of Penny and David take part in the warming of the rings. We ask that you, their family and friends wish them health and happiness, and all that is noble and good in life.
Carina will now pass these rings to the families of Penny and David and I ask that each family member hold them for a moment, warm them with your love, then pass them on to the next person. I ask that all present voice a silent wish or prayer for this couple, for their marriage and their future together.
When these rings come back to Carina they will contain, in their precious metal, that which is more precious, that which is priceless: your love and hope and pledge of support for this union.

Script:                   As above

Handfasting Ceremony

“It was an ancient Celtic custom that a man take a maid as his wife and keep her for the space of a year without marrying her; and if she pleased him all the while, he married her at the end of the year and legitimatized her children; but if he did not love her, he returned her to her parents.”

In later times of Christendom a young couple entered in to a handsfasting ceremony conducted by the village elder to publicly state their union together until such time as a priest came to the village, which was only about once a year, who would then legitimize the marriage.

In more modern times the handsfasting is done as a symbolic representation that two lives are now willingly bound together as one life.


Bind hands with ribbon.


Now you are bound one to the other
With a tie not easy to break.
Take the time of binding
To learn what you need to know –
To grow in wisdom and love.
That your marriage will be strong
That your love will last
In this life and beyond.

Sand Ceremony

The sand ceremony symbolises the blending into a new family, where 2 individual lives come together as one, and the result is both harmonious and beautiful as they share all things together as one.
Couple (and their children if any) pour different coloured sand, choosing a colour that represents the individual, and pour them together into 1 larger glass vial so that the sand blends and forms one beautiful and harmonious image representing their union and new more vibrant appearance to the world before them.


Where 2 individual prelit candles are used to light one larger candle before extinguishing the individual candles. (Two separate lives now one). Candles can also be lit at the commencement of the service to represent those loved ones not able to attend the wedding (most commonly used for a deceased family member).

Presentation of a Sword

The sword historically is a symbol of power and wealth and is not commonly used in wedding services today as it can be seen as symbol of dominance that the groom presumes over his bride, however in ancient times (middle ages) it was more a symbol of offered protection. In the dark ages as well as the Babylonian period, weapons were exchanged as part of a covenant ritual as a symbolic way of saying, “all my strength I now give to you. If ever you have need of protection I will always provide it.”

The couple would then exchange weapons such as a bow or dagger for a sword. In modern ceremonies it is customary to reverse the order and for the bride to present her groom with a sword and for the groom to provide his bride with a dagger.
A variation is for the celebrant to dub the knelling couple with a sword and then present the weapons to them stating they now have a commitment to care for and protect each other.

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