February 7, 2022

When you hear the term “unity ceremony” you might think of the traditional lighting of a candle, or a more recent trend of pouring two colors of sand into a jar. Maybe you cringed a little. You might think they sound a little dated. Silly, even. You might not see the point. After being a wedding photographer for over ten years, I’ve seen some really creative and unique unity ceremonies that are personalized to the couple and am happy to share with you my complete guide to unique unity ceremonies that will leave you inspired by a more modern take on this old tradition!

What is a Unity Ceremony?

A unity ceremony at a wedding is a symbolic ritual that the couple partakes in during their wedding ceremony. The act is almost always a physical representation of the two individuals becoming one married unit in their marriage, and sometimes includes outside loved ones and family members.

The Origin of Unity Ceremonies

A variety of unity ceremonies have existed for centuries in many different cultural contexts. One unity ceremony that is still very popular with Catholic Latinx and Filipino cultures is the Lasso or Lazo, which dates back to the seventh century. The lighting of a “unity candle” is a relatively new custom in wedding ceremonies, but first became popular in the second half of the 20th century in American Christian weddings. Handfasting is perhaps the most ancient of unity ceremonies, dating back to Celtic traditions in 7000 BCE. Unity ceremonies are one creative aspect that seems to get new twists every so often these days. There’s no right or wrong way to signify coming together as two souls unity as one! Here are some of my favorite unique unity ceremonies you could consider for your wedding:

Unique Unity Ceremony Ideas



I’ve seen a few couples now choose to create a painting for their unity ceremony. Your new last name could be scored out in white or clear wax (you could use a crayon!) or you could put on a sticker to peel off after, and then go over the canvas with watercolor paints or drip acrylics in your wedding colors. This is a fun activity for a creative couple, and gives you a keepsake piece to hang up after the wedding day is done! This unity ceremony is also great for a couple with children or family that they want to involve in the ceremony as it could easily be adapted to include more than two people.

Vanessa & Jared | Elopement on the Colorado National Monument


As mentioned, this Celtic tradition goes back into the BCE years. The history of the act alone may bring couples to decide on this unique unity ceremony. While literally “tying the knot” the materials of your cords and how many you use can be customized to you. Use sentimental or meaningful cloth or ribbon and do some research about the best methods. I’ve seen a way of holding the cords that allows you to slip apart and tie the knot in one fell swoop!

6 Unique Unity Ceremonies

Building a Cairn

If you collect a lot of rocks this unique unity ceremony might be perfect for you. Whether you stack each rock with a vow attached, or simply build the cairn together after the vows are exchanged (within Leave No Trace principles, of course), this is a fun way to seal the deal and use those meaningful rocks you’ve collected throughout your travels together. Just be sure to take the cairn with you, as they are usually harmful to leave up!

6 Unique Unity Ceremonies

Sharing a Joint or Taking a Shot

If it’s legal in your state, sharing a joint or taking a shot is a fun way to celebrate coming together as one and officially promising to spend your lives together. Plus it can take the stress off for pictures afterward! Be sure to celebrate responsibly and legally, and have fun with it. I’ve seen couples bring a little shooter for every guest at their micro wedding to join in the celebratory shot together, or the couple themselves enjoying something themselves, too.

Unique wedding ceremony - pouring hometown water sources together

Pouring Water

This couple are river rats and chose to bring water from her hometown river and the Colorado River (his hometown and their shared home now), and each poured their waters into an empty jar to signify the two of them uniting in marriage. 

6 Unique Unity Ceremonies

Getting Tattoos

When couples ask if I’ll come to the tattoo parlor with them after the ceremony, nothing makes me happier. Is there anything more unifying than matching tattoos on your wedding day?! I’ve seen couples get their rings tattooed, matching tattoos, tattoos of the date or coordinates of their wedding/elopement, and just honorary tattoos on their wedding day and all of them are so meaningful and cool. 


Planting a Tree

Getting a tree or a long-living plant that you can grow together is a fun and unique unity ceremony for your wedding. Give it a water as a ceremonial unity moment, then take it home to plant somewhere more permanent in your home and watch it grow as your love grows.

Unique Unity Ceremonies: Coffee and Creamer

Coffee & Creamer

For a coffee-loving couple who enjoy peaceful moments with a warm (or cold!) drink in the morning — maybe you’re getting married at sunrise even — a coffee and creamer unity ceremony is one of the most unique unity ceremonies you could choose! At this wedding, Susan poured coffee into the glass carafe and Kevin followed by pouring in the creamer and stirring it up. The two shared in a few sips during the ceremony and finished their glasses afterward!

Lighting a Fire

For a couple that loves camping, gathering around a fire, or just loves smores, building a fire is a fun unity ceremony (and one that could be expanded to include loved ones too!) Whether you want a miniature fire for the ceremony of it, or you go all out building a full bonfire (each loved one present contributing a log perhaps?) this is a fun unity ceremony with lots of ways to customize it.

Combining Glass To Create Something New

This couple opted to have a locally made art piece incorporated in their unity ceremony as a keepsake from their wedding weekend. They each chose a color of broken glass to fill their canister, and during their wedding ceremony their parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, and cousins all took turns coming to the front to pour some glass into the combined vase. The next day they planned to take the vase of glass – now shards combined inextricably – to a local glassmaker there in Estes Park to have a unique art piece created from the contents. Such a cool concept and a wonderful keepsake to remember such a special day.

Josh & Michelle's Mesa Park Vineyards Wedding | amanda.matilda.photography

Sealing an Anniversary Box

I’ve seen a few couples now opt for a wine-related unity ceremony for their Palisade wine country wedding. Most commonly, the couple selects a meaningful or favorite bottle of wine (often from the winery they’re getting married at), and a wooden box that it fits in. During the unity ceremony they will take turns hammering in nails to seal up the box. The box can be opened at a certain anniversary, to reminisce on the wedding day! I’ve seen a similar ceremony with a bottle of whiskey or even love notes, too — take your pick!

Drew & Caitlin | Two Rivers Winery Wedding

Braiding Ropes

This unity ceremony is more toward the traditional side of things, but is a cute idea nonetheless. For Christian couples, the meaning behind this ceremony comes a verse in the Bible that says, “A cord with three strands is not easily broken.” In a religious context, the three cords become each of the couple and God. In a non-religious ceremony, the cords could represent the couple and their new united self. Braided together in the unity ceremony, these cords become a cute keepsake. You could hang them in a decorative way, put them in a shadow box, or include them somehow in a flower preservation with your bouquet even!

Pouring Sand into an Hourglass

A more modern take on the traditional sand unity ceremony, this chic ceremony involves a couple, or a couple and their kids, pouring vials of sand into an hourglass to create a treasured keepsake from the day! I love this upgrade to an old classic, and I feel like you’re more likely to display/use this than a regular jar of sand.

Ring Warming

I’m not entirely sure this is a “unity ceremony” but I thought it was worth mentioning. A ring warming ceremony is especially fun for a micro wedding to involve your guests in your ceremony. The rings (often in a ring box, but not always!) are passed around from person to person, each guest bestowing them with warm wishes and hopes for their relationship before the couple exchanges rings in their ceremony.

I hope this inspires you to plan the perfect unity ceremony for the two of you and your relationship! If you have any other unique ideas for a unity ceremony, leave them in the comments below!


A Complete Guide to Unique Unity Ceremonies A Complete Guide to Unique Unity Ceremonies A Complete Guide to Unique Unity Ceremonies


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