Ceremony and Ritual are closely related. Delightful ceremony rituals give that magical ‘flow’ to your ceremony. Create those breathtaking moments in a ceremony either by including special words, or by including actions or gestures. These ceremony rituals convey clear messages that not only ritual participants but also guests understand easily.
Ceremony Rituals are delightful ways to express shared values and feelings and provide points of interest and colour in a ceremony. How do you communicate your thoughts, hopes, values and emotions without using words? There are many ceremony rituals that use symbols of meaning to express your feelings. Here are some ways in which Ceremony Rituals use symbols to enrich the ceremony experience.
Symbol of Light
The light of the flame symbolises hope, and the warmth of the flame symbolises love.
A candle snuffer is a tool that is used to extinguish lighted candles. The action of using the candle snuffer signifies acknowledged endings and is a powerful sign of closure. I use an elegant silver candle snuffer that is easy to use in ceremonies that I conduct.
Lighted candles can symbolise not only individuals or groups of significant people who are unable to attend the ceremony in person, but also to honour the memory of loved ones who have passed.
Candle Ceremony Ritual
In a Wedding ceremony, a Unity Candle generally signifies the forming of a new family. Use a candle ritual in a Renewal of Vows ceremony to express refreshed promises, joy and celebrate a shared journey.
In a Naming ceremony, a lighted candle symbolises hope for the future of the named person.
In a Celebration of Life/Funeral/Memorial ceremony, a lighted candle represents the spirit of life or contribution to life, or the legacy of a life journey.
Symbol of Sand
The symbol of sand is a popular choice for a ceremony ritual. Pour different coloured sands into a vessel and watch as they combine to create unique patterns. The grains of sand express the many and varied gifts and contributions that people make to our lives and the patterns express our different life paths.
Sands Ceremony Ritual
In a Wedding ceremony, combined sands symbolise the blending of two lives in marriage. The different colours often reflect special meanings or values for the bride and groom. The grains of sand mingle and combine to form unique patterns that symbolise the unique life patterns and pathways of a shared married life.
In a Naming ceremony, coloured sands represent the hopes and dreams of the family, or the values and beliefs of the family that will guide the named person throughout their life.
There are other delightful ideas to combine sands, or other elements such as glass beads, and coloured oils into special keepsakes.
Symbol of Hands
Use the symbol of hands in a ceremonial ritual as an intimate gesture to express love, commitment and sharing. It is a great way to steady nerves, and both participants and guests understand its message.
Joining of Hands Ceremony Ritual
A Joining of Hands is a lovely and warm ceremony ritual. It expresses the hopes and dreams that two people bring to their relationship.
In a Wedding ceremony, the couple join hands as part of the ‘Declaration of Intention to Marry’ or ‘Betrothal’. A wonderful reading explains in simple words, the importance of the contributions of both parties not only in establishing but also in maintaining a loving and lasting relationship.
As the couple makes their binding marriage vows, they may also join hands in a ceremonial ritual of assurance and love. Although this is a simple action, it also conveys a powerful message that all people understand.
A Joining of hands is a simple and lovely ceremonial ritual that is meaningful in other ceremonies including Commitment, Engagement, or Renewal of Vows ceremonies.
Handfasting Ceremony Ritual
A Handfasting Ceremonial Ritual is a very special hands ritual. It is a delightful ritual that is as simple or as colourful as you like. There are many versions of the handfasting rituals and you are free to create your own version. Handfasting symbolises the making of a promise or a covenant, and is often included in Engagement and Wedding ceremonies.
Choose a single ribbon, or a number of ribbons, or combine different materials to create a handfasting chord or braid. Different colours represent good wishes for the couple, or shared values of the extended family. This chord or braid is made either before the ceremony, or as part of the handfasting itself.
Invite family members and special friends to take part in a handfasting ritual. This is a great way to involve people who otherwise may not have an active role in your ceremony.
Include a Handfasting ritual in Renewal of Vows ceremonies to symbolise renewal of promises, hopes and dreams.
Symbol of Water
The symbol of water represents cleansing or purifying in many cultures. The action of pouring water marks a fresh beginning. This may be at a new stage in life, or reaching a milestone. In Wedding ceremonies, a ritual washing of hands or feet symbolises the moment when a couple start their new, shared married life.
Use water, or your liquid of choice, as a toast to honour a person or event, or to seal a promise in other ceremonies such as an Engagement or Commitment, as well as Renewal of Vows .
Loving Cup Ceremony Ritual
A Loving Cup Ceremonial Ritual is a very old and traditional ritual. This ritual celebrates the union of two people, especially in celtic-based ceremonies. A loving cup is a drinking vessel (chalice or quaich) that has two handles. Two people hold both handles and take turns to sip the water or other beverage from the cup. Alternatively, one person holds both handles and sips from the chalice or quaich. That person then passes it on to another person. Also, in rituals that celebrate togetherness, people form a small circle and take turns to sip and pass the quaich around the group.
In a Wedding ceremony, the couple drinks to the love that is past, the love that is present and the love that the future will bring to them.
This delightful ceremonial ritual not only adds a special touch to Betrothal or Engagement ceremonies, but also to Commitment and Renewal of Vows ceremonies.
This particular Quaich is very special to me as it comes all the way from the Blacksmith’s Shop at Gretna Green in Scotland. It adds a special and romantic touch in Wedding and Renewal of Vows ceremonies that I conduct. I also use it in Naming ceremonies that include water rituals.