The best alternative wedding rituals


Looking for an alternative to a religious wedding ceremony?  There are many beautiful wedding traditions and customs that your celebrant can respectfully include in your ceremony to make it magical, meaningful and memorable. Here are our best alternative wedding rituals.

How to really tie the knot at your wedding

The tradition of handfasting goes back long before marriages were recorded in registers and was a non-religious way of committing to a marriage between two people.

Holding each other at the wrist, cords or ribbons gently bind the couple together in a visual show of tying the knot. There are many different ways of hand tying but another favourite is to use an infinity knot to symbolise a never ending relationship.

Candle lighting ceremony

Often performed at the beginning of a ceremony, a candle can be lit to symbolise many things:

  • To remember people who cannot be with the couple at their ceremony for whatever reason
  • One candle with two wicks is a visual way of unifying two families
  • The mothers of the couple, having “given light” to their child, now jointly light a candle to symbolise passing their child to the care of their new spouse.

Sand blending at a wedding

Usually layers of coloured sand are poured into a vessel to signify the two unique identities of the couple. Just as the coloured grains of sand cannot be separated, so the couple is now unified as one.

This is fast becoming a favourite alternative wedding ritual. There are many commercial picture frames and containers that you can buy to permanently display your layered sand – or you may want to decant it into small glass phials with cork stoppers to give as wedding favours to your guests as witnesses to the vows you made before them.

The red thread of destiny

It is said in some cultures that a red thread joins the souls of two people together for all time.

In the ceremony, the couple tie a length of red wool around the little fingers on their left hand which is believed by some to have a direct connection to the heart. The red thread makes a beautiful keepsake of their wedding day and the bond that they will share for ever.

Rose exchange ceremony

Roses of different colours have meanings all of their own of course. Exchanging roses in the name of love is the first gift a married couple give to each other. For ever more, when they want to express their love the couple can continue the tradition and exchange roses on special occasions, or even to say sorry.

The giving and receiving of rings

A wedding ring is not a legal requisite but it is one of the favourite wedding rituals incorporated into most ceremonies, religious or otherwise.

A wedding band is an outward symbol to the world that you have committed yourself to another person. Without beginning or end, a wedding ring is a golden circle of love and the giving and receiving of rings is often when couples choose to say their personal vows to each other.

Respect the origin of the ritual

Whatever wedding rituals you choose to incorporate into your special ceremony do try to honour the spirit of the tradition. Spend time understanding its meaning and origin especially if it is taken from another religion. In that way you will not only respect the symbolism but also bring an even deeper magic to your bespoke ceremony.


Author bio: Author: Debbie Skyrme is "Celebrant Spain".  Award winning bilingual destination wedding celebrant officiating elopements, vow renewals and wedding ceremonies in the Spanish sunshine.

Featured photo: Toni Bonet