Sand Ceremonies

Crystal Schwanke
Something a little different from the unity candle

The sand ceremony is an alternative to the unity candle ceremony frequently performed in weddings. It's perfect for outdoor weddings (especially beach weddings) and blended families. A sand ceremony gives the couple a chance to recite their own unique vows while taking a few moments to symbolize their union.

Using Sand in Your Ceremony

So how do you do the sand ceremony? The bride, groom, and any other family members the bride and groom wish to include each have their own color of sand. In the center of the table is a glass vase the bride and groom chose beforehand. It can be any size or shape.

The only requirements are that it's big enough to hold layered sand from all of those involved, it's clear, and hopefully it is something they'll want to display in their home (though that one, in all honesty, is optional).

Each participant is assigned a color of sand and a small shovel with which to place it into the vase when it's their turn. The colors of sand can match the new couple's home décor or their wedding colors. While pouring the sand, the bride and groom recite their vows.

When the ceremony is over, the freshly filled vase is kept in a safe place while everyone enjoys the wedding reception. Then, the bride and groom take the vase home and put it on display.

When a Sand Ceremony Is Perfect

If you're getting married outside, you run the risk of a breeze swooping in and putting your unity candle out. Who needs that kind of symbolism in their ceremony? A safer choice is to opt for a sand ceremony, which has the same meaning as the unity candle ceremony.

Are you having a beach themed wedding? You may take delight in the fact that the sand ceremony is just one more thing to incorporate into the overall feel. The bottle of layered, colored sand you take home with you will always serve as more than an emblem of your union. It will take you back to the event in a way that a unity candle may not.

Great for Blended Families

The unity candle typically only uses three candles -- one for the bride, one for the groom, and the larger one in the middle that the couple lights together. In some cases, the mothers of the bride and groom light the two smaller candles prior to the ceremony. The maximum number of people involved here is four. The sand ceremony takes the union to a new level.

The sand ceremony is a way to incorporate children and other family members into the wedding. In a single glass jar or vase, children can help layer the colors of their mom or dad. What do the colors of a sand ceremony mean, then? They are the perfect symbol of a new family coming together. Family members will all be able to remember the ceremony and their part in it, admiring the artwork and again appreciating the beauty of the union.

The Vows

The couple will recite their vows while layering the sand in the vase. With such a beautiful and captivating sand ceremony in the program, the bride and groom will want the perfect vows to go along with the pouring of the sand.

Vows can be customized to make a statement about each person included in pouring the sand, or to represent specific aspects or wishes for the couple's new marriage. Colors may be used to represent the following, or couples can choose spell out the meanings in the program or during the ceremony:

  • White: Purity, spiritual values, devotion
  • Yellow: Harmony, balance, friendship
  • Pink or Red: Love, passion, romance, happiness
  • Green: Health, luck, prosperity
  • Purple: Power, dignity, strength
  • Brown: Nurturing, home and hearth
  • Blue: Patience, tranquility, longevity
  • Silver: Creativity, talents, inspiration

The vows for a sand reading can also incorporate the fact that while each member of the couple maintains their distinct individual strengths (represented by a specific sand color), they also become a beautiful new creation as a unit.

Find more help for finding or writing your own vows right here at LoveToKnow Weddings:

  • Original Wedding Vows

Recap: Benefits to Using Sand

The benefits of using sand in your wedding ceremony rather than the more traditional unity candle:

  • Perfect for outdoor weddings where flames aren't safe
  • Complement beach themes perfectly
  • Can include more than just the bride, groom, and perhaps the mothers of the bride and groom; children and other family members can get involved
  • More modern than the unity candle cermemony

Find the Tools

You can find sands, vases, and anything else you'd like to use in your sand ceremony at most major craft stores. However, if you prefer to shop online or if you don't have a craft store near you, here are a few places to start looking:

Sand Ceremonies