Inspiration: Symbolic Elements
Symbolic Elements are visual representations of your union, and they are a great way of getting your guests involved!
Symbolic Ceremony Ideas

Adding a symbolic visual element to your ceremony can really tie the whole thing together. Visuals speak to everyone and evoke memories and feelings that words sometimes can’t. Many of the symbolic elements below have a participatory element so they are an easy and simple way of including more special people in your ceremony.

Alison Harp Photography
Alison Harp Photography
Unity Candles
This is my favourite. On a table are three candles, two smaller candles to represent each member of the couple, and one large candle to represent their marriage. At the start of the ceremony, the couple light their individual candles, and at the end once they are married they join their flames together to light their marriage candle.
Tom and Tinks
Tom and Tinks
Community Vows
Probably the simplest and most profound way to involve everyone is to include a community vow, where all the guests at the ceremony make their own vow to continue to be great friends and supporters of the married couple in their life together.
Louise Swindells Calligraphy
Louise Swindells Calligraphy
Quaker Style Wedding Certificate
Instead of a certificate signed by the couple and two witnesses, all the guests at the ceremony are invited to sign the wedding certificate in support of the couple and as witnesses to their ceremony. This underlines the importance of community in the success of a marriage.
Phil Chester Photography
Phil Chester Photography
Sand Ceremony
This would work well at a beach wedding. Either the bride and groom alone, or with their guests take some sand, either from the beach or from a vessel given to them and pour it into a community vessel with the bride and groom to symbolise their joining together in marriage, and their community’s support.
Styleunveiled.com
Styleunveiled.com
Wishing Stones
Each guest is given a pebble at the beginning of the ceremony, which they are asked to hold during the ceremony then place into a vase or box at the end to pass their good wishes onto the couples to keep. You could also have the guests write their wishes on the stones.
Jeffrey Cho Photography
Jeffrey Cho Photography
Planting a Tree
During the ceremony the couple “plant a tree” together, symbolically pouring earth into a pot with a sapling tree inside which will grow along with their relationship. The guests could be invited to add their own earth to the pot and add their symbolic support of the couple as they start out together.
John Lewis
John Lewis
Wishes for the Couple
There are lots of different ways to do this, depending on the style of the ceremony, but the basic idea is that each guest is given a card and a pen or pencil to write a little message for the couple to pledge their support or advice for them – a little like a guest book.

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Lisa Jane Photography
Lisa Jane Photography
Call and Response Readings
Two guests read a reading together – this makes it more fun for them and also for those watching. It could be something funny, or profound or it could be a way of combining two families through reading passages from two faiths or in two languages.
Samuel Docker Photography
Samuel Docker Photography
Singing Together
Singing as a group creates a feeling of community and togetherness and the songs don’t have to be traditional. It would be really nice and maybe even funny to sing something contemporary that everyone knows – and a nice surprise for the guests.
Kirsten Lindquist Photography
Kirsten Lindquist Photography
Warming of the Rings
During the ceremony the rings are passed amongst all the guests, finally reaching the couple as they say their vows and then exchange the rings. Each person imparts their good wishes and blessings for the couple as they hold the rings, “warming” them, before the couple exchange them imbued with good feelings.
Pinterest
Pinterest
Community ‘Giving Away’
Instead of the parents giving the bride away, both partners would be given away by their communities and then those communities would be recognised and also joined together as a group before the ceremony proper begins. Instead of the fathers, the mothers could escort the couples down the aisle or their best friends – whatever fits best.
Brandi Toole Photography
Brandi Toole Photography
A Song Instead of a Reading
Having a friend or musician play a song live during the ceremony, instead of having a reading. This always goes down well. Music always adds to the mood!
Petar Jurica Photography
Petar Jurica Photography
Handfasting
Handfasting is an ancient Celtic engagement ritual where a couple signify their intent to be married by binding their hands with ribbons, each of which represents a promise. These ribbons are tied in a knot. In a wedding ceremony, handfasting can be used to represent the couple’s free choice to be together, symbolised by the perishability of the ribbons.
Pinterest
Pinterest
Community Toast
This is a variation on the Community Vow, where instead of making a vow to the couple the wedding guests are instead given a drink and invited to toast to the couple’s future together. There could also be toast to absent friends.
Story Photographers
Story Photographers
Wine / Beer / Cocktail Ceremony
The couple each pour one another a glass of beer or wine, symbolising their willingness to give and receive as a member of an equal partnership. You could also make a cocktail and drink it together.  Maybe even your friends and family could add ingredients with a little message for you – almost like a reading.
Creative Commons
Creative Commons
Quaiche – Scottish Friendship Cup Ceremony
The Quaiche is a traditional Scottish Friendship cup, commonly made of pewter or wood. It has two handles representing each member of the couple. The couple both drink from the Quaiche at the end of their ceremony to seal their wedding vows.
Wedding Chicks
Wedding Chicks
Exchanging Letters
The couple writes secret letters for one another which they present to each other just before they make their marriage vows. These letters are kept safe, and on the date their first wedding anniversary they each open the letters and read them. This could become a yearly tradition.
Antique Swedish Marriage Chest
Antique Swedish Marriage Chest
Wedding Chest
The wedding chest is a special box presented to the couple on their wedding day. This box is for them to put special keepsakes inside which will remind them of important moments throughout their lives. They could begin by placing the vows they have written for one another inside the box at the end of the ceremony.
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