How Symbolic Exchanges Add Meaning to Your Wedding

Including Symbolic Exchanges brings a personal touch that makes your wedding engaging for your witnesses. These exchanges reflect your values and priorities. They are the creative touches that makes your wedding ceremony inspiring.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer
with passion, excitement, and acceptance.

John Lennon

The promise that I give to couples whose ceremonies I design and officiate is that your ceremony will be meaningful and memorable, for you and for your guests.

As a celebrant in the South of France, I meet guests who may come from as many as 20 different countries for one wedding. They make a considerable commitment of time and expense to be there.

Often I talk with guests who find the weddings they attend have little to do with the couple. The ceremony is boring. They cannot wait for it to end, so they can get on with the party.

Wherever you hold your wedding, with imagination your ceremony can come to life, be moving, heartfelt and touching. If your guests have come from far and wide to be with you, they will be very glad you made the effort to be authentic and true to yourselves in your celebration.

Including Symbolic Exchanges brings a personal touch that makes your wedding engaging for your witnesses. These exchanges reflect your values and priorities. They are the creative touches that makes your wedding ceremony inspiring.

Here are a few ideas for you.

1.The Unity Candle
Candlelight is soft and beautiful. The Ceremony invites your mothers, or significant relatives, to light candles that represent the love they gave to you. From the two candles a third is lit, which represents the love that you share as a couple.

However, if your ceremony is out of doors, lighting candles seems to invite the softest breeze to blow them out. I prefer not to do the candle ceremony if your wedding is outside.

2.The Sand Ceremony
The Sand Ceremony is a good alternative to the Unity Candle if you are outside. You start with two containers with different coloured sands, each representing your individual strengths and qualities. When the sands are combined in layers in a third glass container, they cannot be separated - or certainly not very easily.

This ceremony is good for giving children a part to play, including them in the celebration. One couple had 7 boys between them from their previous marriages. Each chose their own colour of sand to add to the family glass tank. For younger children, pouring sands is fun, and fun for others to watch.

Binding your hands together was a Celtic ceremony, and in past times, represented the whole marriage. I combine this with a Blessing of your Hands. You join hands, bound by a sash that picks up your colour scheme. The image of joining hands speaks to the commitment you are making with each other.

4.Common Cup Exchange - Plus!

Bride and groom drink wine from the same glass. This exchange reminds you that your joy is doubled and your troubles halved, because they are shared. One couple extended this ceremony to their guests. A shot glass of rose wine was handed out to everyone to appreciate their presence on this day. Needless to say, this gesture was very popular

5.Smashing the Glass
Often I am asked to officiate a mixed Jewish and other faith wedding. Concluding the ceremony with smashing the glass is a fun tradition with several meanings associated with it. I usually choose the most positive and uplifting text.

6.Rose Exchange
Rose buds in four colours make up this ritual. Each colour represents a quality that will blossom and grow in their marriage. For example, red is passion, pink is tenderness, white is purity and yellow is understanding. Bride and groom each put the coloured rose stems into a vase, claiming the qualities that will enrich their marriage.

7.Shawl Blessing
One groom's mother knitted a large soft shawl at her prayer group. She added her good wishes into the threads of wool as she knitted. Prayers of the group were added to it. During the ceremony, the shawl was draped over the shoulders of her son and daughter-in-law to be, with her blessings for their marriage.

8.Cultural Traditions
Bread and Salt (Russian, Eastern European), Honey Dip (Persian), Date and Milk (Tunisian).

You may not have a cultural tradition from your families. With your celebrant, you could create an exchange of your own that will bring your wedding to life and leave a lasting memory of your celebration for you and your guests to take home.

For your Anne Naylor Wedding and more suggestions for creating the Wedding of your dreams go to Anne Naylor Celebrant.

If you would like a free, no-obligation discussion about your Wedding in person, over the phone, Skype or Face Time, contact Anne Naylor at

Popular in the Community


HuffPost Shopping’s Best Finds