The Wedding Sand Ceremony
by Susanna Stefanachi Macomb, Author of the book Joining Hands and Hearts, Interfaith, Intercultural Wedding Celebrations (A Practical Guide for Couples)
The Sand Ceremony, with its possible origin in Hawaii, is a lovely alternative to the Unity Candle Ceremony, especially if your wedding is to take place on a beach. As the Unity Candle, the Sand Ceremony is performed after the vows. The symbolism is similar in that the “two shall become one”. Couples may scoop a bit of sand near their feet and pour it into a lovely bottle of choice which then becomes a lifetime keepsake. Seashells can be used for pouring if you wish. However, you may find using your hands much more fun!
If you are not actually standing on a beach, you may purchase a complete Sand Ceremony Set or Blended Family Sand Set (which comes with more vessels for children and other family members) from our affiliates. There you can purchase sand in various colors (to match your wedding color scheme!) along with two smaller glass containers for the bride and groom and one larger glass container representing your marriage, relationship and new life. If you have children, your children may also participate by pouring some sand into the container as well. I did one ceremony where we asked the entire congregation to pour a bit of sand in various colors into in a large glass bowl symbolizing the support of family and friends as well as their continued participation in the couple’s lives. The result was a work of art that was destined for the coffee table!
Readings for Sand Ceremonies
In a lovely twist on tradition, some of my couples, after they had scooped up sand from the beach and poured it into a bottle, ask me to read an Apache Wedding Prayer – an example of a selection of readings for unity sand ceremonies. I recite the blessing and then place it into the bottle. They then cork the bottle and throw it out into the ocean with everyone cheering in the background. That indicates the end of the sand ceremony.
Our bride and groom have chosen An Apache Prayer for their final blessing:
- (Name) and (Name),
- Now you will feel no rain,
- For each of you will be shelter to the other.
- Now you will feel no cold,
- For each of you will be warmth to the other.
- Now there is no more loneliness,
- For each of you will be companion to the other.
- Now you are two bodies,
- But there is one life before you.
- Go now to your dwelling place,
- To enter into the days of your togetherness.
- And may your days be good and long upon the earth.
I then slip the written Apache Blessing into the bottle, they cork it and throw it into the ocean.
For other ceremonies I have placed words of William Blake into the bottle.
“(Bride) and (Groom) you lives are now joined in the most sacred and joyous of unions. We pray that your life be blessed. In the immortal words of the poet mystic William Blake, together may you…
“See a world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.”
Sand Ceremony Vows
I personally dislike the idea of couples saying vows as they pour the sand. I much prefer them holding each other’s hands and looking into each other’s eyes. However, many couples like the idea of reciting vows to one another (and with the children) while pouring the sand so following are a couple of samples of sand ceremony vows:
“(Bride) and (Groom), you have just committed yourselves to one another through sacred vows. Your lives are no longer two, but one. To symbolize this joining, we ask that you each pour some sand into this bottle. (Each scoops some sand from the beach and pours it into the bottle. )”
Officiant: (Name) and (Name) as you pour your sand into the one container, please repeat after me: “As these grains of sand merge together as one, I merge my life with yours. Please take my love throughout the sands of time. My heart is forever in your keeping.
Officiant: (Name) and (Name) as these grains of sand are joined together, so are your hearts, your bodies and your souls in marriage. Please repeat after me: (Here the nuptial pair may add whatever vows they wish….)
“My beloved (Name) as these grains of sand are joined together, so are our hearts, our bodies and our souls. I offer myself as your husband/wife forever.”
“(Children’s name/s) your mother (and/or father) and (name) love you very much, and want you to know that you are and will always be a very important part of their lives. Will you please pour some sand into this glass container along with your good wishes? That would mean so much to them.” (Parents then hug and kiss their children!)