A wedding ceremony is a cherished moment when you and your partner stand together to exchange vows and wedding rings to solidify your commitment as a newlywed couple. It’s a celebration of love and the start of a new chapter in life. However, some couples prefer to create a more sentimental experience rather than just through rings and words–like a unique unity ceremony.

But what is a unity ceremony? A unity ceremony is a symbolic ritual that honors the commitment to each other is practiced in many different cultures. The term ‘unity’ refers to two people or objects combining into one and is often performed in front of an officiant or ordained priest.

Exchanging rings and reading vows is actually a unity ceremony that is traditionally performed in all wedding ceremonies. But if you’re interested in creative unity ceremony ideas, here are 12 non traditional unity ceremony ideas.

Handfasting Unity Ceremony

A handfasting unity ceremony is an ancient Celtic tradition which originally symbolized a betrothal. Your hands are bound to each other as you recite vows that express your commitment and love to each other.

The handfasting cord is a ribbon, long piece of fabric, or rope used to bind your hands together. It should be about one to two meters long so it can loop around your hands and wrists. You can either go to your local crafting store to create your own handfasting cord or purchase a handfasting cord online.

How to Do a Handfasting Wedding Ceremony

  • 1. Find a colorful cord or ribbon that is meaningful to you.
  • 2. Select an elopement location or wedding venue that is special to you as a couple.
  • 3. Have your officiant begin with an introduction explaining the significance of the handfasting ceremony and the history behind this unique unity ceremony. Then they will start to tie the cord around your hands.
  • 4. You and your partner take turns exchanging vows. These can either be personal / hand written or recited after the officiant.
  • 5. Pull your hands apart and tie the knot!

Handfasting symbolizes the binding of together of two separate lives and the commitment they’re making to each other. As the cord becomes intertwined, the finished knot is tied in an infinity knot symbolizing the couple’s future and how their love and married will continue to be strong throughout infinity.

Officiants often finish the unity ceremony by saying “As your hands are now bound together, may this knot remained tied for as long as you shall live. You may tie the knot”. Which is where the tying the knot reference for marriage came from.

It is optional to either exchange rings before the unity ceremony or after. Some couples prefer to perform the handfasting ceremony at the end and share their first kiss bound together.

Hand of Feet Washing Unity Ceremony

Washing of the hands or feet is a rare ceremony ritual performed in modern weddings. But in Jewish or Hindu wedding traditions it is a very common and special ceremony. Depending on the culture, the meaning behind cleaning the hands or feet varies.

In general terms, performing a hand washing or feet washing ceremony is about starting this new chapter of your marriage with a clean slate and being vulnerable together. When you, the couple, wash your hands during a wedding ceremony you are washing away evil spirits, pain, human imperfections, and loved ones from the past.

Performing a Hand and Feet Washing Ceremony

  • 1. Have a pitcher of water, an empty bowl, and a sponge (optional) with water in it.
  • 2. You and your partner take your shoes off, place your feet in the bowl (one person at a time), and pour water on top of the sponge and lightly wash each others feet with the sponge.
  • 3. Dry your partner’s feet off with a towel.
  • 4. Place their shoes back on once dry.
  • 5. If you prefer to do just the handwashing and not feet, you may skip the bowl and sponge and use a just a pitcher.

Unity Candle Ceremony

The unity candle is a popular ceremony that brings two families together to create one. This unity ceremony idea is perfect for anyone who wants a cute and simple keepsake from their wedding or to include your family in your marriage.

The unity candle ceremony involves three candles; one candle held by each partner (representing the two separate families) and one white candle.

How Much Does a Unity Candle Cost

Depending on how personalized or elaborate you want your candles to be, Unity Candles can range from a few dollars to up to 100 dollars. You can shop for some beautiful unity candles here.

Some couples like to have their names engraved in the candles or on unique stands that match their wedding theme. Other couples even opt in to have different colored candles to burn on the unity candle.

  • 1. Find a colorful cord or ribbon that is meaningful to you.
  • 2. Select an elopement location or wedding venue that is special to you as a couple.
  • 3. Have your officiant begin with an introduction explaining the significance of the handfasting ceremony and the history behind this unique unity ceremony. Then they will start to tie the cord around your hands.
  • 4. You and your partner take turns exchanging vows. These can either be personal / hand written or recited after the officiant.
  • 5. Pull your hands apart and tie the knot!

How Does a Unity Candle Ceremony Work

  • 1. If you’d like to include your family in your unity candle ceremony, the mothers will light the initial candles that represent you and your partner. Or if you’d prefer to your father, sibling, child, or friend to light your candles you absolutely could. Anyone that is special to you may light your candle.
  • 2. After the initial candles are light you and your partner will together light the large candle in the middle symbolizing the union of your families into one.

Flames of a fire are said to symbolize love and passion. When lighting candles and joining them together, it is a physical representation of you and your partner coming together, enduring your commitment, and blending the two of your families as one.

Love Lock Unity Ceremony

What Is a Love Lock Ceremony

From historic traditions in Europe, China, and even Paris and New York, a love lock ceremony is a symbolic ritual where two padlocks shaped as hearts are locked together to represent the unwavering commitment and love you and your partner have together.

How to Do a Love Lock Ceremony

During your wedding ceremony you and your partner are given a lock decorated either with your names engraved or are a different color. Your wedding officiant will introduce this ceremony and share the history behind the love locks and how it represents your love together.

As the officiant talks about your love and willingness to join together as one you and your partner will open your padlocks, link them together, and lock them shut. Joining together your hearts as one.

One way to include this unique unity ceremony idea after your wedding is putting them in a shadowbox with some of your favorite wedding photos and souvenirs from your special day in your home.

Sage Smudging Unity Ceremony

Sage smudging is an intentional ceremony that requires a bundle of sage, a fire-proof bowl (either made out of ceramic or stone), and a lighter or match. Your officiant can waft the smoke around you and your partner as you hold hands while performing this ceremony.

What Is Sage Used for in the Ceremony

Burning sage is powerful and spiritual ritual that clears any negative energy with positive healing energy. The intention behind a sage smudging ceremony during your wedding is to cleanse the space around you and your partner.

It is often the sage smudging ceremony it is performed before your vows and ring exchange but it can take place at any point during your wedding.

  • 1. Find a colorful cord or ribbon that is meaningful to you.
  • 3. Have your officiant begin with an introduction explaining the significance of the handfasting ceremony and the history behind this unique unity ceremony. Then they will start to tie the cord around your hands.
  • 4. You and your partner take turns exchanging vows. These can either be personal / hand written or recited after the officiant.
  • 5. Pull your hands apart and tie the knot!

How to Do a Sage Smudging Ceremony

  • 1. Your officiant let your guests know that you and your partner have chosen to take part in a sage smudging ceremony. After announcing to your guests, the officiant will light the bundle of sage.
  • 2. Either with the bundle itself or with feathers (the officiant below chose to use feathers) the smoke from the bundle will be wafted by the officiant around you and your partner from head to toe.
  • 3. An affirmation or prayer may be used to guide the sage cleanse to make it more meaningful and spiritual.

Please Leave No Trace and check for fire bans in your ceremony location before planning this unique unity ceremony! You can also use a sage essential oil spray if fire isn’t safe or allowed.

Ring Warming Unity Ceremony

Originating from Ireland, a ring warming ceremony is a tradition that involves passing around your wedding bands to guests attending your ceremony for good luck for your marriage. This unity ceremony is great way to include guests and allow them to participate in your wedding day.

What to Do During a Ring Warming Ceremony

Your officiant will pass your wedding rings to a guest attending your ceremony. They will then say a few words of encouragement and the history behind the ring warming ceremony.

Each guest will hold your rings in their hands and warm them up with good wishes, prayers, or good thoughts for your marriage. Then the rings will be passed onto the next guest.

While your guests are passing your rings around you can either say a silent prayer together, watch your guests pass your rings around, or holding hands.

Unity Cross Ceremony

The unity braids ceremony, also known as the unity cross or cord of three strands, is one of my favorite unity ceremonies for an intimate Christian wedding.

The braiding of the cross unity ceremony idea comes from Christian Tradition based on the bible verse Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV) “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” The three strands represent the love and commitment of you and your partner, and God.

How to Perform a Unity Cross Ceremony

It is a very simple and quick unity ceremony compared to other ceremonies.

  • 1. Your officiant or someone of your choosing may come up and read from the bible Ecclesiastes 4:12, a poem, or the history behind the braiding of the cross, also known as God’s Knot.
  • 2. While your person of choice is speaking to your guests you and your partner braid the three strands into one. If the ceremony is just you and your partner you do not need to have anyone speak and can perform the ceremony as usual.
  • 3. The cross can either sit on a table or you can have your partner hold it while you braid the cords.
  • 4. After the braiding is finish you and your partner can hold up the cross to show off to your guests and for a quick photo from your photographer.

There are many different unity crosses to choose from and customize. Here is a link to my favorite unity cross.

Photo credit: Natalie N Photography

Volcano Eruption Unity Ceremony

Natalie from Natalie N Photography shared with me a very unique and never seen before unity ceremony her couple’s partook during their wedding day!

K+K made the volcano ahead of time complete with tiny dinosaurs (which are my absolute favorite) and decorations to look like a real volcano. During their ceremony they poured vinegar together into the volcano to make it “erupt”.

This is such a fun idea if you are a child at heart, love science, or even dinosaurs. Everyone at K + K’s wedding was cracking up at this unique unity ceremony idea.

Planting A Tree Unity Ceremony

If you love nature and plants this would be a perfect unity ceremony idea for you. Tanja shared with me this amazing couple planting a tree together in a beautiful pot to travel with them.

If you don’t want to your hands dirty you can include little glass jars filled with soil to pour in the pot.

Eventually this cute sapling tree will need to be planted when it grows outside the pot but being able to grow a tree of life together on your wedding day is very a unique and meaningful idea.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Unity Ceremony

Vanessa from The Outlovers Photography shared with me one of her couples that eloped in Moab, Utah!

Erin & Bobby were laid back, free spirited, and a little bit boho. They came out from the East Coast to embrace all that the little desert town in Moab had to offer.

They hiked to a super cool remote arch for sunrise, took killer photos amongst all the red rock formations, and then celebrated with breakfast at the Moab diner.

Here’s a little quote from E & B’s ceremony: “This is how the two of you began your journey on this planet: as two separate lives, two individual pieces of bread, one with a little peanut butter, the other with a little jelly! And, well, as we all know: both are quite okay alone, but not great, not complete! We all know peanut butter and jelly are meant to be together.”

This unique unity ceremony idea is simple but so special “You’re my peanut butter to my jelly”.

PHOTO CREDIT: Venture Ever After

Pour Over Coffee Unity Ceremony

Making pour over coffee is an important and regular part of this couple’s life together, so it made sense when they were deciding on what to do during their ceremony to signify their coming together and commitment.

They both added the water at the beginning of the ceremony, let it bloom and brew through the middle of the ceremony, and then poured and drank it together at the end of their ceremony. It was super sweet and really meaningful for them!

PHOTO CREDIT: Venture Ever After

Fletching An Arrow Unity Ceremony

This couple bow hunts together regularly, and being together in nature is a huge part of their relationship. They decided to fletch a special arrow together during their ceremony that would sit on display in a handmade wooden frame that they asked their guests to sign throughout the night.

It was one of the most unique unity ceremonies I’ve seen and it was so sweet to see them problem solving the fletching together when it wouldn’t stick and laughing together. And now they have a permanent, tangible, meaningful item to symbolize their union.


There are so many options when it comes to making your wedding day truly represent your authentic relationship and awesome selves. Yes you can decorate your wedding venue however you want or elope in the most epic locations but one of the most meaningful moments during your wedding day will be your ceremony.

It is the most special moments of your day when you walk towards each other with the biggest smiles, share how much you love each other by exchanging vows, and sealing your marriage with a kiss.

To make your ceremony more special and intentional to who you and your partner are consider one of these unique unity ceremony ideas. Need help with ideas? Let me help you plan the most authentic wedding day ever!

Hey, I’m Kelcee!

I would love to be your Adventure Wedding photographer

I’ve been capturing elopements since 2021, and it’s my passion to help adventurous couples like you create the perfect wedding day.

Your elopement is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and you deserve the support to make it uniquely yours. Together, we’ll create quality memories that beautifully tell your love story, lasting a lifetime.


  1. Ahhh love these! So many unique ones. I’m partial to hand fasting, I did that during my elopement!

  2. So many wonderful fresh ideas and inspiration here, thanks a lot for sharing! I find planting the tree especially touching. Beautiful photographs too 🙂

  3. So many great ideas on how to personalize your elopement!

  4. Haha, I love the peanut butter and jelly one! That’s so unique how that couple chose that as their unity ceremony. I really love the idea that it doesn’t have to be fancy/expensive but that it just has to be truly meaningful to the couples 🙂

  5. This is awesome! The volcano eruption is so great lol. Anyone looking for a unique unity ceremony needs to save this for sure!

  6. Wow! So many incredibly unique ceremony ideas! This is going to help so many couples come up with awesome ideas for their elopement 🙂

  7. I love all these things unique ideas! So many I’ve never seen before… my adult self loves the coffee, but my inner child would be thrilled for the volcano.

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