What wedding tradition is right for you?

When planning your wedding it’s important to realize that it’s your wedding and you can do what you want with it. As someone who is at a ridiculous amount of weddings and sees other photographers work every week it seems someone is trying something new and creative every month. So instead of following the trends or the pressure from family members do some research and find what fits you and your fiances style. Here are just a few of the ceremony traditions I’ve experienced.

Personalized vows

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Want a no frills, no cost, but personalized way to promise your love and devotion to your mate? Write your own tear jerking vows! Just make sure it doesn’t turn in to a funny story telling session / speech… unless that’s what you’re going for. Otherwise – remember what you’re vowing and to whom you are vowing to. My wife and I did this at my wedding and it was pretty memorable. Other than my wife removing her hidden vows from her dress top, I made it 3 words in and then cried like a little girl… good memories.

Unity cross

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I saw this for the first time in 2013 and it has gained a lot of personality among Christians. During this part of the ceremony the officiant explains the metaphor of the unity cross. The outer, rigid frame represents the man leading and protecting the family and marriage. The inner piece represents the women. The three pegs that hold it together are God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. On the bottom of the base is a small compartment the couple can put their vows in or a written promise/ prayer for later opening.

Unity candle

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A timeless classic! Demonstrating their new life together the bride and groom light one central wick with their own, thus creating a new flame from the two and putting out the individual flames.

Unity sand

Another way to represent your new oneness in marriage is to blend two different colors of sand together making the two inseparable. This makes a nice, small, and colorful decoration that can be displayed anywhere in your home. My wife bought sand from Petsmart, the kind you decorate crab cages with and it worked wonderfully! Practice this ahead of time and be prepared to give the jar a shake.

Unity canvas

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This is the newest thing I’ve seen and it’s really beautiful. Similar to the unity sand tradition the bride and groom pick different colors but this time it’s paint! With a large white canvas tilted at an angle they poor their paints and let their colors mix, overlap, and drizzle down the canvas. You can hang this in your home for all to see with an interesting story behind it too. But beware – it’s definitely the riskiest tradition what with the paint and all! Use a drop cloth, paint that is not too thick, and have wipes ready for your hands afterward.


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For Christian couples this is a powerful way to begin your new life together – by remembering Jesus’ body and blood that was given. Most couples choose to give the communion bread and wine to the other during their ceremony. If you’re using a Christian officiant ask them for what they say for wedding communions as they may all have different takes on it and the metaphors connected to it as it pertains to marriage.

Feet washing

This might sound gross at first thought but for Christians feet washing is a very powerful image of devotion and service. Jesus washed His disciples feet to show them that though He was their spiritual leader he was still humble enough to show the utmost respect and love for them by serving them in this way. My first professional wedding I shot the couple did this, they washed each others feet and it was pretty neat actually!

Time capsule

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For the non religious you may want to use a time capsule to have an extra special anniversary in the future. You may choose to write a special letter to your spouse to be, put it in a sealed box, and open it on your 1, 5, or even 10 year anniversary!

Cultural traditions

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Every culture has their own wedding traditions if not multiple! Do some research in to your genetic roots or your family history, maybe ask your parents and grand parents what they did. But remember – it’s your wedding, not anyone else’s so don’t let anyone pressure you in to doing something just for the sake of doing it or because it’s what they did. Do something that you are both in love with and appreciate the meaning of.

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