This weekend I did a wedding at the Ritz Calton which included the Unity Sand Ceremony. The Sand ceremony is becoming more popular, especially for beach weddings, although this one wasn't on the beach. The Sand ceremony can be very beautiful, if it is done properly, fortunately for me this one really worked well.
Getting ready for the Sand ceremony you need to know a few things. First of all, its better not to just scoop up some sand from the beach and use that. You have to make sure the sand is clean and dry, because the whole idea is to make a nice pattern in the receiving container. I use aquarium sand which is natural, and pours well. I also recommend not using too many colours, since you ncould end up with a "brown" effect. In this wedding, the couple used white and green, their wedding colours.
There are a couple of ways to start the sand ceremony. If mothers are present, they can pour a bit of each colour into the receiving containing and say a few words, here are some words I like: "With these grains of sand, we add our blessings to this union, may it be forever happy and forever loving." Sometimes the Wedding Celebrant will pour some sand to form the base, if I do it this is where I use some Cayman sand, poured from a beautiful shell. (NB this shell was given to me by my husband of 36 years, so it has special memories for me and I am very protective of it!)
Otherwise, the couple each pours a layer of sand, separately, to represent the foundation of the marriage. The Wedding Celebrant says some words, I don't think these words should be too syrupy, or too long, and then the couple pours sand from their containers at the same time. I say to my couples, you have a whole minute to pour the sand, so go slowly. It is nice to have some music or a song while this is going on. Remember if you are doing the pouring you can't see the pattern emerging.
At this wedding the attendants got involved, saying things like " You need a bit more green, now", "Time for a bit more white" etc. This made the whole experience more fun. It also helped the couple relax, after all it's not an experiment...there's really no way you can do it wrong.
When the pouring was finished, I held up the vase so all the crowd could see the pattern, and said a few more words, and then the couple went back to their original spot for the pronouncement, and of course "the Kiss"!
People ask me when is the best time in the ceremony to do the Unity Sand Ceremony. Some people like it at the very end of the ceremony, but I don't. I think the best place is after the vows and the rings, but before the pronouncement. If you are including children,as many people do this is a way to have them around you when the pronouncement takes place, so that they are included.
Right now I am planning a Unity Sand Ceremony for a June wedding renewal which will include children. Apart from the fact that I will write the ceremony so that it is unique to this family, I am hoping to include something else like shells at the bottom of the receiving container, or something which will remind them of their special vacation in the Cayman Islands and special family event.
As a mother and grand-mother, I spend a lot of time thinking about "memory-making events". That's why I try and personalise my weddings and renewals, by using words which are authentic and have real meaning for the participants. You don't have to use the same words as everybody else, you can say the words and use the music which are special to you, and then I will give you your personalised script.