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Personalizing Your Ceremony: Show Your Unity

Martha Stewart Weddings, Spring 2005

One popular wedding tradition in America today is lighting a unity candle, which represents the merging of the couple and their two families. But joining rituals have appeared in many forms throughout history. If you don't want to use a unity candle, you can look to past customs and other cultures for inspiration.

In medieval Britain, the couple's wrists or hands were tied together with a cord in a ritual called hand fasting. Many African tribes use braided grass to bind the couple's hands, whereas the hands of Hindu brides and grooms are tied with red thread. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the bride and groom wear crowns connected with ribbon. To symbolize your own union, you could adapt one of these ideas, perhaps binding your hands together with an heirloom scarf.

It's nice to include your guests in a unity ritual as well, which lets them show their support for the marriage. Get everyone involved with a candlelight ceremony: Give each guest a candle, and have an attendant light only one of them. Then have guests pass the flame to one another until all the candles are lit, after which the two of you can light your own unity candle.

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