Today we have a wonderful, nontraditional wedding inspiration post for you courtesy of Washington, DC wedding & event planning company, Ribbon Box Events!

Unity Candle Alternatives!

Personally, Andy & I did a take on the traditional Unity Candle ceremony [we lit candles first for our family members that had been deceased and then had our moms light our candles and then finally we lit a candle together]

But for today I am letting Tiffany take over for some really awesome, Unity Candle Alternatives. So take it away Tiffany!!

You’ve probably attended a wedding with a unity candle, sand ceremony, or wine- all in their own way representative of the uniting of two individuals and two families coming together as one. However, not exactly the most original, or off beat.. so… for those of you longing for something a bit more.. YOU… here are some options to consider!

1. Soil & Unity Tree Planting

Two of our fabulous couples chose iterations of a soil/tree ceremony to share with one another at their wedding ceremony.

Christie & Tim’s mother’s contributed soil from their family homes, and during a beautiful rendition of Adele’s Make You Feel My Love, sung by a talented family member, Christie and Tim added the soil to a potted tree they would be planting in their yard at home together.

Laura and Ryan chose to use soil from their childhood yards to plant an apple tree that they’ll put in their first yard together. Here’s an excerpt from the potted tree wedding ceremony:

As we are here today, Ryan and Laura’s marriage is like the velvety roots of this young, yet resolute sapling. As they have found each other and chosen to share their lives together, two roots will burrow through the mysterious unknown until they find their true counterpart. Intertwined, supporting and being supported by each other, they shall grow stronger in their union into endless depths. The soil they will use to nurture this young sapling has been gathered from the gardens of their parents’ homes. Fertile by nature and nourished with love and attention, this blend of life’s ingredients will be the foundation of great things to come

[image via Studio Juno]

2. Anniversary Box

L&E created an anniversary box in lieu of a traditional unity candle ceremony. They gathered 12 objects and souvenirs from their first year together, as well as numerous birthday, holiday, and Valentine’s Day cards they have shared with one another throughout their relationship. They drafted ceremony wording to explain to their guests the symbolism of the box and the items collected.

Here’s a snippet from the “Anniversary Box” portion of their ceremony:

“Each year, on their anniversary, they will open this box to reflect on the foundation of their relationship and how their relationship has grown. Each year, they will add new cards and new memories. This Anniversary Box will be a tangible reminder of their love.”


[Image by Lesko Photography ]

3. PB& J

Seriously, we go together like peanut butter and jelly! The classic couple. We found loads of inspired couples who have integrated.. wait for it.. a peanut butter and jelly unity ceremony!

[image via Camp Spoonhowopic]

Wedding Pastor Dave shared a story about one of his couples, Jules and Ben, who created their own “Eating the Unity Sandwich.”

Here’s a snippet from his description, “Together they each took a bite of a Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich that was shaped like a heart. Separately Peanut Butter and Jelly are very different, together they are magnificent! Ben is Peanut Butter and Juliana is Jelly. Nothing goes together better than Peanut Butter & Jelly!”

Here’s a peek from another PB&J sandwich, unity candle alternative inspired couple! Sharon Moss, from the American Humanist Association, wrote a ceremony after a groom hokingly brought up the idea in a pre-wedding meeting. It ended up being quite poignant, and quirky, all at the same time!

“Throughout history, couples have chosen many symbolic rites, from medieval European handfasting to modern unity candles, to mark the joining of their lives. Joe and Lisa choose to mark the combining of the flavors and textures of their lives—all the sweetness, stickiness, and nuttiness—with the creation of a Unity Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich.”

4. Lei Ceremony

[image via The Wedding Cafe]

How about a lei ceremony instead of a unity candle? You don’t need to be on the beaches of Hawaii to participate in this beautiful ceremony. The bride and groom exchange leis with one another (bride presents the first lei to groom). Incorporate your families by wearing leis down the aisle, then exchanging with your parents during the ceremony, so each of you are wearing one another’s- a symbol of unifying the new family, and the love and respect you all have for one another.

5. Unity Wish Lanterns


Made famous by Hangover 2, wish lanterns are a beautiful and symbolic way to celebrate your marriage. The release of the lantern symbolizes a release of worries and problems. Consider having each guest sign, or write a wish on a single lantern as they enter the ceremony.  Then, during the ceremony, the bride and groom can release it. Or, have each guest write on their own during the reception, and you can release them all at once after a short speech or gathering (what an AMAZING visual!)


**WARNING! these can be highly flammable and there is a large danger of fire if especially windy. Consult your venue and rental agreement before committing to this.**

6. Cairn Stone Building Ceremony

Thanks to Gabrielle & Marc’s beautiful, DIY, small-budget Maryland wedding, I was introduced to this unique wedding ceremony idea.

From early civilization to the present, cairns have been created for both practical and meaningful reasons. Often created simply as directional markers pointing the way home or to safety, the cairns are also a symbol of the spirit of friendship and hope. The rock sculptures were built by those who had been down a path, to mark the way for others to follow.

The couple now keeps the stone “art” in their house!

Have you ever attended a ceremony (or maybe it was your own?) with a personalized ceremony? Comment below and share your story with us!

A special thanks again to Tiffany with Ribbon Box Events for today’s guest post on Unity Candle Alternatives. I can’t wait to see and hear more from YOU guys!




  1. We did a chocolate and wine cermony. The chocolate represented tough times we would go thur in marriage. We then had the moms pour wine from decanters ( we’re my grandmas).. They poured those into one glass (1- white wine and 1- red wine) my husband and I drank from the glass..the wine represented the sweet in our marriage. It was perfect and different from any wedding I had gone to

  2. I like these non-traditional wedding ceremonies, great points! I prefer the “planting of the tree” ceremony which symbolizes that after union your relationship with your partner will grow as strong and as sturdy like the tree they planted.

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