Jean & Bryan Wedding - Candle Lighting Ceremony - Bronx Post Office - by Karen Wise

Planning & Inspiration

7 Secular Wedding Traditions That Bring Meaning To Your Big Day

Jean & Bryan Wedding - Candle Lighting Ceremony - Bronx Post Office - by Karen Wise

Jean & Bryan Wedding – Candle Lighting Ceremony – Bronx Post Office – by Karen Wise


If we’ve noticed anything after doing weddings for over a decade, it’s that each couple is completely unique and different from the next. How they choose to carry out their wedding ceremony is a beautiful demonstration of this fact. And many couples today desire a secular ceremony to signify their union. Here are seven non-religious wedding traditions that can be used to express your love and commitment to each other.

Unity Candle Lighting Ceremony
We talked about the sacredness of candle lighting in a Greek Orthodox wedding. The tradition doesn’t have to be based in a religion, however. The unity candle lighting ceremony is a beautiful way to honor your big day. Three candles are needed to perform the ritual – one for each partner and one to symbolize the new marriage. Before the ceremony, each set of parents lights a candle. Then the officiant reads a script, addressing the couple and their relationship. Finally, using the two smaller candles, the couple lights the larger candle to seal their union.


Jean & Bryan Wedding - Bud Vase Unity Candles - Bronx Post Office - Karen Wise Photography

Jean & Bryan Wedding – Bud Vase Unity Candles – Bronx Post Office – Karen Wise Photography


Sand Pouring Ceremony
Symbolizing two lives coming together, the sand pouring ceremony involves each partner pouring a container of sand, each a different color, into a larger clear vessel. It is performed after the vows and rings have been exchanged.  The sands flow and blend together, representing the couple’s future as one.


Sand Pouring Ceremony - via

Sand Pouring Ceremony – via


Tree Planting Ceremony
The tree planting ceremony takes place right after the couple says, “I do.” Gloves (you don’t want to get dirty!), a spade, two small containers with soil, and a large pot are needed. Together, the couple plants a small tree or shrub into the pot and then pours soil over it. The tree symbolizes your relationship – as its roots intertwine and grow bigger, so does your love.


Tree Planting Ceremony - via

Tree Planting Ceremony – via


Burying The Bourbon
It’s not a proper Southern wedding if bourbon isn’t involved. This tradition is carried out exactly one month before the ceremony when the couple buries a bottle of bourbon where they are planning to exchange their vows. Southern folklore says that performing this act prevents bad weather from ruining the wedding. The bottle must be completely full and buried upside down. And because no good bottle of booze should go to waste, it is dug up at the wedding – we suggest appointed a groomsmen with the job. Finally, the newlyweds enjoy a glass of bourbon together.


Burying The Bourbon - via

Burying The Bourbon – via


Jumping The Broom
This wedding tradition will make you think twice about wearing those 4-inch Louboutin heels. Jumping the broom is a time-honored wedding ceremony that was originated by African-Americans during the 1600s. Slaves were not permitted to marry, so they jumped over a broom as a ceremonious way of uniting. Today, couples jump over the broom at the end of the official ceremony to symbolize their new beginning together and sweep away the past.


Jumping The Broom Ceremony - via

Jumping The Broom Ceremony – via


Handfasting Ceremony
Handfasting is another unity ritual that couples are using to personalize their ceremony. Originating in ancient Celtic tradition, it symbolizes the binding together of two people and their commitment and devotion to each other. After explaining the significance of handfasting, the officiant asks the couple to join their hands together. Most opt to cross hands, taking their partner’s left hand in their left hand, and right hand in their right hand. As the officiant reads a series of vows, the couple’s hands are wrapped together with specially chosen cords. The handfasting is followed by the official exchanging of rings.


Handfasting Ceremony - via

Handfasting Ceremony – via


Wine Box Ceremony
For all you budding sommeliers out there, this is the wedding tradition for you! The wine box ceremony involves a bit of planning, but it is totally worth it in the end. First, each partner writes a love letter to the other. Working together, the couple designs a personalized box that will eventually hold a bottle of wine. Enlist a crafty friend or family member to create the box or purchase one on Etsy. Then the fun part – the couple chooses a bottle of their favorite wine. During the ceremony, the officiant says a few significant words before placing the bottle and love letters into the box. The box is then closed and should not be opened until the couple’s 5-year wedding anniversary.


Personalized Wedding Wine Box - via ReImagine Brewing on

Personalized Wedding Wine Box – via ReImagine Brewing on


You don’t have to be marrying in a place of worship to have a ceremony that is full of meaning and purpose. Any of these secular wedding traditions will help create personal moments that you and your spouse will look back and say, “I’m so happy we did it our way.”