Can I Have A Unity Sand Ceremony for My Cornish Wedding?

Many couples choose to include a unity sand ceremony for their Cornish wedding, and as a photographer, I have covered a few now. If you're a couple thinking of introducing some symbolism into your wedding, this might be for you. But what is this ceremony, and where did it come from?


Many couples include the unity sand ceremony as a part of their civil ceremony. It often happens after the couple have been declared husband and wife and is usually coordinated by the wedding celebrant. It is often their first task as a married couple. Its exact origins are unknown, but some studies have traced it to the Hawaiians or Native Americans. 

The purpose of the unity sand ceremony is to show how inseparable the couple are. Grains of sand mixed together cannot be separated, and in a wedding, this signifies the couple coming together eternally in marriage.  

What Is Involved?

The unity sand ceremony is made up of a few simple steps. First, you'll need a table, a large clear vase, and two smaller vases. These could be decorated with the couple's names or initials. Both smaller vases will include sand of different colours. You could even make them in your wedding colours to add to your decor. 

The two small vases with coloured sand are arranged on both sides of the larger vase, which is empty. Then in preparation, they are placed on a table close to where the couple will say their vows. One of the smaller vases is for the bride, while the other is for the groom.

When it's time for the unity sand ceremony aspect of your Cornish wedding, you'll take turns to add the sand from your individual vases to the larger vase in layers. One partner goes first, followed by the other, and then repeat. A love poem can be read while you do this.

In the end, both bride and groom can pour the last contents of their vases together simultaneously. The two colours will mix, indicating that you cannot be divided. This big vase will then be sealed up, and you can use it as a keepsake in your home. 

Variations of The Unity Sand Ceremony

This lovely wedding ritual has come to have many meaningful variations over the years. Here are four of them that you could consider for your Cornish wedding. 

Including Your Parents

In this version, both sets of parents also have a vase of sand with different colours. They can then take turns adding this to the central vase to represent their support of the couple. The couple then adds their own sand last before it is sealed. It's a great way to include your parents in your ceremony. 

Including Your Children

This version is excellent for a blended family where both partners have their own children. It symbolises the entire family joining into one big happy family. Each child can have a tiny vase with coloured or white sand to include in the big vase. If you already have children together, this version is also a lovely way to involve them in your ceremony. 

A Christian Version

In this version of the unity sand ceremony, the big vase is filled to one third its capacity with white sand. This signifies God's role as a foundation in the couple's marriage. The couple can then add their different coloured sand before it is sealed up. 

Unity sand ceremonies are perfect if you're having a relaxed and informal Cornish wedding. They are also great for beachside weddings as the sand aligns with the beach theme. 

So will you include this in your wedding?

I would love a chance to capture special moments like these and more at your Cornish wedding. Here at Steven Rees Webb Photography, documenting weddings is my passion, and it would delight me to do the same for yours. Contact me today!

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Professional, Fun and Relaxed Wedding Photography

My name is Steven! I'm a full-time documentary wedding photographer from Cornwall. I specialise in relaxed and unposed photography, capturing the moments of your day as they happen.

I love what I do, and I always have fun doing it. If you are looking for someone to capture every moment, create beautiful lasting memories, someone who will laugh with your guests, talk to the kids, pet all the dogs and get stuck into almost any task on the day, then I am the person for you!

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