90% of the sand ceremonies performed at weddings look lame and awkward.  

A sand ceremony should be sweet, beautiful and satisfying when performed correctly.  But they almost never are because the minister or officiant doesn’t know what they’re doing.

So let me be your sweet release.  Pour a stiff one and I’ll show you the way.
(If you want to perform the most beautiful weddings in the world, get ordained with Wanderlust Bay.)


A Little Background


A sand ceremony is no different than exchanging rings, vows, or a kiss during a wedding.

The sand ceremony symbolizes the couple’s love and commitment at the wedding.

In reality, a wedding can be 30 seconds long.  All the ordained minister or officiant has to do is confirm that each person wants to marry the other.

“Elon, do you want to marry Cardi?

Cardi, do you want to marry Elon?

Congratulations you’re married.”

unity ceremony idea

Technically, that’s all you need.

But really, who wants to have a wedding like that?  Put your hand down Larry King (he’s on wedding #8 so he probably appreciates brevity). 

A wedding is a celebration and massively important life event.  We like to add flourishes and substance to the ceremony with readings, writing vows, poetry, singing, prayers, etc.

When done the right way, a sand ceremony is a lovely addition to a wedding.


The Setup


The basic physical parts of the ceremony are:

1. two small vessels that will hold sand
2. a larger vessel that will have sand poured into during the ceremony
3. sand (there are usually 2 different colors for the bride and groom)
4. a table

These kits take all different shapes and sizes, but these are the basics.

Before the ceremony begins, you’ll want to make sure the sand ceremony is setup properly.  It is common for the couple to drop the sand ceremony kit, still in it’s packing materials, on a table near the altar.

Here’s what you do before the wedding begins:

1. Move the unity ceremony table where you think it works best.  I like to put the table closer to the audience so that the couple is moving towards everyone and it feels more interactive.
2. Unwrap the ceremony kit if needed.
3. Fill the small vessels with sand near the top.
4. If the mouth of the final vessel is thin, use the funnel.  If not, get rid of it.  As far as I know, you will still have a happy marriage even if you spill some sand.
5. Uncork or take the topper off the main vessel.
6. Arrange all of the pieces nicely on the table.


where I put the sand ceremony table

I put the sand ceremony to the side of the altar and as close to the audience as possible. (You can’t see the audience behind me but they’re basically in my back pockets.)

The Timing


I like to have the ceremony right after the ring exchange.  But there is not really a wrong place for it.

I like it after the ring exchange because the couple is warmed up and you’ll need them to show some energy to sell the next unity ceremony.

It’s also near the end of the ceremony which means people are getting anxious and excited about the conclusion of said ceremony.


The Wording


As mentioned, some unity ceremony kits include wording for the minster or officiant to say during the sand pouring. 

Unless you get explicit instructions from the couple (you probably won’t), you can use the provided wording, use a script you find online, or make some stuff up yourself.

Sand Ceremony Wording:

“Before each of you is a container of sand.  That container of sand represents you – all that you were, all that you are, and all that you will ever be.  And today you are combining all of you and your uniqueness into the final vessel.  And just as these grains of sand can no longer be separated into their individual containers again, so shall your marriage and your lives forever be intertwined.”  

Or something like that.


The Execution


This is where things get dicey.  Without proper direction from the minister, the couple is left wandering aimlessly and dumping sand all over the table while you say a bunch of words no one actually hears.    

The couple and audience is dependent entirely on you to make the sand ceremony flow nicely.

At a minimum, you will almost definitely need to write a transition from the ring ceremony to the sand ceremony.  It can be as simple as, “The couple has exchanged rings as a symbol of their love and commitment.  They have decided to further symbolize their union through a sand ceremony.  Aladdin and Jasmine, would you please now step down to the table.”

Tell or show the couple exactly how to stand at the table.  They couple (and kids if included) should stand on the back side of the table facing the audience.

Then, you have to tell the couple exactly how to pour the sand.

Say this:

“As I recite the wording for your sand ceremony, I’d like you Jasmine to start by picking up your vessel.  You’ll pour about a quarter of your sand.  Aladdin, you’ll then pour a quarter of your sand. Continue alternating until your individual container is empty.  Although Jasmine, you should save a little sand to pour last, because you should always end up on top.”  🙂

After the sand is poured or you put a stop to the ceremony* you’ll want to direct the couple back to the altar.  “Thank you both.  If you could now join be back at the altar.”

From here you go into your finishing remarks. 

If you want to earn bonus points, after the ceremony you can finish pouring any remaining sand to fill the final vessel to the top.  Then put the top on it and give it to someone to pack it safely for the couple.

And that’s how it’s done.  So dang easy, when you know how to do it. 

*Super Duper Pro Tip: If it is taking a long time to pour the sand in the final container, you need to put a stop to the ceremony.  What I do is after each person has had 2 turns pouring I simply say, “thank you both, we can finish pouring the sand later, I see Aunt Glenda’s drink is empty”.


Variations and Embellishments


In this wedding the couple added sand from where they stood at the beach during their ceremony.

1. The officiant can pour some sand in the final vessel first (usually white sand).  Or you could use sand from the beach if doing a destination wedding.  Adding this sand first can symbolize God as the foundation of the marriage.
2. Dude, this sounds creepy to me and I’ve never seen or heard of this before, but as I’m writing this article and drinking a beer, I thought of this.  How about including the ashes of a loved one in the ceremony?  
3. Leave a bit of sand in the original containers meaning each person will still be individuals even though their lives are now joined.

Let your creativity and individuality shine through.

And good luck!  

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