Wedding Sand Ceremony Guide

Written by    Last updated: May 30, 2013

The most important part of your wedding day is, without a doubt, the ceremony itself – when the bride and groom become the Mr and Mrs. Here’s Confetti’s complete guide on how to use a wedding sand ceremony to make it totally unique!

Donna & Paul's real wedding in Ibiza

Image of Donna & Paul’s real wedding courtesy of Ibiza Wedding Shop

Unless you are having a full religious service, you may be surprised to find how short a typical ceremony is – anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour. The ceremony is also pre-set for you – the vows are pre-written, there may be restrictions on music and readings, or on order of service.

It’s no wonder then, that in the last few years there has been a definite movement towards personalising ceremonies to suit the couples – more venues applying for ceremony licences, the lawful lifting of the restriction on the time a ceremony may take place, a rise in use of celebrants for completely bespoke ceremonies, and registry offices becoming increasingly accommodating to the couples’ wishes.

Reception décor and theme trends come and go, but in ceremonies a very notable one is a rise in popularity of wedding sand ceremonies. A sand ceremony is simple yet meaningful, easily customised, and the couple are left with a unique keepsake of the day, in addition to photos or film. A beautiful vase or a shadow box with layers of coloured sand is a touching reminder of the vows made on the wedding day.

Sand ceremony shadow box

Above, sand ceremony shadow box with photo frames

Why have a sand ceremony

  • it is an unexpectedly lovely moment for your guests to witness – remember, they are probably expecting the usual vows, ring exchange and a kiss
  • it is a visual symbolisation of the bride and groom joining together in marriage
  • if other family members are involved, it is a beautiful representation of two families coming together
  • the sand-filled vase is a beautiful keepsake
  • it makes the ceremony unique for the couple, instead of using only the standard ceremony options

Sand ceremony mini vases

Above, mini nestling sand vases

How to arrange a sand ceremony

The first thing you have to do is check with the official or religious person who will preside over your ceremony whether they will allow it. Many registry offices have this information available on their website, but you should always check for any requirements they may have, or time restrictions, or where your sand ceremony will fit in the order of the day. This will have some influence on what you do and say.

Now comes the fun part – shopping for your sand ceremony accessories, that is the sand, the vases or the shadow boxes. There are 28 different colours of sand available at the Confetti shop – you can match the sand to your wedding theme, or to your home décor (the vase will likely be on proud display in your home after the wedding) or simply use colours that you love or ones meaningful to you both. You can also personalise the vases with your engraved initials, or names, or the wedding date.

Next – decide how you want your sand ceremony to happen (keeping in mind any guidelines you may have been given by the official). Do you want only you and the groom to participate, or do you want to involve more family members to symbolise the joining of two families? Do you want it to be silent, or with a musical background, or do you want some special words to be said? Who will say them – you and the groom, or a specially chosen person?

Finally, when you have decided on the above, agree with the official on when your sand ceremony will take place in the proceedings, how he/she will introduce it and check that the wording you have chosen is appropriate (for example, a registry ceremony cannot have any religious references).

Bride and groom pouring sand

Above, sand ceremony with heart-shaped vase set

Sand ceremony step-by-step

The sand ceremony is led entirely by you, therefore there is a lot of flexibility on what you can do.

A typical sand ceremony set includes three or four vases. In a three-vase set, there are two colours of sand (one for the bride, one for the groom) poured into the main vase. In a four-vase set, there are three colours – one for the bride, one for the groom, and a third colour in an extra vase to represent their union.

For couples who wish to include other family members, for example their children, there are smaller vase sets available to use for extra colours.

You may also have a shadow box, which can be personalised with a wedding photo, a copy of your vows, or anything else you find meaningful.

Sand shadow box

Above, photo shadow sand ceremony box

Sand ceremony ideas

  • The official introduces the sand ceremony, or
  • A chosen person introduces the ceremony and reads words meaningful to the couple before or after the sand is poured.
  • The bride and the groom alternate in pouring the sand for a layered effect, starting or topping the vase with the third colour, or mix of their two colours, or
  • The bride and the groom pour their sand, followed by their family members.
  • Now the bride and groom say their official vows.

Some of the favourite words to be said during the sand ceremony are poems about sand and love, of which there are plenty to be found online. It’s important to keep in mind that your non-religious ceremony may not allow religious references.

Heart sand ceremony vase

Above, heart shaped sand ceremony vase set

Louisa, 29, a newlywed from Surrey says, “We had a sand ceremony at our wedding to represent the merging of our lives and our families. My husband has a son from his first marriage, Josh, and we included him in the ceremony too. We had three coloured sands from Alum Bay (the boys are from IOW originally) and we slowly mixed them in together, whilst we made promises to each other and to Josh (who added his sand in too) to build a new family unit, where would all be there for each other. We all cried. The congregation cried. It was a really personal moment. The only thing that beat it was being declared officially husband and wife! I’d highly recommend a sand ceremony to anyone who is considering it. It adds a new level to the symbolic nature of a new life together. You won’t regret having one. Trust me! Good luck to all the brides to be!”

The sand ceremony is a deeply personal and meaningful touch to the most important part of your wedding day - make your ceremony more about you than any pre-written vows or customs could ever convey.

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