Unity Candle and Variations
I think that unity candles are a very symbolic and romantic ceremony that can be added to any wedding. For those whom are not familiar with this, it is when the couple each light a candle which represents themselves and their love. Usually something is said to explain the ceremony. Then when they are instructed to do so they take their candles and simultaneously light a third larger candle. This symbolizes that the two seperate people are now becoming one.
I have also witnessed children from a previous relationship being included symbolizing that everyone is now one big family. I think that this is a great idea because it includes the child(ren) and symbolizes to them the union.
Another somewhat similar variation is to do the candle as stated before and then allow all of the guests to also join. This is a great concept because it shows how the couple's life and love is now linked to the entire group, friends and family alike. Once the unity candle is lit the guests can approach and light their own candle to either be placed somewhere together, to be held during a song or while a passage is being read aloud. Of course in order to do something like this you would need to have a somewhat small guest list or it could easily take a REALLY long time. A solution to this for weddings with a larger guest list would be to actually save the unity candle until the reception. Then have votive holders on each table and have the guests approach and light their candles then return them to the table.
A different method is to use something else to portray the same meaning. My wife and I used a sand box. The ceremony was very similar to the candles, but instead of lighting candles we each had a different color of sand that we poured into the box. My wife ordered it for us so it had custom engraving on it, but you could always make your own or use something other than sand. I really liked this because it displays how are lives are now mixed together to form something new. Plus it is something that you can take home to display and reflect upon. A method like this would also be great for a couple having an outside wedding. You can never guess how windy your day may or may not be and it would be quite embarrassing and frustrating for the candles to blow out right at the most inopportune moment.
My final example is to use a unity cross or unity heart. There are many versions available to purchase or this is something that could be made by you someone you know that is creative. Basically the idea is that you assemble the pieces while something is being said or music is played to demonstrate building a family and how all the components are needed and equally important. The cross used in the picture I included here came with something to say explaining that one part represented the woman, the other represented the man, and the pins holding it together represent God. This could be done as simple, complex, and include as much or little religion as you would like.
Well, those are just a few ideas and observations. Hopefully this helps or inspires possibilities for your special day. Just remember that is the most important part of this whole ordeal. It is YOUR special day to take and make it your own. I am all about traditions but sometimes a little spin on traditions can make something mean so much more to everyone involved.