The Meaning Behind Five Popular Wedding Rituals

While planning a wedding, brides worry most about their dress,  flowers,  food, and venue. But, they sometimes forget all the little rituals and traditions that are part of this big event.

Although these rituals and traditions might seem silly, or you might take them for granted, they have a deep rooted history. Without them, a  wedding wouldn’t seem like a wedding.

Curious and intrigued, I went in search of reasons behind the most common wedding rituals, and here’s what I found.

Giving Away the Bride

The process of giving away the bride dates back to a time when young women were thought of as property. Until they were married, they were owned by their fathers, and he could even use them in business negotiations. It was common for fathers to promise their daughter’s  to wealthy men, in hopes that they too would benefit from this exchange.

As sexist and outdated as this tradition might seem, it’s still quite common. However, the modern day meaning behind it is more symbolical, which is why this tradition is still widely accepted. Now, it is interpreted as the father “letting go” of his little girl, and allowing her to become an independent woman.

The Lighting of the Unity Candle

The unity candle ceremony is most common in traditional weddings with religious undertones.  One secular interpretation of this is the sand ceremony, which you can read more about below. In the unity candle ceremony, the bride and groom both use two smaller candles to simultaneously light one large candle. This symbolizes the joining of two as one.

Unity Candle Ceremony from
Unity Candle Ceremony from

The Broom Ceremony

While doing some research, I found an old tradition called the broom ceremony. This is a common ritual among African American couples, although it isn’t practiced as much now as it used to be. When slavery existed, slaves were not allowed to have traditional, legally recognized ceremonies. The broom ceremony was something that developed within the community, as a secret way of confirming a couple’s union. The officiant would place a broom on the ground, and the couple would jump over it together. This symbolized them crossing over together into a new life.

The Sand Ceremony

The sand ceremony is the secular version of the unity candle. Not everyone wants a ceremony based on religious tradition, but they still want to do something that signifies the joining of two into one. The sand ceremony is the perfect alternative. The bride and groom both pour different colored sand into a glass, which is fun, symbolic, and gives them a great post wedding keepsake.

Sand Ceremony from
Sand Ceremony from


Circling is a popular tradition in Eastern Europe, especially among those who practice the Hindu religion. In this ritual, the bride and groom circle the altar three times, which symbolizes their newfound journey together as a couple,  and unified them as one. Circling is to Eastern Europeans as a post ceremony kiss is to Americans –  a publicly acknowledged way of sealing the deal.

Do you have any unique wedding rituals that your family practices? Comment below!