two hand holding lit candles to light one central candle

How to enhance your ceremony with symbolic actions

If you’ve ever read my blog posts or viewed my videos before, you’ll know that I’m a bit of a fan of a symbolic action! If you’ve not heard me talk about them before – here’s a quick re-cap: A symbolic action is something you do in your ceremony that can really add meaning, significance, depth and enrichment to your ceremony.

Probably the most well known symbolic action is the exchanging of rings in a wedding ceremony. It’s very common and traditional in western culture to exchange rings – but you don’t have to do that if you don’t want to. It doesn’t form part of a legal ceremony and you can choose to both exchange rings, only one of you receive a ring, or you could choose to exchange a different type of gift between you. The exchange of rings has a meaning and symbolism behind it – there is a reason why there is a tradition of exchanging rings (watch out for the separate blog post on that one, coming soon!)

But, there are lots and lots of different symbolic actions you can do to enrich and enhance your ceremony – and they’re not just for weddings! I implore you to not for a second think that symbolic actions aren’t going to work in the ceremony your planning – because whatever it is we can find the symbolism and meaning to enhance it.

There are of course many actions that are fitting for a wedding (or other couple ceremony) such as sand, water and candle ceremonies, but there are also a range of beautiful actions you can include in a naming ceremony, or a celebration of life (celebrating the life of someone who has passed away). For example, you could choose to perform a Tree or shrub planting. This is a great way to celebrate the memory of your loved one, that will remain for years to come. Equally, Tree planting is a great way to mark and celebrate a new life – in a naming ceremony for example. The tree will grow and flourish as your little one does too. 

And if you want to add a bit of fun to your ceremony, why not do something like jumping over the broomstick at your wedding?! We’ve all been to weddings which, as special as they are (because the couple are special to you), wouldn’t be amazing to have your guests remember your wedding day in a few years time….”do you remember their wedding? You know, that thing they did with the broomstick – that was really fun!!”. IT’s something people will remember.

And with most symbolic actions you can choose for your Celebrant to perform the action with just you, or in most cases you can incorporate your guests too, which can be a really beautiful thing – especially if you have special people in your life who you’d like to be more involved, rather than just standing by observing. This is especially true for something like handfasting (taking ribbon or cord and symbolically binding your hands together).

And, If there’s something in your life that you would like to include and make an important part of your ceremony, we can find a fitting symbolic action for it.

And alongside these many different actions, are the words that are spoken – a symbolic action is great, but if no-one knows what or why it’s being done, it will feel out of place. For example, trees have mythical and ancient meanings.

So, from sand and water to ribbons and trees, and beyond, there’s a whole host of meaningful, symbolic actions you can include in your ceremony. As your celebrant, I’ll guide you through all your options.

 I wouldn’t recommend anyone have a standard, run-of-the-mill ceremony, because we’re all different and life is colourful. If I could do my wedding ceremony again – I would (see previous blog post on that one!) – just because now I know what more we could have included! But whether it is a wedding, naming, celebration of life, or something in between – we can create the ceremony your heart desires.


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