Weddings: What Is a Unity Ceremony? | Knoxville Wedding Photographer

Hi friends!

With all that’s going on in our world right now, I bet it feels surprisingly soothing to tune out the news for a brief moment and focus instead on your pending wedding plans. There’s nothing like mapping out one of the biggest celebrations of your life to put you in a good mood! Not to mention, imagining all of the ways you can make the day unique to you and your partner’s love story works wonders for your creativity, optimism, and sense of hope.

There are so many parts of a wedding that lend themselves to that special touch, but today, I want to focus on the wedding ceremony itself. One of my favorite ways couples add personality and flair to this ritual is with the use of a unity ceremony.

What is a unity ceremony?

A unity ceremony is simply an addition to your existing wedding ceremony structure that symbolizes you and your partner joining together as one. There are SO many types of unity ceremonies that cater to a couple’s religious beliefs, heritage, and personal passions, and some extend beyond the couple to unite their two families as well. A unity ceremony is certainly not required, but it really can elevate your expression of love, devotion, and commitment to one another if you find one that really syncs with you.

Unity Ceremony Ideas to Get You Started

Plant a Tree

This unity ceremony is perfect for eco-conscious couples, nature lovers, and folks who have chosen an outdoor venue like a garden or farm. During your wedding ceremony, you pause to plant a tree in a pot together, with both of you adding soil by hand to the pot to symbolize your union, as well as the consistent love and care it will need to grow and flourish.

Blend Your Own Coffee

This fun, fresh, and caffeinated take on the classic sand ceremony involves you and your partner pouring two different types of coffee beans into a single jar, symbolizing the perfect blend you two create by joining your lives together. And then quite literally, you can grind, brew, and sip your unity java in the weeks after your big day! Coffee aficionados, this one’s for you.

Grab a Blanket

What better way to celebrate the gifts of warmth and comfort you and your partner give each other than with a blanket unity ceremony? With roots in American Indian tradition, this ritual involves draping a blanket over the shoulders of the couple together, symbolizing the love and comfort they vow to give each other for the rest of their lives. Family quilts or blankets of sentimental value are particularly powerful choices in this ceremony.

Light Some Candles

For folks who love classic wedding vibes, it’s hard to beat the often-used candle unity ceremony. Typically, the couple lights one large candle together with their own smaller candles. The mothers of the bride and groom initially light the smaller candles to represent the coming together of the two families. This one is particularly easy to pair with any wedding aesthetic, and one of the best for including participants beyond the couple.

A Few Others

The Unity Candle, Knot Tying Ceremony, The Combining of  Colors, a Sand Ceremony…the list of these special moments is long.  But, they are all SO special.  And who is to say that you will not create your own idea?!

What do you think? Will you be including a unity ceremony on your big day?

Happy Wedding Planning!
With Grit and Grace~
Sarah Keenan, Photographer

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sarah keenan photographer knoxville asheville wedding family

meet sarah


I have an affinity to all things light and airy.  I love color, sunshine, romance, and laughter.  I love inspirational quotes, meeting new people, flowers, and the idea of finishing a great book.  My go-to drink is coffee.  My outlet is dance.  And, aallllll of my free time is spent with my crew, including our German Shepherd, Gaia.   

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Hi there!  I am Real Estate Photographer, Sarah Keenan.  Raised in East Tennessee and a proud graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and all that offers runs deep for this gal.  Having worked in photography for over 14 years, I am excited to be back home and working along side folks like you.

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