Shifting sands

Sand ceremonies, that is. So many of my great NJ wedding ceremonies (smooth, eh?) include stories about couples who met on the beach, love the beach, got engaged on the beach; some of them even get married on the beach. What better way to include these magnificent backdrops in the ceremony itself! 

When I write a sand ceremony element, I usually talk about the notion that each partner (and this works especially well when one or both of the partners has children) brings their own individual gifts to the relationship. Each one has dreams, accomplishments, experiences that are theirs alone, but when combined, their histories and futures cannot help to be changed forever. They never lose their identities, but their lives are enriched when blended with the lives of those they love.

This ritual is an especially moving visual reminder of the delicate balance of separate lives coming together to form something entirely new.  Here is part of a script that I used for a recent wedding ceremony that included the groom’s son.

“Maria and Todd and Brian; on this joyous day, you join your separate lives together. The three separate vessels of sand symbolize your separate lives, separate families and separate sets of friends. They represent all that you are today, and all of what you will become as individuals. They also represent your lives before today. Each grain of sand is a thought, a word, a creation that has been shaped by each of you.

Todd’s  sand is black ; it is the color of wisdom, of the universe; it represents a life without negativity.

Maria’s sand is blue; it is the color of healing, of peace, of patience. It represents the element of water, symbolic of the ocean, twilight and the sky.

Brian’s  sand is white; the color of protection and potential. Anything is possible for you, held softly but firmly in the loving care of Maria and Todd.

And I just want to add a little sand from this very beach to the mix! Just to ground us, to remind us of the amazing day, a day that marks a transition for this family!

As these three containers of sand are poured into our family vessel, let us remember that the flowing together of sand symbolizes your lives blending together. There is tremendous happiness in the joining of all of you, but as each grain of sand maintains its individual identity, so do you. These three colors, as they are poured together, form variations on grey. This is a wonderful metaphor for the future, where all things can be looked at in many different ways. Your family is a combination of all the elements that make you unique, and those qualities are vital and distinct, but when layered together they create a landscape of a different color.”

(Maria and Todd and Brian  pour their sand into the family vessel. Celia scatters the beach sand on top.)

Several of my couples have personalized this ceremony in fabulously creative ways; using sand colors that represent the colleges at which they met; the personality traits that they love in each other; even colors that are considered lucky in their cultures or religious backgrounds. Sometimes the vessels are personal reminders of each of them; beakers and test tubes (for a couple of engineers), hand made pots (for two ceramic artists)  and even pyrex measuring cups (for a duet of  chefs). Each variation on the theme brought so much personality to the ceremony!

The sand ceremony has become very popular in the past few years, and finding sand and vessels is easy online. One of the most extensive sources is weddingsand.net. They have sand in a rainbow  of colors, and several different styles of vessels. Adding a personal touch of ritual to your ceremony has never been so e