Weddings are full of symbolism, most of it relating to the bride's family and groom's family becoming one family. In Christian weddings, the couple often performs a small task that symbolizes the two persons becoming one flesh, as stated in Genesis 2:24: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one." One way to symbolize this unity is to perform a sand ceremony.
Origins of the Ceremony
It is unclear where the tradition of the sand ceremony originated. Many believe that it originated in the Hawaiian Islands -- where beach weddings are common -- while others claim that a similar ceremony has long been performed by certain Native American groups. Wherever the origin, it is no longer limited to a people group or even religious denominations. Many couples, regardless of their religious or spiritual beliefs, use the ceremony to express their deep commitment to each other.
How It's Done
Before the ceremony, the bride and groom each prepare a small vial or cup of sand. If the wedding is at a beach, the bride and groom may use shells to pour the sand. Some couples choose to use different colors of sand, such as the colored sand that is sold at craft stores. Others use sand from a specific place, such as a favorite vacation spot. If the bride and groom are from opposite coasts, they might each take sand from their particular coast. During the ceremony, the minister makes a speech about how the two will now become one, and then he will direct the bride and groom to pour their individual vials of sand into one container.
What It Means
The mixing of the two different types of sand into one, new composition is a symbol of the covenant of marriage. As the sand mixes together, the minister will often quote Matthew 19:6: "What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." Then the minister may point out how difficult it would be to separate the now-combined sands into their original, individual containers. The difficulty of this hypothetical task is a reminder of the couple's solemn promise to God to commit to making their marriage work.
Some Christian couples also choose to ask the mothers of the bride and groom to pour a small amount of sand into the container. This signifies the joining of the two families into one family under God. Children of the bride and groom may also be asked to contribute to the pattern with their own colors of sand. Or, a couple may ask the minister to pour a third color of sand into the container to signify the work of the Holy Spirit in the couple's marriage.
After the Wedding
The swirling pattern of the sand is often quite attractive, especially if two or more different colors were used. This unique design is a visual reminder of God's design, or plan, for a marriage. For this reason, many Christian couples choose to display their container of sand in a prominent location, perhaps on a mantel next to a framed wedding portrait.
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