Symbolic ritual, all you need to know

December 6, 2022by Diego Giusti

There are those who choose it to get married in an exclusive and particular location, others to personalize the ceremony one hundred percent so as to make it unforgettable. Anyway, the symbolic rite is emotion and magic. I find it the perfect touch of color, that shred of suggestion and enchantment that should never be missing in a wedding.

Importantly it does not replace the civil or religious rite, in fact it has no legal value and the promises will still have to be exchanged in the municipality or in the church to make the marriage effective.


Why the symbolic rite?
I would say that there are various reasons to choose it. First of all, despite being a figurative rite, it still represents a very intense moment, capable of adding romance to the ceremony. It is also one more possibility to personalize the ceremony, being able to choose more or less any place, the celebrant, the readings and the background music. It grants ample freedom not to give up what you have always dreamed of for the fateful yes.

But it's not just that of course. The symbolic rite is in fact highly recommended in some specific cases. For example, when the location you have chosen for your wedding is not authorized for civil ceremonies. You will then be able to sign the papers at the town hall before or after the symbolic rite carried out in the place you prefer, whether it is on the beach by the sea or in a dream villa (read my article on villas for weddings in Tuscany). Or for the renewal of wedding vows, for second weddings, for those with a different religious belief.

How the symbolic rite works
Let's start from the assumption that with the symbolic rite it is possible to sew a ceremony from A to Z. In fact, you will have total freedom of choice on every aspect. It can be done anywhere and celebrated by anyone.

The first peculiarity of this rite is that you can choose the celebrant, the one who will lead the ceremony. A friend, a relative or a professional in the sector if you prefer, as long as they are of age. He will have to speak in public and orchestrate everything, so look for someone who can do it and who can manage their emotions.

For the readings you will have carte blanche, so as to create a booklet of texts that can fully represent you. The same goes for wedding vows that can be written by the spouses themselves or by others, with no limit to creativity or romanticism.

The same goes for all the elements that characterize the ceremony. For music there are no limits, and I suggest you read my article dedicated to most romantic songs for wedding. Even with the outfit there are no problems: colorful, less conventional or more low-cut dresses are allowed. Among other things, many of the symbolic rituals that I will mention later in the article are very suitable for bohemian style weddings, where the natural elements are the undisputed protagonists of the scene.




The ladder of the symbolic rite
There is no standard lineup and therefore you can organize the ceremony as you see fit. However, they are usually identified a series of important moments that compose it: the entrance of the bride and groom, the welcome speech, the readings, the exchange of promises, one or more symbolic rites and a final with music. There are professionals who are able to organize your symbolic ritual, taking care of creating a lineup and everything that follows based on your indications and wishes.

Is it possible to associate the symbolic rite with the religious one?
Depends. It is always advisable to ask the parish priest who will marry you since some symbolic rites have pagan origins and therefore contrast with the Christian faith. Others, on the other hand, can be inserted with fewer problems, for example the veiling, the ceremony of the rose or that of light.

What are the trendiest symbolic rites?
There are many symbolic rites, always very suggestive and romantic. For each location or style, it is easy to find the ritual that best suits you. Each of these can be clearly accompanied by a personalized text for the promises, which gives value to the rite itself and makes it understandable to all. Words and gestures are essential protagonists of the ceremony. I'll show you some of the most popular ones.

L'handfasting it is a neo-pagan rite that comes from English-speaking countries, mainly the United States and Great Britain, where it even has legal value. Everything focuses on tying the hands of the bride and groom with one or more ribbons to symbolize their union. For this rite, 4 witnesses are needed who represent the elements of nature, i.e. water, fire, earth and air. Each one will bless the bride and groom and the chosen ribbons can have different colors to express multiple meanings.


Another very emotional rite is the one called “light ceremony”, which consists in lighting a large candle thanks to two single and smaller flames supported by the two spouses. Here too, friends and relatives can be involved as helpers in carrying out the task. Often the rite is accompanied by the reading of a passage just before lighting.

Perfect for weddings overlooking the sea or on the beach, here she is sand ceremony. Each groom holds a container, preferably transparent, with sand of different colors. Both will then pour their sand into a larger jar, creating particular chromatic shades thanks to the different grains. This gesture represents the fusion of two people that creates a new reality. This rite would seem to date back to Native American peoples and Hawaiian tribes.


Pure romance instead for the rose ceremony. It is the freest rite of all, in fact it is possible to carry it out as you prefer. The bride and groom can simply exchange a rose, or friends or relatives can also participate. The rose is the symbol of love and therefore everything focuses on the exchange of a very important gift.

In the end the ritual of the heat of the rings, capable of involving all your guests and making the moment of exchanging promises magical. The wedding rings, perhaps wrapped in a nice little bag, pass from hand to hand between friends and family who, holding them for a few moments, will express their wishes for the couple who will then go and exchange them. During this passage of the rings, one can think of beautiful background music or the reading of a particularly intense passage.

I find the symbolic rite a unique opportunity to be able to make your day even more emotional. I participate in many weddings every year and I know very well how much these small gestures can add value to the ceremony, also giving even more particular and suggestive images to keep for a lifetime.
Because after all, romance never hurts!