| Naming Ceremonies | Wedding Ceremony | Wedding Rituals
The Sand Ceremony involves the pouring
of sand, representing individuals, from separate
smaller containers into one large one, either
consecutively to form identifiable layers, or
simultaneously, blending the sands to symbolise the
joining of lives. It is therefore particularly
suitable for situations where the lighting candles of
is impractical (such as outdoors).
It is a unity ritual that has many layers of symbolism
that differ from the more ephemeral symbolism of the
Unity Candle and reach further back in time and human
history than the invention of candles or the discovery
of fire. It is also a ritual that can involve the two
of you, or include other people, usually family
members. It is perfect for blending families, where
one or both of the marrying couple is bringing
children into the marriage, and for baby naming
ceremonies to symbolise the expansion of the family.
While the Unity Candle will eventually be consumed by
burning, the permanent artifact of a Sand Ceremony is
a glass container filled with non-biodegradable sand
that is structurally millions of years old, a powerful
representation of stability, continuity and eternity.
Choose what you want your
Sand Ceremony to symbolise
A sand ceremony can take a number of different forms:
- emphasising the merging of two lives
- recognising that while two lives join, each
person remains an individual
- recognising the addition of a child to a family
- emphasising the merging of two families
- using coloured sands to represent individual
qualities or intentions
How much attention you pay to the visual aspects of
the sand ceremony, the sand, the containers, and the
way it is poured, will contribute a great deal to
ensuring that your inclusion of the ritual in your
ceremony is successful and memorable.
What you will need for your
Minimum requirements are:
- A glass container into which to pour the sand
- Two smaller glass containers for the couple
- A smaller glass container for each additional
person (if any) participating in the ritual
You will need two different types of container: the
larger central container, representing your
relationship, your marriage, and your new life, to
pour the sand into, and smaller containers to pour the
sand from. Because you will want to keep the larger
container with the blended sand in it, you’ll require
some means of making sure the sand stays in it.
The containers should be glass because glass is made
from sand and other ingredients fused by heat;
therefore glass is a powerful symbol of permanence.
You can add your own unique touch to the ceremony by
choosing containers that hold personal meaning or
reflect your own personal style. Some of the more
unusual containers chosen by couples I have officiated
for include the bride’s grandmother’s crystal powder
bowl, a decanter sourced from a charity store for a
few dollars, a vase engraved with their names and
wedding date, a decorative bottle, and the empty
bottle from the wine they shared on their first date.
Using a previously used container is not only a
romantic choice, but an ethical one.
Consider also the form of Sand Ceremony you will use.
If you are blending the sand your objective can easily
be achieved regardless of the shape, size or diameter
of the container. If you are planning to pour the sand
in distinct layers, a taller container, symmetrically
shaped, of a smaller diameter will allow the layers to
be deeper and therefore create a greater impact.
For the containers from which you pour the sand, you
can use smaller bottles, shells, shot glasses, wine
glasses, champagne flutes, or any container that will
hold an appropriate amount of sand and be comfortable
to hold and pour from. If you have purchased a pair of
engraved champagne flutes for your toast to each
other, use those. Just make sure you delegate someone
to retrieve them, give them a quick wash and dry, and
ensure that they are taken to the reception venue and
added to your place settings.
A number of retailers sell kits for sand rituals, some
of which are more practical than others. Most of the
sand ceremony kits have relatively wide mouthed vases,
though some come with corks (requiring you to use some
sort of funnel to make sure the sand doesn’t go
everywhere while you’re pouring it).
For open mouthed vases or containers, you can seal the
top of the sand with melted candle wax after the
ceremony, or you can fill the space with clear gel wax
and embed a wick in it. Or you could use a lidded
Crystalline sands can be purchased in numerous colors.
However, it is a simple matter to color your own.
Colouring your own sand with chemical free food
colouring creates vibrant colours without
environmental harm. As does making sure that your sand
is ethically sourced without environmental harm.
- Buy white sand from an aquarium supply store
- Measure out the amount you need for a particular
color on a metal oven tray (or use an aluminum
foil pie plate or loaf pan)
- Add food coloring a drop at a time stirring
until you have the color evenly distributed
through the sand
- Place in the oven at a very low heat until
- Then pour it into a clean dry bottle and seal
until ready to use.
You will need to carefully calculate how much sand you
need. A simple way to decide how much to buy is to
work on volume. Fill your container with water, note
how many ounces (milliliters) it holds, and then
divide that by the number of colors you plan to use.
It is important to keep the sand dry so that it flows
freely when poured. In conditions of high
humidity, the sand may become damp and will clump,
inhibiting flowing. So ensure that your sand is kept
thoroughly dry by keeping it sealed until you are
ready to use it.
On the day, give it a good stir to break up any lumps.
Using beach sand or soil
Another variation - and how the very first sand
ceremonies were done when the ritual was first
invented back in 1993 - is to use sand from a beach
that means a lot to you, or use soil from your
childhood home etc
If you choose either it is critical that you make sure
that the sand/soil is well sifted to remove any
organic matter that could rot (and subsequently
stink), and that the sand/soil is well sterilised by
heating it in the oven. If transporting soil or
sand from one country to another it is important to
note that inorganic "powders". such as sand are
subject to a weight limit (currently 350g, but your
should check) and you may need a permit. Enquire early
to make sure that it isn't confiscated at the border.
It is also important to make sure you aren't
transporting nasties like fireants.
Be careful what you add
You can add glitter to your sand. Choose the glitter
You can also dried lavender or freeze-dried rose
petals between each layer of sand, or just to top it
all off. Both have lovely significance - lavender
representing devotion, and roses being the universal
flower symbol of love - but you will need a
wide-mouthed jar to accomplish this effectively, and
you must make sure that the lavender or rose petals
are completed dry so they won't rot.
Preserving your Sand
Ceremony layers for the future
After the ceremony you will be transporting your Sand
Ceremony container To make sure the contents don't
move and destroy the layers
- Make sure that the jar is full to the top
- Make sure that the jar is securely capped.
- Where your chosen container doesn't come with a
stopper you can manufacture one from cork (might
need to be trimmed), carve one from wood, or find
a stopper that will fit. You can also seal the top
with a thick layer of melted wax.
If you're interested in learning more about the
history of the Sand Ceremony and the related Unity
Candle Ceremony, together with specific examples of
different types of Sand Ceremony, my book Unity
Candle & Sand Ceremony
: A Definitive
Guide to the Creative Use of Candle and Sand Rituals
in Wedding and Commitment Ceremonies
available from Amazon.com