What is a sand ceremony? How can I include it in my Life Events ceremony?


An article in the series of articles on ceremonies (customs) in Life Events ceremonies by Queensland civil celebrant Kay Franks

As a celebrant I am asked, this same question. What is sand ceremony and how can I include it in my ceremony? Typically associated with weddings, this does not mean that it cannot be included in your Life Events ceremony.

This article is the first in a series of articles where Kay Franks from Life Events will discuss ceremonies (or customs) for inclusion in your Life Events ceremony.

A simple description

A sand ceremony is typically the pouring of sand from two containers into one in the marriage ceremony. This can be done by the marrying couple or their guests. Often there are words surrounding the action that relate to the individually of the couple or the blending of two families into one.

So where did it start? Why is it so popular?

Like most customs that surround a wedding, sand ceremonies have a rich and cultural beginning. It is thought that the custom of pouring sand from one container to another commenced with the Hawaiian wedding ceremonies. As many occurred on the beach, it is only natural that they contained the surrounding natural elements. In Hawaiian ceremonies, sand was poured from two containers (sometimes shells) into a larger container. This was done to depict the joining of two lives into one, through marriage. Sand was also taken from under the feet of the marrying couple. This part of the ritual, although not known by many, is still done today. So how did the sand ceremony become so popular? It was seen on the TV dating show, The Bachelorette a few years back, so its popularity has continued to grow.

Does it have to be sand? Coloured sand is commonly used as it forms an incredibly beautiful pattern, when poured from containers. Likewise a pattern is formed, if guests place in handfuls of sand. However, pebbles, stones, shells, crystals, beads can also be used in placement of the sand, or in combination with the sand. Likewise, glitter in the sand and different textures of sand can be used. The sky is the limit!

Where do I purchase the sand?

Craft shops and wedding items shops (including on line) has a range of sands and the bottles or vases. However, many couples collect up their sand from their favourite beach, or from the beach of their ceremony. Colouring can also be done through food dye or adding coloured chalk. The whiter the sand = the stronger the colour.

Again vases can be purchased from a craft shop or wedding speciality stores. Again, it is up to you what you choose; wide mouth vases or bottles are easy for pouring in the sand but require a stopper – sometimes wax; narrow mouthed vases or bottles require a pourer to collect up all the sand. Just make sure the container is clear so that you can enjoy the beauty of the design for many years to come.

What does a sand ceremony mean? How do we include it into our ceremony?

A sand ceremony should be used as a tool to tell your story. I do not believe that it should as secular as a blending of families only. I will go into how the sand ceremony can also be used for other Life Events, such as namings and celebrations of life. However the most popular use is for the blending of two families, particularly when children are included or the unity of two very individual people or their families. The sand ceremony is particularly successful if both families have not had an opportunity to get to know each other well, prior to the wedding of their family member.

Is it just for weddings?

Why should it be? A creative celebrant will be able to utilise the ceremony to represent your story and what you want to celebrate and demonstrate to your family and friends.

I will put forward a few ideas of how it can be incorporated into any Life Event.

Celebration of a Life (funerals)

We often visualise sand in an hour glass as the sands of time. This theme can be included in the ceremony. A creative celebrant will be able to pen a story about the departed and their life whilst sand is poured into a container by family and friends. Likewise, it can be used as a symbol of passing over – the perfect time for story telling about the departed.

* Naming of a child ceremony.

What better way of celebrating the naming of a child than to utilise the sand ceremony. Sand depicting the child (in a particular colour) and the parents in other colours could be blended. The addition of a new child into the family can see the opening of the bottle to include the coloured sand of the new child – especially if done by the brothers and sisters. Again, one can be done by the guardians and include the coloured sand depicting the new babe.

On my web site http://www.kayfranks.com.au I discuss ceremonies such as rose, circle of love etc. With each of these ceremonies, it should be remembered, that the custom is the tool and the story surrounding the custom is your story to tell.

Likewise, if you wish to use a ceremony for your life event and are stuck for ideas, please contact me on my website http://www.kayfranks.com.au

As a full-time civil celebrant, I am available for ceremonies across south-east Queensland, 365 days of the year; so I would love to hear from you about your Celebration or Ceremony.

written by Life Events
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