For those looking for an innovative unity ritual, particularly for an outdoor wedding, a “planting” might be an nifty choice. Ceremonial plantings are associated with many life events and transitions including graduations, marriages, home blessings, and remembrances. While most couples wouldn’t be keen on shoveling a lot of dirt around during the wedding, a few symbolic scoops of soil around a beautiful flower, plant or sapling is a potent expression of the marriage as a living entity—a reminder of the life that will spring from this day forward. Likewise, the action is an expression of the couple working together as partners. (This reminds me, a bit, of an unconventional custom in some traditional German weddings. After the ceremony, the couple will saw a log together, showing their desire to work as husband and wife!) A planting not only creates an unusual visual component of the wedding, but lends itself to the inclusion of exceptional prose and poetry.
The choices for the living plant are limitless. A favorite idea of mine is the Buddleia, sometimes called a “Butterfly Bush.” The plant draws innumerable varieties of butterflies, anywhere it is planted it seems. And butterflies could not be richer in their symbolism of hope and transformation. Likewise, nearly every common tree is connected with some particular meaning: be it the oak’s reference to strength and courage to the protection of the cedar tree. On a smaller scale, a planting might utilize a hearty herb, such as rosemary, which has been used in weddings for centuries, as it is a sign of fidelity.
After the ceremony, the plant or new tree may be taken to the home of the bride and groom, as a touching reminder of the wedding day. Or perhaps the seedling(s) could be gifted to parents or other loved ones. It might also be possible to donate a new tree to a park or other special place.
At the end of the day, this may be a comforting, beautiful ritual….one that can actually be accomplished without really getting one’s hands dirty!