Introducing symbolism into your ceremony is a powerful way to make the day truly ‘your own’. I touched on this in my last blog, exploring the powerful ritual of ‘handfasting’. You can borrow rituals from other traditions – or create your own symbolic gestures to inject something incredibly meaningful, and personal to you, into your special day. In this blog, I look at sand pouring – a ritual used to symbolise a joining together, or of 2 (or more) becoming part of a bigger, more beautiful, whole.

What is a sand pouring ceremony?

Sand pouring is a simple concept – two (or more) people combine different colours or types of sand to make a sand sculpture. Sand pouring not only brings a personal focus to your ceremony, you have the sculpture as a reminder of a day shared and promises made.

Echoing back to a Hebrew tradition of combining salt to conclude a deal, a sand pouring ceremony is a simple yet very effective ritual to symbolise the coming together of people, of families. Not only that, as the sand can never truly be separated, the sand pouring represents the steadfast nature of the new unit that has been created.

You can use sand pouring to create a powerful image of enrichment – from individual colours combining to create a pattern that is more vibrant than the individual colours alone. This works well to celebrate marriage and to welcome a new member into your family at a naming ceremony.

Sand pouring in your wedding ceremony

For a couple beginning married life together, the individual sands retain their separate natures, yet join as one in a larger vessel to create a new sculpture. The representation of 2 coming together to create something that can never be separated, something more effective together, is powerful. The sand combining in the clear vessel or vase is “worth more than the sum of its parts”, just as a couple become stronger together within their marriage.

Mark and Kim chose orange and white sand for their sand pouring ceremony to match the theme of their beach wedding

Mark & Kim’s orange and white sand pouring sculpture echoes the theme of their beach wedding

Sand pouring is great for outdoor weddings, and an obvious choice for beach weddings. Mark and Kim chose fabulous orange and white as their wedding colour scheme. The sand they used in their sand pouring ceremony matched. They asked all their guests to put a little beach sand in a container, and used this to make a base for their sculpture.

Two families which are joining in marriage can use sand pouring to demonstrate the changing natures of the family and family members. Each member maintains their individuality, but their lives will be intricately involved with the others going forward – just as the grains of sand can’t be separated. The sand sculpture they create together is more beautiful than the colours of sand when viewed separately.

sand pouring is an effective way of marking the joining of 2 families into a new unit

Sand pouring is a perfect way to celebrate the joining of 2 families

This picture is from a sand pouring which symbolised two large families coming together. Rachel and Greg and their 6 children combined their sand to make a rainbow coloured sculpture. They created their own containers with small glass drink bottles which they covered in sand from the beach on which the wedding ceremony was held. Perfect!

Sand pouring in your naming ceremony

Sand pouring isn’t restricted to wedding ceremonies. I’ve helped families create sand sculptures at naming ceremonies to great effect as well. This video of a small child shadowing her mother as the sand is poured illustrates the warmth that sand pouring can inject into your ceremony. Big brother loved the whole procedure and the family has a lasting reminder of the day, as well as a physical illustration of the family working together – truly a thing of beauty!

Making sand pouring ‘your own’

As with all symbolism, the important thing is to make sand pouring your own. You can choose to use different colours of sand, or select an interesting vessel for your sand sculpture. You can personalise the vessels from which the sand is poured too – as Rachel and Greg, mentioned above, did.

This couple combined light and dark sand in their sand pouring ceremony to represent their love of the beach

Garod & Kirsty combine dark and light sand for a subtle creation

Garod and Kirsty married indoors on New Year’s Eve. They love surf sports and met, and spend much of their time, on the beach. They chose dark and light coloured sand for their sand pouring ceremony. As they poured, they created a subtle but effective pattern. This worked well in the context of their elegant, indoor, wedding. A contrast to the bright, sunny colours which Mark and Kim used – but no less effective!

In another ceremony, Aubrey and Stephanie professed to being keen gin drinkers. They used a gin bottle from the local distillery at their “Bijoux” garden wedding ceremony!

In this sand pouring ceremony, gin lovers Aubrey and Stephanie used a gin bottle from a local distillery

A gin bottle worked well in this garden sand pouring ceremony!

Whether you are planning a wedding, a renewal of vows or a naming ceremony, a celebrant-led ceremony gives you the freedom to introduce and adapt rituals that are genuinely meaningful to you into your ceremony. If it’s right for you, sand pouring is a great ritual to adopt to represent the coming together of couples and families, and the strong, beautiful nature of the new unit that has been created.