During a wedding ceremony, it’s traditional that the bride and groom take part in the lighting of the unity candle, which represents the uniting of two families through marriage. While it’s a beautiful ceremony, there are plenty of other ways you can symbolize the start of your new life together:

With flowers
Use two bouquets of blooms and have each of your mothers (or fathers) bring them down the aisle and place them in two separate vases. Then, pick a moment during the ceremony for each of you to take a flower from each vase and place the two stems together in a smaller vase.

With a ribbon
You can also use ribbon to bring the two of you together. The best man passes a ribbon around to guests sitting in the aisle seats and to the groom, bride and officiant until it makes a giant U shape. When he arrives back at the altar, he strings one ring onto the left side of the ribbon and one ring onto the right side. He then asks the guests holding the ribbon to move the strings forward, symbolizing that the friends and family in attendance had a hand in shaping the couple. When the rings reach the officiant, use a pair of scissors to cut the ribbon and collect the rings. The scissors represent a married couple – sometimes the pair will move in opposite directions, but they must remember that their union is strong and cannot be broken.

With paint
Create your very own custom painting with your new spouse by taking two jars of paint (in colors of your choice) and pouring them together on a canvas to make a unique painting. You can take this and hang it in your new home to commemorate the big day!

With letters
OK, we love this idea – it’s so romantic! For this ceremony, you put letters that you previously wrote into a wooden box and nail it shut with a box of wine included. When you stumble upon some hard times in your marriage, you can open it together, read the love letters and toast to a happy union with a glass of wine.

With doves
Doves symbolize love, peace, happiness and prosperity, so what better way to express these sentiments than with a pure white dove release during your ceremony? These doves are trained and range in number from two to 20, circle the couple, then fly away, representing the newlywed’s departure from their families and the start of their own journey as a married couple.

How are you going to represent the start of your new life with your spouse? Share your thoughts with us!

Photo credit: Erika Delgado Photography via Wedding Chicks