A sand ceremony offers a symbolic, visually poignant moment that can help personalize a wedding.

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Weddings were once rather pre-prescribed affairs. In most cases that meant a bride, a groom, an officiant, some witnesses, and vows that were passed down through generations. You could, married or not, probably recite the ceremony by heart.

As cultures and ethnicities have blended, though, the realm of the mainstream has expanded. Additions of "non-traditional" elements like beach locales, personalized vows, Web-certified friend-officiants, and unity-candle ceremonies have become, if not the norm, then at least very normal, and many betrothed couples are looking for ever-newer, ever-more-surprising ways to make their weddings unique.

One that has rather recently entered the engaged public's consciousness is the sand ceremony, more formally known as the unity sand ceremony. Much like the unity candle with which many of us are familiar, the sand version offers a symbolic, visually poignant moment that can add not only a personalized feel but also a bit of whimsy to an otherwise formal affair.

While the unity sand ceremony has a lot in common with the unity candle ceremony, it differs in some important ways. In this article, we'll find out what the sand version means, what it entails, how to pull one off seamlessly, and about some time-savers available to make it even easier to incorporate this ritual into a wedding.

First, what the ceremony is, what it symbolizes and how to make it happen…