There are many traditional elements of a wedding service, but there are also a wide variety of less traditional elements that can be incorporated into a ceremony at the couple's request. Some are purely cosmetic, and others seem to try and remove God from the marriage ceremony, but many are good additions that can bring a personalized sense of meaning to the ceremony. Here are a few ideas that you might consider as meaningful changes to the wedding ceremony.
Communion can be a very meaningful act when taken as the first act of a new couple. It symbolizes that God comes first in their lives and that their relationship with the LORD is something that they will celebrate and give significance to throughout their married lives. Some people celebrate it just as a couple, but this isn't necessarily a good idea as communion represents God's action in the church, and has traditionally been given as a group thing. If done well it can be given to the entire group without much time delay of the ceremony. This can symbolize the couple's need for the community of believers and their willingness to be a part of that community throughout their married life.
Couple of Honor
This is a non-American tradition (Kenyan) that can have a lasting impact on the couple's lives. What this is, is a married couple that the couple chooses to be their mentors for life. This couple is part of the wedding party and agrees to guide the newlyweds throughout their married life. These people can be in the premarital counseling sessions to add their expertise and understand the couple better as well if the couple desires it. But this people are to be a resource for the new couple as they have problems or questions. This means that confidentiality, approachableness, and a good relationship with both God and each other are all musts.
Normally the pastor reads the traditional vows and the couple recites them after the pastor. This allows the couple to stand in a long line of others who have said those same words, but many couples are preferring to write their own vows or use ones that their parents used at their wedding. Encouraging couples to personalize their vows and read them to each other without the pastor is common, but care should be taken that the new couple does not leave God out of the equation. Making writing vows part of premarital counseling is often a good idea so that the vows can be refined and can show a mature understanding of marriage.
These are often wonderful symbols of beginning a new life together. The mothers light two separate candles symbolizing the two young loves and their lives apart and then together the mothers, or the couple, light the one candle that symbolizes their married life together. This can be done during the reception if there is no time for it during the ceremony.
Obviously similar to unity candles, sand puts a different spin on it in several ways. Each person has a different color of sand that they then mix together into one family vessel. The sands mix together and can't be easily undone. This has the benefit of not implying that all individuality disapears with marriage. Most importantly, however, using sand benefits because it can easily be incorporated to work with blended families. Every child and family member can have their own sand so that this is a symbol of families coming together as well as just two individuals.
Vows of Releasing
These are vows taken by the parents of the couple stating that they are releasing their roles as guardians and protectors of their children and taking up roles of support and love. These vows are often very good when written by the parents together and given by the mothers as they light the unity candle. This ceremony helps to symbolize and cement not only the beginning of their new life together but the ending of their old family ties as they change their roles.
Vows of Support
This is a standard part of a baby dedication, the celebration of a new life. So why not have it be part of the celebration of a new life together? The congregation vows to support and encourage the young couple and to help them stay strong in their love for each other. These are vows that everyone present takes, that they will do whatever they can to help these people make the marriage work.