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  • Serena McGinnis

Let Love Grow

While planning our outdoor wedding a few years ago, my husband and I decided we wanted to add an extra oomph to our Ceremony, a visual representation of our commitment to each other. We obsessively researched various unity rituals: Sand Ceremony, Candle Lighting, Jumping the Broom, Hand Binding - you name it. The options were dizzying!

Yesterday was Earth Day, and it reminded me of the unique option of a Unity Tree Planting. The Unity Tree Ceremony is when the marrying couple plants a tree together during their wedding. This outward display of togetherness can truly appeal to nature lovers. Read on to learn how it works, what it represents and how to incorporate it into your wedding or beyond...

Pick your Plant

Your first step is to decide on what you'd like to plant. Although it is called a "Tree" Planting you can feel free to choose any living plant that represents your love. The most traditional is a sapling but ferns, succulents, cacti, flowers and house plants are also popular choices. Choose something that represents you as a couple and you will want to display in your lovenest.

The Meaning of Growth

Variations of the Unity Tree Ceremony have been around for centuries and used in many countries and cultures as a symbol of blending two families together. The tree (or plant/flower of your choice) signifies the actual marriage. On the wedding day it is a little baby seed but over time the marriage will grow into a strong tree with deep roots. The soil represents the families or the foundation that the marriage is built on. The water symbolizes the love needed to grow the marriage. 

How to Plant your Wedding Roots

The Unity Tree Ceremony is typically performed after the vows and before the ring exchange, but it is completely at the discretion of the couple if you feel there is a better time.

Start with two separate pots of soil, one plant and one empty pot. The couple will take the plant and place it in the empty pot. Each person will take a scoop of their individual soil and place it into the potted plant. The couple can then place their hands on the watering can and water the plant together.  To add to the sentimentality, an elder from both sides of their new family can provide the soil. With this joining of soils, the tree is now planted and both families are represented in this union.  

If you're having a backyard wedding you can plant right on your own land. This technique is for the couples who don't mind getting down and dirty-literally! Instead of a pot you can pre-dig a hole in your actual yard or garden. The day of, being cautious not to ruin your wedding attire, wear gardening gloves, place the tree in it's new soil, use a clean shovel to each add soi

l representing your commitment, water with a cute can that matches your decor and together plant a baby tree right in the ground.

Another option for couples who want the unity tree symbolism without the dirt is placing a seed in one person’s hand. The other person cups their love’s hand and pours water over their hands as a romantic take on the ceremony. 

Make it Your Own

The officiant can read a standard description or feel free to create your own script. You can even include your favorite scripture or poem to be read. Another option is electing a family friend or family member to do a reading before or doing the ceremony. If you feel music expresses what you are trying to portray then remain quiet and opt to play a song that is meaningful. This is the time to get creative and do what feels natural and right for you both-there is no wrong answer. 

It's Never Too Late to Grow Together

If you are already wed or would prefer to do a more traditional unity ritual at your actual wedding you can opt to do this for an anniversary. Your wedding is not the end but the beginning of a life together and planting a tree or other plant when you buy your first home, have your first child or celebrate a year together all share the sentiment that growth continues with both of you watering the soil of commitment. There is always a reason to let love grow.

The Unity Tree Ceremony can be a beautifully symbolic ritual added to any wedding. There are so many Unity Ceremonies to choose from, but there is something very sweet and giving about planting a tree with the person you love. Being able to look back and watch it grow is both satisfying and lovely. In honor of Earth Day, consider this romantic way to symbolize your love and do something awesome for the planet.

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