01/26/2015 05:16 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Wedding Sand Ceremony Helps Blend Familes Together

By many accounts, the sand ceremony originated in Hawaii.

It is said that a couple would stand on the beach to be married. During the ceremony the officiant would tell each partner to scoop a handful of sand from where the other stood, and would guide them in pouring the sand, together, into one container.

This represented walking the same ground together and the blending of their lives. Each particle of sand represented the many aspects of each partner and pouring the sand together meant they were merging their lives. Once blended, the sand would never be separate again.

Over time this ritual has been adapted to include pretty, colorful, store-bought sand, and has also been used to not just unite the couple but to represent the blending of families.

Whether you are getting married in a castle, or exchanging vows on an actual beach, it is a colorful and meaningful way to illustrate the blending of lives. You also end up with what I like to call "Wedding Art"-- a keepsake from your ceremony that you can take home.

Here's an idea of how it works:

Who to include: It can be just you two, or, the two of you plus your parents, grandparents, and siblings. If you are literally blending together children into a new marriage, it is a great way for them to feel included.

- You'll need to buy some sand from a craft store or online.
- Each partner should select their favorite color.
- Get special colors for loved ones who participate.
- Kids will want--and will enjoy--their own separate colors, but you can opt for just one color for couples--such as each set of parents.
- You will need glass or plastic pouring containers (unused or newly purchased oil and vinegar bottles with spouts will do) for each individual or couple partaking. But you don't have to be fancy. One of my couples gave their four boys plastic cups filled with sand, and other couple used test tubes. As long as it can be neatly poured it can work.
- Do get a beautiful glass container--a pretty vase or bottle with a cork -- that can be the one container everyone pours sand into.
- The opening has to be wide enough to accommodate whatever your pour with. Some couples get a bottle with a smaller opening to keep the sand contained, and use a funnel to pour the sand.

The order:
-Grandparents and/or your parents should pour first, representing the ancestors, and the foundation for your marriage.
- Siblings can pour representing the family. If siblings are happily married, include their mates for some good marital energy!
- Bride and groom pour last, and they pour simultaneously.
- If you have children, let them have the final pour, representing the future.

What your officiant can say:
To everyone: " We are all made up of millions of molecules, facets, possibilities, points of views, experiences, desires, hopes, dreams ... our very beings are as vast as a beach that stretches on forever ... and our make-up as complex and complete as the many tiny particles of sand that, when joined together, make the beach such a stunning sight. In the modern tradition of the sand ceremony, a couple acknowledges their individuality, and their desire to merge their lives in marriage, by pouring two separate containers of different colored sand into one empty vessel. This symbolically unites the many aspects of their individual selves, and also brings together the families that are united by marriage."

If family is involved: Call each of them up and lead them through pouring their sand into the container, explaining what each of their contributions represent.

To couple: You come to this day as individuals, whole and complete unto yourselves. Bringing the many tiny aspects that represent the two of you together into one vessel that represents a joint venture that is a stronger, fuller, more powerful expression of your love. These two containers of sand represent the two of you, as well as your families, your ancestors, the source of who you are. These two distinct containers represent your lives ... up until this moment.

Couple pours sand simultaneously and when they are finished clergy says: Your newly formed union is represented by the intertwined pattern of sand you have created together. It represents all that you both are ... all that you both bring into your marriage ... and all that you will become together. May this union be blessed in all ways.

It is a good idea to decide on who gets what color in advance, and assign it to that person or couple, so that there is no confusion. A run-through of the ritual is suggested as part of your rehearsal so everyone is clear and feels comfortable.

When you are done, place the container in a box that will hold it steady during transport and take it home and place it on the mantel or in your bedroom.

Here's a colorful masterpiece from a ceremony that included parents, married siblings, the couple, and their children.