Photo: Joe Buissink
Finding a unity ritual to include in your wedding ceremony can feel like a tall order, especially if you're having a secular ceremony instead of a religious one. Many, like unity candles, have their roots in religious traditions and might not feel like the right fit. But if you and your spouse-to-be love wine (bonus points if you're marrying on a vineyard!), you're in luck: A wine box ceremony is a beautiful, non-religious ritual that will celebrate your love — and your love of wine — on your wedding day and on a future anniversary. Not sure what a wine box ceremony is? We'll break it down for you.
A wine box ceremony is a wedding ritual in which, during the proceedings of the wedding ceremony, a bottle of wine is enclosed into a box. Some couples opt to add an extra layer of meaning within the ceremony by including love letters to one another alongside the wine, or by designating a specific occasion (such as a future anniversary) when the box will be opened and the wine will be drank.
The first step is to find a bottle of wine that you'll want to preserve. Talk to someone at your local wine store about a bottle that will age well. It's a great idea to pick a specific date upon which you'll open the wine — say, your 10th wedding anniversary — so you can select a bottle that will more likely be even better then than it is now. Also look into where and how the bottle should be stored. Most bottles of wine fare better when stored horizontally, so the cork stays moist, and in a cool, dark place, so think about where you'll be displaying the wine box, too!
Next, pick a box. There are a plethora of options available online, from ones engraved with your wedding date to velvet-lined options that come with two wine glasses for you to save and use when the box and bottle are opened. You could also opt to DIY the box in some way, whether that means building it yourself or adding an inscription on the lid.
Lastly, incorporate the box into your ceremony. Have the wine and the box on display on a table near the altar, along with anything you wish to include in the box (such as letters to one another). When the time comes, have your officiant explain the significance of the wine box. Make sure he or she mentions the wine you've chosen and how long you plan to save the wine (or if you're going to open it to help you get through a tough time or on another occasion). Then, the two of you will place the wine and any accompanying items into the box and close the lid. Your officiant should explain that you will be sealing the box, but save the hammering for once you're back home, as a long pause in the ceremony for you to hammer the box shut could take a while! You could also choose a box with a latch and a lock, which you could more quickly close with a key mid-ceremony.
Then, when the time comes, pull out your wedding album, open the box, and pour some wine as you reminisce about your wedding day!