Planting a tree to celebrate a marriage is an ancient tradition that is shared by numerous cultures around the world. It is also a ritual that is catching the eye of modern brides who are looking for a clever twist on the unity candle or sand ceremony to symbolize their newly intertwined lives. The tree planting ceremony not only incorporates a visual of togetherness, but it provides a memorable “take-away” that will continue on with the couple far beyond their wedding day.
It’s also a great ceremony for the environmentally conscious. Trees take many years of growth to reach their version of “adulthood,” and they are a symbol of longevity, tranquility, and life itself.
Preparation: Purchase a small potted tree preferably in a clear pot. Display it on a table behind the Minister/Wedding Officiant with one or two decorated watering cans. Toward the end of your ceremony, the bride and groom walk over to sprinkle a small amount of soil to complete the planting and water the tree together, symbolizing the tender care a relationship requires but also showing the beautiful growth that results. Some couples choose to have their parents, attendants or guests to participate as well. After your wedding, take the tree home and plant it in your yard. There you can watch your love tree bloom and grow throughout the years… just as your relationship will grow.
The best tree to choose is one that has special meaning to you as a couple, perhaps one that you shared a first kiss under or that represents your hometown. You can either buy a sapling or propagate a cutting from a tree from a meaningful location. Sometimes the bride and groom each select a tree, or in the case of a remarriage with a blended family, the children can each have their own. We might call this tree the “family trees.”
Commentary by Ann Keeler Evans: “One of the many reasons to use a tree as a metaphor at your wedding ceremony is the incredible symmetry of trees. The root system of a healthy tree is as large and beautiful as the canopy. As you stand beneath the leafy spread, you stand on ground that is held together by an expansive root system that enriches and supports the earth. There is nothing that a marriage needs more than the same sort of grounding a tree has. We must plant the tree, and our marriages, in soil that will nourish and support it (and you). Carefully cultivated, and protected, those roots will flourish and provide nutrients for the tree to grow.
The trunk of the tree can be relied on to support us. With good roots, we stand firm in one another’s love. We can lean on one another when we’re tired or shaken. When we hold one another and relax into that embrace, we can feel the roots of our love. And the canopy spreads out above us, sheltering us from the sun in the summer, turning brilliant colors in the autumn, tracing lacy patterns against the sky in the winter and bursting into bloom again with the return of spring. So our marriage moves with the seasons, things change, but the essence of the marriage remains, strong and flexible, rooted deep into the earth.”
NOTE: A favorite plant can also be substituted for a tree with a few word changes in the ceremony.
Suggested Words for the Watering of the Tree Ceremony
Officiant: _Bride_ and _Groom_ will now take part in a Watering the Tree Ceremony, to symbolize the roots of their relationship, and the continued growth of their love, as they become each others family today. It will symbolically represent the growth of their love for one another. Please follow me to the table behind me.
Love is the essence of human experience and emotion. It is the root of all and everything we, as humans, do. Love enriches our experience, and fills our lives with meaning. It gives us a firm base from which to grow, to learn, and to change. Your Love must weather the challenges of daily life and the passage of time.
Just like the tree they are planting, marriage requires constant nurturing and nourishment. As they provide the sun, soil, and water for this tree, they will provide the encouragement, trust, and love needed on a daily basis to consciously nurture and nourish their connection to each other.
At this time, please put on your gloves and sprinkle a small amount of soil to complete the planting.
Officiant: Let your relationship and your love for each other be like this tree you plant today. Let it grow tall and strong. Let it stand tall during the winds and rains and storms, and come through unscathed. Like a tree, your marriage must be resilient. It must weather the challenges of daily life and the passage of time. And just like the tree you are planting, marriage requires constant nurturing and nourishment.
Officiant: Next, provide some water for the tree.
[They both hold the watering can and water the tree and set the watering can down on the table. The couple may want to wear some planting gloves. The groom will hand a napkin to the bride to wipe her hands, if necessary, then he wipes his hands.]
Officiant: Remember to nourish each other, with words of encouragement, trust, and love. This is needed on a daily basis so you each can grow and reach your fullest potential – just like this tree. The Bride and Groom will plant this tree in their backyard to always be a symbol of their love for each other.
Optional Prayer for the Watering the Tree Ceremony
Dear God, we stand before you in awe as we witness the miracle of your creation – this young tree. Unique and original, just like the bride and groom and unlike anything that ever was before or will be. Each began with a single seed, concealing a complex potential that miraculously unfolds with each passing day. We pray that the roots of this tree will gain hold and spread deep, drawing nourishment from the fertile earth.
We pray that the trunk of this tree will grow healthy and strong, withstanding the forces of nature and to be able to support its canopy of branches and leaves. So may this couple possess a healthy body and a strong moral spirit, holding steadfast to their own integrity and understanding of the tempests and temptations that could weaken them. They will watch these branches bud and blossom, giving shade and beauty for all to enjoy. Help them to nourish and nurture this tree so that they may both mature and prosper, fulfilling to the greatest extent possible the potential for which God placed them on earth. And so it is. Amen.
BONUS Articles: More Add-on Ceremonies
Larry’s NOTE: A few words were borrowed from a similar ceremony by Penny Reynolds. Thank you, Penny!
Copyright © 2013 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s Wedding Website. Larry James is a non-denominational minister and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: 480-998-9411 or 800-725-9223. You will find more than 475 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Check Larry’s availability.
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