AMERICAN WEDDINGS BLOG
Published: Friday, Apr. 30th, 2021
Wedding officiants... scroll down for a sample script.
Planting a wedding tree together is one of the oldest unity rituals around. Not only are trees a powerful symbol, but they’re also wonderful for the environment, beautiful in any season, and they’ll be around for many anniversaries to come, reminding you of all the love you’ve shared.
Trees bring to mind feelings of longevity, abundance, fresh beginnings, grounding, and continuous growth -- all things you want your marriage to embody, too! And when you plant one with your sweetheart, you’re literally putting down roots together.
The best part (aside from a living symbol of your love…) is that tree plantings make it easy to put your own spin on things. These incredibly versatile ceremonies don’t belong to any specific cultural tradition, region, or religion. This makes it easy to personalize your ceremony, and you can make it as casual, romantic, eco-friendly, traditional, or unconventional as you’d like!
All you’ll need to do is choose a variety of tree that’s meaningful to you (or any other type of plant, go wild!) and mix in a few meaningful words or songs to adapt these to fit your theme.
Sounds like (leafy) perfection to us!
Be prepared to get your hands a little dirty, that's part of the fun.
What kind of tree should you plant?
Do you want a fruit tree that will supply you with a bounty of apples, pears, or oranges each year? Or something evergreen, to remind you of your constant devotion? (Consider a dwarf evergreen to avoid overcrowding!) Or do you prefer a variety with an expansive canopy, that will help you celebrate the changing of the seasons?
It’s up to you! Just pick something sapling-sized for easy maneuvering, and remember that different varieties are better suited to different climates and soils. That said, the most important thing is to choose a tree type that brings you joy.
You might choose a tree that reminds you of childhood, your first kiss or date, a favorite time of year, or an outdoor space that two of you visit together often, like a vacation spot, park, or hiking trail.
Think symbolism, too: Birch trees and dogwoods are both said to represent hope and new beginnings; palm trees represent flexibility and peace; cherry trees represent love, compassion, rebirth, and happiness; oak trees are believed to offer spiritual protection to a home when planted around it and symbolize courage, health,and strength; and maples represent earth magic, generosity, and balance.
For some couples, a potted tree or plant might be more practical. This is a great option for people who rent their homes, live in small apartments or condos, or who just don’t plan on staying in their current home forever.
In this case, you might choose a dwarf fruit tree, or a bush, shrub, fern, cactus (be careful), grape-vine, or houseplant… You get the idea! You can follow this outline for any kind of planting ritual.
The basics will be the same, just adapt the details to suit your unique theme or supplies.
Personalize your ceremony even more by focusing on small details and choosing decorative supplies.
Talk with your wedding officiant about the set up and delivery of the ceremony and then run through the ceremony during your rehearsal. Think about what you’ll be wearing the day of the wedding, and if this should be factored in to any bending, lifting, shoveling, or reaching you’ll need to do during the planting.
And remember, you don’t need to finish the full planting during the wedding. If you run out of time or discover you didn’t prepare enough soil, don’t worry about it. Just add enough soil and water to the hole or planter to make it feel meaningful, and finish the proper planting later when the two of you are alone.
As memorable as it might be for guests to watch you shovel dirt in your wedding finery, digging a hole before the ceremony will save valuable time and help your loved ones stay focused. It will keep your wedding day (and clothes!) cleaner.
If you’re repotting a sapling or houseplant, add a little soil to the planter before the ceremony, so that you can set the plant right inside and begin filling the sides when it’s time.
Choose a table or bench that will keep all of your supplies at a good height for grabbing them and setting them back down. This will help you avoid stooping over or bending down a lot during the ceremony.
Fill those decorative containers with soil in advance, get your pitcher or watering can ready to go, and place any shovels or trowels so they’ll be within reach. Remove the sapling or plant from it’s old container so that it can go straight into the ground, and keep it close by. Have everything in sight and ready to go!
Choose a tree or plant that's meaningful to you.
Generally speaking, your wedding officiant will draw attention to the tree, talk about the ritual, and explain to your guests what it symbolizes to you.
Then you and your partner will plant the tree (using the soil from the containers provided) and water it (taking turns with the watering can). While you do this, your officiant will talk about what the commitment of marriage means to you and what you hope the future will bring.
To involve friends and family in your ceremony, have two friends hand you the containers of soil when it’s time -- this might be a ‘best mate’ or maid of honor. Or invite loved ones to add handfuls of soil to the base of the plant as blessings for the success and happiness of your marriage. (If you’d like to do this, plan ahead with a third container of soil.)
The planting ceremony itself is truly versatile. You can easily incorporate prayer, meditation, special readings, re-enactments, music, song, or any other elements that appeal to you.
Once the tree is in the ground and the ceremony is over, you and your loved ones can decorate it with ribbons, bells, or paper hearts inscribed with well wishes for your union. Or gather around it for a backyard picnic reception!
Here’s a simple sample script to modify with your own story and symbolism:
“La’ron and Toni will now plant a tree together! As you all know, these two spent their first date walking around the college courtyard checking out the cherry trees in bloom. That very first date, La’ron showed Toni his sense of humor, leaning over and asking her if she wanted to ‘practice kissing’ under the trees.
Every year since, it’s been one of their favorite memories together, to visit the cherry trees and practice kissing. I think they’re doing pretty good! So today they’re planting their own cherry tree, to symbolize their continued commitment to each other.
La’ron, Toni, here are two containers of soil, gathered from your childhood homes to ground you in love here, in your new home together.
(Two friends hand them the soil, and they begin filling the sides of the hole with dirt.)
This little tree is still young. It symbolizes the joyful, fresh beginning of your marriage, and the carefree energy you feel when you’re with each other. As it grows, you’ll grow in your commitment to each other too, stronger and broader and deeper in love. With each new branch, each new leaf and petal, with each turning of the seasons, this tree will remind you both of your love and the foundation you’ve nurtured together. And it will give you lots of chances to practice your kissing!
La’ron and Toni, let the blossoms that will come and go each year remind you of the impermanence of life, the importance of finding joy right in every single moment, and the compassion and harmony you try to offer to each other, as you start this new life together!”
Some couples might want a ceremony centered around a tree that’s already planted, such as a favorite tree in a public park or on a family property.
If this is you, you’ll be able to use this basic ceremony set up with only a few small tweaks. Add a ceremonial handful of soil to the base of the mature tree (taken from a spot nearby), or simply shift this to a “watering ceremony,” and water the base of the tree together with a pitcher or watering can.
This variation still offers solid symbolism and meaning, making for a memorable ceremony and a place for you to visit together for years to come.
For more inspiration on unique unity rituals and planning a one of a kind wedding ceremony, order Navigating Your Wedding Ceremony by AMM Minister and professional officiant Amber Olsen.
This valuable guide covers everything from wedding day logistics, writing your own vows, how and where to meet ideal wedding vendors, to obtaining and completing your marriage license and more – with details on a dozen unique and memorable unity rituals.
Order a copy and start planning!