The Sand ceremony is a wonderful way to visually symbolize the merging of the bride and groom into marriage and can include family members as well. With very similar symbolism it is also a better choice than the unity candle ceremony if the wedding will take place outdoors where you risk the chance of your flames being extinguished by a gust of wind.
There are some things that you should take into consideration in gathering your containers for the sand ceremony.
1) The central container into which the sand will be combined needs to have a large opening for ease of pouring.
2) The combined volume of the sand from the individual containers should not exceed the volume of the central container.
3) It is a good idea to find a central container with a lid to preserve the sand after the ceremony.
Containers can be found in many places. I see them in thrift shops all the time and the price is very reasonable. Places like Big Lots, TJ Maxx, Homegoods, Pier 1 also have a lot of glass containers.
You can find some sand ceremony kits on line but the ones couples have used in ceremonies I have officiated have had problems. They look nice and you can have your initials engraved on them but the manufacturer obviously has not taken into consideration the challenge of pouring sand into a bottle with a small opening.Here are a couple of photographs of this particular sand ceremony. The individual containers have openings larger than the container into which the sand is to be poured, but also a slanted opening with a point but that is the most difficult angle to pour from and hit the spot! Notice all the spilled sand on both tables.
You can see that they also had to pour their sand in alternately instead of together. The second photograph the couple had two sons that were included and you can see that the central container was overflowing!
One couple chose to use floral pebbles of different colors instead of sand. We called them stones in the ceremony and they picked a virtue for each color that represented the nature of the individual. It was quite nice. You could also use marbles.
Another couple were popcorn aficionados and wanted to use popcorn instead of sand. That was fine with me and so they had red and blue popcorn kernels which they poured together. I don't have a photo of that.
Another couple wanted to use natural sand of different colors so they found this at a pet shop that carried sand for aquariums.
Some couples who met on the beach gather sand from where they met. They can add glitter or colored sand to it to differentiate the sand. One thing to remember is to thoroughly dry beach sand before putting it into the small containers. Damp sand will not pour--it clumps!
A couple whose renewal of vows ceremony I performed included the sand ceremony and used just a natural sand color and had everyone pour a bit of sand into their container as they exited the ceremony to the reception.
Here is a photo of the family unity sand ceremony in which there was too much sand to pour it all into the central container! This bride and groom had 5 children they were joining together in their marriage. Note also that there is no lid for the big container--easy to spill and will catch dust.
The smaller containers representing the individuals can be juice glasses, little bottles, jars or vases. AC Moore and Michael's have a large selection of both large containers and small ones as well as the colored sand. In this photo above, I furnished the sand ceremony set up for the couple and their children because of time constraints. Usually the couple furnishes their own containers and sand because the containers and the colors of sand should be something they like since they will be keeping it on display in their home. I found these cute little heart-shaped bottles with corks and the bags of colored sand at AC Moore. The central container came from Goodwill and I paid under $2.00 for it.