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  • Writer's pictureMargretta Gurley

For the Love of Trees

How to Use Trees in Ceremonies

If you have seen my Instagram feed, you probably know that I love trees! Yes they provide Oxygen and take up Carbon, two things vital to our survival, but my love for them is much deeper than that!

It all started about 10 years ago when I decided to take the Master Gardener Program in Connecticut. The classes were rigorous, including book and practical work and testing. I had begun gardening a couple of years earlier and found that the more I learned, the more I needed to learn. One thing that I was lacking was a knowledge of trees. We had to create a portfolio of about 25 trees including their names, habit, light and soil requirements, and special uses. This changed how I hiked. Instead of just moving to get ahead, I was looking around. Slowly I found that I could identify trees. I noted changes in the seasons and smelled the various scents emanating from them.

What does this have to do with weddings and other ceremonies? Many of you also enjoy trees! Maybe you have fond memories of camping, you and your partner enjoy hiking in the woods, perhaps a parent hung a rope or swing from a backyard tree for you to play on?

There are a myriad of ways to incorporate trees into your ceremony, here are three.

The first is the obvious - getting married under a grand old tree or among the trees. Many of my couples choose their venue or ceremony location because of this. I have been lucky enough to be the celebrant and officiate among ancient redwoods and grandfather oaks - nature’s cathedrals. Sometimes the tree is bare but still stunning as the background. Other times I have seen trees draped or an arbor placed in front of it. You really can’t go wrong!

Check out For some venues with amazing trees to marry under in Northern California.

I ask my couples to answer a questionnaire about themselves and their life as a couple so that I can tailor their ceremony. If they mention that they enjoy camping or hiking together as a couple, I will often ask if they would like to have a tree planting ceremony as their unity ritual. It is never the same. Most of the time the couple waters the plants perhaps with water from both of their childhood homes, rather than a full planting because of the mess. There are ways to keep clean if you would like to do a full planting.

One of my couples planted a tree in the front yard of his grandparents’ house where they got married the day before and watered it during their ceremony. The garden had many fond memories for both of them and it was a fitting way to honor his grandparents. For another couple, I suggested that they plant (water) a Meyer lemon tree. The bride had introduced her fiancée to Meyer lemons on his first trip to her childhood home and they had fun memories associated with lemons. The other plus is that a Meyer lemon can grow in a container until you have a yard to plant it in! Yet another couple wanted to plant a redwood tree. They had their family bring not only water but also soil from their homes forward and then the couple mixed them and added the soil and wet the plant.

I often add information about how the tree grows and how it is similar to love. Did you know that redwoods do not have deep roots but rather roots that can extend up to 50 feet in all directions and intertwine with each other for strength?

A different way to add trees to your ceremony is with sound. Wait, what? Couples can choose windchimes to be rung by all of the guests while they silently offer a prayer or wish for the marriage. Then after their vows, they can ring them together. Later at home, they can be hung from a tree. Whenever they are heard it is a reminder of the love that surrounded them during their ceremony and is still with them.

No matter the tree, it is always a plus in my book!

A big thank you to Venue Vixen Lora who was the drive for me to write a blog post - finally!

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