Things to Hold When You Wed (besides your partner’s hand).

Today I got a really good question. It seemed good enough to pass along to you. Free association! In the comments!

Hi Meg,
So, I was talking to my friend’s mother, who is sort of like a second mom, about alternatives to flowers. And I realized that the WIC doesn’t have a lot of options for me–a bride who doesn’t want a bouquet, but who isn’t religious in a sense that she would carry a prayer book. So, I was wondering, if you were looking for an inspiring topic that hasn’t been covered, if that’s something worth talking about.
There’s a lot of pretty images of brides with parasols, but I wonder a bit what other ideas the wedding community might have for me?
With warm greetings,


I have to say, I think it’s neat that Kaitlin brought up the idea of carrying a prayerbook, because it’s gone out of fashion. It’s obviously not right for many brides, but I like the idea of it – holding something that grounds you in your core values, instead of something that is, well, pretty.* I think there must be other non-religious ways to play on this idea – things to hold that ground you. Ideas?

PS Personally, I like feathers.
PPS I also like bricks.
*Though flowers are also fierce.

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  • Betsy

    (Assuming Kaitlin has already thought of dried flowers, paper flowers, etc. and this isn’t a “green” issue, it’s a personal taste/style issue.)

    Along the lines of a prayer book, but for the non-religious, what about a small notebook (I’m picturing a moleskine)? This could either contain vows (and then be passed on to the officiant) OR you could make yourself a little wedding journal/scrapbook. You could paste in photos of loved ones, past family/friends weddings, little written passages w/ thoughts about your partner, feelings about marriage, hopes for the future …

    Sort of a long version of what you might be saying in your vows (if you’re writing your own), or a more personal version that you might not want to read in front of everyone.

    This would be grounding, as Meg suggests, and also would be a nice thing to keep, look back on, share with future generations…

  • I don’t think you need to carry anything, if you don’t want to. That said, what about a totem has something to do with the reasons you two have chosen to get married in the first place? Or something from your partner’s family history, or part of yours?

  • I will walk down the asile carrying my bouquet and my grandmother’s bible. My grandma, and both of my aunts carried it down the asile, an I’m the first granddaughter to do so. I’m pretty pumped about it.

  • I’m having both my father and my brother walk me down the isle, so I have decided a bouquet will be in the way. Instead I am going to carry a vintage handkerchief. It is my something blue, and it is very practical because I am sure I will be teary…
    I actually am going to have a bouquet, but only because I have some awesome helpers that are going to put it together for me and we are getting free flowers from family’s yards. So I am going to have my flower girl carry it down the isle for me and hand it to me at the end of the ceremony. She will truely have duties!

  • How about a fan?

    Not sure where you are getting married, but it might be useful if it is hot, and you can get some really beautiful ones.

    My Dad brought me a wooden laser cut one which opens up back from a trip from China, but you can also get feather ones, paper ones and more practical ones too. Plus you could use it again afterwards too.

  • Gem

    Carolina Herrera has a picture on her website of a bride carrying a bunch of Magnolia Leaves in place of a bouquet – it might be just me but I think it looks rockin! When Meg mentioned something that grounds you I immediately thought of a small photo album with pictures of your family and loved ones with you and your fiance – very similar to what Betsy said. The lantern idea rocks as well!

  • if your dad is walking you down could you just take his arm w/ both hands?

  • depending on the season…. a muff would be awesome!

    I definitely like the idea of something that is very important to the two of you. Or something with sentimental value to families… as goofy as it is, David bought me a mini Stitch when we were in Disney, and if I wasn’t excited about my bouquet, Stitch would be my something blue and go down the aisle with me!

  • vanessa

    For me, carrying something down the aisle has a lot to do with keeping my hands occupied. When I get nervous (as I’m sure I will be with all eyes on me) I get fidgety. I will be having a bouquet for just that reason that I’ll be making myself the night before with grocery store flowers.

    Do you have a “security blanket” from when you were younger, like a favorite stuffed animal? That would be endearing to see.

    I also love all the other ideas these ladies have suggested too.

  • I am probably gonna be carrying a bouquet of cotton blooms .. I guess they are still technically flowers but they just look like a bunch of fluffy snowflakes.

    What about carrying a bunch of colorful ribbons that hang down from your hands.

  • sam

    I’ve thought a lot about this problem. I don’t really care for bouquets of flowers as we aren’t using flowers anywhere else in our wedding. I love the feathers… but they don’t really fit with the style we’re going for.

    I’ve opted to carry nothing down the aisle. I will be walking with my father, so that takes care of my hands walking in, and we’ll hold both hands at the alter. Problem solved!

    The only thing that remained was having something in my hand for photos. I opted for a large clutch in a vibrant color I love. I found a great one on etsy.

  • what about a {special} purse where you can store all the important things for the ceremony, including a handkerchief, keepsake, etc.

    i like the lantern idea too. romantic.

  • In a recent photo somewhere in the weddingblogosphere I saw someone (I believe an officiant) carry around this cookbook:;=books&qid;=1241789956&sr;=1-1

    I loved that because of several reasons
    1. I love cooking, and this is a very good cookbook (if you buy it you should buy the other 2 volumes from the series as well, each one is good, all three together are perfect)
    2. it's funny because it looks just like some religious book (smallish, beautifully bound, black with gold), but insiders know it's actually a very good cookbook
    3. It's title is The Basics, which is such a nice description of the idea behind a practical wedding. It's about the basics. The bride and groom love each other and they want to celebrate that.

  • I would totally just carry nothing if there is nothing that you feel compelled to carry. It’s more streamlined that way anyway!

  • Maddie

    I love this Off Beat Bride post:

    I’m about two steps away from abandoning flowers in favor of that awesome shell masterpiece.

  • I’m a bridesmaid in a wedding this summer and she asked us all to think of something symbolic to carry down the aisle — in her words, “bells for harmony, a cactus for endurance, potted roses for bloom, a bicycle wheel for cycles”. I offered to carry a birds nest since they will always be building their lives and making a home together, wherever that may be. We’ll see if she likes that idea!

  • My partner and I have been playing with different ideas of what to carry. If I don’t carry something, out of nervousness I will be wringing my hands… and I don’t like that ides.

    Some of the ones we’ve come up with are pomianders becuase you can just hook it around your wrist, cotton blooms (we live in South Texas with a fall wedding so super easy to find), peacock feathers, or “guest building” (

    Good luck!

  • Yes, Yes, Yes! I’ve been meaning to write you about this exact topic. I’m looking for ideas because hothouse flowers in December isn’t really what I’m looking for.

  • The idea I’m considering for my wedding is the Bodhi Leaf Flower Lights. See them here:

    I love the natural color of the leaves but if you like color they come in colors too! I think these would be beautiful bunched together in a bouquet, but I’m still trying to figure out how I can adapt them into “flowers” with stems from a string of lights.

  • Aelar

    Words are very important to me and to my fiance, we’re both writers and poets, as well as avid readers. My fiance used to evaluate old books, and one of his first gifts to me was an old 1911 copy of the Arabian Nights, that was lovely and had amazing prints, but too trashed to sell. It’s hung on my wall in a shadowbox for eight years.

    For the wedding, I’m carrying that book, but I’m hollowing it out, and altering the first twenty or so pages with photos, art and poems. I’ll also wrap it with a ribbon and a few silk roses to make it a little bit floral.

    We are having two best men, instead of bridesmaids, so I have acquired a couple other old, beautiful, but trashed/unreadable books, and I’m hollowing those out and doing collage art in them that reflects the relationship of these two men to us. It’s meant to be a gift to them, as well as something to hold during the ceremony. Our rings will be tied to ribbons inside the hollows, so our best men will hold the rings instead of having a ring bearer.

    I would think that a book of love poems, or any beautiful old book that has meaning to the couple would be a lovely thing to hold instead of a bible, and if flowers are still wanted, ribbons sewn with silk or fresh flowers are a way to dress the book up.

  • My mother did muffs for her wedding (in early March) and they were adorable.

    I think these ribbon pomanders ( could easily be turned into a fun bouquet and I am playing around with that idea.

    you can tie the ribbon into other aspects like the centerpieces to bring it all together.

  • Ellie

    I was actually reading about this yesterday. One article suggested holding…a pet. (
    My personal favorite idea, especially for a later evening or winter wedding is having the bride and bridesmaids carry lanterns.
    Also, consider whether you really need a bouquet – I’ve been considering this, and since I’m planning to have both my parents walk me down the aisle, and then usually the bride passes her bouquet off to the MOH, really a bouquet is just going to get in the way – and I get the feeling its the kind of thing that you don’t notice until somebody points it out to you. Nobody is going to watch somebody come down the aisle and then say “my heavens! she doesn’t have a bouquet!”

  • My wife and I walked down the aisle together. My mom had made us both bouquets that we fully intended to carry, but in all the commotion, we forgot the bouquets. I didn’t even notice that we didn’t have them until we were in the midst of the ceremony. We’d instinctively held hands as we walked down the aisle so it didn’t feel like anything was missing. No one notice, not even my mom who had slaved away over those beautiful bouquets. In other words, I am a big fan of just holding onto your partner’s hand :)

  • A candle or lantern would be sweet for an evening wedding! I like the handkerchief idea because it will come in handy about 5 minutes later when you want to dab at your eyes. How about putting your vows on a special paper or backing, or in a small decorated folder?
    If you’re using a Quaker or Jewish marriage certificate, could you carry that, tied in a nice bow?

  • Everyone has such terrific ideas here. I too like the idea of a hanky, a candle/lantern, or simply nothing too. One more idea perhaps would be a small framed photo of someone meaningful to you, or one of the two of you. Perhaps even a small heart token of some sort that you could give the groom when you arrive at the alter?

  • I love the hanky… and if you were crafty enough and planned ahead enough, vows could be somehow on the hanky… embroidered or the like. Or they could be embroidered post wedding as a keepsake. Again. if you were crafty enough.

    I think I may have just decided that I need a hanky to accompany me to my wedding.

  • Anonymous

    I am making my (late) mother’s wedding dress into fans for the gals in my party to carry. The shindig is shaping up to be (very) roughly 18th century-ish, and we thought that would be one nice way to include her memory, and fit the period as well.

  • I agree with a commenter above. I would definitely carry a pet! If not that, then maybe a photograph of a deceased relative or some kind of priceless family heirloom.

  • A book that has some personal significance would be nice. Favorite poetry or childhood book-love…

  • None of my pets are of carrying size… but I supposed I could see walking one down the aisle on a pretty leash. And I’d love to have them be part of the fun.

  • First off, I love those ribbon pomanders. Those are awesome! I think I want some for my house.

    Second, where does one go to get beautiful fans? All this talk of fans suddenly has me wanting a real pretty fan just because.

  • A bouquet of Lollipops, is what I’m going for. :)

  • Anonymous

    As the theme of our wedding is “going back to our roots,” we will each be carrying a tree branch (picked up from one of my family’s yards, no doubt) with photos of our parents and both sets of grandparents hanging from them. Part of our ceremony (probably the beginning) will then be the tying together of these two “family trees.” We will say something along the lines of “I bring to you my parents (insert names) and my grandparents (insert names), as they have brought me to you,” and then bind the branches together with ribbon and probably place them in a vase. Sort of a family tree handfasting.

  • I love Betsy’s idea of a notebook! I might do that — I often carry a fieldbook around, and leafing through the jotted phrases and dashed-out sketches brings back memories that would otherwise disappear.

    Honoring this quotidian habit on my wedding day hadn’t occurred to me, but surely this is a day I’d particularly like to remember, and a day that is especially likely to flash by in a blur!

    I had originally considered carrying a small copy of Twelfth Night rather than a prayerbook. It’s the play my future husband and I discussed on our first date, and was my pretext for asking him out in the first place!

    My late father gave me his leather-bound collection of Shakespeare’s plays before he died, and this would be a way of including him in the wedding. Sad to say, the book in question turned out to be in such terrible condition that we can’t use it: the leather crumbled and smeared, leaving red stains on everything it touches.

    Thanks for the idea, Betsy!

  • Really old tradition I forgot about until today: Some people used to make baptismal bonnets out of hankies folded a certain way. The hanky/bonnet was then saved until the person’s wedding day, when the partner of the bonneted baby would then carry the bonnet/hanky as a hanky.

    Regardless of what you might think about baptisms in general, and baptisms with bonnets, specifically, I think carrying something of your partner’s from when he/she was little is a lovely gesture.

  • Lemme just say, I never got the whole bouquet thing until I was holding *mine* and I effing loved it. I did not want to put it down.

  • Anonymous

    We are tossing around the idea of something in baskets either empty or with various items of personal significance and/or practical items (hanky, sunscreen, etc). Possibly potted plants (in baskets or hands) to be used on tables for the reception and then given as gifts, or we have thought about lavender as a personal sentiment for us.

  • I have a friend who carried hand blown glass flowers, very cool and she can keep them forever. These particular ones were very modern and cool!

  • K

    If there are any linens/hankies/blankets that have family meaning, you could arrange those into a small bouquet. I suppose it depends on what about the bouquet doesn’t interest the bride…

  • i’m not sure what i’ll be holding. maybe a fan, maybe a pinwheel (i have both, and my ultimate choice may be weather-dependent), or maybe, if my two favorite sunflower varieties grow up nicely in time for the ceremony, maybe even a bouquet.

  • ultimately we decided on fans, but i went through a whole litany of options before we decided, link below in case you are curious.

  • Anonymous

    A few years ago, my fiance and his best friend were involved in a motorcycle accident that look our friend’s life. Instead of carrying flowers when I walk to meet my future husband, I will be carrying a framed photo of our friend, which will be placed on a table near the officiant’s stand. This man would have been my fiance’s BEST man and there is no way we could make it through the day without remembering who he was (and still is to us).