Your Wedding: The Unity Ceremony

After almost twenty-one years hosting weddings in the beautiful Black Hills, Joanne Wagner, founding owner/operator of Black Hills Unity SandReception & Rentals, has probably seen just about every kind of ceremony you can imagine! The Unity portion of the ceremony used to consist of the simple lighting of a single candle from two separate candles. Anymore, the ways to celebrate Unity are limited only to the creativity of those involved!

Swan Point SandThe origins of the unity candle/sand portion of the wedding ceremony are that they are a fairly recent addition to a traditional ceremony and more popular in the United States than anywhere else in the world. However, over the millennia, many, many cultures have practiced one form or another of recognizing the union of two families, or even two individuals, becoming one. The Navajo Indians used a pottery bowl, water, and a spoon or ladle. The Bride uses the spoon to pour the water over the hands of the Groom, ceremonially cleansing him from any wrongs he may have done in the past and ushering in the era of the Bride and Groom facing their journey together from that point forward. The ancient Hindu also had a ritual cleansing ceremony to show the new unity of the Bride and Groom: their parents would use water and milk (a precious commodity to them) to wash the couples’ feet, cleansing them for their journey together. A more recent Jewish custom is the breaking of glasses, symbolizing that marriage was designed to be a permanent relationship, as was the breaking of the glasses.

I asked Joanne what she thought was the most unique unity celebration she has witnessed over the years.Fire Hose Her reply was a ceremony in 2014 where the couple connected two sections of fire hose! The Groom, a local Fireman, and his beautiful Bride each held a section of the hose while they used a “coupler” to connect them!

Tying the KnotWe have seen folks literally “tie the knot”, water a tree to be planted in their yard at a later date, release monarch butterflies or doves into the wild, put together a Unity puzzle, paint a canvas together, layer brilliantly colored sands for a Native American ceremony, seal love notes in a box to be opened on their first anniversary…we even have brides and grooms this year that will be combining their ranch brands together onto a beautifully carved wooden slab! A fairly new trend for those thinking of a way to make the Unity sand more unique is using colored glass “grit” instead of the usual sand. The glass grit can then be taken to a glass-blowing company that specializes in this and have an item such as a vase, bowl, or cup created out of the colored grit. The ideas are endless! PuzzleDoves

What are some of the ideas you have for including a unity celebration in your wedding ceremony? Do you have cultural or traditional ties that will influence your thinking in this area? Will you come up with the next “most unique” unity celebration at Black Hills Receptions? We would love to have you share YOUR ideas and traditions!

Email us at or connect with us on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter and let us know how YOU are going to perform the Unity portion of your wedding!


2015 Fall Weddings in The Black Hills…

DSC_8838Fall in the Black Hills of South Dakota is one of our favorite times of the year at Black Hills Receptions & Rentals. The brilliant hues of Autumn give way to an endless canvas on which to blend the brush strokes of your unique wedding. Vibrant oranges and softened greens; delicate Arylide yellow, saffron, goldenrod, and Pantone’s color of the year, Marsala…they all converge on the Black Hills National Forest in September and October, and even into November, and become all the decoration you may need for a magnificent outdoor wedding. The weddings pictured in this blog post were celebrated right here at our facility bordering the Black Hills National Forest and the photographers captured each couple and the natural, elegant beauty of our venue in the Fall with each frame.

Thinking of going “green” with your wedding and utilizing more of what Mother Nature_DSC0242 has already bequeathed? Autumn weddings in the Black Hills give the green-minded couple a beautiful backdrop that really needs no additional elements to make it unique and original, saving on both the pocket-book and the footprint on the planet.

Decorating within the Fall palette gives an unending selection to choose from and it accommodates both the rustic style as well as the elegant in taste. We are seeing a variety of cadmium orange (tangerine), Biscay Bay (blue-green), and Desert Sage (pale olive hue) in the current weddings for this coming Autumn, all mixed with darker tones such as DSC_8060Marsala, Navy, and Plum. What pretty coordinates these make! If you are considering a Fall/Autumn wedding in the Black Hills for this year (2015), then you are in luck! There is still time to plan and some availability here at Black Hills Receptions and Rentals! We have one Saturday left open in September and a couple of Saturdays in October that are still available for beautiful weddings like these…one of those Saturdays we could be hosting YOUR dream wedding day! Call us today to reserve one of these open dates, 605.342.8888 or toll free at 800.929.8885. Visit us on our website Black Hills Receptions & Rentals or one of our social media sites: Facebook, Pinterest, or TwitterDSC_8065

More Wedding Trends for 2015: Some Interesting Ones…

Welcome back to our trending highlights observations! This week there are three more we should look at before switching topics: Dresses, metals, and destinations.

Dresses from the Style Me Pretty runway show for 2015 featured dresses we really loved!

Dress with shoulders

The beautiful White Wedding Dress is making a return to the wedding fashion scene with some very pretty debuts. One trend you will notice is that many dresses are featuring shoulders (which has not been the case for decades!) but showing a lot of the bride’s back. Oval shapes are very alluring, soft, and romantic and are featured in dresses that are gowns, tea-length, and even short! Such a vast array to choose from, you are certain to find something that is truly “you” with all your style and uniqueness! Black Hills Receptions & Rentals is a David’s Bridal Preferred Vendor, featuring Brides in their stunning dresses and bridal attire in every location on our property.

Accent pieces and decorating flare are turning away from silver and nickel and turning to copper and yellow gold. Yellow goldMadame Le Fluer wedding rings and bands are also gaining in popularity. For decorating and accenting at your wedding, look for delicate copper pieces that reflect and inspire romance! Madame Le Fleur in the Fairy Garden at Black Hills Receptions is such a beautiful bronze and copper blend…hard for any photographer to resist!  And Miss Le Fleur is accompanied by a host of fairies that will make your Day the most romantic day in the Black Hills.

And finally, to round out our trending topic, Destination Weddings are taking all the glory these days…from the shores of a relaxing island or beach front, to the majesty and splendor of a mountain get-a-way, couples are choosing stunning destinations that accommodate their guests with much more than just the wedding to attend! They are looking for places where their guests can get away from it all and see beautiful sights, enjoy varying culture, and engage nature like never before! What a perfect opportunity for you, as the bride and groom, to give the gift of the breath-taking Black Hills…and the Badlands of South Dakota are less than an hour’s drive, as well as Historic Deadwood! You can see the Crazy Horse Monument and our country’s Shrine of Democracy, Mount Rushmore, both within minutes of our facility! With destination weddings being the prime choice for 2015-2016 Brides and Grooms, Black Hills Receptions and Rentals offers the perfect opportunity to get both you and your guests into some of the most prime sight-seeing areas of North America. For all the nature lovers out there and the Grooms and their guys, did we mention that the Black Hills of South Dakota has excellent fishing, rock-climbing, hiking, and golfing?

2015/2016 Exciting Wedding Trends to Watch For…

With the rise of media access to current trends such as Pinterest, finding good information about what is actually a trend and nottable decor Rustic Chic a fad is sometimes difficult. DIYers are tipping the scales in terms of adding page upon page of Rustic photos and ideas. While we always want to encourage that steady stream of creativity, “Rustic Chic” is now emerging on the scene to lend a bit of elegance to the Rustic theme. While the charm of a rustic wedding will continue to trend heavily well into 2016, according to the HuffPost Weddings blogger, Danielle Rothweiler, couples are looking for ways to make this trend unique. One of those ways is adding bling to the fare. Pearls, glitter, gold, and sparkle all mixed with the basic rustic approaches are helping Brides and Grooms step up from the darker tones into the softer hues that are coming up for this year and next. With our vast array of décor in everything from rustic barn-wood tables, to elegant pearls, lace, gold or silver, Black Hills Receptions and Rentals can help you create a gorgeous environment for your wedding!

Pantone has introduced some amazing color blends for the 2015/2016 wedding palettes and they are leading the way in brides’ Courtyardselections for this summer, fall, and into the winter of 2016. Some of these palette combinations are: sangria, silver, and lavender; navy, cream, and blush; pale pink, kahki, and gray (my personal fave!); and coral, peach, and powder blue; these are just a few of the gentle, soft, muted hues coming into view for wedding couples to choose from. Whatever colors you choose, Black Hills Receptions and Rentals can accommodate your personal wedding palette!

B & W Legacy

Wedding photography is trending a resurgence of classic Black & White pictures intermingled in their albums, according to Amy Zochol Oyler of the Black Hills-based Legacy Photo and Design. While it is not the predominant mean for an entire album, classic Black & Whites add panache to the typical photo ensemble. “Black & White photography has a way of removing distraction and reducing a shot to its essence…we are seeing more wedding albums add this as a more substantive feature. Black & White photography is for the couple who wants their wedding photography to tell a story, rather than merely bookmark the occasion on the timeline of their lives” states Michael of Michael Ozmun Production.

Traditional Wedding Cake

One last item for this week (we will continue this topic next week), the classic wedding cake is making a giant come back. But don’t confuse classic with old-fashioned! Brides and Grooms are all about taste and presentation when serving their guests. According to a recent trends article by, Brides and grooms are skipping the elaborate dessert, sweets, and cupcakes table anymore and instead choosing to indulge themselves and their guests with gourmet taste and spectacular design. Whites, creams, soft pinks, ivories, and gold along with fillings and fantastic frostings are what seem to be appealing to most couples this year and into 2016. Tall tiers with enough cake for every guest is a must!

Visit us at to see our beautiful ceremony and reception property or call us today at 605.342.8888 (800.929.8885) to schedule your free tour and consultation!

A Date She Will Never Forget…Make A Valentine’s Day Proposal

How to make her feel as special as she really is!

Okay Gentlemen, Valentine’s Day ( THIS Saturday, February 14th!) is just a few days away and you have already purchased the ring! You are scared to death, but you want to make this a day she will remember and recount to all those she loves for the rest of your lives together! You want her to know just how much she means to you with this proposal and you want to be confident you’ve done it right…RIGHT?!?!LOVE  Scrabble Engagement

Well, here are a few tips and ideas to help you with your planning…some “do’s and don’ts” to give you insight as to how to make this come together in a way that will make her swoon and feel as though she is the only woman on the planet in your eyes!

  1. 1. Proposals…Make it unique and special! Guys, the whole “taking-her-to-dinner” idea is really tired and in today’s world, it just doesn’t have that unique, awe-inspiring factor that you want to convey to the woman of your dreams. Instead, opt for packing a basket or a carry-along with something light and simple but will tell her you went to some effort. In this basket, pack her favorite wine or some nice champagne, her favorite fruit (like strawberries, raspberries etc.), her favorite chocolates, the wine glasses or goblets (of course!) and a blanket. Take her somewhere special to the two of you and make it beautiful and meaningful! OR…hire someone to come in and cook a special meal and serve the two of you via candlelight! Take her out on horseback to your favorite spot…you get the idea!
  2. Anticipation and surprise create part of the magic for a woman…seriously! She loves a man with a plan, but anticipating this moment is something she WANTS to do! DON’T catch her off guard, but DO let her know this is going to be a special occasion and that there is a surprise in store! You can downplay it a little to keep her guessing, but she DOESN’T want to be caught in her sweatpants and t-shirt with her marriage proposal (OK…maybe SOME girls don’t mind, but most of them do!)! wedding ring cookie
  3. The Extra-Mile…a very wonderful place to go! You are asking the most beautiful woman in the world to be your mate, friend, and lover for the REST of your lives together…so don’t skimp on this event, Gentlemen. You want her to be amazed at what you can come up with, so this is your chance to shine! Get down on that knee and make her shed tears of joy! Even if you have discussed marriage, she wants to know that you think she is special enough to make a fool out of yourself! Spend some money on a canoe, or a paddle boat; take her up in a hot air balloon; go for that long bicycle ride, or a hike…whatever you know will make her feel like you have taken the time to think about this and plan it-DO IT!
  4. Document it for her and for posterity! Hire a photographer or a videographer to capture this beautiful moment between the two of you. Get those tears, that shriek, that gasp for air, that first look of realization from her eyes that THIS is IT…you will be oh, so glad you did!

With some of these helpful ideas, you will find yourself with a blushing and beautiful Bride-To-Be, that’s for certain, and let us be the first to tell you: Congratulations!! May you and your lovely lady have a joyous Happily-Ever-After! all because

Let us know at Black Hills Receptions and Rentals how we can help the two of you plan the perfect Wedding. Whether it’s here, at our gorgeous site bordering the magnificent Black Hills National Forest, or helping you set up and create a site of your choosing, our goal is to bring your Wedding Day dream to life! Let Joanne, Trish, and KC help you create that wonderful day with the ease and beauty your Bride deserves! Visit us at or call us today to see what dates are available at 800-929-8885 or locally at 605-342-8888. Arrange to bring your beautiful Bride to our location at 10400 W. Highway 44,   Rapid City, SD 57745.

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Happy Valentine’s Day and Congratulations from Black Hills Receptions and Rentals!