I will be doing a sand ceremony for my 2nd marriage, this replaces the unity candle, and is done after the exchange of rings. Yes the minister says something. I am going to be contacting Debbie to see if I can bring my own script for this as there are lots out there that include about standing besides the ocean etc. Just bring your vases down and give to wedding coordinator and your coloured sand. Usually the groom pours first then the bride and then both of you together. You can go to youtube and view some brides doing their sand ceremony and that way you can get a better idea how it works.
As far as using sand from the beach, you are not allowed to bring home sand from the beach, so I would say no you can't, BUT I do plan on putting a very small amount on the bottom of my vase, then pour the coloured sand on top of it. I am talking about a very little amount.
You would have to provide your own sand, sand vessel and pouring vessels. I have seen them at Hobby Lobby and probably Michaels would carry them. Also you can do a google search for sand ceremony vessels and you will have a bunch of sites that you can buy online from. I believe the kits come with the "ceremony" or wording to use. You can also do a search for that as well.
We brought the traditional sand ceremony kit, two smaller "vases" and a larger one with a lid. We also brought our own sand. After the wedding, you perform the sand ceremony at a small table, the minister reads a short verse (very beautiful) about how just as the sand can never again be re separated so shall your lives. its very touching. But- Word of caution- the sand will alert the scanners or whatever at security at the airport. I had to be searched and tested to make sure it was not explosives. I almost cried because they were shaking it up. Make sure the large container has a lid or some way to get it home. It is a wonderful ceremony to replace the candle lighting, and makes beautiful pictures!!
I had read several postings that the sand was hard to get home, without all the layers becoming one. Mainly due to the container being shook up and even as a carry on it happened. So I opted to do a "rock" ceremony, where I gave all my guests a light colored rock and had them put their wishes for us on it and sign it. I brought fine tip sharpies in a variety of colors. We got pictures and blessings that we'll have forever. I sprayed a clear coat on them to seal the markers.
We did the sand ceremony with our parents here in the states at our reception after a "blessing of the hands". Our family did not get to attend our wedding in Jamaica, so this let them and a ton of our friends have a part in our marriage.