What Is the Meaning of a Wedding Unity Candle?

Lighting the candle symbolizes two lives joining together

By Julie Hampton

Burning unity candle
Photo by iStockphoto.comBookmark and Share

Lighting the unity candle during a wedding ceremony is becoming a common tradition in many modern weddings. This ceremony is much more than simply the lighting of a candle and involves other family members, such as the mothers of the couple, or any children the couple may have from previous marriages or relationships. While the ceremony has become a popular custom in many Protestant weddings since the '80s, the unity candle's origins are not easily traceable.


The wedding unity candle ceremony signifies the bride and groom joining their lives together as they simultaneously light a large pillar candle.


The mothers of the bride and groom often light two tapered candles set in a candelabra on either side of a large pillar candle and hand them to their children. The handing off of the candles represents the life the mothers created and how this life will continue into the marriage.


The couple lights the large pillar candle simultaneously using the tapered candles. They then place the tapered candles back into the candelabra. The large pillar candle can be custom made with pictures or significant sayings inscribed into the wax.

Ceremony Modifications

If the bride or groom have children from a previous relationship, the children often join the unity candle ceremony. The child is given a tapered candle and joins the bride and groom in lighting the pillar candle to represent the formation of a family.


The ceremony usually takes place immediately after the vows have been spoken.

Extinguishing the Candles

After the bride and groom have lit the pillar candle, it is optional to keep the tapered candles lit or blow them out. Some couples allow the tapered candles to burn to symbolize individuality and independence.

About the Author

Julie Hampton is a regular contributor to DexKnows.

Related Guides

German shepard in wedding

Including Your Dog in the Ceremony

Weddings are a celebration of love and family, so if your family includes a beloved dog, why not include him in your wedding ceremony?... Read More

Planning Reminder:

bride and groom place cards on tablescape

Purchase place cards

The smallest details are some of the most important. You may want to reserve the first rows at your ceremony for family. And place cards at your reception ensures everyone knows where to go when it's time to chow down. Opt for place cards that are fancy or fun.

View your wedding checklist!


Wedding Glossary


A Jewish tradition where grooms -- and, occasionally, also brides -- step on a glass at the end of a wedding ceremony.

View the Full Weddings Glossary
Sign Up

Already have an account? Log In

Log In with your Facebook account.
We’ll never post without your permission.

Create a DexKnows account:

At least 6 characters
By clicking Sign Up, you agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. You'll receive the DexKnows Tips email newsletter as well as email updates about your account.

Please share the issue you encountered with our search

I am a(n):


Please check at least one issue checkbox.