Weddings

What Is the Meaning of a Wedding Unity Candle?

Lighting the candle symbolizes two lives joining together

By Julie Hampton

Burning unity candle
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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.

Significance

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

Participants

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.

Types

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.

Timing

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.

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