Couples use two lit taper candles (symbolizing their individuality) to light one big candle as a symbol
of their two lives becoming one in commitment. Most Unity Candles were used in Protestant churches
or in wedding ceremonies not conducted in church. Although more accepting of it today, many
Catholic or Jewish ceremonies ask that couples not include the candle in the ceremony, since the Unity
Candle is not a part of the traditional wedding liturgy.
Often during the processional, the mothers of the bride and groom light a taper candle in honor of
their son or daughter at the altar or a small table at the front of the church. They return to their seats,
and the tapers remain lit throughout the ceremony. After the vows and rings have been exchanged,
the officiant will explain to the guests the symbolism of the Unity Candle. He asks the bride and the
groom to take their "individual" lives (the individual taper candles) and bring them both to the large
center candle, lighting one flame with their two individual flames. During the lighting of the Unity
Candle, many times couple will have a song sung or played, or the minister will recite an appropriate
poem to accompany the symbolism of the ceremony.
Whether or not to extinguish the individual tapers after the lighting of the Unity Candle is up to the
couple. Many couples believe that putting out individual flames appears as if their individual lives have
been snuffed out for the benefit of the marriage, while some believe extinguishing individual candles
only shows their devotion to the commitment they've just made. According to most ministers, the
decision is left entirely up to the couple.
Where you place the Unity Candle ceremony within the wedding ceremony is up to you although most
couples wait until after they've said their vows and exchanged rings to light the candle. However,
some like the use of a unity candle as a beginning for a wedding ceremony as it symbolically shows the
couple as coming together. It is not particularly religious as fire is a universal element.
UNITY CANDLE READINGS
The following poem by Harold Douglas is frequently recited by the officiant while the bride and
groom light the Unity Candle:
Soft mists embrace two golden flames,
Alone they search the night.
Two souls adrift in dreams of love,
They seek to claim the light.
The path is long from which they came,
But sure they are it's right.
Two flames embrace in dreams of love,
Two Souls - Two Hearts Unite.
Groom and Bride will light the unity candle, as a symbol of their marriage. The candles from which
they light it, represent each of them in the fullness of their individuality. They come as individuals
and do not lose their identity, rather they create through their commitment the relationship of
marriage. Therefore, three candles remain lit. One for each of them and one for their marriage, as
symbols of their commitment to each other and to a lasting and loving marriage.
From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven. And when two souls are
destined for each other and find each other, their streams of light flow together and a single brighter
light goes forth from their united being." (by Baal Shem Tov)
This candle you are about to light is a candle of Marriage. Its fire is magical because it represents the
light of two people in love. This candle before you is a candle of Commitment because it takes two
people working together to keep it aflame. This candle is also a candle of Unity because both must
come together, giving a spark of themselves, to create the new light. As you light this candle today,
may the brightness of the flame shine throughout your lives. May it give you courage and reassurance
in darkness, warmth and safety in the cold, and strength and joy in your bodies, minds, and spirits.
May your union be forever blessed. (Reverend Amy Long)
Groom and Bride, you have exchanged vows and rings expressing your desire to be united as one in a
Christ-honoring marriage. As you enter marriage, may the light of his presence in your life and works
through you be seen as a light in the darkness. May that truth be reflected as you now take the flames
from two separate candles and blend them into the one center candle. May the Lord unite you with
one faith, one hope, and one love.
# 6 Family Candle Ceremony
Officiant: This marriage is not just the joining of Groom and Bride, it is also the joining of [children's
names], those family members present and those who are present today only in our memories.
This candle before us symbolizes the joining of Groom and Bride's past and of the new family they
have formed here today. It should also serve as a reminder to them of their faith in God who enriches
their marriage and their family in every way. Just as your love for one another, the flames that light
the individual candles will burn brighter when joined together. Extinguish the two and be forever
united in God's love.
(There is an additional smaller candle for each child. The Groom and Bride light these candles, and
then all together light the center Unity Candle.)
The lighting of the center candle represents not only the union of [Groom] and [Bride] in marriage, but
the unity formed in this new family in which your lives will now shine as one family."
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Unity Candle Ceremonies / Readings