Unity candles are a recent addition to many American weddings. They can be used for a variety of purposes, but they always emphasize the merging together of individualism into a new unit. If you have considered using a unity candle in your own wedding, learn about the symbolism and the potential uses for the candle before you incorporate it into your wedding.
About Unity Candles
Unity candles typically consist of two taper candles and one large pillar candle. Each taper candle is lit and then two different people or groups of people light the large pillar candle with the lit taper candle. The candles are usually placed on a stand that consist of the center area that is meant for the pillar candle and the ends are for the placement of the taper candles. Individual candle holders can also be used for each candle. Unity candles are not associated with any particular religion, although they are commonly used in Christian wedding ceremonies.
History of the Unity Candle
The history of the unity candle is unclear. It is believed that the unity candle only began to be incorporated into weddings within the last century, possibly around the 1930s. One of the first reported incidents of the use of a wedding involved an interfaith couple in New York.
Unity Candle Uses
The uses of a unity candle are numerous. Some of the most common uses of the unity candle are listed below.
Unity of the Bride and Groom
In one form of a unity candle ceremony, the bride lights her taper candle and the groom lights his own taper candle. The couple then place their taper candle over the wick of the large pillar candle in the middle. This ceremony is meant to symbolize the individuals coming together into one unit. In the biblical sense, the ceremony represents the bride and groom becoming one new unified body. In more modern terms, the ceremony represents the two individuals who are forming a new identity as a couple. The marriage is now more important than individual desires.
Unity of Different Religions
In a similar ceremony, the bride and groom light their taper candles and then light the center candle together. If the bride is one religion and the groom is another, the ceremony unites the two religions together. The couple agree to stay unified in spite of their religious differences. They may also be symbolizing their intention to raise children with both faiths. An alternative to this ceremony is for a member of the bride and groom’s families to light the individual taper candles.
Unity of Families
In another type of unity ceremony, a member of the bride and groom’s families light the taper candle. This honor is often bestowed upon the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom. The mothers light the candles before the wedding ceremony begins. When the unity candle ceremony is undertaken, the bride and groom each place the taper candle that represents their family in their hand. When they light the center candle, they are symbolizing the joining of the two separate families into one new, unified family.
Unity of Blended Families
Another meaning for the unity candle is the blending of two families. For example, if the bride and the groom have children from previous marriages or relationships, the unity candle ceremony may be used to symbolize the unity of the two families into one family. In this ceremony the bride and the groom help their respective children light the middle candle. The family is now joined into one.
There are several ways to personalize a wedding unity candle ceremony for your own wedding. You can say a separate prayer, commitment or poem about unity and merging two into one before lighting the candles. You can also add your monogram, ribbon in your wedding color or part of your wedding invitation to the pillar candle to personalize it. There are many personalized unity candle selections online to choose from.
In Lieu of a Unity Candle
Several other traditions symbolize unity during weddings. A sand ceremony, hand fasting, blending colored water or wine or the lasso in the infinity symbol are all methods to symbolize unity.
A wedding unity candle ceremony can be a beautiful addition to any wedding. It symbolizes the unity between a bride and groom, as well as other family members, and adds to the beauty and significance of the event.