Unity Candle Ceremony: Everything you need to know

Unity Candle Wedding

As you move into the beautiful bond of marriage, it isn’t uncommon to feel the need to recognise this life-changing moment in a memorable, symbolic way. One tradition that remains popular is that of the Unity Candle Ceremony.

A Unity Candle Ceremony is a great way to personalise your wedding ceremony; plus, it is arguably the tradition rooted in the most romance!

What is a Unity Candle Ceremony? A Unity Candle Ceremony is when a couple each take a lit candle and simultaneously light what is known as the “unity candle”. This symbolises their joining together as a family, while maintaining their individuality.

Here at The Celebrant Directory, we have seen a huge increase in couples integrating Unity Candle Ceremonies into their special day. Read on to find out everything you need to know about Unity Candle Ceremonies (and whether one could be the right option for you).

What is a Unity Candle Ceremony?

The Unity Candle Ceremony is perhaps one of the most commonly performed rituals at a wedding ceremony. It is a special way to show the joining of families, the merging of two people and the first steps as a blended family.

How does a Unity Candle Ceremony work?

The Unity Candle Ceremony involves three candles; one held by each partner (representing the two separate family candles) and then one which will stand alone – often on a candle stand – to symbolise the union of your families. 

Often, the mothers will light the initial family candles and then the couple will light the unity candle together. However, the choice is up to you; you could have a father, a child, a sibling, a friend… or anyone that means something special to your family light the candles!

How much does a Unity Candle cost?

How long is a piece of string?

The price of your Unity Candle will depend on how personalised or elaborate you want it to be. You could opt for a simple candle or get one that is all singing and dancing. Some people choose to have their names engraved on the candle, or even family trees.

What is the meaning of a candle lighting ceremony?

Candle lighting ceremonies are a relatively new trend; it’s an act that has grown in popularity in the last few decades. Its intention is to show two different identities – from two different walks of life – joining together in the eternal bond of marriage.

What is the symbol of a candle in weddings?

Flames are said to symbolise love and passion, and so in the context of a marriage they show the adoration that the couple has for one another.

Lighting candles and joining them together is the physical representation of their enduring commitment, and the blending of their two families.

When to do the unity candle ceremony

Typically, the Unity Candle will be lit immediately after saying your vows. However, at the start of the ceremony is when the individual candles will be lit; perhaps by the mothers or by the children (especially if the wedding is a second marriage).

While the couple lights the Unity Candle, they may choose to have guests sing a song, someone recite a poem, the playing of instrumental music or a meaningful reading in the background.

Do you play music during a unity candle ceremony 

You can choose to personalise the Unity Candle Ceremony as much as you wish, including by having music played in the background.

It’s important to keep in mind that the ceremony isn’t long – you won’t want to choose a song that is so lengthy that guests are waiting awkwardly once the candle lighting has already finished. Popular options are having a section of an instrumental played (if you have musically talented guests who can step to the stage, even better!) or even sung by your guests.

The song should be meaningful to you and your families, with a message that encapsulates what this merging of families means to you all.

Unity candle poem

Many people like to include a poem in their Unity Candle ceremony; this can be a beautiful way to capture the romance and deep, transient feeling that you hold for one another.

The poem could be one that you both love, one that speaks to you as a new family unit, one chosen (or written!) by a child…. Anything!

If you are looking for a touch of inspiration, the below poem by Harold Douglas always proves a popular choice at weddings.

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.

If you choose to include a reading at your candle lighting ceremony, it should be something that speaks perfectly to you and your partner. There are no rules, and this is your chance to express to the world what this blending of families truly means to the pair of you.

How to do a unity candle ceremony outside 

Holding your wedding outside but want to include a unity candle ceremony? Luckily, it is possible.

While unpredictable weather and blustering winds may try to get in the way, there are a few tips for keeping your candle lighting ceremony achievable. For example, instead of a lighter that may blow out quickly, you could put a small votive candle in a holder and light your candles with that. You could also move the candle lighting to the very end of the ceremony to ensure it doesn’t have to stay lit for too long.

It’s worth noting that not all venues will allow live flames in their premises – check with your venue before tying yourself into the idea of a unity candle ceremony!

Unity candle ceremony including guests

Although it is traditional to have the mothers of the bride or groom light the candles in the ceremony, there is no reason that you cannot adjust the tradition based on your own needs.

You could ask the friend who brought you and your partner together to light the candle, to symbolise their role in your relationship. Or you could ask a child in the ceremony to light the candle; this is especially symbolic when two families are blending and bringing stepchildren into one family unit. 

Another idea is to include all guests in the candle lighting ceremony. Each guest would be given an unlit candle as they joined the ceremony. The newly married couple would then light the candle of someone in the front row, who would pass the flame to the next person, the next and the next. When the final candle is lit, they would use it to light the candles of the couple, who would then light the unity candle. The idea is that of uniting not just a family, but all your loved ones.

Do you want to find a Celebrant who can conduct a beautiful unity candle ceremony for you? Search our Celebrant Directory to find your perfect Celebrant today.

Jennifer Claire is the Founder of The Celebrant Directory and lives and breathes all things ceremony! After officiating big days for 10 years, she now focuses on giving you the tips you need to create your perfect celebration.

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