The Unity Candle Ceremony became popular as part of Catholic weddings, although it’s significance is universal, the joining of the couple as a new family.
Each style of ceremony includes significant words to explain to your guests the relevance of your chosen wedding candle ritual
An especially lovely tradition is the lighting of the unity candle. Here both bride and groom enter, each carrying a lighted white candle. As you step up to the dais, where a single until candle is waiting, you use the flames of your individual candles to ignite the single large candle. This gesture symbolises the extinguishing of individual life and the beginning of a life union.
If you prefer a different symbolism, you may light the single large candle together, then set your individual candles, still burning, on either side of it. In this case you are symbolising that even in marriage you retain your individuality while at the same time offering your energy to the creation of a larger union.
In the case where one or more of your parents has died, you may invite the surviving parent to light a candle to symbolise the spirit of the departed parent. This can be done when you have already taken your places, just before the start of the formal ceremony, or it can be done as the usher is escorting this parent to his or her to their seat. Lighting a candle for the departed ones can be lovely and a very moving symbol. It ensures that in one form or another, the spirits of all of your parents are present. You may also do this if a parent is unable, for any other reason, not to be present at your ceremony.
In addition, you can write a few words that either you or the celebrant can pronounce to accompany a candle lighting ceremony. He or she might say, for example: “We bring the light of ourselves into the light of this union. May our unified light burn strong and bright in the future”. Or, in the instance of a departed parent, the officiant, or one of you may say, “In memory of the life and spirit of _____, we light this candle in our midst in celebration of this marriage”.
There are many variations available for this ritual from the lighting of a single Unity Candle by the Bride and Groom, to generational Unity Candle Ceremonies, using either five or seven candles to include either the mothers or all four parents, and/Grandparents of the Bride and Groom. The mothers, or parents, come forward and light their candles from two votive candles that are lit prior to the ceremony. They then turn to light the candles of the Bride and Groom, who in turn light the Unity Candle.
The Wiccan and Pagan candle ceremony focuses on the couple’s union in marriage. However, this candle ceremony focuses less on two families uniting (as a unity candle ritual) than on two individuals coming together, yet remaining independent. Interfaith or non-denominational couples could certainly include it in their ceremony.
Some couples choose to extend the light to their guests as well. The ushers distribute candles to all the guests as they arrive. After lighting and joining together their own candles, the Bride and Groom turn to the Best Man and Maid of Honour to light their candles. They, in turn, pass the light to other members of the bridal party and then it is extended through the Bride and Groom’s parents to all the guests. Given the time it takes to do this, it is best done only in smaller gatherings.