The lighting of unity candles has been a comparatively recent inclusion in Protestant wedding ceremonies. These serve as a symbol of the union of two willing hearts and minds that are going to become one by the bond of love, faith and trust.
It is at a particular point in the marriage ceremony that the bride and the groom light a unity candle together. The unity candle set up at marriage is frequently white in color and is often decorated with the invitation or some inscription or a picture of the couple. Other special adornment/ornamentation may also be used. The ritual lighting is also at times accompanied by a special musical piece.
The unity candle ceremony at marriage
In the unity candle ceremony two taper candles and a large pillar candle are used. The large candle is the one referred to as the unity candle. As the wedding ceremony begins the mothers of the bride and the groom light the two taper candles. Later on, typically between the exchange of vows and the formal declaration of the wedding, the bride and the groom take the two taper candles lighted and use them together to light the large pillar candle.
After lighting the pillar candle the individual taper candles may be blown out or kept lit beside the central candle. Blowing out of the individual candles may signify that the bride and the groom lose their individuality and develop a new united identity of their own as symbolized by the central candle. However, keeping them lit beside the central candle is also preferred by many as it signifies that though united in a big way yet the participants in the wedlock still do retain their individuality.
Alternate ways of using unity candles at marriages
Though traditionally the unity candle ceremony makes use of three candles there are other ways of performing it too wherein all the family members and close friends of the bride and the groom are invited to participate. Some unconventional twists may be added to the conventional unity candle ceremony too. Each of the guests may be provided with an unlit candle and after the couple lights the unity candle the guests can be requested to light their individual candles from the unity candle. This will be meaningfully symbolizing that the guests’ involvement is important too in the union.
It may be noted that the unity candle ceremony may not be considered necessary at all in the wedding. However, it does serve as a novel inclusion that makes the occasion all the more special and memorable for the couple, their family members and guests.