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
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
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.
# 1 -- Unity Reading
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 personhood.
They come into their marriage relationship as individuals and they do not lose their identity, rather
they create through their commitment the relationship of marriage. Therefore, three candles remain lighted,
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.
The two outside candles have been lighted by their parents to represent their lives to this moment. The
lights, representing the faith, wisdom, and love they have received from their parents, are distinct, each
burning alone. They light the center candle to symbolize the union of their lives. As this one light burns
undivided, so will their love be one with God. From now on their thoughts will be for each other rather
than for their individual selves. Their joys and sorrows will be shared alike. Holding hands, they encircle
the altar and candle to symbolize the sacrificial nature of their life journey together. May the radiance
of this one light and their jouney together be a testimony of their unity.
The two outside candles of the candelabra have been lighted to represent their lives to this moment.
They are two distinct lights, each capable of going their separate ways. To bring bliss and happiness to
their home there must be the merging of these two lights into one light. This is what God meant when He said:
'On this account, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall be
one flesh.' From now on their thoughts shall be for each other rather than for their individual selves. Their
plans shall be mutual, their joys and sorrows shall be shared alike. As they each take a candle and together
light the center candle, they will extinguish their own candles, thus letting the center candle symbolize the
union of our lives into one flesh. As this one light cannot be divided, neither shall their lives be divided.
May the radiance of this one light be a witness of their unity in Christ.
This one is for a ceremony that uses a unity candle with the cross and double rings design on it.
On this their Wedding Day, they make this loving commitment, to follow the greatest Commandment of all: 'Love
one another, as I have loved you.' This they do in the hope that their union shall become a symbol of God's promise
to merge two devoted lives into one. The two distinct flames represent their lives to this moment; individual and
unique. To bring bliss and happiness to their home there must be the merging of these two into one. Together they
light the center candle. This is what God meant when He said: 'On this account a man shall leave his father
and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one.' From now on their thoughts shall be for each
other rather than for their individual selves. The entwining rings -- symbolize their two lives joined in dependence
and growing maturity. Their plans shall be mutual, their joys and sorrows shall be shared alike. The cross -- a
constant reminder of their faith in the Lord who blesses us each day, for it is He who enriches their marriage
in every possible way. Thus they extinguish the two, forever united in the radiant oneness of God's love.
Let them renew their vows each day as the memory of this joyous occasion reminds us:
The Way is Long -- Let Us Go Together
The Way is Difficult -- Let Us Help Each Other
The Way is Joyful -- Let Us Share It
The Way Is Ours Alone -- Let Us Go In Love
The Way Grows Before Us -- Let Us Begin"
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)
From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven. And when two souls who are destined
to be together find each other, their streams of light flow together, and a single, brighter light goes forth from
their united being. In this spirit, Groom and Bride, take your individual candles and light together a third candle
which signifies your marital bond. May the light of love, and the light of understanding, and the light of respect,
and the light of tolerance shine eternally for you both.
Today Groom and Bride come here from two different families. Out of these two families, a new family will be
created in the Lord. At this time, I would invite the parents of ________and__________ to come forward and light
the individual candles which represent the two separate families. The two individual flames, one representing
each family, will demonstrate to us in a very beautiful way the symbol of two who become one. From now on they
will grow together as unique persons becoming a light to the world.
Pagan Unity Ceremony
Will the parents of our Groom and Bride please come to the altar and light candles representing the separate
families and pasts from which ____ and ____ have come today to be joined together as one?" (Parents come to the altar and light their tapers.)
Above you below you, forever surrounding you shall be the pledge you make unto each other today. It is the
pledge of the truth and purity of your every breath. The constant friendship of your hearts.
The passion and fire of your spirits and the deepest love your souls have to give. It is the pledge of all that
is within you. The only true pledge that one heart can offer to another.
(Groom and Bride step up and join parents, each taking the candle of their past in hand.)
You are now as Husband and Wife offering yourselves, and all that has come to pass unto each other, towards the
creation of your future, and to all that is yet to come.
(They join hands & light the center candle together, creating the circle of life. They then place the tapers back in their holders, and snuff their flames.
The light that remains is the light of God's love, the light in which you shall be forever as one.
# 11 -- Family Candle Ceremony
Officiant: This marriage is not just the joining of Groom and Bride,
it is also the joining of [children's names], of their families and their friends to
build a strong community. This community, if in a different way, is also strengthened
by those who are present today only in our memories. Their roles in your lives are no
less diminished as we celebrate today's joyous moments. We ask you to join with
Groom and Bride in fond memory of all these people and in particular; [names of loved
ones]. In the quiet of this special moment we give thanks for all the rich experiences
that have brought Groom and Bride to this marriage. We are grateful for the values
taught to them by those who have loved them and nurtured them throughout their lives.
We are grateful that within Groom and Bride there is a great love for God and for
each other. We are grateful too for the resources to use this love to create a home for each
other and for [children's names]. 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 in
every way. The flames that light this candle will burn brighter when joined together.
Extinguish the two and be forever united in God's love. (Laurie Beckstead)
This is added to the Unity Candle lighting. 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."
From every human being, there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven. And when two souls are destined to
find each other, their two streams of light flow together and a single brighter light goes forth from their
united being. They do not lose their individuality; yet, in marriage, they are united in so close a bond that
they become one. Now, following the profession of their marriage vows, they will light the large center candle
from the smaller candles to symbolize this new reality. In this way, they are saying that henceforth their light
must shine together for each other, for their families, and for their community.
My goal is to help all couples, regardless of their religious affiliation or non-affiliation. I respect all cultures and
creeds and deliver a ceremony with dignity and respect, regardless of whether or not I share the same beliefs.
Click here for a brief explanation of my beliefs.