Are you looking to add a personal touch and meaningful moment to your wedding day? Then you might want to consider adding a unity candle ceremony. Read on as we explore what a unity candle ceremony is, who the unity ceremony is right for, and what you need to have a unity candle wedding.

What is a unity candle ceremony? What is the meaning of a candle in a wedding ceremony? 

A unity candle ceremony is a short ritual done during the wedding ceremony to symbolize the joining of two people, or two families, into one. The meaning of a unity candle is to bring together two individuals forming a new family, and as a symbol of their bright future head.

Here’s how it works: Both members of the couple will light one candle each or receive lit candles from a loved ones. These candles are usually small and thin, like taper candles. Together, the couple will use their individual candles to light a third candle at the same time. This third candle, called the unity candle, is often larger and wider, like a votive candle.

While the candles are being lit, the couple’s officiant will explain the significance of the unity tradition and wedding candles to guests. They may also invite guests to take part in the ceremony (more on that below!).

Sample unity candle script: unity candle ceremony wording with mothers

A popular choice is to involve the mothers of the couple in the unity candle ceremony. Here is a unity candle ceremony script that you can use for your wedding that involves mum!

Officiant: Loved ones, we gather here to witness a special moment in the lives of [Couple’s Names]. Today, they come together not only as individuals but as a united couple, ready to embark on the journey of marriage. In this unity candle ceremony, we symbolize the joining of their two lives with the participation of their mothers.

(Officiant motions for mothers to step forward with their candles)

The lighting of these individual candles represents the unique light that each [Couple’s Names] brings into this marriage. They each come from their own families, with their own histories, traditions, and experiences.

Mother of Partner 1: (Steps forward and lights a taper candle)

Officiant: The taper candle lit by Partner 1’s mother represents all the love, wisdom, and guidance she has bestowed upon her child throughout her life.

Mother of Partner 2: (Steps forward and lights a taper candle)

Officiant: The taper candle lit by Partner 2’s mother symbolizes the love, care, and support she has shared with her child as they have grown into the person they are today.

(Mothers pass their lit candles to their children. Together, the couple uses their individual candles to light the unity candle.)

Officiant: As Partner 1 and Partner 2 now take their individual candles and join them to light the unity candle, they symbolize the merging of their families and the creation of a new one.The two flames coming together as one represents the love, strength, and unity they now bring to each other and to this marriage.

May the light of this unity candle shine brightly, guiding [Couple’s Names] on their journey together, surrounded by the love and blessings of their families. As they move forward as partners in life, may they always remember the support and foundation of love that their mothers have provided.

More unity candle ceremony script examples: 

Need more ideas for what a wedding officiant should say during a candle ceremony? Check out these great candle ceremony script examples below:

You could also choose to use this popular unity candles poem by Harold Douglas. Your officiant could read this poem or you could ask a special guest to read it while you conduct the candle ceremony.

“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.”

unity candle ceremony at wedding, bride and groom light the unity candle

What do you need for a unity candle ceremony?

While planning your candle service, make sure you have:

  1. Unity candles: You’ll need three candles for this ceremony, two taper candles for each member of the couple and one votive candle for them to light together. You can buy unity wedding candles in a bundle of three or DIY them by buying each candle separately. Hint: You may want to buy a back up candle or two just in case!
  2. Lighter: After all, you’ll need something to light the candles with! It’s also a good idea to have a back up lighter in case one doesn’t work or goes missing.
  3. Table: The candle service is usually set up on a small table to the side of the couple at the front of the ceremony. Chat with your venue about what kind of table they have available.
  4. (op) Table decor: Some couples choose to decorate their wedding candle table with flowers, candle holders, etc.
  5. Permission from your venue! Don’t forget to get permission from your venue to hold a candle ceremony. Some venues have strict rules against open flames.

If you’re planning a unity ceremony, you’ll also want to loop in your wedding planner and wedding officiant. They’ll need to know when the ceremony is happening, what is being said, who is bringing the supplies and setting them up, and who is taking the candle home.

What if my venue doesn’t allow candles?

If your venue doesn’t allow candles or open flames, you still have lots of unity ceremony options. Check out our list below of other ideas for unity services that don’t involve candles.

If the candle ceremony is very important to you, you could do it at another time and place on your wedding day. For example, if your reception venue allows candles, you could do it there before your first dance. Or you could do it at your first look location.

Another option would be to use flameless candles during your unity ceremony. Of course, these candles won’t have quite the same affect as you won’t be able to use the two individual candles to light the unity candle. But you could try a slight of hand (pretending that you’re lighting the third while slyly turning it on), have someone in the audience turn on the unity candle remotely (and secretly!), or get in on the joke and switch on the unity candle together (giving you and your guests a quick laugh!).

How do you do a wedding candle ceremony outdoors?

A unity wedding candle ceremony may sound nice until you’re dealing with wind or rain that keeps blowing out the candles at your outdoor wedding! What to do?

If you’re set on using candles, look into covers that allow the candles to stay lit but protect them from the elements. You could also keep your large votive candle inside a lantern or under a protective covering, reaching in to light it during the ceremony.

Don’t test Mother Nature by lighting your candles at the beginning of the ceremony and hoping they stay lit throughout. Instead, plan your candle service for the very end of your wedding ceremony and light the candles as quick as possible.

Of course, you can always go with a non-candle unity ceremony that might be easier to pull off for an outdoor wedding. Check out a few of our favourite ideas below!

wedding candle in lantern at outdoor wedding

Who is involved in the unity ceremony?

At the most minimal, a unity candle ceremony involves the couple of the hour and their officiant. However, you can involve other family members and friends, or even your entire wedding guest list!

Traditionally, the taper candles that each partner holds are handed to them by their mothers. This signifies the joining of two families, since the couple’s moms hand them their individual candles. It’s also a nice way to involve mom in the ceremony, as traditionally only the father of the bride is involved.

Of course, you don’t have to give mom this role! You can have any member of your family or friend group hand you your candle as a symbol of your background and the love you come from.

You could also tweak the candle ceremony to involve all of your guests. One popular way to do this is by handing every guest an unlit candle when they walk into the ceremony. Once the couple has lit their unity candle, they will then turn to their guests and light one guest’s candle with the unity candle. That guest will use their candle to light the next guest’s candle and so on until every guest’s candle is lit.

As you can imagine, this makes for a beautiful photograph – the entire ceremony lit up by candle light. However, it can be a bit of a logistical nightmare. It can take a very long time to light that many candles and there’s the obvious fire hazard. If you want to go with this option, talk it over with your planner and venue before proceeding.

For less risky ways to involve your guests in your wedding ceremony, click here! 

When does the candle ceremony take place? 

The unity candle tradition usually takes place towards the end of the ceremony, after the vows and ring exchange, but before the pronouncement and first kiss. Talk with your wedding officiant about exactly where in the ceremony you’d like the unity candles to take place.

wedding candles and decor

What other unity ceremonies should we consider? 

Looking for more unity ceremony ideas? Check out a few of our favourites below and this post for more unity ceremony ideas!

  • Rose ceremony: In a rose ceremony, the couple exchange a single red rose after exchanging vows and rings, as their first gift to one another as newlyweds. While doing this, their officiant will speak about the symbolism of the red rose.
  • Handfasting: In this Celtic tradition, the couple’s hands are tied together to signify their commitment – and literally tying the knot! Learn more about handfasting here.
  • Sand ceremony: Each member of the couple will pour a different colour of sand into a jar at the same time, or taking turns. This makes a beautiful keepsake and symbolizes two people joining together to create something beautiful.
  • Anniversary time capsule: In this unity tradition, the couple will create a time capsule to open on their first wedding anniversary. During the ceremony, the couple or their officiant will add things to the time capsule, such as love letters written to one another and other tokens of love.
  • Beer or wine blending: Instead of mixing sand, why not mix a drink? For couples who love an adult beverage, have fun with a unity ceremony that involves mixing two types of beer or two types of wine. You can then drink from the mixed glass or bottle it and save it for your anniversary!
  • Tree planting: Symbolize how you will nurture your love and help it grow by planting a tree together. You can each take turns adding dirt to the potted tree or to a spot in your backyard.
  • Take a shot!: Nothing says unity like your first shot together as newlyweds, right? Officiant Beth had the pleasure of presiding over a ceremony that ended with the grooms handing out shot glasses and inviting all of their guests to take a shot with them!
  • Paint blending: Similar to the sand ceremony, each member of the couple will have a small jar with a different colour of paint. Together or taking turns, you’ll pour your jar onto a canvas to create a beautiful piece of art that can hang in your home. Just be careful not to get paint on your wedding outfits!
  • Family bouquet: Officiant Shawn presided over a unity ceremony perfect for blended families. Each member of the family brought forward a different flower as Shawn described how the flower they chose represented them. They then put their flower into a vase, creating a beautiful family bouquet.

No matter what you choose, your unity ceremony should embrace your interests and be something meaningful to you two!

family bouquet unity ceremony at wedding
by Candice Marie Photography

Do we have to include a unity ceremony in our wedding?

Nope! While some couples choose to add a unity ceremony or unity wedding candles to their day, all unity traditions are absolutely optional.

As with anything you add to your ceremony, we believe you should only include elements that are meaningful to you, your partner or your families. If you don’t feel connected to a unity ceremony or don’t see the value in it, go ahead and skip it!

There are lots of other ways for you to still add meaning and personalization to your wedding without a unity candle ceremony. Our favourite way? Writing your own vows! Click here to get our FREE guide to writing kick-butt wedding vows!