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Wedding Traditions Explained: Unity Candle

Chances are if you’ve been to a wedding before, you’ve probably seen a unity candle ceremony. This may be surprising to today’s engaged couple, but the candle ceremony tradition didn’t begin until only about 30 to 40 years ago. This is surprising to say the least as a large number of weddings today do take part in a candle lighting. So much for a long standing tradition, huh?

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It is believed that the tradition of including a unity candle into a wedding ceremony began sometime in the 1970s. It mostly began as a Christian tradition, but then spread very quickly to be included in all types of American weddings. Even though this ceremony is only a more recent addition to weddings, we do appreciate the meaning behind this tradition.

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Typically, the mothers of the bride and groom will light individual candles right before a wedding ceremony begins. Many couples even have their grandparents or fathers included in the lighting of the individual candles as well. These candles represent the bride’s and groom’s families, one candle to symbolize each family. Once the bride and groom exchange their wedding vows, they each take one of the family candles and light a larger unity candle together. The large unity candle represents the joining of the couple’s families together as one. The unity candle also represents the bride and groom starting a new family separately as a married couple. Some couples choose to blow out their family candles once the unity candle has been lit, however this part may offend some families.

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This ceremony has no religious affiliations and can be included into any type of wedding ceremony. However, many Catholic churches do not allow a candle ceremony as it is not a traditional part of a wedding ceremony.

Interested in reading about more wedding traditions? Find what you’re looking for here!