Unity Candle Ceremony Tips

The unity candle symbolizes the very essence of the wedding ceremony. Two taper candles, representing the couple as individuals, are used to light a single center candle as a visible symbol of their commitment to each other. There are many variations on the ceremony and the individual details are completely up to you. Here are some ideas to help you as you plan your ceremony.

Preparing for Your Ceremony

Before the ceremony begins, place the unity candle on a small table near the altar. If you have an on-site coordinator who may have specific instructions, be sure to check in advance. To prepare for the ceremony, it is a good idea to light the wicks for a moment (this will make them light much more easily during the ceremony).

There are several popular options for lighting your taper candles. You can have your parents come forward to light the side tapers as a symbol of your two families coming together as one. At this point, some couples choose to present their mothers with a rose. If you wish, the minister or best man and the maid of honor can light the tapers. Or, you may light the tapers yourselves from a candle on the altar.

To Extinguish or Not to Extinguish

When it comes to your unity candle ceremony, that is often the question! While some folks feel that you should extinguish the candles to symbolize your commitment to one another, others argue that to emphasize your individuality within your union, you must leave the tapers lit. Whether or not you extinguish the taper candles is a personal decision and, like many aspects of your wedding planning, is entirely up to you.

If you choose to extinguish your tapers, you might read the following:

As [Name] and [Name] together light the center candle, they will extinguish their own candles, thus letting the center candle symbolize the union of their lives. As this one light cannot be divided, neither will their lives be divided.

If you’d prefer to leave your tapers lit, try this one…

[Name] and [Name] come into their marriage relationship as individuals and they do not lose their identity, rather they use their individuality to create and strengthen the relationship of marriage. Therefore, the 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.

Unity Candle Ceremony Module

(Officiant lights the separate candle sticks representing the spouses.)

There are many traditions and rituals commonly included in marriage ceremonies. One of the most beautiful and expressive is the “Unity Candle.” Two fires, separate and individual, uniting their flames to burn as one.

Imagine how you might describe fire to someone who had never experienced it before. It is difficult to say what it is, because it is both substance and energy at the same time. The best you might do is to say that there is always plain evidence of it when it exists, and that you can feel its warmth.

Love similarly would be hard to describe to someone who had never experienced it before, except to say there is always visible evidence of it when it exists…and you can feel its warmth.

[Name] and [Name], as a symbol of the union of your separate selves, would you now light the Unity Candle…

(With their candlesticks, spouses light the larger Unity Candle together.)

Sample wedding scripts are based, in whole or in part, on a sample ceremonies from the Humanist Society and are used with permission.