Over the past thirty years the unity candle lighting has been a popular and important part of the wedding ceremony as a symbolic gesture of the love and union of two families becoming one, or to signify two separate lives now joining as one life together. Through the lighting of one pillar candle from two separate taper candles, this gesture is a touching gesture to signify the joining of two hearts in matrimony. Although most unity candle ceremonies are performed in the same manner, there are alternatives to this loving sign of commitment. Through this article we’ll explore the unity candle ceremony, how to make your own unity candles, and the alternatives to the traditional candles.
The unity candle ceremony itself is generally performed in the same manner worldwide. Typically, the first step of the ceremony occurs at the start of the wedding. Traditionally, the mothers of the bride and groom each light a taper candle, one on each side of the center pillar candle. This signifies the two separate lives of the bride and groom. However, in modern weddings, anyone special and significant can participate in the role of lighting the taper candles. Grandparents, friends, mentors and even children from prior relationships can participate.
The second step of the unity ceremony is always handled by the bride and groom and typically occurs just after the vows and rings have been exchanged. In many cases, the wedding officiant will explain the significance of the unity candle before the actual lighting. After the explanation from the officiant, the bride and groom will take their respective taper candles and light the central pillar candle simultaneously. After lighting the pillar candle, the couple may choose to put out the taper candles to signify the loss of their old lives and the union of their new life together, or the couple may continue to let the taper flames burn as a symbol of their individual families being joined as one by the union of the marriage. Of course, couples may assign different meanings to this, and may have the officiant explain the significance of their decision to extinguish the tapers, or to allow them to continue to burn.
A couple can add their own variation to the unity candle ceremony; it should be unique and meaningful to the couple. Just as unity candle ceremonies can vary so can the candles and the methods used to signify the joining of two lives. Although there are many pre-made unity candles on the market which will match many wedding themes, a more personal touch is to design your own unity candle. There are no set in stone rules which state a couple must use a traditional pillar candle.
Some ideas to design your own unity candle are:
1) Select a premade simple pillar candle from a retail store and add tulle, organza, satin ribbon, a charm, crystals, or a tie on. You may also need a glue gun to make sure the embellishments will stay in place.
2) Attach a copy of your wedding invitation, a photo, a poem, a quote, or a Bible verse onto your candle. You can glue it on, or use simple straight pins to attach the four corners then glue beading, bows, ribbon, lace or other items around the border to give it a finished look.
3) If you have an artistic side, you can purchase a colored candle and paint designs, an Asian symbol of love, or anything significant to you. The pillar candle usually does not burn for a long period of time, but you will want to paint your design about half way down.
4) If you are creative, you can purchase a candle making kit and make your own candles just for your ceremony.
5) An alternative also used today is oil unity candles. Look for various oil candle lamps in stores – many glass lamps can be engraved as well.
6) Another alternative is to use sand, in a sand ceremony unity set. Instead of joining flames of the candle, couples will have two smaller jars of sand (sometimes even more, if your ceremony includes children) and gently pour into a center larger container to symbolize the intertwining of the grains of their lives. Many couples who choose this will select different colors of sand to symbolize each other. You can simply purchase craft sand and decorative canisters at any craft store for this unity ceremony.
The key to any memorable unity candle ceremony is ensuring that it reflects the style of the bride and groom and shows their love for each other. Whatever you choose to do for your unity candle ceremony it should be personal to both the bride and groom.
Little Things carries everything you need for your wedding including wedding favors, wedding accessories, essentials and unity candles.
Article Copyright 2007, Erica Tevis, Little Things Wedding Favors
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