Episode 09: The Unity Candle
Episode 9 of The Bouquet Toss is all about the tradition of incorporating a unity ceremony within your ceremony, the most popular of which is the unity candle. Learn where this tradition came from and consider some of the unique alternative ideas we’ve rounded up. Subscribe to The Bouquet Toss Podcast via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app!
Listen to Episode #09: The Unity Candle
Below you’ll find the details of what we covered in the episode. Learn all about the tradition of the unity candle, plus alternatives, money-saving tips, and more!
The unity ceremony is a ritual or tradition that further reinforces your union during your overall wedding ceremony. These traditions can take many different forms, but the one that is probably most recognizable is the unity candle!
Where did the unity candle ceremony come from?
The unity candle is a popular inclusion in many Christian wedding ceremonies, but is often used by couples of all faiths. The set-up typically includes three candles: one that represents the bride, one that represents the groom, and one that represents the marriage.
The two candles are usually lit by the mothers of the couple, which is most commonly done after the mothers are walked down the aisle and before the wedding party processional. During the ceremony, the candles are then taken by the two partners and used to light their marriage candle.
The unity candle ceremony first became popular in the second half of the 20th century in American Christian weddings. While the specific origin is unclear, a 1981 episode of General Hospital may have helped to popularize the practice. An iconic couple on the program, Luke and Laura, had a unity candle used in their wedding ceremony.
Is the Unity Candle a religious tradition?
While this isn’t specifically referenced in scripture, the concept is meant to symbolize the idea of joining together. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.”
The Christian tradition of a unity candle also draws from the concept that Jesus is the Light and that we are to let our lights shine before men in order to reflect God’s glory (Matthew 5:16). This makes the use of flames a symbol of two Christian lives joining together as one. Once the two flames merge as one, there is no way to separate the two individual flames.
However, you don’t have to be a believer to incorporate a unity candle ceremony into your wedding day.
How to make a unity ceremony work for you
Our advice is always going to be the same: do what feels most authentic to you.
Alternatives to the unity candle:
Below are a list of creative ideas to consider in lieu of the unity candle. Pick your favorite and choose something that feels aligned with you and your partner.
The ancient Celtic practice of “handfasting” means to tie hands together. The bride and groom hold opposite hands, which creates a figure eight with their arms and is meant to represent eternity. Then, the couple’s hands are tied together with ribbon, rope, or twine to symbolize a union. Want to make your handfasting ceremony even more meaningful? Consider using a piece of heirloom fabric from within your family.
Examples of weddings with handfasting ceremonies:
Into science? Take two beakers and include liquid chemicals that you can then join together as one in a singular beaker. Create your own chemical reaction that will make a visual vapor for your guests to marvel at for a unique take on a unity ceremony.
- As seen in Backyard wedding with purple details
Take a shadow box and pour in white pebbles to symbolize the beginning of your adventures together. Then, everywhere you travel together throughout your marriage, add new shells or pebbles to the shadow box to become and ever-growing reminder of your lives and memories shared.
- As seen in Tiffany Blue and Gray Wedding
Planting a tree:
Get your hands dirty and plant a tree or other plantable item in the ground or a nice pot. Choosing a live item makes for such lovely symbolism, as you and your partner can nurture your new plant and watch it grow together throughout your marriage.
Pour different colored sand into a joint vessel for a twist on the unity ceremony. This is a popular choice for beach weddings!
Tie the knot (literally):
Take the ends of a rope and tie the knot in a symbolic gesture of your wedding ceremony.
Get your favorite brands of whiskey, bourbon, or wine and blend them together to make your own brand in one glass.
Make a painting:
Create a unique work of art as a creative expression of you joining together as one!
A Unity Board:
Create a board with three pieces of rope or chord. You and your partner will braid the cord together and fasten it. This is a common Christian ceremony
- View our tutorial for a DIY Unity Ceremony Board
Create a Unity Ceremony to Represent You
Wedding rituals, ceremony, and symbolism is often used to honor your heritage, but you can truly make your own mark with this aspect of your big day. Feel free to mix things up, create a keepsake to remind you of your wedding, or even to generate your own new tradition. Best of all, it’s easier than you think and doesn’t have to be religious or cultural!
As with everything we discuss here on The Bouquet Toss, it doesn’t *really* matter what we think, it’s about choosing what works for YOU and tossing the rest!
We want to know what YOU think about honeymoons and what your plans are for yours! Join us in our private community where we’re discussing this, or visit our Instagram page to comment on the post about this episode!
Links mentioned in this episode:
- The Tradition of the Unity Candle via The Sweet Christian Bride
- Where Does the Phrase Tie the Knot Come from via Culture Trip
About The Bouquet Toss Podcast
The Bouquet Toss is a wedding planning podcast that empowers couples to plan a meaningful, authentic, and affordable wedding celebration! On the show, we will have candid conversations all about weddings and why we do them the way we do so that couples can plan their weddings based on their own values, and not on the expectations of others.
In our Budget-Savvy Wedding Planning Community, we see the same questions asked over and over again. So many couples seem to be seeking permission to plan their weddings on their own terms, and we’re here to say go for it! We believe you should have your day, your way and our goal is to help empower you to plan a wedding celebration that actually feels authentic to you.
In case you missed it, check out our other episodes:
- Episode 1: The Bouquet Toss
- Episode 2: The White Dress
- Episode 3: The Bridal Party
- Episode 4: The Diamond Engagement Ring
- Episode 5: The Wedding Dances
- Episode 6: The Wedding Cake
- Episode 7: Old, New, Borrowed, & Blue
- Episode 8: The Wedding Veil
- Episode 9: The Unity Candle
- Episode 10: The Honeymoon
- Episode 11: The Speeches
- Episode 12: Giving the Bride Away
- Episode 13: The Send Off
- Episode 15: Wedding Loans
- Episode 16: Wedding Lighting Trends
- Episode 17: Sustainable Weddings
- Episode 18: Livestreaming Your Wedding
- Episode 19: Wedding Beauty Trends
- Episode 20: The Rise of Elopements
- Episode 21: The Wedding Rental Revolution
- Episode 22: Pressed Flower Details
- Episode 23: Epic Wedding Photography