The Meaning of the Unity Candle

A wedding ceremony is the formal joining of two lives into one. There are many symbols of unity throughout a wedding ceremony, but one tradition is growing more popular each year. A unity candle can be a powerful visual symbol of a bride and groom committing to each other in front of friends and family.

The unity candle tradition is simply a large candle set up near the bride and groom. The bride and groom each hold a lit taper candle and together light the larger unity candle. Then, the couple blows out their individual candle and the unity candle now represents two becoming one.

The history of the unity candle is somewhat uncertain. Certainly the act of lighting candles for meaningful spiritual events is centuries old and documented across many cultures and religions. However, the unity candle in a wedding ceremony does not originate with any particular religion as far as it is known. The earliest recorded use of unity candles in wedding ceremonies goes back as far as the 1930s, with it gaining in popularity in the 1970s. The hugely popular television soap opera wedding of General Hospital's Luke and Laura in the early 1980s incorporated the unity candle and showed the world how beautiful and simple the custom was. This international broadcast marked a huge upswing in the request and use of unity candles in modern North American weddings.

There are several options on unity candle setups. Many wedding rental stores offer wrought iron candelabras that hold two smaller candles on each side and a pedestal in the center for the larger unity candle. You can also get unity candles in a variety of colors and shapes, and personalizing the unity candle is a popular option. You can get the date of the wedding as well as the names of the bride and groom stamped or embedded in the candle, making it a cherished keepsake for the happy couple.

Variations of the unity candle ceremony are common. In some weddings, the parents of the bride and the parents of the groom each light their child's individual candle, to represent how they gave their children life. Some couples prefer to keep the individual tapir candles lit to symbolize their independent spirits still remain even though they are uniting as one family.

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