Wedding Ceremony: Alternatives to Unity Candles?

Sand unity ceremony during wedding
photo by Jeremy Chou Photography

Q: We are getting married outside. The wedding ceremony will take place in a natural breezeway. We would like to light a unity candle, but the wedding candles will not stay lit. Are there any alternative ways to incorporate this wedding tradition?

A: The symbolism behind the unity candle is the uniting of two families through marriage; you light a single candle together from your separate family candles. But there are definitely other ways to represent the union that don't involve candles. You could use two bouquets of flowers -- roses would be appropriate -- that each of your mothers brings down the aisle and places in a separate vase. Then at the right time during the ceremony, each of you could pluck a single stem from your family's bouquet and place the two stems together in a smaller vase. Or use wine: Your parents each pour wine into a pretty cup, and you all take a sip; then bride and groom each pour some into another vessel and sip from that as a couple. The Apache have a similar unity custom that involves pouring colored sand into a bowl. Or you can invent your own tradition!

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