How to Incorporate a Unity Candle Ceremony Into Your Big Day

Found your twin flame? This ritual is worth considering.
jenna clark headshot
Jenna Clark
jenna clark headshot
Jenna Clark
The Knot Contributor
  • Jenna is a freelance writer for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in wedding traditions and planning.
  • In addition to The Knot Worldwide, Jenna contributes to other online publications including Insider, People, BuzzFeed and The Daily Beast.
  • Jenna graduated from Hofstra University with a major in public relations and a minor in creative writing.
Updated Mar 06, 2024
We have included third party products to help you navigate and enjoy life’s biggest moments. Purchases made through links on this page may earn us a commission.

Marriage is a celebration of love and the blending of two souls until death do them part. In addition to exchanging the words "I do," many couples opt to partake in a unity ceremony including the unity candle ceremony or a unity sand ceremony as a symbolic way of showing their everlasting love and devotion towards one another on their big day and beyond.

If a unity candle ceremony is a non-negotiable for your wedding day, but you don't know where to start when it comes to planning yours, you've landed on the right page. We tapped JP Reynolds, a Los Angeles-based non-denominational wedding officiant and author of "How To Officiate a Non-Denominational Wedding Ceremony" as well as Alison Phillips, Chicago-based wedding planner and president of Engaging Events by Ali, Robyn Walker, a New York City-based wedding officiant and founder of Robyn Ashley Weddings and Officiant Jimmie Berguin, an American Marriage Ministries officiant, for insights into what the step-by-step process for conducting a unity candle ceremony looks like in addition to some tips couples can follow when planning a unity candle wedding ceremony of their own.

That said, an officiant is typically an integral part of a unity candle ceremony. You're going to want to find an officiant you like and trust. The Knot Vendor Marketplace is a great resource you can utilize to research officiants in your area who can help officiate your marriage and guide you and your partner throughout your unity candle ceremony.

In this article:

What Is a Unity Candle Ceremony?

A unity candle ceremony typically happens at a wedding ceremony. During the unity candle ceremony, each member of a couple takes their taper and simultaneously lights a larger candle. It's a simple ceremony but holds a lot of meaning.

To keep it brief, a unity candle ceremony, "represents the union of the couple and the creation of the blended family supporting the couple," explains Phillips. "Each of the taper candles represents each individual and the center candle will be lit to represent the union of the couple and the bridging of the two families."

Although many people believe the unity candle ceremony is a Catholic tradition, it is performed by couples with varying religions and beliefs. "It is actually thought of as a fairly modern tradition holding symbolic meaning, over religious affiliation," explains Berguin. "It has gained popularity in Christian and interfaith weddings, but also for weddings in general. There aren't any exact origins that have been noted, but it is a ritual that can transcend across any type of ceremony, whether there are religious elements or not."

Unity Candle Meaning

According to Walker, "the unity candle symbolizes the coming together of two individuals, their journeys and their families and forming one new life together."

Unity Candle Ceremony Script

Before a couple lights the larger center candle together with the flames from their smaller individual tapers, an officiant may read from a script. Although the exact wording of one's script may vary, the overall meaning remains the same. With this in mind, Phillips shares that the below is a script that can be used:

"As you share and light these candles today and two become one, your family also shares the union you create. The blending of the two families into one to support your marriage."

She notes that oftentimes unity candle ceremonies are quiet aside from any music that may be playing. However, if an officiant would like to say a sentence or two like the one above or a couple more about the celebrated couple or ceremony symbolism, they are more than welcome to.

How to Have a Unity Candle Ceremony

Now that we've covered what a unity candle ceremony is, read on for our step-by-step guide you can follow when figuring out how to do a unity candle ceremony of your own.

1. Choose Who Will Participate in Your Unity Candle Ceremony

Although you and your partner can opt to keep your unity candle ceremony to just you two and your officiant, some couples like to add participation from their friends and family or their best man and maid of honor by having them light the two taper candles.

2. Secure Your Candles

A unity candle ceremony wouldn't be a unity candle ceremony without the candle (and tapers). Phillips and Walker recommend buying unity candles for weddings from online retailers including The Knot Shop, Etsy, Zazzle and Amazon.

3. Prepare Your Unity Candle Ceremony

Preparing your unity candle ceremony ahead of time is imperative to ensure everything is as safe as possible and will be executed according to plan. The set up process is particularly important if you're having an outdoor wedding ceremony. In addition to securing your two tapers and unity candle, you will need a table or platform for them to rest during the rest of your ceremony until the unity candle ceremony portion of your wedding is initiated.

"If the ceremony is outdoors, then it is imperative that the three candles be shielded with hurricane lamps," says Reynolds. "These are glass coverings that go around the candles and shelter them from breeze. Furthermore, the candles' wicks must be deep inside the hurricane lamps so that they don't blow out during the ceremony."

Phillips also recommends having a matchbook or lighter nearby in case any candles need to be relit. She also emphasizes the importance of keeping any veils that may be worn by couple members away from the candles to prevent them from catching on fire.

4. Light the Taper Candles

Regardless of who you choose to light your taper candles whether it be you and your partner or another friend or family member, this needs to be done ahead of time and before the officiant reads their script.

5. Have Your Officiant Read The Script

When it is time for the unity candle ceremony portion of your wedding celebration to begin, your officiant will read their script. This typically happens after vows are exchanged.

6. Light the Unity Candle

Once you and your partner are prompted by your officiant to light your unity candle, you both should carefully remove the tapers from their holders (which should be sturdy) and light the unity candle in unison. After you light the unity candle, you should blow out each of your tapers while leaving the unity candle lit for the remainder of your wedding ceremony.

7. Blow Out The Unity Candle

Once the ceremony is complete, it is time to blow out the unity candle. Walker notes that a couple traditionally blows out the unity candle together. "This symbolizes their unity and the start of their journey as a married couple," she adds. However, it is customary to do this together once the ceremony is completed and all guests have exited the venue.

8. Keep Your Candles

Although you don't have to keep the candles that you purchased for your unity candle ceremony if you don't want to, we recommend it and so does Phillips and Walker. Phillips especially recommends having a close friend stay behind after the ceremony to collect the three candles and keep them safe for you until after the rest of your wedding festivities or until you have a moment to retrieve them.

Up Next
  • Collage of unique wedding ceremony ideas
    Unique Wedding Ceremony Ideas You've Never Seen Before