The lighting of a unity candle is a relatively
recent addition to the traditional wedding ceremony, most popular in the United States. The unity candle ceremony uses
two taper candles with a large pillar candle (called the "unity candle") in the center. At the beginning of the
wedding ceremony, a representative from each family (usually the mothers of the bride and groom) light the two taper candles.
Later in the ceremony (usually after the vows), the bride and groom use the two taper candles to light the large pillar (unity)
Often a unity candle
is decorated with the wedding invitation, an inscription, a picture of the couple, or other ornamentation. The candles are
almost always white. The lighting ceremony may be accompanied by special music, an explanation of the symbolism, or just
some period of mutual gazing by the happy couple. In some circles, it is customary for the couple to save the unity candle
and relight it on anniversaries.
Unity Candle is used to symbolize the joining together of the two families, and their love for the bride and the groom,
into one united family that loves the new husband and wife. More often it is to symbolize the union of two individuals, becoming
one in commitment. The popular explanation is that the taper candles are lit by representatives from each family to symbolize
the love and allegiance that each family has for either the bride or the groom. As the bride and groom use these two flames
to light the unity candle, they bring the love of both families together in a united love of the new couple. Generally, the
two tapers are left burning and replaced in their holders (because each family's love for their own will continue). However,
in some ceremonies they may blow out their individual candles.
When the ceremony is alternatively performed to symbolize simply the joining together
of the bride and groom, the tapers may be blown out, to indicate that the two lives have been permanently merged, or they
may leave them lit beside the central candle, symbolizing that the now-married partners have not lost their individuality.