Wedding Traditions: The Unity Candle

Another wedding ceremony tradition is the Unity Candle Ceremony.  The unity candle is probably the most recent tradition commonly in use in the US.  It appears to have started perhaps as early as the 1930’s but most references date it to about the 1970’s as part of the Women’s Movement.

Two candles represent the bride and groom.  The couple each takes their candle and light a third candle representing the oneness of marriage.  The initial candles are then extinguished.  Typically the individual candles are taper candles and the larger is a pillar candle often with decorative touches.  Often the individual candles are lit by the parents of the bride and groom as an added touch.

There are few rules attached to this tradition allowing each couple to create their own unique approach to this tradition.  Sometimes the individual candles are left lit symbolically proclaiming that although the couple has become one, their individual personalities and identities remain.

There are a number of variations on this tradition especially for outside weddings where the candle flames are often impossible.  Some people are using a version with the sand in what has taken on the name “The Sand Unity Ceremony”.

In a similar manner two containers of different colors of sand are intermixed.  Although the beginnings of this ceremony are clouded, it certainly became a popular addition to weddings in the US after the popular couple Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter, on the initial season of the TV reality show The Bachelorette (2003), performed this as part of their wedding.  By the way, that wedding was one of the most widely watched reality show episodes in US history.  Also,Trista and Ryan are happily married and have two children.

Both versions of this tradition are used by the couples who have their wedding ceremony at Woodrow Hall and both are equally meaningful!

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