Unity Candle – the Tradition and Alternatives

My husband and I pouring our Unity Sand.

My husband and I pouring our Unity Sand.

I grew up Baptist.  In Tennessee.  Yep, smack dab in the middle of the Bible belt.  I’ve been to lots of weddings, and most have had a unity candle or something similar in nature.  When I was doing research for this blog, I had no idea that the Unity Candle was mainly done at Christian weddings.  Some customs even prohibit the practice!  It is not part of the Catholic or Angelic wedding ceremonies.   So, I learned a few things about the Unity Candle and it’s tradition that I’d like to share with you!

Who lights the candles initially?  Well, it depends!  If you want the candles to represent the bride and groom, then have the pre-lit before the ceremony.  If you want the candles to represent the joining of the two families, then have the mothers or parents light them as they process. 

You can make this tradition special by having a reading read or a song played/sung during the lighting of the unity candles.  You could simply have silence.  This is completely up to the couple! 

The flame from the candles is based on Christian symbolism.  The flames could represent Jesus being the Light, Moses and the burning bush, or God as the pillar leading the Israelites.  And once the two flames merge into one, this symbolizes the marriage covenant presented in both the Old Testament and New Testament.

If you like the idea of a unity candle, but need an alternative, here are some ideas.  For my wedding, we used unity sand.  I had the large vase engraved with our names and wedding date; I used our wedding colors as the two components.  We were very careful afterwards and still have the vase with the original sand in our china hutch!


  • Use colored candles instead of white candles.
  • Unity Sand.  You can also incorporate another vase for a child if you’d like to make it more of a family ceremony.
  • Make a time capsule that is opened on an anniversary.  You can decide what mementos you'd like to include in the capsule!
  • Love Letter Ceremony where the bride and groom write a letter aobut how they fell in love.  This is to e opened at a later date (an anniversary, for example).
  • Tree Planting ceremony.  The bride and groom each add dirt into a pot.  This is nice for spring/summer weddings and it can represent the strong and new roots of your marriage
  • Binding of Hands.  This is a Celtic custom where ribbons are wrapped around the hands representing the union of the couple
  • A Cord of Three Strands.  This is where the couple braids rope with the officiant holding it at the top.
  • Unity Painting.  Typically, two paint colors are used and can be splattered, poured, brushed, etc onto a canvas.
  • The sky is the limit!!




Tradition of Unity Candle: http://www.thesweetchristianbride.com/the-tradition-of-the-unity-candle

Alternatives: http://blog.myweddingreceptionideas.com/2014/12/11-wedding-unity-ceremony-ideas.html

Alternatives: http://www.bestbride101.com/10-fun-alternatives-to-using-a-unity-candle/