The Unity Candle in a Catholic Ceremony

Written by jennifer walker
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The Unity Candle in a Catholic Ceremony
The unity candle ceremony can be a beautiful addition to a wedding service. (unity wedding candle flower arrangement red white image by Paul Retherford from Fotolia.com)

While some people think of the unity candle ceremony as a tradition in Catholic weddings, in fact, it is a recent addition and is not actually Catholic in origin. It first became popular during the highly anticipated and much-watched wedding of Luke and Laura on the television show "General Hospital." However, it is a beautiful ceremony and a nice addition to the wedding. The candle is a lovely keepsake, so it is a nice idea to decorate it, perhaps with the wedding invitation, a picture of the couple or some other decoration that signifies the day.

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When Not to have a Unity Candle Ceremony in a Wedding

Do not perform this ceremony outdoors because of the difficulty of keeping the candles lit if there is a breeze. Also, some Catholic churches do not allow this ceremony for either religious or fire safety reasons. It is important to check before deciding to include the ceremony in the service.

Significance of the Unity Candle Ceremony

The unity candle ceremony symbolises the merging of two people and two families into one. Two candles signify the two separate entities. The bride and groom use these flames to light the unity candle, signifying the two becoming one.

For Catholics, the unity candle can also signify Christ's role as the centre of the marriage. Not only are the two individuals joined together, they are also one in Christ.

When the Unity Candle Ceremony Should Take Place

The unity candle ceremony does not have to occur at any specific point in the Catholic wedding ceremony, but a typical place to have it is after the couple has exchanged vows and rings but before the priest presents them as husband and wife.

Unity Candle Ceremony Procedure

The unity candle ceremony in a Catholic wedding is simple. Mothers can light the two candles before they sit down at the beginning of the service. It is nice to have music playing while they do this. Alternatively, the two families can go up to the altar to light their candles, and then the unity candle, together.

When the priest indicates it is time for the ceremony, the bride and groom each take the individual candles to light the unity candle as a song plays. The priest can lead them in vows or allow them to say a few words. Another variation is to have a flower by each of the individual candles and present the flower to the mothers after the couple lights the unity candle.

There are two ways to handle the individual candles. One way is to blow them out, signifying that their individual lives have ended in favour of their unity. The other is to keep the candles burning to show that even though marriage unites the couple, they still exist as individuals.

Where to Buy Unity Candles

Couples can purchase Catholic wedding candles in general and unity candles in particular at a wide variety of establishments. Most stores and websites that sell a variety of wedding items sell them, as do candle stores, card stores, craft stores and florists. Couples do not have to choose candles marketed as unity candles, however; simple white candles are cheaper, and the couple can decorate the candle to make it a little more special.

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