How to perform a memorial candle lighting ceremony

Updated February 21, 2017

Memorial candle lighting ceremonies have become a popular way to remember the deceased, while helping surviving friends and family grieve. Not only are these ceremonies held during wakes, dedication ceremonies and memorials, but during weddings as well. It is fairly easy to hold a memorial candle lighting ceremony, and the best thing is there is no right or wrong way to go about it---you can personalise the ceremony as much as you'd like.

Choose a scented or unscented pillar candle to be lit during the ceremony. You can choose any scent you like, but comforting scents such as lavender are popular for memorial candle lighting ceremonies. You do not have to get a coloured candle; there are scented candles available that have no colour.

Buy one or more tapered candles to be used for lighting the memorial candle. Taper candles are typically white and unscented, but you can get coloured or scented ones to match the memorial candle, if you wish.

Choose a poem, passage or quote to be read while the candle burns. Alternatively, surviving loved ones can be designated to say a few words about the deceased.

Designate a spot at the ceremony venue to place the memorial candle. This should be in a central place, where all attendees can easily view the candle. You can decorate the area with flowers or photos of the deceased if you prefer.

Light the tapered candles, and have two loved ones who were close to the deceased use the lit tapered candles to light the memorial candle. If the memorial candle lighting is to be held during a wedding ceremony, the bride and groom can light the memorial candle.

Read your chosen poem, passage or quote, or have someone share their memories of the deceased while the candle burns.

Take a few moments to have everyone at the ceremony watch the candle burn and remember the deceased in silence. If you prefer, a prayer can be said prior to this.

Let the candle burn during the duration of the ceremony, and blow it out once everyone has left the event venue.


Memorial candle ceremonies do not have to be religious in nature. If the event is one where people are of mixed faiths, you do not have to feel pressured to say any prayers during the lighting ceremony. Have an "In memory of" message added to your program, if the ceremony is to be held during a wedding. You can buy a personalised memorial candle from a company such as Aria Candles, but this isn't necessary---a plain pillar candle will work fine.


Remember to place the memorial candle on a heat-safe candle plate or holder, or in a candle vase. After the taper candles are lit, place them on a heat-safe candle plate while they cool down.

Things You'll Need

  • Memorial candle
  • Tapered candles
  • Matches or lighter
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Melinda Gaines has been a freelance writer since 2006, with work appearing online for YellowPages and other websites. Her areas of expertise include business, beauty, fashion and sports. Gaines attended the University of Houston where she earned a Bachelor of Science in sport administration.