Lighting a unity candle is a non-secular part of a wedding ceremony. It is meant to symbolise the joining together of two families into one. Traditionally, there are three candles in the unity candle ceremony. The bride and groom each have a candle to represent themselves, and they use those to light the actual unity candle. The symbolism behind the unity candle can be celebrated with a variety of alternatives, too.
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The sand ceremony is similar to the unity candle ceremony, but it originated with the Apache Indians. It is an excellent alternative to candles when you are having a ceremony outdoors. During the ceremony, the bride and groom each have a vase that contains a different colour of sand. There is a third larger vase that starts out empty, but during the ceremony the couple pours their vases of sand into it simultaneously. The end is a vase of mixed coloured sand, representing the two blended lives.
Flowers are also used as a substitute to candles in a unity ceremony. Typically, the bride and groom will each have a unique flower to represent them; coloured roses are a popular choice. The flowers are placed in separate vases at opposites sides of the wedding altar. During the ceremony, the bride and groom retrieve their individual flowers and place them together in a vase at the centre of the altar.
Wine can be used as a substitute for candles in a unity ceremony. Both the bride and groom's mothers carry wine to the altar. They pour the wine into individual cups, one for the bride and one for the groom. Each will sip from their cup, then simultaneously pour their wine into a goblet. The ceremony ends with the bride and groom sipping from the joint cup together.
The unity cross is like a puzzle the bride and groom put together. The cross can be displayed as a keepsake after the ceremony. The out part of the cross represents the man, and the inner part of the cross is the woman. The couple fits the two pieces together, and the pastor or officiant locks them together with three pegs.
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