Everything you need to know about the Candle ritual

wedding in La Virgina Chapel

I love candles. I really do. If you wanted to get me a birthday present and you were a bit stuck for ideas, just get me any type of candle; tall, short, square, round, coloured, scented or not, and I shall be very happy. I love nothing more than turning off all the lights in my house and lightening every single candle I own, as though I were replicating a scene right out of Game of Thrones. Candles rock.

My love of candles probably explains why I love the wedding candle ritual so much. Not to even mention how symbolic light and warmth is in terms of love and togetherness.

Of all the symbolic rituals that you can include in your ceremony, this is possibly the one which has the deepest religious roots. A version of the the candle unity ritual is commonplace with Catholicism and Catholic wedding ceremonies and symbolises the holy trinity. Hence why there are three candles. However, candle ceremonies can be carried out with or without religious meaning.

Non religious candle rituals

As I have mentioned before in other posts that focus on symbolic rituals, although rituals have a common basis, they really can vary in terms of who your officiant is and how they carry it out. And also, can be very much altered by your own ideas too. So there is no right or wrong way of carrying out a ritual, not in my books, anyway.

In my own ceremonies, the three candles we use represent the couple in varying stages. The two taper candles represent the two individuals and the central candle represents the unified couple. The couple light the first two candles and then go on to light the central candle. If they want, I say some some wording about what the ritual represents and guide them through the lighting process. And usually once they are finished, everyone gives them a big round of applause. It is a really lovely ritual to include in your ceremony.

Candle magic

Just a little candle fantasy of mine.

Candle styles and variations

To bring as much personalisation to your candle ritual as possible, it can be nice to choose or make (if you’re feeling creative!) your own candles. Some couples like to have taper candles that really are a representation of them and decorate and embellish them with designs that reflect who they are as individuals. I’ve even seen plain candles, covered with a strip of hemp (burlap) and lace, which gave them a really lovely rustic feel. And the same with the central candle too. You could have a nice big candle that has been personalised with your wedding date, your names or even a photo of the two of you. There are so may options and they make for the most amazing keepsakes. Candles are often white or cream, but they certainly don’t have to be. They can be whatever colour you like. You can if you wanted to, not bother with taper candles at all and just go straight into lighting the central candle with matches or any other lighting device.

Keeping it in the family

In terms of variations, many couples really like the idea of including family members to help them with the lighting of the ceremony and you know how much this makes me happy to hear this! There’s nothing like getting others involved to feel that extra love on your wedding day.

Mums are always my favourites to be involved because I don’t think mums are involved enough on their child’s wedding day! But siblings and friends can also help put. It you want more than one person involved it can be really nice for one of the lighters to light the taper candle and pass it on so that each person passes it along the line, one by one, to all of the representatives until it finally reaches you and your love bunny. I love this idea!

Couples with children quite often like the idea of including their children in the candle ritual, especially if their kiddies are old enough/capable enough of handling a lit candle. With this variation, all the family members get to light an individual candle and then all light the central candle together. What a lovely way of showing unity of the family and of course, making the kiddiewinkles a focussed part of the ceremony.

So, whoever you have to help, whether it’s mum’s, dads or both parents, the general idea is that they light the first two candles and then give them to you both to light the central candle.

A few words of warning

The candle ceremony really does have such a wide appeal and it’s probably the ritual that I see couples wanting to include in their ceremony the most, BUT and you know it’s a big but when I have to capitalise it, you do have to have the best ceremony space for it.  Unless you are getting married inside, or in a courtyard or similar enclosed outdoor space, it can be tough to light candles and for them to stay alight for the ceremony. Although I have had ceremonies where we got there in the end in lighting the candles, it definitely is much nicer to see the candle ritual carried out cleanly with all the candles being lit successfully, on the first time attempt and staying alight for the duration of the ceremony. It definitely gives the ritual more weight this way. If you think that it won’t be possible to have a candle ritual during your ceremony then check out these symbolic ritual alternatives.

So are you feeling inspired to have some candle love during your ceremony? I sure hope so.



About the author

Natasha Johnson

Natasha Johnson is an experienced Wedding Celebrant, blogger and writer on all things related to weddings, in particular wedding ceremonies. Her mission is life is to encourage couples to see the importance of their wedding ceremony and to get married in just the way they want to. Make sure you catch her on the Engaged and Ready Wedding Podcast, here or on iTunes and Stitcher.

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