Monday, September 9, 2013

Wedding Planning Quick Tips: The Unity Candle Debate + Other Options

When you start to plan out your ceremony one of the big things is always the unity candle. Some Cristian churches actually don't allow it since it's not found in the bible. This part of the ceremony where the unity candle has seemed to slip in was usually used for taking communion. Some churches still require communion but allow both.

Interesting fact: the unity candle doesn't fit into history. Actually, it's a newer concept. For some reason this caught fire (no pun intended) in recent years considering the history of marriage. Historians can't track an exact date or even century but it's thought to have been seen in various versions in many different cultures dating back to the Greeks. No writings, traditions, or biblical texts mention an actual candle being lit and therefore it being infused in every wedding in current history shows that it is a new tradition.


This is your and your soon to be husbands ceremony. You can choose if you want to do one or not. If you attend a church who will not allow it, there are many other ways to go about the same symbolism without the actual candle.

I'll be going through other options and some pros/cons of what you can include in your ceremony.

The Unity Candle

Symbolism: Joining two souls as one, joining two families into one, becoming husband and wife
Tradition: Two tall taper candles and one block candle - Mothers of the bride and groom usually together light the taper candles before the ceremony then in the middle of the ceremony when fit, the bride and groom light the block candle with the taper candles together
Why Do It: This ceremony usually holds symbolism to the mothers and also to your guests watching you join together as one. It can have great meaning to the bride and groom and be a special moment. It's also very common in wedding ceremonies performed in the United States
 Pros: It's quick and people usually expect some sort of unity candle and enjoy the meaningful moment. It's also a great shot for your photographer since both of you will be interacting.
Cons: If Cristian, it holds no biblical meaning. It can lead to disaster with an open flame and candle wax (I have personally attended a wedding where she dropped the candle on her dress). Also, if you have an outdoor wedding this may be hard to keep lit or keep the taper candles lit. It's very common and usually has a block of music to that part of the ceremony - you could end up standing in front of everyone while the song finishes. The actual candle lighting takes less than 30 seconds.

If you want a no headache and easy part of your ceremony this is for you. These are typical of a wedding ceremony and hold meaning to your family while letting them participate.

*Personal Opinion* I hate unity candles. I honestly don't see the lure to having that apart of the ceremony. I have no use for a half burnt candle that's going straight into a box to never see the light of day. My family seemed to want the unity candle ceremony but I had no interest in the awkward time after lighting while a song was going on, the potential situation to light my dress on fire (which I would totally do), or the symbolism of our life long marriage through a candle I bought at Michaels... not the ceremony for me. Luckily I found some other ideas - read on!

Sand Ceremony

Symbolism: Joining two hearts, becoming one man and wife
Tradition: Newer still - only in the recent years has this shown popularity. It is debatable through history but still holds similar symbolism to a unity candle. In recent use, there are two bottles one with different colored sand that the bride and groom pour into a larger vase together showing the combining of two colors or hearts.
Why Do It: This is a great way to still hold onto the "traditional" vibe that the unity candle holds while keeping it modern and personal
Cons: Like the candle, this has the potential to spill. Spilling sand however is not traumatic like wax - this can easily be swept away. Some family may expect or want the "traditional" theme of a unity candle. Also, you may still have the awkward time in between pouring the sand and moving forward with the ceremony if you choose to have music here. Another option would be to have the pastor tell a story about the two of you - perhaps how you met or another quick anecdote while you quickly pour your sand.
Pros:  This is also quick usually about 1 minute total. It's a different take on the customary feel of the unity candle. You can incorporate your wedding colors by choosing sand that matches from a craft store or you can use sand you took from a beach vacation together and dye it yourself (simple trick to dying sand - This also looks pretty on a shelf or mantle (not a half burned candle *cough*) and will be a great memento of your day!

This is low maintenance and an easy way to capture a moment for photographs. It's inexpensive and will be a nice long lasting token of your wedding day. 

Wine Ceremony 

Symbolism: Pouring yourself into one glass, becoming one person, bonding your life
Tradition: This is a very, very recent adaption to the unity candle but can be seen in earlier descriptions of ceremonies. Each the bride and groom have a glass filled with wine of their choice. They then pour both glasses it into a decanter, larger glass, or engraved cup and take a turn sipping from the glass.
Why Do It? It's a great take on the idea of bringing two people together. It's different which can be refreshing and is also very similar to a unity candle in time and ceremony. The mothers can pour the wine in the glasses if they want to be apart of it.
Cons: If you favor red wine... you can only guess. If you choose white it will leave less worry for spills. People may not like that it's alcohol in a wedding ceremony (so what!) but it's your choice if you feel you might offend someone
Pros: This is a great way to include something for just the two of you. You get to keep the glasses/decanter for a keepsake and use them on your anniversary. It's different but still has the same idea as the unity candle. It makes a great photo shot and breaks up the ceremony. Instead of music here, your pastor can explain the meaningful idea behind this!

Doing a wine ceremony is great because you can reuse the glasses, get the same bottle of wine for an anniversary, and do something off beat! People are breaking out of the standard mold for weddings and this is a great way to blend a new element.

Here's a sample of what a pastor would say for this ceremony:

Throughout history, in nearly all cultures and traditions, the sharing of a cup of wine has been used as a universal, central moment of sharing during significant moments. For many it symbolizes the celebration of the harvest, the changing seasons of life, or the ultimate personal sacrifice which others have made on our behalf.

Wine is, after all, the result of years of hard work, the tender care of the grape, a thoughtful mix of ingredients, the patient fermenting, and the unique flavors of each year.

So it is fitting that the couple take their first cup of wine as husband and wife, to not only celebrate all that has taken pace in their lives to this point, but as an expression of hope and faith in the harvest of their lives, the commitment they make, the sacrifice of all whom has made this moment possible.

Wine Box Ceremony 

This is what my husband and I did. It's far different than anything I had seen which I liked!

Symbolism: Storing your love for each other, maintaining life long love
Tradition: There isn't one for this. It's a recent idea that's gaining popularity within the last 4-5 years. The point of this is to have a box, specifically a wine box, a nice bottle of wine that can age well, and two love letters. The bride and groom write a letter together to be sealed in the box with the wine. They open the box on their 10th anniversary or if ever their marriage is in jeopardy, which ever comes first (rooting for 10 years!)
Why Do It? You still get a token from your wedding day that is beautiful and long lasting. There's serious sentimental meaning behind it because it's a letter to your soon to be husband and a bottle of wine to share on your anniversary!
Cons: Your family and guests may think it's curious when you explain it. If you don't have a pastor who has done one before you may want to google something for them to say about it so it comes out right. Also, if you're not familiar with storing wine you may want to do something else. You should have a cool place to store it and rotate the bottle every 4-6 months.
Pros: It's very sentimental and can be a beautiful piece from your wedding. It's not expensive and has a long lasting effect and remembrance vs. the one time use of a candle or drinking wine (if that's what you're looking for)

There are plenty of stories that can be told about the wine bottle, letters, and box! Our pastor talked about how special it is to focus on the long lasting marriage not the one day that is our wedding. It was very special and our guests and family enjoyed the different take on a traditional vibe!

Always check with your church or venue to make sure they are comfortable with you bringing alcohol into the building! You wouldn't want to get there that day and have a problem!

Other Ideas:
  • "Tying the Knot" Using a piece of rope you can create any sailors knot with the theme of tying your two lives together
  • Handfasting: Tying knots around each others hands with different rope or ribbon (this is actually a Celtic version of a wedding ceremony but it has made it's way over to the US) Click here for an explanation  
  • Heirloom Hourglass: It's similar to the sand ceremony however you pour the sand into an hourglass and seal it off. On every anniversary you turn the hourglass to further mix the different colored sand. Each time the colors blend together until you can't decipher between them just as you become one! Click here to check it out!  
  • Plant a tree: Have a small seedling and pour water together on it. Plant it in your backyard to enjoy forever! 
  • Salt Ceremony: This is a Christian tradition which uses the mixing of two small vases of salt into one vase then separating them again into the smaller vases. The tradition is if one could count the original grains of his vase their deal or union could be broken (errr it's impossible) Great ceremony! Click here for more information

Nix the idea all together! There's no rule saying you have to include something like this in your ceremony. It's used usually for sentimental reasons and for a keepsake from your wedding day. It's always up to you! Maybe you will have something new not listed!

Stay Crafty!


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