Unity candle ceremonies have been around since the 1980’s although some say the practice began earlier. It is not a Catholic wedding ritual but it gained popularity and importance in many protestant weddings. The procedure for most ceremonies is the same where representatives from each family (usually the mothers) will light two taper candles at the start of the wedding ceremony.
After the exchange of rings, the bride and groom will light a pillar candle with the taper candles. The taper candles can stay lit which means the couple will still maintain their individual personalities or they can be extinguished to signify the complete union of the couple’s lives.
There is no set place where to hold this custom but most couples would refrain from doing it outdoors. Of course, one obvious reason is that the weather is so unpredictable that keeping the candles lit when it’s too breezy might draw attention away from the ceremony. If you’re having a beach wedding, the other concern is the heat as the candles can bend or get droopy if the temperature rises high enough.
If you really want to use candles in the unity ceremony of your beach wedding, here are some things you can do:
Check the weather forecast. This is tricky because like most predictions, the weather forecast is subject to change. Then again, it would be nice to have a modicum of preparation so you’ll know if you’re going to need a canopy or move the ceremony indoors altogether at the threat of a storm.
Light the tapers after the ring exchange. It is common for the tapers to be lit at the start of the wedding ceremony but if it is windy, you may also light the candles just before the unity candle ceremony.
Prepare extra lighters. Whatever the forecast is, always bring extra lighters because you can bet it’s going to get windy at the beach. You can also put the unity candle inside a glass hurricane lamp (they come in different sizes and shapes that you can decorate to coordinate with your wedding theme) to make sure that it stays lit.
If you think doing all of that is too much trouble, then you may want to check the following alternatives that also have the same symbolism:
Sand Ceremony – Two containers will hold different colored sand that the bride and groom will each pour into a single container. The colors can be coordinated to match the home décor because the unity sand can also be a decorative keepsake.
Water Ceremony – Two containers will also hold different colored water which when poured into a unity container will produce a third color. Couples can use different colors for a variety of meanings.
Rose Ceremony – The bride and groom will simply exchange roses. This is different from the unity candle ceremony because this is usually done after the couple is pronounced as “husband and wife.”
The great thing about the unity ceremony is that you can select any material and modify them to make everything personalized. There are no stern rules for you to feel restricted. However, choosing between the candle and the other alternatives is not as important as staying true to the promise that the unity ceremony symbolizes.