The lighting of candles is a powerful symbol in all kinds of rituals. If you don’t want to be too elaborate with your words, the quiet lighting of a candle speaks volumes and sets a tone of reverence, respect, thankfulness – it has the dramatic effect of setting the scene. It also means you can acknowledge people by giving them a part to play in your ceremony.
The idea of a Unity Candle is to symbolise a new beginning. Sometimes two smaller candles can be lit first to symbolise the two separate lives coming together in commitment to each other. Then from these two candles the Unity Candle is lit.
In my experience the two candles have been lit by the mothers as a symbol of the families from which the couples come, or by the bride and groom, or the best man and matron of honour. Of course, anyone can light the candles. Or one candle – a grandmother/father, family friend, child, celebrant can come forward and light the candle – like in a church service, at the beginning, to create the atmosphere and invoke a certain spirit.
And then the text can talk about what the flame represents – a flame now burning undivided from two, or the single light of love and hope… you can say all this, or nothing at all.
The one thing is that at outdoor weddings the candles may not stay lit! And that slightly ruins the effect. Candles with a glass case around them ( they must have a name) work well.
Choosing something different to symbolise your union really can be the fun part of designing your ceremony.