Post # 1
Can somebody explain the Unity candle to me? I’m a little confused about how it is supposed to work. When does it occur in the ceremony? And who lights the candle? Is it supposed to be the bride and groom, or our mothers? I’ve seen the latter in a recent wedding that I attended, but the book the church gave me made it sound like the groom and I do the lighting. I’m so confused!
Post # 3
You are right, the “traditional” way is that the moms light 2 candles at the beginning and then the bride and groom, after the vows, take each candle and light a third candle together.
The Unity Candle is not a Catholic tradition, though, and actually a lot of Catholic churches forbid them entirely. The US bishops put out some document about it not being an appropriate symbol – the two lit candles are supposed to represent the bride and groom individually and the third candle their life together, so why are they being lit by the moms (shouldn’t the bride and groom carry the candles in together, already lit in the processional?) That’s the point the bishops conference made anyway. It’s kind of splitting hairs a little.
If your church has a different set-up it could be they are just trying to make the Unity Candle more liturgically correct! With you lighting the candle that represents you instead of your mom doing it. I would speak to the priest or even just the parish secretary if he is hard to get a hold of. I am sure the secretary knows how it usually goes down. And they won’t make you have the Unity Candle either if you don’t want to. I am omitting it because extra stuff like that in the Mass really bothers me, and I think the wedding Mass is long enough…
Post # 4
I’m not Catholic, however we are using a unity candle. Our mother’s are lighting the candles, and our minister is explaining the light of the candles by them as “the faith, wisdom and love” that have been “bestowed upon us”. Basically, that we come from two different families. When we light our candle, it represents the “union of our lives.”
So basically, we aren’t using the symbolism of the two candles to mean the bride and the groom individually. We are using the individual candles to represent how our families have impacted our separate lives. I’m having a hard time explaining it though.
Post # 5
Magdalena is correct; the unity candle is not a Catholic tradition. As such, I think they won’t care who lights the candles or how you go about it. Please check whether your church will even allow you to use a unity candle, if you haven’t already, because some Catholic churches forbid them.
I’m having a Catholic mass and will not be having a unity candle. For Catholics, a lit candle represents the Light of Christ, and to me it would just seem weird to have a candle inside the church that represented anything but Christ. (Maybe that’s why some churches don’t like them.)
You should have the unity candle ceremony just after you’ve exchanged vows and rings, to symbolize that you joined your lives together at that exact moment.
Post # 6
Thanks for the input everyone. I am Catholic, and my fiance is not, so we are not having an actual mass. To be completely honest, the reason I want to do this is in order to find a way to honor my mother and give her a special role in the ceremony. I recently went to a (non-Catholic, but Christian) ceremony where the moms lit a unity candle, and thought it would be a good way to give my mom a role (she really wants to walk me down the aisle, but I’m pretty traditional and want to have my Dad walk me down the aisle.)
Post # 7
If you want to include your mom in a role, why don’t you have both your mom and dad walk you down the aisle? My church is giving me this option in the procession which even includes the mom walking the groom down the aisle. I’ve never heard of it before but it sounds like a great way to include parents (versus having them just be seated before the procession). I guess it’s not even a Catholic tradition for the Father to walk the bride down the aisle.