Candle Lighting Tips for Your Christian Wedding Ceremony

Lighting of the Candles
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Not every wedding ceremony goes off without a hitch (pun intended). Too often the wedding blooper happens during the simplest, most unexpected moment—the candle lighting portion of the ceremony.

At the beginning of the wedding ceremony, representatives from each family, or members of the wedding party, typically come forward to light the candles as part of the prelude. These few moments can add a subtle touch of drama, warmth, and reverence to the start of the big event.

But what if the candles won't light, or won't stay lit? What if vented air blows the candles out? No one wants to think about the symbolic message of extinguished flames in a wedding ceremony.

Sometimes, to avoid this kind of mishap, couples will choose to have the lighting of the candles take place before the guests arrive. Another option is to test light the candles before the guests arrive.

How to Light the Unity Candles

Three candles are needed for a Unity Candle ceremony (two outside tapers and a large center candle). If you decide to include a Unity Candle as part of your wedding ceremony, the parents or mothers of the bride and groom, may each light one of the two outside candles from which the couple will later mingle their fire to light the Unity Candle. Traditionally, the mothers (or parents) would do this just before they are seated during the processional. They may carry lighted candles in the processional, or they may pick up candles near the front and take fire from a pre-lighted candelabra.

Later, during the Unity Candle ceremony, the couple will move toward the Unity Candles and stand on either side of the candle holders. Two taper candles will have been placed by the mothers on either side of the larger pillar candle or Unity Candle.

The taper candles (already lighted) represent the lives of the bride and groom as individuals prior to their union in marriage. Together the couple will pick up their individual candles, and in unison, they will mingle their flames as they light the center Unity Candle. Then they will blow out their own candles, symbolizing the end of their separate lives. (Be sure to take care not to blow out the center candle when blowing out the individual candles.)

Unity Candle sets can be purchased at bridal shops, craft stores, and online. If you are having an outdoor wedding, or you don't want to worry about snuffed out flames, consider alternatives to the Unity Candle ceremony, such as a Sand Ceremony or one of these Unique ceremonies.

Perform a Test Candle Lighting Ceremony

Be sure to test light all of the candles, even the Unity Candle, during the rehearsal, or at some time prior to the actual wedding ceremony. Test lighting is done to ensure that the candles will stay lit and not become extinguished by an overhead air duct, draft, or fan.

Oftentimes, this simple step of pre-lighting is overlooked in the planning of a wedding. During the rehearsal, be sure to decide who will light the candles and give clear instructions about when they will be lit, and how they will be lit. Find out if the church provides a candle lighter and snuffer or if these items will need to be rented or purchased.

Verses for the Candle Lighting Ceremony

Some couples might wish to recite Bible verse during the candle lighting ceremony or include Scriptures in their wedding program. Here are a few candle-themed verses to consider:

Psalm 18:28
You light a lamp for me. The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness. (NLT)

Psalm 18:28 (Alternate Version)
The Lord will light my candle so
That it shall shine full bright;
The Lord for me shall also turn
My darkness into light.

Psalm 36:9
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. (NIV)

Proverbs 20:27
The Lord’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive. (NLT)

Luke 11:36
"If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.” (NLT)

Matthew 5:15
"No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house."  (NLT)

Matthew 5:16
"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." (NIV)