Me and my fiance are getting married next year. I have a father and a step father, I love them both. My mother has been remarried for 13 yrs. My mom is now married to my dad’s wife’s ex husband. The divorces were not pretty and to this day none of them speak; actually they dislike each other very very much. I want my dad to walk me down the aisle. I thought about both of them walking with me or one walking me half way and the other taking over, but that is not going to work. I want to do something to let my step dad know that I love him and thank him for all his support, but I dont know what to do. Do you have any ideas on how to include him in the ceremony without taking anything away from my father? Does anyone have more info on the candle lighting ceremony for the whole family and how that works maybe thats is an idea?
Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites
How wonderful to have so many people who care for you!
Hopefully they will all understand that they need to be considerate of your feelings and they will all act like the mature adults they are.
The family candle lighting ceremony was exactly what I was going to suggest to you.
If you want to have a Unity Candle in your wedding ceremony, here’s how it works. We’ve got all the details to light the big candle without a hitch! Who?
The obvious answer is the bride and groom, but many choose to have more people involved. You can include your parents, your grandparents, and your children in the lighting of candles before the Unity Candle ceremony. What?
The Unity Candle, according to ministers we interviewed, hit the wedding scene about 8 or 10 years ago. Couples use two lit taper candles (symbolizing their individuality) to light one big candle as a symbol of their two lives becoming one in commitment. Most Unity Candles were used in Protestant churches or in wedding ceremonies not conducted in church. Although more accepting of it today, many Catholic or Jewish ceremonies ask that couples not include the candle in the ceremony, since the Unity Candle is not a part of the traditional wedding liturgy.
Usually during the processional, the mothers of the bride and groom light a taper candle in honor of their son or daughter at the altar or a small table at the front of the church. They return to their seats, and the tapers remain lit throughout the ceremony. After the vows and rings have been exchanged, the minister will explain to the guests the symbolism of the Unity Candle. He asks the bride and the groom to take their “individual” lives (the individual taper candles) and bring them both to the large center candle, lighting one flame with their two individual flames. During the lighting of the Unity Candle, many times couple will have a song sung or played, or the minister will recite an appropriate poem to accompany the symbolism of the ceremony.
Whether or not to extinguish the individual tapers after the lighting of the Unity Candle is up to the couple. Many couples believe that putting out individual flames appears as if their individual lives have been snuffed out for the benefit of the marriage, while some believe extinguishing individual candles only shows their devotion to the commitment they’ve just made. According to most ministers, the decision is left entirely up to the couple. Where?
The Unity Candle ceremony can be performed at the altar, off to the side of the altar at the front of the church, not in a church at all, and last but not least, outside. Many officiants worry about performing such a delicate ceremony outside, because the “forces of nature” may provide obstacles to lighting the candles. As Judge Carolyn Hayek told us, “Unity candles pose a number of challenges. Will the wind blow out the candles? Will there be a problem lighting the candles? Sometimes candles quite stubbornly refuse to be lit, especially if it is difficult to get the lighting candle close to the wick of the candle to be lit. What’s the backup plan if the candles go out or refuse to be lit?” If you’re planning on performing your Unity Candle ceremony outside, be sure to practice with your hurricanes on a day with plenty of wind to make sure you can finish the ceremony without frustration. When?
Where you place the Unity Candle ceremony within the wedding ceremony is up to you although most officiants we spoke with suggested waiting until after you’ve said your vows and exchanged your rings to light the candle. Reverend Gerald Montgomery comments, “Every so often I encounter a bride who wants to begin the wedding ceremony with a unity candle. That’s the equivalent of putting a cart in front of a horse. First, the marriage must be created, then it can be celebrated. A unity candle moment in a wedding ceremony is a liturgical celebration of this new relationship between the bride and groom.”
But, Rabbi David Roller made a great point: “I like the use of a unity candle as a beginning for a wedidng ceremony as it symbolically shows the couple as coming together. It is not particularly religious as fire is a universal element. I also like the unity candle at the end. It really does add a nice element to all ceremonies.” Why?
The reasons why to include the Unity Candle in your ceremony, at least the reasons we received from the officiants we interviewed, were varied but all had a central theme: a symbol of unity is always a beautiful thing. Rev. Dr. Bill Levering says, “It is a nice counterpoint to the rings: some things in a marriage are more ephemeral and need tending and protection like a flame.” Rev. Colleen McLain insists on each ceremony being different: “I always urge them to make the candle lighting unique in some way, such as inviting the mothers or grandmothers up to the altar to light the individual candles, sometimes the moms and dads light them together. I think by making the ceremony unique, it means more in the long run.”
We believe, though, that Reverend Maureen Jones-Ryan’s explanation put it best: The Unity Candle Ceremony – like so many candle ceremonies – is a meaningful, spiritual symbol of Life, Light, and the Eternal Spirit of love and caring.” Enough said.
Unity Candle Ceremony with Parents
Include your parents in your union by having them participate in the Unity Candle Ceremony with you.
Lighting the Tapers
“When the bride and groom do use the unity candle ceremony, I always urge them to make the candle lighting unique in some way, such as inviting the mothers or grandmothers up to altar to light the individual candles during the wedding, sometimes the moms and dads light them together.” Reverend Colleen McLain
The Rose Ceremony
After your parents have lighted your individual tapers, you and the groom both turn and present each of your mothers with a rose.
Choose a Different Location
Another one of Rev. McLain’s ideas. She suggests that, “Another way to make the ceremony unique is to place the individual candles in a location away from the Unity Candle so the ceremony takes a little more time and effort.” Ask your parents during the processional (or during the wedding) to make the trip to the candle table for a little more – how shall we say it? – pomp and circumstance.
Click here to find all sorts of unity candles…largest selection available.
Also, during the reception why don’t you dance with each of your “dads”.
Thanks for the info but I still dont understand how to include my mom, step dad, dad, step mom my fiances mom step dad, and father. Ive seen a candle ceremony but never with that many people dont understand how that would work
Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca
The Wedding Queen has wonderful suggestions. If that doesn’t work for you and unfortunately the idea of both walking you down the aisle won’t work, perhaps you could have your step-father mentioned during the reception. Or, you could share a special dance with him.
Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites
Include your family in the meaningful lighting of the Unity Candle. The eternal symbol of two flames becoming one not only means two hearts becoming one, but an entire family uniting as one force. Here are some ideas for you and your family Unity Candle Ceremony.
Have Your Kids Light the Candles
During the processional, or just right before the ceremony, have both of your children light the individual tapers – mom’s kids light mom’s candle, and the same for dad. If only one of you have children, you might consider having the child light the parent’s candle while the other’s mother lights their individual candle. This is a great way to include your children in the ceremony, as well as make them feel a part of their new family.
Have Your Kids Join You In Lighting the Unity Candle
If you have your parents light your individual tapers before the ceremony begins, or perhaps if you, the bride and groom, light them yourselves, also have your kids light an individual taper for themselves as well. When it’s time to light the the Unity Candle, each member of your new family takes their own taper candle and contributes to the single flame. This is a beautiful, emotional way to bring your family together in a ceremonial bond.
Create Your Own Unique Ceremony
Reverend Ann Palmer of Palm Springs, CA, told us about an unusual rendition of the Unity Candle Ceremony: “I would like to tell you about one surprising Unity Candle service I did. The bride had 2 daughters and the Groom had 2 sons. They wanted to have the children feel a part of their union. I suggested that we include them in the Unity Candle service. After we had gone through most of the candle service including their individual vows to each other they had written, they lit the Unity candle. After that, I had the Groom light the Bride’s daughters’ candles and the Bride light the Groom’s sons candles. In unison they read a statement to the children, then all six joined their individual candles to the one Unity candle. Of course we hadn’t practiced and we were all surpassed to see the flame flare up. The audience all swooned “ahhhh” – it was a surprising moment but beautiful. That was the most unusual Unity Candle service I have done to date.”
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