Unlike most wedding traditions, the Unity Candle is a relative newcomer. Its appearance was first noted in the early 1970s, but it has become quite popular since then. The addition of the Unity Candle gives the couple’s mothers a place in the wedding ceremony, and adds a time within the ceremony itself for celebration and reflection.
The Unity Candle ceremony actually consists of three candles: two tapers with a pillar in the middle, all typically white. The taper candles, which are lit by the mothers of the couple at the beginning of the ceremony, represent the individual families from which the bride and groom come. Later, the bride and the groom each seize a taper and direct its flames into the Unity Candle, thus symbolically uniting their families through their own union. Some couples extinguish the flames on the taper candles, symbolizing their unique identity in marriage. Others leave the flames alight, indicating that they strive to maintain their individual heritages even while starting new traditions together. Either way, most couples keep the Unity Candle in their homes as a reminder of their bond.