Introduction

Unity Candle and Sand Ceremony is the first in the Romantic Wedding Rituals series. Stay tuned for forthcoming titles.

Unity rituals, symbols suggestive of individual lives or of two families brought together, inject an interlude of romantic imagery into a ceremony, creating a memorable moment.

The lighting of the Unity Candle and its most popular alternative, the Sand Ceremony (also known as the Blending of the Sands) are symmetrical rituals that, though relatively new, have become so popular that they are now regarded to be traditional. Neither is mandated by religious tradition or by the state. Whether or not you include one or the other in your marriage or commitment ceremony is a personal choice.

In many ways the Unity Candle has become associated with Christian belief, and in interfaith weddings it is common to include a Unity Candle ritual to represent Christian tradition in conjunction with a ritual from the other religious tradition to provide balance in the ceremony.

Some religious denominations, however, have banned the lighting of the Unity Candle and the Sand Ceremony either because the church hierarchy has assumed that they have their roots in pagan practice, or because it recognizes that, whatever their origins, both rituals are now firmly based in American commercial culture.

If you plan to be married in church it is advisable to check early whether the church will allow inclusion of a Unity Candle or Sand Ceremony. Discussion with your church of use of a Christian Unity Candle ritual or Sand Ceremony may achieve a concession but if your minister, pastor, or priest is adamantly opposed you could feature the ritual during the reception, either in conjunction with the cutting of the cake, or in conjunction with the toasts.

Unity Candle and Sand rituals rely for their impact on the visual image. They may be preceded by a narrative or carried out to the accompaniment of music, a narrative addressed either to the participants or the guests, words spoken by the participants or a reading.

There is no ‘correct’ way to structure or interpret the lighting of a Unity Candle or the blending of sand, and many ways to incorporate them into your ceremony. Done well, with careful consideration, either ritual can create a memorable moment, one that can also be captured in heart-warming photographs..........

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