The Unity Candle is a tradition we see at a lot of the wedding ceremonies we perform. Basically the way it works is that a representative (usually one or both parents) bring a lit candle together to a non-lit candle. Together, they light the new candle and once lit, blow out their respective candles, leaving one candle.

Thus, two become one. A bride and groom become one person. Two families are joined together as one as a result of the marriage. It’s a beautiful part of the ceremony, but sometimes it can get tough when — during outdoor weddings — the wind picks up. Plus, many of our clients are concerned that maybe the unity candle ceremony is becoming too overdone. Either way, they ask us about alternatives. Here are a few you may consider.

Unity Sand

This one shouldn’t really count as an alternative because it’s almost as popular as the unity candle. It involves two glass vials/flasks of sand, each a different color. The bride has one color and the groom has the other. Together and simultaneously, they slowly pour the sand from their vials into a larger glass container, combining the sand into a beautiful multi-color display of art.

The symbolism is that once these two separate vials of sand were brought together, it would be incredibly difficult to separate individual grains of sand to get each color back into it’s separated vial. Thus, the bride and groom from two become one, inseparable.

Unity Cocktail/Water

The bride and groom each pour some of their favorite drink into a single glass. Like sand, it’s practically impossible to separate the newly created cocktail into its original, separate parts. Then, drink up together as a way to “internalize” the oneness. If you don’t drink alcohol, you could use water. Each separate glass would be have food coloring of a different color and when blended, would make a new color.

Tree Planting Ceremony

For this unity candle alternative, a small tree is used in place of candles. A representative of each family (usually the mothers) bring small pots of soil to a larger pot at the front as they are walking down the aisle to be seated. Sometimes the soil is significant in that it comes from a childhood home, or is a mixture of soils from various places of importance in the lives of the bride or groom. Each representative pours the soil into the larger pot, then the bride and groom plant the tree together in that pot. After the wedding, they take the tree with them and eventually plant it at their home.

Unity Rope

Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Bring three strands of rope to the altar — one for the bride, one for the groom, and one for God — and braid them together. The newly made rope is stronger and more able to withstand pressure than the individual strands. Therefore, when a bride and groom come together with God, they are likewise stronger during stormy times.

Unity Painting

What about if both the bride and the groom are previously married and each have children? Then they would be bringing many together. Here’s an idea. Do a Unity Painting. Members of each side, including the bride and groom have a paint brush with each person using a different color. On the spot, they come together and brush strokes of paint across a blank canvas until a beautiful masterpiece is finished. This painting can be hung on a wall and remind the family and their wedding guests of the beautiful ceremony they took part in and remind them that their family is one.

Unity Box

This is one my personal favorites, so I saved it for last! It doesn’t have as much symbolism of “one-ness” like some of the others above do, but it’s still a fun idea nonetheless. Prior to the wedding, the bride and groom gather physical items that remind them of their relationship and love for each other (think hand-written notes, movie tickets, rose petals, etc.).

Each places his/her most representative items into a small box or container. They bring these containers to the wedding ceremony and bring the items together by placing them in an elegant wooden container. What’s fun is that for each item, the bride or groom can explain why he or she chose a particular item, to the delight of the other and the entire wedding guest list. What a fun way to share your love for each other with your wedding guests.

Then, to keep the tradition alive, you can seal the box shut, opening it only on your anniversary. Each year, you can add an item from the previous year and pull out the others to talk about them again.

What Unity Candle alternatives have you seen? Any other cool ideas? Please share in comments!

Photo Credit: Annie McElwain