What Does 3 Candles Mean In Wedding?

The use of 3 candles in wedding ceremonies has become a popular tradition over the past few decades. The 3 candles represent the couple getting married and the joining of their two families. The lighting of the 3 candles during the ceremony serves as a symbolic moment demonstrating the union of the couple into one new family.

Typically, there is 1 candle representing the bride, 1 candle representing the groom, and 1 center candle representing the new marriage. The parents of the bride and groom light the 2 outside candles at the start of the ceremony. Later, the bride and groom use those candles to light the center candle together, combining the flames into one.

the 3 candles in a wedding represent the past, present, and future of the bride and groom's relationship.

This visual ritual illustrates the bride and groom leaving their past lives and families behind to start their new life together as a married couple. The lighting of the 3 candles shows their commitment to each other and the merging of their lives into one new family unit. It serves as a memorable symbolic gesture for all those witnessing the wedding ceremony.

Unity Candle

The unity candle is a popular wedding tradition that involves three candles – one representing the bride, one representing the groom, and a central candle representing their new union. Typically, the candles representing the bride and groom are lit at the start of the ceremony by their mothers. Later, after the couple exchanges vows, they use the two lit candles to jointly light the center unity candle.https://allseasonsweddings.com/en/wedding-ceremonies-readings/unity-candle-ceremony

Lighting the unity candle symbolizes two individuals coming together as one. It represents the joining of two families and two lives into a newly created oneness in marriage. Once lit, the unity candle shines brighter together than the two individual candles did separately. This signifies that the couples’ marriage will be stronger and brighter than each of their former lives.https://www.thecelebrantdirectory.com/unity-candle-ceremony/

Christian Meaning

In many Christian weddings, the lighting of the 3 candles represents the Holy Trinity – God the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Each candle is said to embody one aspect of the Trinity:

  • The first candle represents God’s presence.
  • The second candle represents Jesus Christ.
  • The third candle represents the Holy Spirit.

As described on Learn Religions, the lighting of the 3 candles illustrates the joining of two lives into one new family under God. Traditionally, the first candle is lit by the mother of the bride, the second by the mother of the groom, and the third by the couple together.

According to Root Candles, the unity candle ceremony reflects Christian beliefs about marriage – that the “two shall become one” as husbands and wives are bound together under God. The merging flames represent two families coming together as one with God at the center of their new marriage.

Past, Present, Future

One of the most common meanings for the three candles in a wedding ceremony is to represent the couple’s past, present, and future together. Typically, this involves three candles – one for the bride, one for the groom, and one for their shared future. The bride and groom each light their individual candles to represent their lives up until this moment. Then, together they use those candles to light the center unity candle, symbolizing the joining of their lives into one new family and their commitment to a shared future (Source).

The lighting of the side candles by the bride and groom can represent their individual pasts as single individuals. The lighting of the center candle together represents their present as a newly married couple and the formation of their new family. And the continued burning of the three candles represents their hopes and intentions for their future together. This visually demonstrates the transition from individuals to a unified couple (Source).

Stages of Life

The three candles used in the unity candle ceremony represent the different stages of life for the couple getting married. The first candle symbolizes their youth, or the time before they met each other. The second candle represents their present as adults who found one another. The third candle, which is lit by combining the flames of the first two, represents their future lives together as a married couple.

Lighting the first candle reminds the couple of their childhood, teen years, and young adult life before their relationship. It honors their individual backgrounds and experiences that shaped who they are.

Lighting the second candle celebrates meeting each other and falling in love. It represents the present moment and joining their lives through marriage.

Lighting the third candle from the other two symbolizes combining their separate lives into one new shared life and future as a married couple. It demonstrates that their bond is stronger together. This candle is usually larger and placed higher to represent the foundation of their new family.

The progression through the three candles poetically reflects the stages of life the couple has gone through to reach their wedding day. It provides a meaningful visualization of their past, present and future together. (according to: https://www.thecelebrantdirectory.com/unity-candle-ceremony/)


The three candle ceremony is a beautiful way to honor any children from previous relationships during a wedding. Each child is represented by their own individual candle. This symbolizes that while the couple is forming a new family unit, the children remain individuals and are cherished parts of the family.

As described on the All Seasons Weddings website, “The three candles will remain lit. One candle for each of them, and one candle for the unity of their new family, and as a symbol of their commitment to each other and the children” (Source).

Lighting a candle for each child demonstrates that they are an integral part of the family. It is a way for the couple to visually include the children in their wedding ceremony and new life together. The parents’ candle then symbolizes the newly formed family unit.

Family Members

The three candle unity ceremony can honor family members, usually the couple’s parents or grandparents. This is done by having a candle represent each family – the bride’s family and the groom’s family. When the couple lights the center unity candle, they are bringing together their two families.

For example, the bride’s parents may light a candle on the bride’s side to represent her family. The groom’s parents then light a candle on the groom’s side to represent his family. When the bride and groom light the center candle together, it symbolizes the joining of the two families through the marriage.

This is a meaningful way to honor parents and grandparents by recognizing the important role family plays in the lives of the couple. It highlights that marriage is not just the union of two individuals, but the merging of two families. The lighting of the family candles demonstrates the support and blessing of parents as their children start a new family together.

Overall, the three candle ceremony with two family candles allows the couple to visibly show the coming together of their families. It is a touching ritual that emphasizes the significance of family within marriage. (Source: https://www.marryingmarc.com/candle-lighting-unity-ceremony/)

Cultural Meanings

The unity candle ceremony has taken on varying cultural meanings and interpretations across different groups. Some key examples include:

In Hispanic culture, the ritual is known as “La Ceremonia de las Tres Velas” and represents the couple’s past, present, and future together. It emphasizes their continuing bond as they start a new family.(1)

For many African cultures, the three candles symbolize the joining of two families or communities, rather than just the couple. The parents may light the outside candles to show support for the marriage.(2)

Some Indian weddings incorporate a “Havan” ritual with fire at the altar representing purification and the start of a new chapter. This is similar to the unity candle lighting.

In China, candles are believed to bring good luck, prosperity, and harmony. Red candles are often used at Chinese weddings.

Ultimately, couples today can customize the unity candle ceremony to align with their cultural background and values.


The unity candle ritual allows couples to create their own special meaning for the candles used in their wedding ceremony. While there are some common interpretations, the symbolism can be personalized to reflect a couple’s unique relationship.

For example, couples may choose to have their children light the side taper candles before the bride and groom light the center unity candle together. This can represent the joining of their existing families into one new family. The side candles can also be lit by parents, grandparents or other special relatives if the couple wishes.

The number of candles can be customized as well. Some couples opt for two taper candles plus the unity candle. Others may include more individual candles representing their foundation as individuals coming together. The personalized candle lighting order and interpretation is up to the bride and groom.

The unity candle lighting provides a special moment for couples to thoughtfully reflect on what their marriage means to them. With so many options, they can tailor the ritual to highlight what is most important in their relationship and new life together.


The lighting of the unity candle during a wedding ceremony is a beautiful symbol of two lives joining together as one. This ritual represents the bride and groom leaving their past lives behind and stepping into a shared future together. The three candles hold significance – the two individual candles represent the couples’ former lives as individuals, while the center candle symbolizes the union of their new marriage. When the side candles are used to light the middle candle, it demonstrates the merging of two flames into one eternal light. This powerful imagery highlights the joining of two souls and families into one new family unit. The lighting of the unity candle is a moving tradition that emphasizes the meaning of marriage as two becoming one.

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