Ban the Unity Candle!

So the recent wedding I attended brought my attention once again to part of the wedding ceremony I’m not a fan of:  the unity candle.

I get the symbolism:  two become one, yadda yadda. Okay. But even before I was married, I was never a fan. Uniting the candles, okay. But blowing your own candle out? Maybe it’s the independence, introvertedness, or just-plain-orneriness in me coming out, but I don’t like it.

And totally aside from that is the music. Because the unity candle portion of the ceremony must always be accompanied by music; I think that’s an unwritten rule of weddings. The hitch is, it takes maybe 30 seconds to light the candle. And then you’re faced with a good 3-plus minutes of music in which the couple has to stand, looking at each other. The whole time. And friends? It’s awkward.

Do you remember playing that game as a child where you timed how long you and a friend could stare at each other before laughing? It’s that idea, only this is supposed to be a wedding. And the entire congregation is watching them! It’s like torture, really. I’ve seen couples try to look serious – try making faces – try laughing – nothing seems to work too well. It’s uncomfortable for the audience as well; I always feel like I should look away or something rather than staring at the couple up there, staring at each other.

When I’m organist at weddings, I really try to help out the poor couple by choosing a very brief number to play here. If they let me do that, trust me, I’m doing them a favor. What I dread is the couple that chooses a piece like the hated-by-musicians-everywhere Wedding Song (“He is now to be among you, at the calling of your hearts, Rest assured this troubadour is … la la la la la”). It goes on and on, with that eternally annoying base part. I pity the couple that must face each other looking appropriate through all the verses.

3 thoughts on “Ban the Unity Candle!

  1. Then you attend a few weddings where the unity candle refuses to light. Somehow you know they are doomed from day 1!

  2. Amen! I couldn’t agree with you more!! You are right on about the 30 seconds vs. 3 minutes or more. My husband Joe has already played for 5 weddings this summer, and sure enough they all did the unity candle thing. I found out that lighting the candle by the mother’s is no picnic either. Joe always tries his best to steer the couple to a shorter song, but usually to no avail. The last wedding he did, the unity candle song was “The Lord’s Prayer”, which also is way too long. All of this said, I don’t see any of this changing in our lifetime. Sigh…

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