The union of marriage is often flagged off at the end of the church ceremony by a kiss between the bride and groom. Outside the church, many other symbolic activities may be performed such as throwing a bouquet of flowers at the audience or jumping the broom. Recently an additional activity has been introduced in wedding culture. This is the lighting of unity candles during the church ceremony.
Unity candles are a representation of the joining of two souls in love. At the start of the wedding ceremony two representatives from the bride’s and the groom’s family, light a tapered candle at the front of the church. After the wedding proceedings are finished, the bride and groom then use their respective family’s candle to light a single wider candle together. This candle is what is referred to as a unity candle.
The significance of having other family members light the tapered candles is to symbolize a union of two families. The bride and groom are the agents of that union and thus take the responsibility of taking the tapered candles to light the unity candle. At the same time, the bride and groom lighting the unity candle show that they themselves have united in marriage from that moment on-wards, and that they will work together to keep the fire of love burning.
Even after the tapered candles are used to light the unity candle, they are left burning. This expresses the fact that each family’s love for the bride and bride groom will still go on for years and years after the wedding.
Unity candles are a very new addition to Kenyan church ceremonies and should thus be included with caution. There are churches which may not permit the ritual due to their strict policies while others may be a bit more liberal. Other churches such as the Catholic Church may not specifically prohibit the practice but they might recommend that it is carried out at the reception as opposed to inside the church.
An alternative for unity candles is unity sand which involves the usage of colored sands. The bride and groom each pour a differently colored pile of sand together into a glass vessel. The colored and striped sand pattern that is gathered in the glass vessel thus serves as a reminder of the unity of the bride and groom for the rest of their marriage.