Perform a Memorial Candle Lighting Ceremony

I am planning on doing a memorial candle at the beginning of our ceremony. My fiance lost his son a year and a half ago, his father, and I lost my mother about 5 years ago. We have no plans for a wedding program. The suggestions say for the reverend to say a short prayer. The reverend marrying us has never heard of a memorial candle. He asked me if I could send him the information that I got off the internet. I sent him the suggestions as far as lighting the candle and saying a short prayer, but I have been unable to find a suggested prayer. Can you tell me what would be some appropriate words that the reverend could say without making it seem like a memorial service?

Annemarie Juhlian, Wedding Officiant & Minister

As a Wedding Officiant here in Seattle, I have used a memorial candle in wedding ceremony whereby the couple honors and remembers family members who are no longer with them. It’s appropriate for your Officiant to give a blessing, prayer or reading during the lighting of the memorial candle and in the wedding ceremonies I create, I custom write each piece. If there is a prayer or reading you feel is best appropriate for your family members, please share this with your Officiant. Or perhaps to honor your fiancee’s son and your father, write a short tribute and have your Officiant share this during your wedding ceremony. Suggested book for prayers/readings: Sacred Shreadhold by Gertrud Mueller Nelson and Christopher Witt

Reverend Susanna Stefanachi Macomb
Author of Wedding Celebrations, A Practical Guide for Couples

I give many examples of honoring those who have passed in my book. Why not write a personal tribute for your officiant to read? Just remember, you want the moment to be poignant, but not maudlin. Afterall, it is a wedding, a joyous occassion. Here is an example of a personal tribute I wrote for one groom’s late sister. (The names have been changed to protect their privacy.)

At this time, we remember Kate Andersen, a caring and ebullient soul, the groom’s sister & closest friend, taken away from her family far too young. Those of you who knew Kate, knew she was an inspiration to all, a brilliant light and caring soul, who took great pleasure in the happiness of others… Bill in fact, feels that Kate had a hand in this marriage, bringing his bride, Kelly, into his life.

We now light this candle in acknowledgment that Kate’s spirit is here with us, sharing in our joy. She is missed. She will always remain in the hearts of those who love her.

Dear bride, your loved ones will be smiling down upon you on your special day….

Having a son, I can only imagine your fiancee’s pain.

Love and Blessings,

Rev. Susanna

Pastor Buddy

All traditions have a beginning. There was always a “first time.” God likes newness, recreation and beginnings. Having a memorial candle is new, meaningful and appropriate. For some it may become “tradition.” May I add that the two tapir candles that are lit at the beginning of ceremony be lit by a member of each household no matter the relation. It could be the uncle that is the brother of the mother you are memorializing. It could be the father. The groom’s family and the bride’s family choose one person each to light the tapirs. It could be anyone you choose. This of course breaks the tradition of the mothers lighting the unity candle tapirs. The bride and groom of course after the exchanging of ring(s), but before the pronouncement light the memorial candle while the minister prays. (By the way, it is okay to pray with your eyes open; so, be careful with the candles and not close your eyes!)

I was so impressed by your idea that, I felt inspired to write the following prayer:

Lord we thank you for this special day in the life of __________ and ____________ as they celebrate holy wedlock. On this day more than ever we remember those who have formed, shaped, and equipped ________ and _________ for this day, the day of their marital bliss. We remember ___________. We remember ______________. We remember _______________.

We ask a special blessing for _______ and _____’s union and for those family members who are no longer among us. We ask it in Jesus’ name who taught us to pray saying: (Wedding party and wedding guests join in praying the Lord’s prayer.)

I have sometimes added at the end of my ceremonies, “Now Mr. and Mrs. ___________ as their first official act as husband and wife will now lead us all in the Lord’s Prayer.”

Hope I have flamed your creative idea. Lord Bless!

Pastor Buddy

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