How to Set Up a Wedding Memorial Candle + 9 Candle Ideas


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Weddings are joyous celebrations of love between two people. Most weddings have a festive atmosphere, but some brides and grooms pause during the ceremony to remember the life of someone who they wish could have attended the event. 

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Some couples choose to set up a memorial table at the reception, which may include pictures of the deceased and decorative items such as candles and flowers. Other couples may choose to pause during the ceremony to light a memorial candle for those they have lost. 

Here’s how to include the lighting of a memorial candle for weddings and different candle styles to consider.

If you're interested in other unique ways to honor a loved one, you may consider a custom urn from a store like Foreverence or even have a memorial diamond made from ashes with a company like Eterneva.

Post-loss tip: No matter how long it's been since you lost a loved one, you may be facing difficult practical tasks, like wrapping up legal and financial matters. Our post-loss checklist can help you make sure you don't miss anything important. 

What's a Wedding Memorial Candle?

A memorial candle doesn't have to be a particular color or design. Instead, it is merely a candle that has been designated by the bride and the groom to have special significance at their wedding. 

You can light a memorial candle at any point before or during the ceremony. It can also be placed at a memorial table and burned at the reception. You don’t have to include candles in the honorarium of the deceased. Learn more memorial ideas for a wedding. 

Words or silence can accompany the lighting of the memorial candle. The couple may choose to add a few lines in the wedding bulletin regarding who the candle honors. 

Remember, not everyone grieves the same way. Some couples may choose to honor deceased loved ones during their wedding, while other couples may remember the family members in their hearts. Even if a couple doesn't have a candle lighting ceremony or a display at the wedding, it doesn't mean that they don't miss their loved ones who are deceased. 

Here is one way to use a memorial candle during a wedding ceremony.  

» MORE: Your family has 500 hours of work to do after you die. Learn how to make it easier.

How to Set Up a Memorial Candle at a Wedding

How to Set Up a Memorial Candle at a Wedding

Talk with the officiant for ideas on how to personalize your service, as he or she probably has seen this performed at different weddings. 

Here is one way to remember someone (or several deceased family members) at a wedding.

1. Place flowers on a seat in the front row

The flowers can be in the form of a small bouquet or a single stem with a ribbon attached.

You can place it at the spot where the missing loved one would have sat at the wedding. Special attention can be given to the display by the officiant, or the flowers can act as a silent tribute to the deceased.

2. Announce the memorial candle

Toward the beginning of the ceremony, the officiant or minister can announce the memorial candle on behalf of the bride and groom. Here is an example:

"Before we continue with the ceremony, Michael and Sabrina would like to take a moment to honor Michael's mother, Gretchen Smith, who passed away on May 30th. All those who knew Gretchen are missing her here today. Please honor Gretchen with a moment of silence while Michael and Sabrina light this memorial candle."

Of course, the bride or groom can make this announcement instead of the officiant. It may be difficult for them to speak in front of a crowd of guests about such an emotional topic at such a bittersweet moment. 

You can use the same memorial candle to honor several deceased family members or friends. This decision is usually left up to the bride and the groom. 

3. Light the candle

At least one other candle should be lit at the front of the ceremony for the couple to be able to use to light the memorial candle. 

4. Include a line in the program

Besides lighting the candle and honoring the deceased with a small bouquet, you may also want to place a line in the program that says, "Today, the couple keeps in their hearts those who are celebrating in spirit." Then list the name and the relationship of the deceased family members. 

Many different types of ceremonies can be utilized at a wedding to honor the deceased. The bride or the groom can write their text to commemorate those who have passed away recently. 

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Different Types of Wedding Memorial Candles

The type of memorial candle that you have at your wedding should be based on its use. If the bride and groom light the candle during the ceremony, it should be easy for the couple to light. If placed on a memorial table, it should be secure and safe to burn for hours.

The couple may already have a keepsake candle at home to use for the ceremony. You don't have to purchase a new item to use during the wedding. 

Personalized hurricane lantern

Have you decided to burn a candle at a memorial table? Why not purchase a personalized hurricane lantern?

Each lantern can say, "This candle burns in memory of [Name], 1948-2020.” Consider adding a framed photo of the deceased next to the candle.

Floating candle

Consider adding a floating candle at a memorial table or placed at the front during the ceremony.

Some memorial candle holders have a verse similar to this one: "Your life was a blessing. Your memory, a treasure. You are loved beyond words and missed beyond measure."

Candle holder personalized with a photograph

You can personalize a candle holder with the image of a loved one. Consider adding the birth and death dates as well as the person's name. This keepsake can become a treasured piece in the home of the new couple.

Printed candle

Most online memorial candles have personalized candle holders. You can also purchase a candle that has the name of the loved one printed on the side. Keep in mind that the name of the deceased will eventually melt while the candle burns.

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Look for retailers that sell votive holders with one base. Attached to the base is a single sign with a verse or saying. You can use this type of candle holder if commemorating several people during the event. 

You can also frame photographs accompanied by small, lit votives. No words need to accompany the memory table, as most would understand its purpose. 

Wrapped candle

One of the most economical ways to create a memorial candle is to purchase an inexpensive white candle and cover it with a beautifully designed cardstock image.

The cardstock can be placed well below the flame's line and include the name of the deceased. The color of the cardstock can match the wedding colors and printed with a picture of the deceased. 

Taper candle

If the bride and group plan to light the memorial candle at the wedding, they may consider using a simple taper candle. You can light the memorial candle in the same manner as a unity candle, or either the bride or groom may light the wick.

Place the taper candles in a simple and elegant crystal candle holder. 


Luminary candles shine through an opaque surface. There are many different ways to achieve this effect, but you may want to purchase a luminary candle that shines behind a poignant saying. Consider the following: "We know you would be here today if heaven weren't so far away."

Laser engraved crystal memorial candle

An online or local retailer may be able to make a laser engraved crystal memorial candle. Such an item can be engraved on all four sides so you can honor several people in one single candle holder.

If you choose to have a personalized item made, make sure you order it well before the wedding date. 

Other Ways to Remember the Deceased

Lighting a candle for someone who died is just one way for everyone to remember the deceased during a wedding. You may want to have special bouquets displayed at the wedding or reception to remember the dead. You could also carry or wear a unique item during the ceremony, such as a piece of jewelry or a handkerchief. 

During the reception, you could have a toast to honor the deceased, or you could play a particular song that was loved by the one who is gone. You may even choose to do a release of butterflies between the ceremony and the reception to honor the deceased. 

Even though you want to remember the deceased at your wedding, the focus of the event should be to celebrate the love between the couple. The deceased would not have wanted the couple's special day overshadowed by grief.

If you're looking for other ways to remember your loved ones, read our guides on remembering Dad on his birthday and how to remember deceased loved ones at Christmas.

Another great way to honor a loved one is by creating an online memorial page. This creates a place where family and friends can write tributes and make a donation for funeral expenses. Cake's memorial page includes many features, such as a memorial wall, photo sharing, funeral resources, and more. It's free and easy to create an online memorial page with Cake.

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