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Plan & Officiate a Winter Solstice Ceremony with Candle Lighting

Published Friday, Dec. 11th, 2020

Plan and officiate a magical winter wedding ceremony this Solstice 



The darkest, coldest nights of winter don’t worry us much, because we know they’ll always pass. When the darkness offers a chance for quiet reflection, we take comfort in knowing that the brighter days of spring are just around the corner. This hopeful outlook is also why, during the hardest, roughest days in a relationship, couples find comfort in the knowledge that their love will continue to shine on brightly. 


Winter Solstice weddings celebrate a return of the light and the continuing promise of joyful, bright days ahead. 


In the Northern Hemisphere the Winter Solstice falls on just such a night… the longest, darkest night of the year. December 21st. A night of reflection, of patience, of hope for the future. And it’s been celebrated in one way or another -- most often with lights! -- for thousands of years. 


Ancient civilizations would fill the night air with glowing, crackling bonfires and noisy celebrations, a ceremonial plea to the gods to return the sun. Today, people celebrate in similar ways with bonfires and candle lightings, strings of twinkle lights, parades, large dinner parties -- and weddings. 



image of winter wedding outdoors in snow with twinkle lights, christmas lights, holiday lights



Because of the Solstice’s long history, the various meanings and interpretations associated with the day are easily included in any type of wedding, betrothal, or commitment ceremony. Many couples choose to include elements of earth-based spirituality, Pagan ritual (such as handfasting), or the secular joy of nature and the turning of the seasons. 


This simple outline for a candle lighting ceremony will help you get started planning your own celebration. 



Then, ask a friend to get ordained to officiate your wedding! 




Winter Solstice Wedding Ceremony Outline 




Arrange lit candles along the walls of the room or the outer edge of the ceremony space, to create a circle of light that surrounds the guests, officiant, and couple during the ceremony. For safety, or to protect the candles from wind, place them in jars or lanterns. At the center of the ceremony space, where the couple will say their vows, prepare a table with three large candles, and many smaller candles (in jars or lanterns), with at least one small candle per guest. 


Welcome (The Invocation)


The officiant welcomes the guests and introduces the couple. They explain the purpose of the gathering (marriage, betrothal, or commitment ceremony), and share the history and significance of the Solstice, while offering insight into the couple’s personal connection to the holiday. 



how to perform a winter solstice wedding outdoors in the woods, forest, how to officiate a wedding ceremony in December



Blessings or Wishes for Joy and Health


The officiant talks about the symbolism of the Solstice, and gives the couple a blessing, or offers a few secular words on the importance of love and the hope for continued joy and health together. The officiant might talk about how the couple met, what their life together has been like, and what the meaning of partnership or marriage means to them. 


The officiant lights one large candle to represent the light of the returning sun. 


Declaration of Intent


The couple publicly declares their intent to marry, with the officiant asking each partner if they want to marry each other. This is where the familiar ‘I do’ part of the ceremony comes in, and in some states it’s mandatory. The declaration of intent can be as simple as asking, “Do you wish to join with this person in marriage?”, followed by “I do.”


Vows Exchange 


The officiant tells the guests that the couple have written personal vows (or poetry, or music), and then turns to each partner in turn. 

Each partner will share what they’ve prepared and light another large candle using the flame from the first, saying something like, “And now I light this candle to represent the strength and hope I find in the return of the sun, the light of our love, and the promise of a new season.” 



image of unity candle lighting ceremony at winter wedding for winter solstice in December



Ring Exchange


The officiant lets the guests know that the couple will exchange rings as a physical symbol of their unity. They will ask each partner in turn to place a ring on the other’s hand, which they do.


Blessings or Wishes for Joy and Health From the Guests


The officiant now gives the guests an opportunity to stand and light one of the candles on the table, using the first large candle (representing the sun) as a source of fire. The officiant explains that each of these small lights is seen and felt, is essential, and contributes to the brightness of the whole. 


The officiant talks about the ritual’s role in reminding the couple of their place within a larger community, the support and love of the group they’ve created around themselves, and the strength that each individual takes from the other. If this is a large gathering, the ritual may take a longer time, and it will be best to discuss the candle lighting order ahead of time. (But it’s worth it! A glowing table of light and love is a moving thing to see.)




The officiant officially declares the couple to be married (or engaged, committed, bound). This is a strikingly beautiful moment, with the couple beside a table filled with symbolic light. 




The officiant announces that the ceremony is over. They tell guests whether or not there will be other activities following the ceremony, and wish them a day of merriment as they exit.






5 Unity Ceremony Ideas for a Cozy Winter Wedding

(with Scripts)



Close up image of two grooms holding hands and embracing


Looking for a unique seasonal unity ceremony idea for your cozy winter wedding ceremony? Here are five great suggestions, from candle lighting and love letters to a cheerful wine or cider toast. See the full article. 



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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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