Candle lighting ceremonies have been around for decades. Bar and Bat Mitzvah’s seem to have been the founding event type for this rite of passage ceremony. The debate, however, is whether or not to have a candle lighting ceremony and/or how to make it unique or abbreviated without offending those who should be recognized.
Let’s start with the basics. A general candle lighting ceremony will take a few minutes at an event to setup. Meaning, wheel the cake (or decorative candle structure) to the center of the room. Ensure the guest of honor has the poems ready. Make sure all guests are seated and attention is focused, etc. After this “house keeping” chore is completed, the MC will pass the mic to the celebrant and he or she will read a few sentences or a poem about a person (or group of people) dedicating the candle in their honor. Those honored guest(s) then walk to up the cake, kiss or hug the guest of honor, simile for a few photos, then light the candle and return to their seats. Using simple math, a typical mitzvah has 14 candles (13 years plus one for good luck). At 2 minutes per candle, this eats up 28 minutes of your party.
So, how do you shorten or revise your candle plan to make it more exciting? Here are a few ideas that we’ve seen:
- Shorten the number of candles. There is no religious reason why you must have a candle ceremony. 7-8 candles divided amongst wider groups of honored guests will flow far faster.
- Past, Present, Future (and possibly Good Luck). You can really expedite a candle ceremony or help a shy guests of honor who doesn’t want all attention on him or herself, by dedicating your candles as follows:
- Past: those who are no longer with us, aka, your memory candle
- Present: all in attendance. Saying “you all mean so much to me, rather than picking groups, I light this candle in dedication to all of you.”
- Future: this can be for all the kids. Or I’ve seen this candle used for comedic appeal and dedicate the “good luck candle” to the wealthy doctor/model that he or she will be marrying.
- Good luck is the well deserved selfish candle. This is the candle for the guest of honor. This is also a great opportunity for a parent or sibling to make a toast and dedicate this candle to the celebrant.
- As a unique option, we occasionally see a “puzzle” used rather than candles. Envision a tripod with a giant framed puzzle. At first, is just the backer board with the puzzle pieces traced out and numbered. As you call up people in honor, you reference as example, “The third puzzle piece of my life is for my grand parents.” As they come up, they place the Velcro or magnetic puzzle piece on the board, eventually completing the puzzle which could be a full sized blown up photo of the guest or honor or his/her logo.
- Another fun idea is to have tall candle or LED lights at every guest seat. The guest of honor reads a simple few sentances about how everyone in this room touched his/her life starting of course with the parents. Therefore, mom and dad light their candle or led light. Of course without their parents, this wouldn’t be possible, so using mom and dad’s candles, please light the grand parent’s candles. Eventually everyone in the room has a lit candle which was illuminated by another guest in the room.
- I’m also a big fan of adding laughter to the candle lighting. Be silly and have fun. Dedicate a candle to your pet dog and have a guest bring a giant photo of Rover to to the candle lighting.
One of the most important tips we can provide is to ensure you hire professionals who understand bar and bat mitzvahs. The DJ, caterer and photographer should all be well versed in quickly and seamlessly expediting a candle ceremony. I can recall a recent celebration where the photographer slowed the whole process down candle after candle while fighting with her camera to get the exact right setting each time.
We are big advocated for the significance of a candle lighting ceremony. We just hope to instill a few important points into our client’s vision. First, ensure that you are prepared and your notes/poems are properly assembled. (Suggestion, one candle per note card and the note cards set on a ring in order). Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! And try to think of the box and be different. I strongly suggest against asking your DJ to read the poems. This totally takes the personalization and mostly the honest feeling of care away from the lengthy celebration. Think about this… would you rather hear a 13 year old stumble a bit while reading a sentimental poem about his/her aunt and uncle, or would you rather hear a paid MC to read a few lines about someone he has never met? The true sentimental feel comes from the guest or honor being him or herself. If you have any great ideas for a candle lighting ceremony or would like to discuss an idea of yours, please do not hesitate to call or email us.
Written by, Michael Langsner, Vice President of Xplosive Entertainment.