One of the most important parts of your wedding is the lighting. Ambiance, mood, and the entire vibe of the day can be decided on how you light the room. Candles are a popular lighting choice, both for the romantic atmosphere candlelight can provide as well as the versatility of candles.
There are so many vessels, shapes, and arrangements for candles that can make any day feel unique and special. From candles lighting the path down the aisle, or elaborate candelabras at a wedding table, there are plenty of ways to incorporate them into your wedding ceremony or reception. But of course, using candles comes with a few risks and questions—we’ve broken down what you really need to know before jumping in feet-first.
Candles are pretty, but a wedding going up in flames is probably not high on your list of goals for your event. Between high winds and rambunctious wedding guests, candles can certainly pose a risk to your wedding day. The fire department did not RSVP to your wedding, so prepare not to call them. If you’re worried someone may knock the candles over, LED or electric candles will certainly guarantee peace of mind.
Most certainly, before considering using candlelight, check with your venue. Some venues may allow open flame, some are flat-out against candles and only allow flameless candles, and some may require votives and no free-standing candles.
But if this is something you’re committed to, keep some safety rules in mind:
So, how many candles do you need? While this is an easy question to ask, it’s not as easy to answer. How many candles you’ll need for the wedding really depends on what purpose the candle will serve. Is it going to be a primary lighting source, or is it merely decorative?
If you plan on using them to light your aisle, a safe rule to keep is not to have a candle on every row, but rather every other one. Spacing your wedding candle fixtures out is safer and more practical. Candles on tablescapes should be also taken into consideration—are the candles the main focus of the centerpiece, or merely decorative? Creating wedding candle centerpieces can also add a touch of romance to your wedding venue. The size of the candles will also matter—obviously, you’ll need more tea candles than big candlesticks.
A fragrance is a wonderful way to implant a sense memory of your big day for your guests. A spritz or two in the air of your favorite perfume before the ceremony can go a long way—but for scented candles, where the fragrance will linger for a while, that can be overwhelming and impact your guests’ enjoyment. Skip scented candles for your centerpieces—not only are some people very sensitive to fragrance and can get scent-triggered headaches, scented candles can also change the taste of food and impact the meal you’re serving. Scented candles as favors or as decorations in the bathroom—great! But keep the warm vanilla smell to post-wedding events, not the reception.
Okay, so you’ve done the wedding, it’s the end of the night, and you’ve got dozens of candles to find a home for. If you’re not the people getting married, surprising them in their honeymoon suite with a romantic candlelit vibe can always be a sweet ending to a lovely day. Ask their accommodations if it’s okay first, however—you don’t want to get a call from an angry friend in the middle of the night because they were booted from their honeymoon suite. Candles can also substitute for a wedding favor, if necessary.
Getting personalized wedding candles with the name of you and your partner, as well as the wedding date engraved on the vase is a wonderful way to both decorate your wedding day and leave your guests with a long, lasting memory. Another idea is to create a loving memory for you and your partner by, well, making one giant candle. No, really—gently melt down the remaining candles in a vase, add a wick and a drop or two of fragrance, and you’ve got a beautiful memory of your day that will last as long as your love.
With an abundance of wedding candle knowledge now under your belt, let’s talk decorations. There are countless ways to incorporate candles of all shapes and sizes into your wedding decor. If you’re seeking some inspiration, read on for our favorite candle decor ideas—from centerpieces to hanging displays and everything in-between.
Perhaps the most classic of candle holders, votive candles work beautifully for a variety of wedding themes. For the couple that prefers a sleek and complimentary wedding centerpiece, consider placing a few at the center of each reception table.
Dazzle guests at your wedding reception with a plethora of hanging tealight candles. Place each in a small votive that can be hung from tree branches by ribbon or twine.
Wedding aisle decorations span from florals, to ribbon, to scattered rose petals. Light your way down the aisle by placing candles on either side, at every other row. We recommend larger pillar candles that will catch the eyes of all of your loved ones.
Finding the right centerpieces for longer, rectangular tables can be a tad difficult. For regal wedding celebrations and those with a more vintage feel, we recommend running candlesticks down the center of these tables. They’re eyecatching and add height to your table displays without obstructing guests’ views of each-other.
Exceptionally lavish affairs can utilize candelabras as centerpieces. If buying several outright sounds a bit expensive, try thrifting and taking a look at second-hand stores. You can even reach out to wedding decor rental companies and see if they have any available. Complete with taper candles for an opulent ambiance.
Likewise, you can place candlesticks in hanging chandeliers for jaw-dropping beauty. Check with your venue before falling in love with this idea, since many venues don’t allow certain hanging displays—let alone those with candles.
Use candles to decorate and light up otherwise empty spaces within your venue. This could be at your alter (or similar space), around signage, inside and around an empty fireplace, or similar.
Have a staircase outside leaning into your ceremony or reception venue? Line the sides of it with pillar candles. Not only will this add a lovely glow to the pathway, but aid in directing guests where to go.
When using candles with centerpieces or table decor, consider playing around with a few different candle heights. While one uniform height can look nice and cohesive, multiple add satisfying dimension. We recommend testing out a few designs with candles of three heights—a small, medium, and large.
Don’t feel the need to limit your candle decor to one style of container or base (though you certainly can). Choose a variety of colored candle holders that match your wedding color palette. Or, opt for those in metallic accents like gold and silver.
Similarly, look into colors in a variety of colors. While white is a classic and is certain to go with any wedding ceremony or reception, going with a different color or colors can really make your decor stand out.
A trending piece of decor, lanterns provide an air of whimsy and fantasy. Hang a few lighter ones filled with candles from any on-site trees or simply line paths with them by setting them on the ground.
If you’re worried about hanging lanterns or a lack of visibility being on the ground, use them as candle-filled centerpieces. Place a single pillar candle inside a decently sized lantern or fill it with several smaller candles.
Hosting a garden party or wedding with an especially magical theme? Consider placing floating tealight candles in vases filled with water. If you’re lucky enough to have a fountain (or several) in your venue, ask if you can place a few in it as well.
Honor loved ones who’ve passed by decorating a memorial table with a selection of beautiful candles. For a classic look, we recommend pillar candles in various heights surrounding framed photographs.
Rustic weddings can lean into their theme by going with candles that come in amber glass containers. Amber glass containers are an incredibly simply way to add to a more rural, country aesthetic.
Looking to add more greenery to your tablescapes? Place a moss runner down the middle of each table and fill it with various twinkling candles. Tealights will give off a subtle and magical glow, while pillar candles will create interesting levels. Both will make for a magical table setup.
Another rapidly rising trend in candle decor is geometric containers. Like terrariums, they’re mostly glass and come in a variety of interesting shapes. Just place a single inside for an effortless and modern centerpiece.
Rather than placing your candles or votives directly on your tables, set them atop bases made out of natural materials. Wooden bases immediately add an outdoorsy and rustic feel to any wedding reception.
Budget-conscious couples can still afford some luxury by creating stunning candle holders themselves. Simply hold onto any emptied wine bottles, paint over them (or leave the glass and labels visible), and place a taper candle in the opening. Light and allow the candles to melt over the bottle necks a bit in the days leading up to your nuptials to add a vintage, bookish look.
Collect a variety of miss-matched glass jars and fill each with a single small candle. The different glass containers, as well as the abundance of candlelight, will add to a cozy cottagecore ambiance.
If you’re looking for a more substantial piece of decor, consider purchasing an aesthetic wooden ladder and placing candles on its steps. Bonus points if your florist also wraps flowers or greenery around its sides or steps.
Go big by placing countless concealed tealight candles on the ground to create a larger shape. This could be your new initials, your shared last name, or a pretty design. Just make sure to do this away from any trails or areas that expect high foot traffic.
Antique birdcages can be made into gorgeous centerpieces by simply placing a few candles inside. This decor idea works especially well for vintage and literary themed wedding celebrations.
Whether or not you’re celebrating on the beach, you may be seeking coastal decor. This can be easily achieved with candles. Place a candle inside a votive, then fill it partway with sand so that it surrounds about a third to a half of the candle. Repeat for each of your tables.
Candles are an easy way to add a magical glow to your wedding celebration. But before you set your heart on any of the above ideas, check with your venue for any rules and regulations they might have. Some venues will only allow open flames outdoors, while others don’t at all. Get a clear idea of what’s allowed, then let your creativity run wild. In the meantime, we’re here to assist you with any other wedding ideas and questions you may have.