When You Have to Can the Candles

Considering a candlelit wedding ceremony or reception? Don’t set your heart on it until you’ve done a little digging. It turns out that insurance regulations, fire codes, and even cleanup concerns can get in the way of having those tiny tea lights at every table. So it’s not uncommon for brides- and grooms-to-be to book that perfect venue only to find out that their candlelit dreams are being dashed by practicalities. Open flames? No way. And some venues will even balk at the notion of candles under or inside glass.

Who doesn’t allow candles at wedding receptions? Many museums, for one, along with libraries full of those burnable books. Barns, especially working ones, may say no when candles come up in conversation. Historic buildings, particularly those made out of wood, may have candle or flame restrictions. And a wedding venue can simply decide not to allow fire as ceremony or reception decor for any reason at all. Some have had issues with the smoke alarms and sprinklers. Others would prefer not to have to deal with wax. And still others are zoned in such a way as to make having open flames (even tea lights) on site illegal.


So let’s say you’re one of those brides- or grooms-to-be who had her or his heart set on a candlelit wedding reception. What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO?! Easy! Here are two ideas:

LED Tea Lights and LED Candles
Compared to real candlelight, the light emitted by LED candles and LED tea lights can seem a little dinky. But they’re definitely getting better – as long as you don’t get the cheapest flameless candles, you’ll get a quality of illumination that looks more like candlelight than the dull glare of a sodium lamp. If you’re thinking of reception centerpieces featuring tall pillars, there are real wax pillars with LED lights nestled inside. A flameless flicker? No prob, but expect to pay more for an LED tea light than you will for a traditional tea light. Basically, use LED candles everywhere you were planning to use regular candles.

All That Glitters
If the lighting is just right at your venue or you’re hiring a wedding lighting designer, you may be able to get a similarly ethereal sparkle with glitter. I’ve seen suggestions of ‘scatter glitter on your reception tables,’ but that seems like a recipe for glitter in food, glitter permanently stuck on clothes, and glitter in eyes. Speaking as someone who has dealt with the aftermath of glitter crafts for months, don’t do that. Instead, choose sparkling centerpiece components like rhinestone cake topper monograms worked into floral arrangements or mini wedding cakes, or tall vases filled with water and pretty color coordinated glass stones, then topped with anything you like: flowers and greens, tissue paper balls, etc. For the DIY bride, remember that almost anything can be coated in Mod Podge and rolled in glitter. The rhinestones, the water and glass stones, and the glitter will catch the light and give your venue some sparkle.

One Response to “When You Have to Can the Candles”

  1. sabina December 13, 2010 at 1:28 pm #

    It is amazing the way you can use these candles