• Lindsay McCollum

candle counsel

AKA Lindsay's complete guide to having a shit-ton of candles at your wedding



listen. sib. i understand what you're saying.

you want a literal SHIT-TON of candles at your wedding. that's completely rad and we can do it - but let me also give you some insider info regarding said shit-ton. trust me - you're gonna want to know this.



taper candles are the sexy, secret, super villain

i'm so about a taper candle - and also, i fucking HATTTTTTTE taper candles. hear me out.

- they look better than any other candle in person and in photos. hands DOWN.

- they come in every color imaginable, making wedding tablescape design a breeze.

- they're fairly reasonable on cost, making them attainable for any wedding budget.


BUT ALSO

- each brand and sometimes each type of taper within each brand are their own size at the base - making fitting them into a taper candle holder a nightmare.

- taper candle holders come in a million varied sizes (see above) - so those brass antique ones you love? yeah i hate them

- in 99% of places they require a hurricane or chimney (a glass covering that extends around the candle and above the wick), which not only significantly adds to the cost but changes the look COMPLETELY. also, hurricanes are easily broken - pissing me off constantly.


i will always use tapers because their impact is so insanely incredible. but dudes - they can be a bitch to work with.


tips for using tapers
  1. prefit your tapers with your holders

make sure they all fit snugly and easily. if you're shoving them in there or using wax drippings/tacky to hold them in place, chances are they'll lean when burning (hello table numbers caught on fire). do a test run a few weeks before your wedding so you'll have time to run a backup plan or order something else.


2. less is more

use tapers - and their impact - wisely. my favorite way is by having a couple around your low floral centerpiece. combine your tapers with lots of safe and reliable pillar and votive candles and your buck will bang.


3. keep them on a table

wedding guests (god love them) are oblivious. they will kick anything within a 10-foot radius on the floor. use tapers where they won't be bumped or kicked - especially on accent tables like gift, guestbook, bar, and cake tables.


4. play it safe with hurricanes

I love the look of a *naked* taper more than anyone - but when you're putting them up yourself, play it safe and put them in a hurricane even if the venue doesn't require it. chances are, they do require it - blame that on the fire code and the worst case scenarios we've been subjected to as wedding pros!





bring more than a couple lighters

do you know how long it takes to light a shit-ton of candles? a WHILE. like, multiple lighters going, probably at least 30 minutes out of your wedding day. how are you supposed to deal with that?!


plan out your lighting logistics
  1. hire someone to do this (and all the other shit)

you can't be lighting candles an hour out from your ceremony - and neither can your mom, auntie, best person, or greek sibling. don't leave it to another vendor that may or may not get them all lit - after all, that's not on their to-do list for the day. hire a legitimate, licensed, insured, bonafide wedding planner who can kickass at this and every other wedding day task.


2. get the good lighters


alright, if you didn't listed to the above advice we may have to roll. seriously, do yourself a solid and hire the right people. on the offchance that you're still trying to plan out how to get all those candles lit, make sure you buy multiple good brand lighters. test them out, and put them altogether in a box with your candles. make sure you show the person in charge where they are and that they work.


3. assign the task to someone on contract


they aren't responsible for it but many good-hearted caterers will still do their very best to get every single candle lit. just remember to ask them in writing when you send them your final timeline and info, give them extra lighters that work (see above), and let them know how many candles you're talking about. they need to arrive early enough and plan for enough staff to do this task and still do the job you originally hired them to do - you know, feed everyone a delicious hot meal. if you're implementing this tip, i'm gonna recommend you also implement another - tip your freaking caterer for going above and beyond their job duty!





pillar candles are the workhorse of the candle world

there's a reason why they're the candle used on 90% of tablescapes - they're reliable, with a long burn time, high light production, and come in a million colors to customize your design. keep these pro tips in mind if you're pulling for pillars.


  1. buy reputable (better yet, borrow)

my favorite candle brands include yummi and bolsius, but mainstays (walmart) has worked in a pinch, too. what's even better than buying 100 pillar candles and their glass hurricanes (yup, they need them) at cost? try borrowing - many wedding pros (hey, me!) include it in their packages or offer it as an upcharge. bonus? when a vendor is providing it, it's their responsibility - meaning no cleaning glass, lighting, or maintenance for you! make sure you're asking that vendor how they maintain their candles to ensure sustainability and performance - doesn't make much sense for them to provide brand new candles for each wedding that cost you more than just getting them yourself, or worse - candles that have been reused and look that way. I can speak from experience on that last one - there's only so much you can do to maintain reused pillar candles, and I definitely learned the hard way. that's why i make all mine now - perfect candles for you, cheaper and better inventory for me *the earth loves it too*.


2. filled > pillar


filled candles are just superior over pillar. you may not love the look, but trust me when i say you're getting more for your price, the candle will burn better, and the glass will be less maintenance. try transporting 100 pillar candles in their glass - then try removing the little wax ring on the inside of the glass where they spiraled around the whole trip (an hour before your wedding is set to start).


3. you don't need as many as you think


i have about 500 candles in varied shapes, sizes, and colors - but most weddings need around 150-200 total candles to feel super glowy and magical. if i was buying for my own event, i would do even less -

candle centerpiece - 3 pillars or tapers + 3 votives

tall floral centerpiece - 3 pillars

short floral centerpiece - 3 votives

signs - 5-7 pillars + 3-5 votives

accent tables - 3-5 pillars or tapers and 3-7 votives

for 150 person wedding with a mix of centerpieces and average accent tables, you're looking at about

117 candles!





i vote for votives

there's a special place in my heart for votive candles - and their infinite amount of pretty holders. not only are votives cheap, but they're easily amped up with a thoughtful holder. easy to resuse, burn times perfect for the length of an event, and easy to transport round out some of my favorite reasons to use more votive candles!


  1. invest in a wowza holder

the votives may be cheap, but the holders can cost a pretty penny. use your save from the candle to splurge on something you love - not only can you add color to your design, but add texture and charm as well. check out world market for some of my faves at a good price. buy your holder before your candle so you know whether a full sized votive will fit or whether you'll need a tealight.


2. any votive will do...


...but the same can't be said for tealights. with more wax, any votive will burn for the length of your event. tealights are cheaper but beware - they need to be advertised as an extended burn time to last the whole night.


3. resell those babies


votive holders are super easy to resell and get a return on your initial investment - especially if you've chosen ones that fit a wide variety of design styles. get more back for them by cleaning out the leftover wax - easy to do if you pop them in the freezer first.




lanterns, led's, and everything in between


lanterns aren't as popular as they used to be, but with some thought and planning they can be an integral part of your design.

  1. don't forget the actual candle

we're always so worried about the lantern itself that sometimes we forget the candle. doy! an enclosed lantern can get a naked pillar candle, but one without glass needs a candle with a hurricane. put them all in the box together (with plenty of bubble wrap or cloth) so they are ready when you need them.


2. size matters


lanterns can go wrong when the size of the candle isn't proportionate to the size of the lantern. for a flawless look, opt for a candle that is 2/3 the height of the interior of the lantern.


3. ...and so does placement


lanterns look best on a table (as long as they aren't too big - guests usually want to see over them to the other side of the table) or as an accent (think next to pillars at the base of a sign, or at the entrance to your ceremony aisle). plan out where each piece of decor goes - including your lanterns - and box them up as a group so they're easy to setup.

led's don't have to just be for those venues that require them - they can look incredible in any wedding design (with the right use). it's a bummer that you can't really get them in colors, but being able to turn them on and off with a remote (instantly), reuse/resell, avoiding any wax, and breezy setup are reasons that i've considered going led only!


  1. batteries, batteries, and more batteries

just buy a bunch. trust me. put them in beforehand and make sure you check on the product details whether or not they take AA or AAA - test them out when you have them at home and then put the extra batteries in the box with the candles - you may need them on wedding day.


2. the wick and flame are key


the difference between led's that look like shit and led's that can pass for real is the FLAME/WICK COMBO. my favorites are made by Eywamage; but there are a ton of overseas brands making them now on Amazon. here's the tea - choose a candle that has a small, black wick shown - AVOID the ones with moving flames. they're harder to find but i promise they make all the difference.


3. try them in glass


it doesn't matter how real the wick or flame looks when someone is sitting right next to it - so do a little optical magic and put these babies in a glass hurricane. just that bit of illusion will convince anyone that the candles are, indeed, real. *wink*


so there ya go.

suprisingly enough, i can think of even more things i could tell you about your wedding candles. takeaway? borrow over buy

trust a pro with design and implementation

and rethink your pinterest board.

that glowy inspo wedding screenshot is closer than you think. keep these tips in mind when you're planning out the magic - because don't we all need a little more glow in our lives, anyway?



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