A Candle Catalog: Wedding Reception and Events, How to!

Romance. Love. Atmosphere. Candles do it all!!!

What we are going to cover here is what could go good, wrong, up or down regarding candles for a wedding reception. This will include information regarding venue rules, tapers, floating candles, combos, burn time, and what to do with them after your magical event! This is your guide for your wedding reception or events, we are here for your design, and how to tie it in simply with the light of a flame.

An Intro to Candles

Type up an internet search for “romantic wedding” and the first thing that pops up are these grand visions of florals and candles filling the room! It always reminds me of something out of a movie…

But what’s the reality behind that look? Here are a few tips and hints to think about when setting up your vision for your reception it includes candles.

Venue Rules

First? (and most importantly) what does the venue allow?

Some venues allow live flame while others require candles like that to be battery operated. If real candles and flame are allowed what are the rules around it? Many venues require them to be encased in glass of some sort. So what does this actually mean?!

PS – If you are lucky enough to have a venue that doesn’t have rules about candles and open flame read on! There are a few tips and hints here for those setups too! Candles for wedding receptions and events can be different in separate places for aesthetic purposes. So if your venue requires flame to be enclosed this is easy peasy for votives!

Votives are small glass candle holders that come in a huge variety of textures, sizes, shapes and colors – many options here! The actual candles used inside can also be different depending on what your vision is and what you are looking to have the feel of the room be.

So for example if you have clear votive glass but use colored wax that is one way some people use some variety. Again – so many options!


Tapers are where most people have questions and honestly there ARE a few more logistics to consider. Tapers are THE CANDLE when it comes to that romantic look.

There’s a reason why they are so beautiful! They add height and texture to the table, accent the whole set and really add warmth to the whole space.

There are a large variety of taper candle holders (bases) from clear glass, various colors of glass (think amber and green and blue!) to metallic and brass to fluted and smooth… you get the picture.

The biggest thing to consider with taper candles is they usually have to be enclosed somehow for a few reasons. Honestly it is usually a safety issue but the other consideration is if the venue is outside, even under a tent there is usually a breeze. The first thing to blow out? You guessed it. The tapers.

So to enclose them we use what is called a “hurricane” which is sometimes also called a chimney. This ensures the candles stay lit! These glass pieces slide over the entire candle holder and are hollow on both ends (when I picked them up the first time I couldn’t figure out what they were for!).

  1. These traditionally will sit on the candlestick holder itself and not reach all the way to the table.
  2. This style can be a little limiting in that everything has to fit perfectly on the holder and the base has to be wide enough to support both the taper and the chimney glass piece.
  3. Other folks will use a simple glass cylinder with an enclosed bottom and place the whole taper setup into it. It really is a personal preference based on your taper setup. There is no right or wrong!

Floating Candles

Floating candles are a great happy medium. These candles are so versatile and lend such a romantic feel to the room that combine the taper feel with the enclosure of a votive.

We have seen brides tuck things IN the vases underneath, tuck greens around them on the tables, and of course use a variety of heights! The most common setup is the trio – three sizes of staggered heights filled with water and a floating candle set on top.

Can you combine the types of candles? Absolutely.

Some mix and match tapers and votives on a rectangle table, others will combine floating candles and votives on rounds, while others do it a whole other way – It really depends on your set up and preference!

Many clients will use one style of candle on a round table and then another style of candle on a rectangle table.

One other consideration…. I would steer away from scented candles. You will have so many guests, lots of people around with perfumes and aftershaves, and of course all the scents of the food!!!

Scented candles are fabulous for the house! They are a little much at a venue space.

Burn Time

Burn time is another question we often…

We often chat with our brides about, the timing of the lighting compared to sunset and event length are all considerations. Most votive candles have an average of 10 hour burn time – so honestly plenty of time to last through the night!

Tapers have a little shorter shelf life and depend on the length of the candle itself. The rule of thumb for tapers is about an hour per inch of burn time.

Floating candles burn time is determined by the width of the candle. For a 2” wide candle the burn time is around 4-5 hours while a 3” candle width lasts around 7-8 hours. Pillars fall into a whole other category of burn time length – the biggest issue with them will always be getting them out of their holder!

Price and quality are always a consideration – you want quality candles that are going to last, burn evenly, and not get smoky to leave a burn residue on the rim of the glass. No one wants that look on their wedding day! You can go crazy looking at all the options! There are lots of factors to consider here – but quality candles are important.

So you’ve lit your candles… Now what?

We work really hard here at Wildly Native to use everything we can in as many ways as we can and to recycle what we don’t have a use for. There are SO MANY CANDLES that get thrown away!!! Think of all the events happening all over the world on just one day, let alone the whole year…. What to do with all that wax?

There are some recycling options but it depends on where you are if you have access to them. Plus candles are heavy to ship so sending them somewhere isn’t always feasible. The other issue with what to do with them is what type of wax are they? Some people use soy, others use beeswax, others use paraffin, others use earwax – are you paying attention here?! 🙂

Some craft places may use the wax but it again depends on the quantity and quality of the wax you have. Bottom line? There are a few things you need to figure out before you can know where to repurpose them.

We here at Wildly Native lucked out! Our local High School art teachers are thrilled to take our wax. They use them for a variety of projects and I am thrilled to be able to donate it to them! One of our favorite projects they use them for Batik design!

Candles create an amazing accent! Finding your groove and what fits your vibe is part of the fun! Check out our gallery and our Pinterest for all things candles plus we always love working with folks who have creative ideas!

You can message us anytime to chat about your vision and figure out how to incorporate it into your tablescape or scatter them around your venue. The possibilities are endless!

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