“Candle lighting is a primal element; we are all drawn it,” says event designer Andrew Rubenoff. “The soft light produced by a flickering candle is not only pretty and romantic, but it’s the most flattering of all light sources." With more than thirty-three years of lighting experience, Rubenoff, “approaches wedding design in the same way” as he does a theatrical production. He ranks candles on the top of his list for inspiring creativity.
Create pretty and romantic lighting at your wedding with candlelight.
(photo courtesy of Boston Harbor Hotel)
Unlike cut flowers, candles and their containers can be reused and repurposed, and they don’t come with a hefty price tag. “Whether it’s a twenty-five-cent votive or twenty-five-dollar candle, it generates the same brightness,” Rubenoff maintains. “The only difference is a torch or bucket candle, which, due to its size, has a bigger, brighter flame and is ideal for outdoor/patio weddings.”
Candlelight infuses a magical glow to into just about any venue—when used safely. Local and state-mandated fire safety ordinances pertaining to candle sizes, designs, assemblies, placement, and usages can be found online, but if you have any questions, please ask your wedding coordinator or banquet manager for exact guidelines.
Year-round, indoors and out, there are two factors that affect candles: heat and wind. “Candles put out a lot of heat,” cautions Rubenoff. Wind, blowing through A/C vents, as well as unpredictable New England wind gusts can fan flames. All candles should be surrounded by fire-proof hurricane shades or straight cylinders and set apart from flammable items.
“Here in Rhode Island, we can only use candles in glass containers; there cannot be an open flame,” says Erica Trombetti, owner and lead event specialist of Infinite Events. A candle enthusiast, Trombetti, “loves using them everywhere! On the tables, mantels, your escort table, cake table, gift table, etc. Candlelight sets the tone for a romantic ambiance, and it can be used for any type of event—for daytime weddings as well.” To achieve that wow effect, she likes to combine different sizes, shapes, and colors that complement the decor. “I would consult your florist for the best option for your specific event and design, as there are many variables that go into it.”
“Erica took the dream we had and made it come to life,” shares Rachel Orabone Boulware about her October 2015 wedding held at [Carolyn’s] Sakonnet Vineyard in Little Compton, RI. During the church ceremony, Erica and her groom Jason lit a unity candle. “It was a special, symbolic way for us to show that we two had become one,” she recalls “to live a shared life together forever. At our reception, all our tables were brimming with traditional candles—a mix of small clear glass and mercury glass votives were sprinkled around the floral centerpieces. The soft light radiating from the candles just oozed romance and elegance, providing an ethereal ambience and the perfect glow for pictures.”
If using real candles is prohibited at your venue, LEDs are an excellent alternative. Placed up and down the aisle floor, set on banisters, altars or columns, LEDs can safely and beautifully illuminate your wedding. “A LED will not light on fire if one gets knocked over accidently,” Trombetti points out. Rubenoff is also impressed with the recent selection of “vastly improved, competitively priced LEDs that look very convincing.” Since some varieties, “may appear too amber and not as bright,” he suggests buying a few for a test run before ordering dozens.
Both Trombetti and Rubenoff are not in favor of using scented candles in centerpieces, where the overbearing odor may mix with food smells. Trombetti also points out that some guests might be allergic to the smell. Instead, reserve those spice, floral, fruit, or ocean-scented candles for entry foyers, powder rooms, or as wedding favors.
“There’s a formal quality to candlelight and it can really add warmth to an overcast, rainy, gloomy day or dark-paneled room,” says Rubenoff. For optimal effect, he makes certain that dining staff are instructed, “to go around and light candles at weddings as the sun sets, at the last minute. Part of the drama of having candles is seeing them being lit. And the more candles, the better!”
Written by: Cindy Papish Gerber
Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard