Can You Have Candles At A Wedding?

The Symbolic and Aesthetic Appeal of Wedding Candles

The wedding ceremony is about to begin. Guests are seated in rows of white chairs on either side of the aisle. At the front, an archway adorned with roses and baby’s breath frames the altar where the officiant stands ready. But it’s the row of gleaming taper candles lining the aisle that catches everyone’s eye. Their soft glow transforms the setting, making it feel magical and serene. As the processional begins and the bride makes her way forward, the candles seem to flicker with promise of the bright future ahead for the couple.

Symbolic Meaning of Wedding Candles

Lighting candles during a wedding ceremony is a popular tradition that holds great symbolic meaning. Some of the common types of ceremonial wedding candles include:

Unity Candle

The unity candle represents the joining of two lives into one. Typically, the bride and groom each light a taper candle, then use those candles to light a large pillar candle together. This signifies the union of their two flames into one eternal light.

Parents’ Candles

Parents’ candles honor the couple’s parents and families. The mothers of the bride and groom light taper candles, representing the separate families. Those candles are then used to light the unity candle, bringing the families together.

Memorial Candle

A memorial candle pays tribute to loved ones who have passed away. It reminds the couple that although not physically present, the memory of those loved ones lives on. The memorial candle is often lit before or after the unity candle.

Lighting a candle is a simple yet powerful way to infuse a ceremony with symbolism. It visually represents the union of two into one and connections between past, present, and future.

Types of Wedding Candles

There are many options when it comes to the types of candles used at weddings. Here are some of the most popular types:


Slender, elegant tapers are the most traditional wedding candle. They come in a variety of heights, usually 12″, 18″ or 24″. Tapers look beautiful lined up along the aisle or clustered together on tables.


Pillar candles are thick, column-shaped candles that come in varying heights and widths. They give a classic, romantic look that complements many wedding styles. Pillars pair nicely with flower arrangements.


Votive candles are short, wide candles in small holders. They create a warm, cozy glow perfect for accent lighting. Group votives together for dramatic effect. Floating votives add a serene ambiance to pools, fountains or table decor.

Candles in Glass

Candles encased in glass cylinders or vases allow soft light to shine through. These elegant candles make great table centerpieces. Consider a variety of heights and widths for visual interest.

Floating Candles

Floating candles feature real lit flames atop bowls filled with water. They offer a dazzling, dream-like quality. Use floating candles to accentuate mirrors, vases, bowls, or pools at the reception site.

Candle Safety

Candles can create beautiful ambiance at a wedding, but they also come with fire risks that couples should keep in mind. Open flames always have the potential to cause accidental fires, especially in crowded venues filled with decorations and flammable materials. For safety, candles should be kept on sturdy non-flammable surfaces and away from table linens, floral arrangements, wall hangings or other combustibles.

Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe use and burning times for any candles. Taper and pillar candles in holders are generally safer than freestanding candles. Votive candles in glass containers are a lower risk option. Avoid leaving burning candles unattended, and make sure they are extinguished before the venue is vacated. Assign designated individuals to monitor candle safety throughout the event. Providing lighters instead of matches can help minimize accidental burns from mishandling.

Consider using flameless battery-operated candles for a risk-free illusion of real candles. LED flameless candles create the same ambient lighting without the fire danger. For outdoor weddings, wind-resistant electronic candles ensure the flames stay lit in breezy conditions when real candles could blow out and tip over. With safety in mind, couples can still have the classic candlelit warmth they envision for their big day.

Candle Alternatives

For couples who want to avoid the fire hazard or hassle of traditional candles, there are a few candle alternatives to consider:

LED candles offer the same warm, flickering glow as real candles, but without the danger of open flames. LED candles run on small batteries and come in all shapes and sizes, from taper candles to votives. They can be reused over and over again, making them a cost-effective option. LED candles give off a convincing candle effect when lit, especially in dim lighting, so they can make an excellent substitution.

Flameless candles use clever technology to mimic the look of a real burning flame. Tiny flickering bulbs powered by batteries recreate the ambiance and charm of candles without the fire risk. Flameless candles come in an array of styles, from floating votives to ornate candelabras. For safety and convenience, flameless candles make a wonderful alternative.

Battery-operated candles offer remote-controlled real wax pillars that can be turned on and off without lighting a wick. These give the authentic drip and glow of wax candles without the hassle of lighting each one. The on/off switch allows you to control ambiance instantly. While pricier than other options, remote-control candles provide the realism of wax with the safety of batteries.

Aesthetic Uses of Candles

Candles can be used to create a romantic, elegant ambiance at weddings. Strategic placement of candles throughout the venue helps set the mood and atmosphere. Candles add a warm glow, especially for evening receptions.

As a lighting element, candles create a soft, flattering illumination. Varying heights and sizes of candles provides dimension. Groupings of candles make beautiful centerpieces for tables. For head tables, a long row of candles frames the bride and groom.

For decor, pillars, votives, lanterns and taper candles accessorize aisles, alter areas, tablescapes and other spaces. Candles anchored in wreaths, garlands and flower arrangements incorporatethem seamlessly into the event styling. Candlesticks, hurricanes and candelabras elevate arrangements.

Candlelight highlights focal points and draws attention to decorative aspects like signs, ice sculptures or fountains. Their strategic placement helps guide guests through the event space and design the guest experience.

Outdoor Wedding Candle Tips

If you plan to have candles at an outdoor wedding, there are some important considerations to ensure they burn safely and effectively:


Look for candles and containers specifically designed for outdoor use. These are made from materials that won’t get damaged by wind, rain, or humidity. Citronella candles are a popular outdoor option as they help repel insects.

Avoid using indoor candle holders, as rain can cause metal to rust or damage surfaces. Glass hurricane vases are a good weatherproof option.

Beeswax or soy candles are preferable outside as they have a higher melting point than paraffin. This makes them less likely to melt in warm weather.

Weighted Containers

Since outdoor spaces can be windy, use heavy weighted containers or anchors to hold candles in place. Water or sand filled candle holders work well for weighting. Avoid light containers that can get blown over.

Tealights can blow out easily outside. Use glass tealight holders with enclosed tops to protect the flame.

Set up candles in sheltered spots like alcoves or use glass hurricane shades to shield from wind gusts.

Indoor Wedding Candle Tips

Candles can create a romantic ambiance for an indoor wedding, but proper placement is key. Here are some tips for using candles in an indoor wedding venue:

High Ceilings

Rooms with high or vaulted ceilings can present a challenge for lighting. Tall taper candles in high stands are a great way to bring the light downward and create a cozy feeling. Place candle arrangements on mantles, shelves, stairs, and other elevated surfaces around the room.


Choose candleholders that fit with your wedding style. Crystal and silver holders work well for formal weddings, while rustic metals and woods enhance a natural theme. Candleholders should be sturdy and sized properly for the candles.


Take advantage of existing wall sconces to add ambient light. Battery-operated candles can be safely used in wall sconces without worrying about wax drips. For real candles, add glass hurricane shades or sconce covers to prevent wax from getting on walls and décor.

Vendor Requirements

Before incorporating candles into your wedding decor, be sure to check with your vendors about any rules or restrictions they may have. This is especially important when it comes to your wedding venue and insurance providers.

Many venues have policies prohibiting open flames or limiting the number and placement of candles. Historic sites may have preservation rules against smoke, wax drips, or fire hazards. Chat with your wedding coordinator or venue manager to understand their specific regulations.

You may need to obtain special permits or insurance riders if using a large number of candles or any unusual configurations. Your homeowners or wedding insurance may not cover open flames, so check with your provider. Special event policies can usually be extended to accommodate candle decor for an additional fee.

If using candles with paper luminaries, lanterns, or any flammable decor items, check that your vendors are comfortable with the fire risk. Be sure your caterer, florist, rental company and other vendors are aligned with your vision to avoid problems on the wedding day.

With some advanced planning and candid conversations with your wedding pros, you can incorporate gorgeous candle-centric decor that meets safety requirements and venue rules. Just make communicating with your vendors a priority as you design your wedding vision.


In summary, candles can add a romantic and symbolic touch to any wedding ceremony or reception. When used properly and safely, candles create a warm, soft glow that sets the mood for a joyous and meaningful celebration of marriage. From unity candles to votives to candlelit centerpieces, candles allow you to put your own creative stamp on your wedding decor. Just be sure to follow basic fire safety guidelines, consider your venue rules and layout, and work with experienced wedding vendors to make your candle dreams a reality without mishaps. With proper planning and placement, candles provide a timeless and elegant design element that makes any wedding magical and memorable.

Candles have decorated weddings for centuries, and will continue to do so for generations to come. Whether you want to incorporate symbolic unity candles, create a dazzling candlelit reception, or use candlelight to create a romantic ambiance, with some creativity and attention to fire safety, candles can add a special touch on your big day. As you plan your wedding, think about how to use candles to express your style, heritage and love story in a unique way.

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