Light Things Up with Candle Alternatives

AE Events' Mindy Home has tips for when your venue has a no-candle policy.

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Photo by Gigi de Manio Photography

When your favorite venue says “no” to candles, suddenly you go dark on decor ideas.

Mindy Home, senior events manager at AE Events (our 2015 winner for Best Wedding Coordinator), gives us a flicker of hope with her candle alternatives for adding a flameless warm glow to your celebration.

Totally Fake It

“LED candles have come a long way in the past few years. They used to have a very fake-looking glow to them,” explains Home. “The current ones come in a variety of soft candlelit tones, and some even have a fake flicker.” Home prefers to order them in “amber” colors to keep with the soft glow of candlelight.

Keep It (Sort Of) Real

“There are wax pillar candles that have the faux part buried inside them, so they look like actual burning wax candles,” she continues. “They even make ones that have a little ‘flame’ that actually moves, so guests can be fooled by seeing the movement of the candle.  All of these can work nicely when your venue doesn’t allow candles, and with the right accents, it can create a nice effect.”

Mix It Up

For the best effect, Home suggests mixing things up a bit. “I like to put a few wax pillars on glass pedestals and some pretty cut glass or mercury votives with smaller LED tea lights. It helps to set the right mood.” Using glass or mercury elements gives the candle flicker something to play off to make light the feel more “real.”

Subtle Additions

Other elements on your table (such as glass chargers or table linens with a bit of a sheen) can help replace the warmth missing from actual candle flames. But don’t go overboard. “Don’t get super shiny linens for your wedding, but maybe something with a delicate metallic thread that runs through it,” she explains. According to Home, linens with a mix of shiny and matte stripes are a hot trend: “It will help to pick up the light in the room without being overly gaudy or overstated.”

Light It Up

As an alternative to LED candles, Home suggests adding soft amber lighting from a lighting company. “Often, this helps to soften the space and can make a bland ballroom feel that much more welcoming,” she says. That said, even with some great uplighting or a pattern wash on the ceiling or walls, she still recommends using LED tea lights in decorative votive holders to finish the look.  “It helps to draw the eye to the tables and makes guests feel like their table is more intimate.”


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