Floating Candles as Centerpieces and Decor at Caribbean Destination Weddings — A Rant

Happy Saturday Everybody!

It’s been a super busy week and now we’re getting ready for Marta Guevara and Greg Springer’s sunset wedding tomorrow evening.  I did manage to sneak in a few hours on the beach this afternoon — don’t want to start looking as pale as my clients, do I?  We’ve been working so hard all week in the office and I desperately needed a break.

Today’s blog is all about floating candles.  Exciting stuff, floating candles.  Romantic looking on the magazine covers.  Beautiful in clips on the wedding TV shows.  Lovely as part of a layered centerpiece on top of submerged Cymbidium orchids with a floralyte underneath them in a big tall cylinder vase.  Absolutely gorgeous in pictures — but has anybody ever seen this kind of centerpiece actually work (read: stay lit) successfully throughout an event with actual guests (as opposed to in the controlled environment of a photo shoot)?  I think not. Perhaps I’m just biased against floating candles in general.  I tried them years ago at parties in my own home and always found that more than half of them went out almost immediately.  If the candle isn’t shaped a certain way, as soon as it starts to melt, it may take on water (thinking of a gorgeous holly-leaf floating candle centerpiece I copied out of some crafty magazine for the first holiday dinner I served in the first home I ever owned) and end up looking stupid in the center of your table if most of it remains unlit.  Because you know you can’t relight them after they get swamped, right?  No sirree Bob!  Once any floating candle goes oopsy-daisy, it is done for the night.

So about 18 months ago, all the brides started requesting floating candles in cylinder vases.  I knew it wasn’t a good idea, but apparently,  Martha Stewart was pushing them and you know that a lot of brides want anything that Martha says is going to be popular this wedding season.  And no, I’m not kidding about that — I did a call with a bride just last week who wants to carry gigantic round orange helium balloons down the aisle instead of flowers — thanks Martha!  Was that the summer cover?  Bitch!  Anyway, back to floating candles…  I was still trying to change some clients’ minds when the first box of that stuff arrived from another client who had seen a “neat article about a clever way to use floating candles” and suddenly it became my problem.  Lucky me, she also sent pictures of exactly how she wanted to see them presented.

The first problem was that the pictures showed three different sizes of cylinder vases, all filled with water to about an inch from the top, with a floating candle as the topper on the vase.  Those won’t stay lit down here.  Candles used outside won’t stay lit unless they’re inside a hurricane glass or deep inside a taller vase.  We solved that by lowering the water levels to about 1/3 up the glass on each vase.  But then the MoH complained on behalf of the bride and I had to spend quite a bit of time explaining.  If you are getting married on the beach and having your reception within 30 yards of the water — I don’t care which ocean — an open-flame candle will not stay lit with the breeze off the water.  If your candles stay lit, you are having one miserable, skunky-hot, dead-air night and that is a much bigger problem for your wedding than the depth of the water under your floating candles.

But moving right along… despite my careful measurement of the water to protected air ratio, most of the candles wouldn’t stay lit and at first I couldn’t figure it out.  And once they’ve gone out, they’re almost impossible to re-light.  My husband Bill who spends more time than I do with a wand lighter battling these damned floating candles figured out the problem.  It doesn’t matter how well we protect the flame and how carefully we place the candles in the arrangements to make sure they don’t get wet, the first guest who slams her purse down on the table or the first gentleman who kicks a table leg while taking his seat is causing just enough movement in the tabletop to swamp those damned floating candles.  It happens every single time.  Over and over again.  Much to my chagrin and the frustration of my husband and staff who are trying to keep them lit.

So here’s the final analysis on floating candles – 1) they don’t work outside, and 2) they don’t work anyplace where the table could be bumped (no dinner tables, no buffet tables, no guest book tables, no favor tables).  They will work inside in places that aren’t likely to get jiggled.  The cake table will work up to the cake cutting, but after that, those floating candles are toast.   You could use them in bathrooms where you have solid counter tops — that would be lovely.  Specifically here in the Caribbean, you can use them on any big concrete tables or bars or other structures that won’t get moved or bounced.  But don’t waste your time, energy or money on floating candles — or things to float them in — for your wedding decor.  There are a lot of other really pretty way to decorate or light up your wedding venue that actually work.

Of course, I’m counting on the fact that a few brides will still disagree with me so I have a supply of evil floating candles in my storage room leftover from last season that I’m looking forward to tossing them all out after they don’t work at another wedding where the bride won’t listen to me.  And I have a couple of new account executives starting in November so I can really mess with their heads and tell them it’s their job to keep ’em lit all night.  LOL!  Rant finished!

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!  Have you started planning your destination wedding in the Caribbean yet?   Get in touch today to schedule a free initial consultation.  Just email me at info@weddingsinvieques.com.


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