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Candlelight gives your wedding an elevated ambiance that can’t be replicated with sunlight or artificial lighting. It’s such a unique experience, but it does take some planning to have the best experience and photos possible. Based on my experience as a digital and film wedding photographer, I’m sharing helpful tips for your romantic candlelit wedding.
Daytime ceremonies can be bright and inviting. Sunset ceremonies are soft with the light of golden hour. Nothing quite compares to the romantic atmosphere of a candlelit ceremony after dark, though. The mood is just different – intimate, intriguing, maybe even magical. On top of that, a venue full of candles transports guests because it’s so outside their everyday experiences. There’s something special about walking up a candle-lined aisle to find a seat or settling in to connect with people at a candlelit table.
As captivating as a candlelit wedding is in the moment, it makes for stunning wedding photography too. Wedding photographs get preserved and passed on for generations. I love the modern nostalgia that you get with a candlelit event, especially when you add film photography to the mix. The warmth and softness of candlelit film images bridges the past and present for future generations.
If you’re having a candlelit wedding ceremony, chances are you want that romantic after dark feeling. Photography and other logistics get more challenging if you wait for full dark. Your best bet for glowy, intimate lighting? Plan your candlelit wedding ceremony for the first thirty minutes after sunset. The ambient light of blue hour helps fill in what the candlelight doesn’t reach without disrupting the warm ambiance.
You might be aiming for a chic minimalist aesthetic, but more is better when it comes to a candlelit wedding. This is especially true for ceremonies. Remember that candles give off very little light. It takes quite a few to really see your ceremony. The effect is dreamy and well worth the effort! Just be prepared to go big.
It’s common for people to place candles on the floor for their ceremonies. While this looks magical, consider distributing the light more by placing some higher up when possible. Are there alcoves or tables around your ceremony spot? Talk with your photographer and/or planner about how to make the most of those spaces.
Tall glass holders give out the most possible light while also providing sturdy places for your candles to burn. The glass can reflect the flickering flames of the candles around them. They also look elegant beside a candlelit wedding ceremony or on reception tables between floral arrangements.
In addition to maximizing light and adding a little sparkle, tall glass candle holders are one of the safer options for your ceremony and reception. At the end of the day, a candle is an open flame. If you have a wedding dress or cape, you don’t want to stress about it bumping into the candles during your ceremony. It also gives you one less thing to worry about if your guests get lively at your reception.
Your candlelit wedding ceremony might not be at the top of your mind when you’re picking your wedding attire. You can take the experience – and your photos – to the next level by wearing a reflective fabric. Does this mean that you have to dress like a disco ball? Not unless you want to. A black suit with a sheen to the fabric will reflect the light and show more dimension.
If you don’t want to navigate the logistics of a candlelit wedding ceremony, you still can have candles at your reception. Tables decorated with candles add a sense of sophistication to your reception. You can combine them with floral arrangements or let them dominate your tablescape. Either way they go a long way to making your reception venue feel special and set apart from the everyday.
Want to scale down for an even more intimate moment? Add candles to your private reception table. You can step away to hold hands and soak in the moment in the romantic glow. I love this photo of two marriers taking time to connect in the middle of their reception. It feels like the whole world has faded to the background while they’re together.
One of the most important things you can do for your candlelit wedding is hire a photographer who can do ambient light photography in low light. It requires technical skills that not everyone is comfortable with. You can ask to see a full gallery of a wedding with similar lighting before committing to a photographer.
Take a look at these two images from the same ceremony. One is lit with direct flash. The other relies on ambient light from the candles and venue. Both images add something to the story of the wedding day. The ambient light photo does a better job of preserving the feeling of being at a candlelit ceremony.
Would you like me to photograph your wedding? I’ll document your day with photos with forever in mind. Reach out here!