Integrating candles into a wedding ceremony or reception adds elegance and warmth to your client’s big day. In addition to candlestick holders, glass sleeves are often a mandatory event decor addition due to open flame policies at event venues.

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A Guide to Glass Sleeves: Five Wedding & Event Pros Share Their Expertise

Integrating candles into a wedding ceremony or reception is a tried-and-true method of adding elegance and warmth to your client’s big day. In addition to candlestick holdersglass sleeves are often a mandatory event decor addition due to open flame policies at event venues. We’re shining a spotlight on wedding glass decor, specifically glass sleeves, with the help of 5 of the industry’s leading wedding and event floral pros who specialize in creating editorial-worthy weddings.

Wedding reception tables can be crowded with flowers, candles, glass sleeves and more. How do you account for a beautiful tablescape allowing guests to dine and mingle comfortably?

LAUREN ANDERSON & RACHEL BRIDGWOOD, Co-Founders of Sweet Root Village, say…

“This often shifts to adjust to a client’s goal, vision, preference, and event logistics. A very minimal design is needed if the food service will be served family style. Some clients have a goal of ‘more is more’ and want an extremely impactful design that leaves no room for over-the-table conversation. And of course, everything in between. A great event planner makes a big difference in guiding the client with feedback to improve guest comfortability outside of tabletop event decor. We discuss table styles and sizes while getting a feel for the client’s goals before plotting the correct number of styled elements (vesselscandle holders of varied heights, and other tabletop event decor). We then confirm if we’ve nailed the vision during a sample table showing with the client. That gives us one final chance to shift elements to ensure the tablescape shines.”

Sweet-Root-Village tablescape

KYLE DRAKE, Co-Owner of Designs by Dillon says…

“Table size and shape play a huge factor when designing a beautiful tablescape. When I design for a rectangular table I always suggest an elongated floral arrangement and candles that line down table center. This helps ensure the flowers are not intruding over a guest’s place setting and candles aren’t in the way of glassware placement. On the other hand, if I am designing for a round table, I always suggest a floral arrangement with a rounded look to complement the table shape plus clustered candles tucked near the arrangement. I also account for guests who wish to speak with the person directly across the table. Taper candles with glass sleeves are usually the tallest candles used on a tablescape. Be careful of creating a glass sleeve ‘wall’ between guests. I suggest 4-6 taper candles with glass sleeves on an 8-foot rectangle table and 3 on a round table.”

wedding reception

STEPHANIE BUONAIUTO, Owner & Lead Designer of Stephanie B Floral Design, says…

“The table design sets the mood for an event type. It’s important to consider different textures, heights and shapes. Tablescapes encompass a range of elements, and part of my job is to find a balance of aesthetic and functionality. If I’m unsure of how a specific design will work, I create a mockup of the centerpiece. I’m a very visual person so this helps me manipulate the design before the event day. This is also an opportunity for me to meet with clients and make necessary adjustments.”

Stephanie-B-Floral table decor

STACEY HELLMAN, Owner & Lead Designer of Roots Flowers & Events, says….

“We consider the height of both candles and florals when we design tables, as well as the footprint size. If we know the couple is utilizing beautiful table rentals, we choose thinner candlesticks and glass sleeves allowing more room while balancing a beautiful tablescape with wedding glass decor.”

reception table decor

ZOE GALLINA, Chief Creative Officer, Botanica Design Studiosays…

“It’s all about communication. We’ve noticed a shift in the recent years where clients are putting a large emphasis and effort on the tabletop rentals. It’s a trend that we absolutely love and feel passionate about ourselves as a company, as it’s the little details that can finish a design. And when one of us shines, we all do. But it’s also something that can greatly impact what the florist provides and the space available on the table. It’s important to have a conversation with the planner or the Catering Manager to ensure you’re all on the same page with everything going on the table. Depending on what is being provided, sizing up on the table might be a necessity.”

centerpiece on table with candles

What are the ideal glass sleeve features?

LAUREN & RACHEL: “Ideal sleeve heights need to cover the flame of the taper candle, including the height of the required holder. Our go-to size is often between 18″ and 24″ to cover a standard 12″ or 15” taper candle depending on the candleholder’s height. We tend to push for a wider sleeve opening to avoid smoking glass, overheating and fast candle burning – and easier cleanup! Our clients love the textured glass option in the Optic Glass Sleeve that Accent Decor created. We enjoy mixing the texture within plain glass options for a dynamic design.”

KYLE: “When it comes to glass sleeves, size matters. You want to make sure the top of the taper candle does not go above the top of the glass sleeve. You need to account for the height of the candle holder and taper candle. The diameter of the glass sleeve also needs to fit the candle holder. A pro-tip when working with glass sleeves is to remember that glass can smudge and show fingerprints. My team always wears gloves when handling sleeves and we have glass cleaner on-hand. We work exclusively with weddings and events, where it’s all about the details. Nothing is worse than receiving wedding photos back and spotting smudges on the beautiful glass sleeves.”

long table for reception

STEPHANIE: “When using wedding glass decor, I consider the shape and height of the candle holder. The sleeve needs to be wide enough to fit around the holder and tall enough to cover the flame.”

STACEY: “We always consider whether we’re setting up indoors or outdoors when choosing glass sleeve sizes. A typical set up would include 4” diameter sleeves as they’re the sturdiest. We deal with so much wind in Las Vegas. Choosing the safer option grants peace of mind. If we’re indoors, we love being able to use a slim glass sleeve for a modern look.”

table decor with candles

ZOE: “We feel the best size is 18” high. It gives enough table visual impact without overpowering the other design elements featured. Sometimes we do like to mix and match heights, especially if the candle holders used are only available in one size. The diameter of the sleeve is important to consider to ensure they fit over the candle holders being used, but also something to consider if your event is outside. The wider diameters offer a little more stability against wind vs. narrower options. The quality of the glass and its thickness is so important to ensure their longevity without damage. We love the Accent Decor sleeves for this reason. We rarely, if ever, have issues with them chipping or getting damaged. Sleeves take a lot of wear and tear since they require a lot of cleaning after each event. Pro-tip: To avoid fingerprints during set up, our team wears white gloves when placing them on the table.”

table decor

Is there a favorite way you’ve integrated glass sleeves into a wedding?

LAUREN & RACHEL: “Colorful wax candles have made a huge comeback, and we thoroughly enjoy the additional splash of color they provide. We’re now seeing textured, marbled, and carved candles resurfacing. We love that clients are embracing these more unique elements to set their wedding design apart. It provides new challenges for us, finding the best fit candleholders and sleeves to maximize their look, but we are here for it! One of our recent favorites was a sleek black taper candle in a black taper holder enclosed in glass. It was very dramatic in an industrial space against heaps of soft, delicate Spring blooms.”

table decor

KYLE: “Taper candles with glass sleeves always add elegance in a wedding or event. While there aren’t many ways to change the usage of a glass sleeve, I love changing the size or style I use. The Optic Glass Sleeves are a new favorite of mine. They emit a unique glow that helps set the intimacy of a table setting. I also enjoy using a mixture of colors and tones of taper candles to add a pop of color.”

STEPHANIE: “Whether it’s glass votives or vases, it looks more cohesive and intentional using the same glass material for other elements in a design.”

STACEY: “We’ve been lucky to have couples who aren’t afraid of color, especially when it comes to their candles. Neutral colors are always classic, but colored candles really add that extra pop of color to complement centerpieces. They look especially great on long tables in photographs, where a white candle easily blends in.”

ZOE: “We always love when a client is willing to add color into any design. But since the start of the popularity of taper candles, we’re loving how more and more wholesale companies are offering more unique candlestick designs and also incorporating color for the candle holders themselves. There are several we have our eyes on for an upcoming event from Accent Decor. The more unique shapes and colors have the ability to add really fun and unique details to a table top.”

While functional and beautiful, glass sleeves aren’t the most design-forward product. How would you utilize glass sleeves in various aesthetics?  

LAUREN & RACHEL on a colorful, youthful aesthetic: Glass sleeves are required by most venues so our goal is to make the candle more exciting so the sleeve fades away. This usually means colorful and uniquely shaped holders and fun wax candles. Or we pull in many dynamic candle styles and heights with varying floral elements to keep eyes moving and flowing within the design.”

KYLE on a bohemian aesthetic: “When designing a wedding with a bohemian aesthetic I always love using antique gold candlestick holders with glass sleeves and a muted-toned taper candle. I’ve also embraced the eclectic nature of bohemian style by using an assortment of mismatched glass sleeves in varying sizes and textures.”

STEPHANIE on glamourous aesthetic: “It’s possible to have a glamorous wedding while using glass sleeves. I would consider the style of candlestick holders you’re using. For this specific aesthetic I would choose something sleek and clear to complement the sleeve. I’d also consider pillar or floating candles to elevate the design and add uniformity.”

STACEY on a minimally chic aesthetic: “I really love the Adeline Candleholder for its modern vibe. The glass sleeve fits seamlessly around the candlestick holders, elevating the design while giving a minimally chic aesthetic.”

ZOE on a romantic aesthetic: “Candles in general certainly aren’t design forward and while it’s a common myth that using candles are an ‘inexpensive alternative to flowers.’ They aren’t. But candles can completely transform a space. We often feel a room isn’t completely set until the candles are lit. The ambiance that they add is unparalleled. We recently had a Bride come to us wanting a simple design at a venue with a thoughtful design aesthetic that would allow it. The entire wedding design other than an entry piece and the personal flowers were candles. We used a combination of varying heights and sizes of taper, pillar and votive candles on the tables and while it was a simple design, it created this beautiful look reflective of a sophisticated dinner party.  While candles are not an alternative to flowers, we should never underestimate their impact.”

Connect with our contributing floral pros on Instagram @stephaniebfloral@sweetrootvillage@girlluvsflowers@botanicadesignstudio and @designsbydillonnc.

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