DIY Project: Memory Candles

My grandmother, Betty Jean “MeeMaw” Rogers, just celebrated her 85th birthday a few weeks ago. Last year when I was planning my wedding, I desperately wanted her to attend since she is my last living grandparent. It was sad when she couldn’t make the 7+ hour journey from her home in Alabama to our barn wedding in North Carolina, but I understood. It made me want to honor all of my loved ones who would be absent from my wedding. Those who are always present in my heart because they made me into who I am. My husband felt the same way about his grandparents. But what to do?

Choosing how to honor our loved ones was difficult. I found a variety of options, but none I really liked. Thankfully, my friend Alanna was getting married the week before me and was struggling with the same issue. She had the great idea to make memory candles, which we found instructions for in a wedding DIY book.

In this post, I am going to share how to create your own memory candles, but include some very helpful tips which were not included in the instructions we had!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • White, unscented pillar candles. At least 3″ x 6″. Any smaller and your picture won’t fit. If you go much bigger, your picture will look too small on the candle.

    Remember to get unscented candles!

  • Picture of your loved one. Make sure it’s a good quality picture or it won’t transfer well onto the candle.
  • Embossing heat tool

    You can get this one at Michael's or your local arts & crafts store

  • Translucent vellum paper. Clear is best because colors will not allow your picture to come through clearly on the candle.
  • Scissors
  • Scanner & Printer
  • Fancy pushpins

    You can find these jazzy pearl tip pins at JoAnn's

**Let me start off by saying do not make your memory candles more than a week before your wedding. Trust me. We decided to make ours weeks beforehand in order to get it out of the way, but by the time the wedding came, the wax wasn’t holding the picture as tightly as before.

First, take your picture and scan it into your computer. Using your picture editing software, such as photoshop, crop your photo until it is the right size. Depending on what size candle you have, a 3 x 5 picture would probably work best. Your picture will wrap slightly around the candle. I would suggest measuring the area and then crop the image accordingly.

You will want to use a black and white image or sepia toned. Color pictured don’t transfer well. You can change a color image to black & white fairly easily in your editing program. Once you are satisfied with your image, print it out on the vellum paper. This paper is thicker and a different consistency than normal printer paper so if your printer is touchy, make sure you adjust the print settings. Cut out the image leaving little to no border on the sides.

Lay out some parchment paper on your work surface. Parchment is better than newspaper because it won’t smudge ink on your white candle! Position the picture on the candle and insert a pushpin at each corner to hold it in place.

Using your embosser, start at one corner and work your way across the picture, evenly and smoothly. You don’t want to stay on one spot too long which will completely melt the candle. The idea is to melt the picture into the candle. This part takes some time so be patient with it. You will have to go back over spots several times, making sure you keep the picture smooth.

Allow the candle to completely dry before moving. Check and make sure the entire picture is securely melted into the candle. If there are any touch-ups to make, do it now. Insert additional fancy pins around the edges of the picture. It’s not crucial, but it will dress up the candle while securing those pesky edges.

We placed our candles on two tables on either side of the altar. My husband's family on the right, my family on the left.They looked great!

Your finished product is now a beautiful reminder of your loved one. Make as many as you wish, then place them as decorations just about anywhere.

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