Our DIY Wedding Favours – Terracotta Handmade Candles

Our DIY Wedding Favours – Terracotta Handmade Candles

Probably one of the worst ideas we had when it came to the wedding was buying 90 terracotta pots with the plan to use them as both wedding favours and the name settings in one. This has definitely been the most time consuming part of our wedding preparation, if you’re a guest who came to our wedding and you’re reading this, please know a hell of a lot of love (and a significant amount of hate) went into these.

Our initial plan was to fill the pots with succulent plants, which would have been lovely and match our rustic theme. After realising a rather high percentage of my family live abroad meaning we’d probably be lumbered with a load to look afterwards, and I would also have to not kill 90 plants in the weeks before the wedding  I also feared that plants would get knocked over, soil would end up everywhere meant it soon went out the window. By that point it was also too late as we’d already bought the pots.

The next plan was to fill them with foil chocolates – and after I bought a load of sample packs from various compnies online, I realised that the chocolate was not only horrible (so much so the sample packs are still in our cupboard not completely eaten, something we can never say about chocolate!) and I would need so many of them to fill the pots to the top that it would be really expensive.

For days I was thinking we were just going to have to sell them on to someone, and then the idea popped into my head – candles! I liked this as everyone could take it home – wrapped up safely in an item of clothes if abroad, and they would make the room smell nice on the day.

I started looking for ideas of how I was going to decorate the outer pot and found a Pinterest tutorial that looked easy, whilst I have some artistic talent for hand painting things, when you have 90 to do, and you only decide on this being the final plan 3 months before the wedding when you have plenty of other jobs to be getting on with, rules out a lot of options that were quite time consuming. Not only that there’s not many people in my family who have a lot of ability to paint neatly, so I was unlikely to get any help on that front if I chose anything too complicated. I liked the tutorial as it was idiot proof, and could be done in mass.

Step 1: Spray Paint The Pots

We spray painted all of the pots white (after some initial trials with acrylic paint we realised this would be a lot quicker. It needed 2 coats on the outside to be completely even, but we found we could get away with one coat on the inside to make them look nice and clean.

Step 2: The Ombre Effect

4 Layers of Tumble Dye

The tutorial used a product called tumble dye mixed with water, the pots are then dipped into the water at varying levels to create an ombre effect. I sourced tumble dye from amazon, but it just didn’t work. Either it didn’t stick well to the spray paint we used, or it was just crap, but we were having to dip each ‘stage’ 2-3 times to get enough pigmentation for it to show up. Each pot was taking 12 dips in (and a good 30 minutes between each dip to dry) to do, and it still wasn’t as bright as it should be, and I didn’t like them.

2 Layers of Acylic Paint – 1 half way up, and 1 at the top level.

I decided to try mixing acrylic paint with water and tried this again and it worked much better, only 3 dips per pot was needed and it was much much brighter. We chose purples and blues – I have a large selection of these so just mixed until I got the right colours for our scheme. It was easier to squeeze the paint and mix it with a small amount of water first to remove any thicker blobs before mixing into the larger bowl of water, otherwise I found it to be a bit lumpy.

If you can I would totally recommend getting pots with no holes in the bottom if possible. We used 2p coins to bridge the gap between the metal base of the wick and the hole which was roughly the same size. Using hot glue to stick the 2p to the base and the wick base to the coin. I recommend doing wick > coin, then coin > pot as it becomes less fiddly reaching in and it’s easier to get it central. We also filled the hole from the other side with glue to be extra safe.

Step 3: Which Wax & Scent

We chose to use soy wax, Ben did a lot of research on what type of candle wax would be best before deciding on Soy. Whilst it wasn’t the quickest to melt, it was also not the quickest to burn the other end, and was the whitest in colour. Soy candles also burn quite clean and hold scents quite well. We ordered a few different essential oils for our test batch and decided we needed something a bit more pungent, as they weren’t giving off enough scent. We settled on a mix of 4 scents, Violet & Lime (my fave), Forest Fruits, Sandalwood and Fresh Apple. Out of all of them the Apple was the most disappointing, it wasn’t as strong as the other three.

The Essential Oil Brand We Used

For equipment we bought some cheap saucepans and glass pyrex-esque jugs from Wilkos (both own brand), that we didn’t mind getting ruined. You don’t want anything too small saucepan wise as the more your pyrex jug becomes hot will mean it melts faster.  You can buy much bigger proper candle making stuff, to make bigger batches at once but unless you’re doing this professionally it’s expensive, we spent £12 on the jugs and saucepans and they did the job perfectly.

This allowed us to make 6 at a time (3 in each), we needed 130g wax per candle – 390g (per 3) takes roughly 10-12 minutes to fully melt down (preheating your pyrex jug helps speed the process!). After the wax is fully melted we stirred in the fragrance oil, it’s easy to think you can just bung in a load of essential oils but there are certain ratios to follow otherwise the candle will not burn well. We worked at around 11ml per candle and that was at the upper limit of the percentage for Soy. You need give the wax a few seconds to cool down before adding the fragrance otherwise it evaporates pretty quickly with the heat.

We had some metal wick holders which I totally recommend – we had a few extra ones which we made with paper clips (wouldn’t recommend, but worked – just not as well) – to hold the wicks up and keep it central, and otherwise they wick will just melt, go wobbly and potentially completely sink into your wax.

DIY Paperclip Holder

We left them to fully cool before topping any up which needed it (more on this on our top tips at the end!), and then left to fully cool again before clipping the wicks to just above the top of the pot by a mm – we slightly overfilled the candles and it would have been nice if they sat level, but you have to allow yourself a nice cm or so of wick for it to burn nicely. After clipped we gently folded down the wicks slightly and covering with clingfilm to try and keep the scent contained for the 4-5 weeks before the wedding.

Wicks in the background Pretrimming

Step 4: Decoration

Of course this is completely optional and there’s lots of different ways to do this. I debated hand painting names on but the very curved and angled surface did not make fun work of that task, given it was one of the last steps to be done because of RSVPs arriving and not wanting to do any unnecessarily, I decided against this after a few trials.

I found a product on Amazon called water transfer paper which is essentially a bit like a temporary tattoo that you can print at home, for homeware. You need an inkjet printer rather than a laser for this to work, and whilst I chose to use just a black design, you can print any colour with these. Had I have known they would be as easy to work with as they were I probably wouldn’t have bothered with dipping, I probably would have made the floral design that I created for our invites and used those, but that doesn’t matter as I loved the way they turned out.

After printing the designs I made (in Photoshop) for badges with our names & wedding dates and the persons name, to be on alternate sides of the pots. You spray the whole card with a clear sealer, I did this 3 times after reading some tips about this online. I did a test with one which had just one layer of sealer, and whilst it worked, the ink underneath cracked a little.

I cut out all the names and dates (that took around 4 hours) leaving around a mm or so around the edge of the design. I got this as close as I could but was using kitchen scissors so couldn’t get them as precise as I wanted but that didn’t particular matter for our next steps. You then soak the design in a bowl of water for around 20 seconds, before slipping the design off. Because my designs were so small I just lifted them with my fingers but if you had a bigger design I’d say undercurl the backing of the paper to make it easy as it’s flimsy whilst wet.

These dry with a glossy finish so the names and outlines were slightly noticeable on our Matte surfaced pots, it you were doing this on a glossier surface it might not be as noticeable, but I chose to finish the pots off with a light coat of sealer so they were protected from scratches and had an even finish all over. It’s worth noting we did that final layer of spray during a very hot week, this meant they didn’t set properly and it caused us having to respray them and keep them in our fridge for a week, we didn’t realise that the sealer didn’t like to be too hot whilst it’s setting (after it’s set it’s fine!)

Other than the cutting involved thanks to my swirly cursive font, this was super quick process as you can batch soak the paper and it only takes seconds to apply.

Finished Thing

Top Tips for our DIY Wedding Favours

Avoid moving the candles – this is likely to cause bubbles in the wax and bigger pits on top that need refilling. It’s also recommended that you try and keep them in a spot that won’t even suffer from shudders such as doors closing – our kitchen island was perfect as it was close to the cooker and away from any doors.

Give it a few seconds after wax is fully melted off the heat before pouring the wax in, a slight cooling means that the essential oils don’t burn off with the heat as much and as much scent as possible will stay in your candle.

Get wicks a little longer than what you need, it makes it easier to handle and click into the wick holders, keeping them nice and taut – you can trim them down to size. Our trial batch we used the perfect sized wicks without trimming and they were difficult to manoeuvre.

Get some extra wax for top ups – candles are likely to pit in the centre slightly and will need topping up – no matter how much you fill them up as they cool (going to the top isn’t recommended as that’ll be dangerous when they’re burned). We found we probably needed an extra 15-20g per candle as a top up. I’d say add 10% wax per candle to be safe.

DIY Wedding Favours Item Breakdown

Terracotta Pots: 45p each (bought locally from a horticultural wholesaler)
Soy Candle Wax: (These were at bulk buy cost 10kg+)
Essential Oil: (Per 250ml which did 22 candles – £16.99 per 250ml fragrance Violet & Lime / Sandalwood / Juicy Apple / Forest Fruits)
Wicks: 20cm wicks (£5.99 per pack of 100 Graduate Acrylic Paint)
White Spray Paint: £9.99 per can (we used 3 cans for 90)
Decal Transfer Paper: £12.98 for 20 sheets (I used 6 sheets total for reference, and two of those were test pieces) Decal Paper Amazon
Clear Sealer: 1 x for the 3 layers on the transfer paper & 2 x for glossing over the pots at the end (£7.37 per can – Plasti-kote Spray Gloss)
Acrylic Paint: £1.79 per tube (the Graduate Acrylic Paint was the best I tried)

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  1. Charlotte
    June 26, 2017 / 8:13 am

    These look amazing. Such a lovely idea, it looks like they were worth the effort x

  2. June 26, 2017 / 9:52 am

    I can’t even cope with how cute they are- love them! So much attention to detail, they look professionally made honestly you should consider starting up a business selling them haha xx

  3. June 26, 2017 / 10:22 am

    These are amazing!! What an amazing idea! And doubling up as the name cards. If I saw this at a wedding i would be squealing!!!! How did your guests find them? I really do think going that extra mile adds so much to the day!! When you saw them on the tables on the day were you not so super proud??? Well done!! Epic idea! xx

    • June 26, 2017 / 12:53 pm

      I was proud as I made everything for the whole wedding! We only had 3 or 4 left on the tables to clear up the next day which were left so they must have gone down well! x

      • June 27, 2017 / 11:09 pm

        OUUUU Please share more wedding posts on the DIY!!! LOVE them!!!! 3 / 4?!?! WOW!! I would have brought mine home and slept with it….. My name is Hazel btw, in case you have any left over you wanna send my way πŸ˜‚ I promise I’m a good home!!! xxx

        • June 28, 2017 / 7:00 am

          Haha I definitely don’t have any spare! I had to remake a few 2 days before that got ruined in the heat and used up every pot, every last bead of wax, and every last drop of sealer spray!

  4. June 26, 2017 / 1:07 pm

    They are beautiful beyond measure! I do understand how they will be time consuming, but they are absolute treasures πŸ˜€

    • June 26, 2017 / 1:41 pm

      Thank you, I think they must have took almost 2 hours per candle to make, they were a labour of love (or hate!), but they looked lovely on the tables!

      • June 26, 2017 / 3:47 pm

        They do indeed πŸ™‚

  5. June 26, 2017 / 6:50 pm

    They look so pretty, turned out really well. I didn’t know you could get water transfer sheets that work for things like that, they’re very effective.

  6. June 26, 2017 / 8:18 pm

    This is a perfect idea! So personal and so cute! I want one! lol

  7. June 26, 2017 / 9:01 pm

    Wow, these look amazing, Rachael! I’m sure the guests knew and appreciated how much time and effort went into them.
    Also, good find on the water transfer paper. Wish I had known about it before my wedding – I ended up hand-writing everything!

  8. June 26, 2017 / 10:29 pm

    I would have loved a succulent plant but I guess the logistics of that isn’t the most sensible… but dammit, succulents are so cute!
    The water transfer paper looks like fun… now I want to make something with them.
    This is quite the production and reminds me a bit of crafting at camp. We used to make different kinds of candles – the most time consuming is dip candles where you dip the wick in wax over and over until you coat it enough (like a candlestick) – NOT FUN.
    Well done on this – so much detail and thought went into them!

    • June 26, 2017 / 10:33 pm

      Yes I remember making those candles at brownies or girl guides during the summer! It was definitely a production, 3 people 2 weekends and that was just the actual melting of wax part, decorating and deliberating it was at least another weekend between ben and I!
      I wish we could have done the succulent idea, just had visions of the white tablecloth being brown very quickly!
      The transfer papers were really fun and easy to do, I’ll definitely bare them in mind for future projects!

  9. June 27, 2017 / 11:26 am

    What an absolutely amazing idea and they look fantastic!! I love the names on them! Bless you for taking the time to do all this, totally worth it in the end though xxx

  10. June 27, 2017 / 11:28 am

    Love these little candles! handmade items like this it adds such a personal touch. This is such a great idea!

  11. June 27, 2017 / 9:15 pm

    These look absolutely amazing and even if they were a complete nightmare to make, they look like a wonderful favour to give. I think it’s always so lovely to be given something original – one Easter wedding we all got personalised Easter eggs – and I would have be thrilled to get one of these!

  12. June 28, 2017 / 3:44 am

    Those are super adorable! I love diying and have yet to try candles. You did an amazing job, especially considering you only had 3 months to put everything together :]

  13. Lee
    June 28, 2017 / 4:21 am

    Wow! Sorry you all had such a touch time in the beginning but the end turned out so nicely! So it was worth it☺️ this was very informative and I enjoyed reading and learning some crafting tips. Thank you for sharing✨✨

  14. June 29, 2017 / 1:09 am

    These are adorable! Even though they took a lot of time and effort you must be pleased how they turned out πŸ™‚

      • June 29, 2017 / 9:45 am

        Handmade gifts are more personal and special too x

  15. July 2, 2017 / 9:25 pm

    Woah, I envy your determination, beautiful result too!

  16. July 16, 2017 / 7:46 pm

    Wow! These are amazing, love a bit of DIY in a wedding, it makes it so special!

    • July 17, 2017 / 12:02 am

      Thank you, our whole wedding was DIYed! I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to design so did everything myself to make sure everything matched!

  17. July 27, 2017 / 9:15 am

    So cool! Would you visit and my page?

  18. wonderseekersblog
    August 13, 2017 / 7:38 am

    So beautiful 😍

  19. littleseedbiglove
    August 23, 2017 / 8:52 am

    So pretty! I love this idea and haven’t ever seen this done in my area. I would think it would be a relatively inexpensive gift because of the DIY bit but I’m sure your guests loved it and thought it luxurious! Two thumbs up!

    • August 23, 2017 / 9:00 am

      We thought it would be relatively inexpensive too, but with having to experiment with paint and buying almost double the wax we expected it did soon add up, we probably spent around Β£300 making these for 90 people, I haven’t done a running total as we had to buy so many ‘a bit more of this’ and a ‘bit more of that’

      • littleseedbiglove
        August 23, 2017 / 9:03 am

        Isn’t that the way it seems to go. I can completely see how that would happen. At any rate, I believe your guests would be so excited!! I might try them in a smaller quantity! Haha!

  20. August 24, 2017 / 6:22 pm

    Wow this adorable πŸ™‚ I would of been happy as a guest if I received that as a favor.

  21. September 10, 2017 / 10:14 pm

    Very cool!! They look amazing πŸ™‚

  22. September 11, 2017 / 1:52 am

    Very impressive! I love this idea. Looks like a ton of work but came out super cute!

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