Many venues in Los Angeles county require a Fire Permit to be obtained for candles to be used in the ceremony or reception, and a lot of the historic downtown buildings are actually prohibiting the use of real candles completely. If this is the case for your venue, fake LED candles become the only alternative.
Your venue is who determines whether or not a permit is needed, so make sure you ask. Most florists will obtain the Fire Permits for you for an additional fee (or they build it into their proposal), but for the DIY bride, the steps for obtaining your permit are as follows:
- Call the Los Angeles Fire Prevention department at (213) 978-3580 and find out which Fire Inspector handles your venue. Ask them how to make an appointment to come meet with them to obtain a Fire Permit. You can also just go to their department in City Hall East at 200 North Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012-4126 on the 17th floor and take a number to see the next available Inspector. I don't recommend doing that though, as each Inspector likes to know what is going on and being permitted for "their" venues.
- Purchase the type of candles and holders that will be allowed to be permitted. Standard votive candle holders are 2.5" tall and a strict Fire Inspector will NOT issue a permit for them. Some will if you use tea candles though, so it really does depend on your Inspector. Officially though, the flame has to be at least 2" below the top of the candle holder, so you have to get tall votive cups. (note: the candles in this photo were at a venue that did not require a Fire Permit. If it had, the water level would have to have been much lower in the vase to comply.)
- The candles have to be stuck down with double stick tape or putty to a secured base. Purchase the mirror or glass that they will be affixed to.
- Get from your florist (or make yourself if you are DIYing it) a sample centerpiece and ANYTHING that is going to be on the table close to the candles. Take all of this down to meet with your Inspector to obtain a Fire Permit for your centerpieces. Currently, there is no charge for obtaining this permit, but they will start charging in 2011.
- Be nice to the inspector.
Important Note: Fire Marshals DO show up at events asking to see the permit. If one is not presented to them, or there are 5 votives on the table instead of the 4 that are permitted, they have the authority to shut the event down. Most of the time they make you remove the non-permitted candles, but I wouldn't gamble with this.
Photo by Sundance Photography