The sparkler send off… a new classic way to cap off a wedding reception. We love them, we really do, but there’s a lot of planning involved to make this send off a success. We’ve seen our fair share of sparkler send offs, some of which have been amazing, others have been duds. We’re giving you a list of tips and tricks that can help you nail this grand exit. Take a look…
*Assuming you have confirmed with your venue that a sparkler send off is allowed, and you have decided on a safe, flat surface for the exit.
1. Invest in good sparklers – The standard, 4th of July sparklers will not do the trick. They burn for no more than 30 seconds, and that’s not enough time. When couples use these sparklers, the problem is that the guests who light theirs first at the front of the line have burnt out by the time the back of the line is sparkling. So you don’t get the desired effect of lots of glowing sparklers at once. Instead, make sure to buy these long burning sparklers designed especially for weddings. The 20 to 36 inch sparklers will give everyone in line a chance to light up and start sparkling before the couple makes their way through the crowd.
2. Buy enough and have plenty of lighters – You won’t need a sparkler for every guest, since it’s typical that by the end of your reception some guests have already headed home. If you have enough for 75% of your guest list you should be just fine. Of course, if you want to splurge and have a lot of extra sparklers, then your guests can each hold two sparklers adding even more glowing light to your exit. Please also make sure there’s enough fire to light these puppies! One lighter isn’t going to cut it, in fact 3 lighters won’t make this an easy process. Grab a pack of lighters, say 5 or 6 or more if you can find or borrow them. This way, lighters can be passed out throughout the line allowing the process of lighting everyone’s sparklers a lot smoother and faster.
3. Prepare the guests – Make sure you include your sparkler send off in the reception’s program. If you have a chalkboard sign that outlines when events are happening like the entrance, dinner, toasts, first dance, cake cutting, etc… make sure to include the big send off too! This way, your guests won’t run off before the send off happens. A sign is one way of doing this, but it’s also a good idea to make sure your DJ announces the sparkler send off clearly and gives instructions. Have your DJ announce to the entire reception that following the last dance of the evening, all guests are invited to make their way to the send off location to grab a sparkler and get in line to send the Bride and Groom off in style. This way, guests who might have missed the “send off” information sign will still know what’s going on.
4. Put someone in charge – If you have a planner then you’re golden. Make sure your planner discusses with your photographers how they would like the photos to be set up. Let’s face it, most of this effort for the big send off is to grab that iconic photo of it! So if your photographer isn’t able to get the best shot, you might be disappointed. Have your planner or person in charge (Maid of Honor, sibling, or trusted friend with a loud voice) go over the best location, timing and lighting situation with the photographer so everything is in place and ready for the perfect moment. When it comes time to actually make this send off happen, you’ll have 20 to 100 guests standing around looking for direction. A send off WILL NOT HAPPEN unless you have someone in charge of organizing it. We promise 😉 So make sure someone is in charge of telling guests where to stand, passing out sparklers, handing out lighters, and helping to light. Many times in our experience, WE have turned into the sparkler send off organizer because there was no one else in charge. In our experience, this is how we feel the send off should be organized:
- Guests line up in two lines on either side of the exit walkway
- Bride and Groom are ready in the wings, waiting for the green light to make their exit
- THEN the sparklers are passed out to guests (if guests have sparklers in hand before the line up is in place, they WILL start to light them and it will be too early)
- Photographers get into place, light stands are put where they belong, and the couple is standing close by
- Light the sparklers!
- Wait for photographers to tell the couple to make their exit, then go for it!
5. Walk, do not run! – So here’s the thing about a sparkler exit… you need make the most of it. If you sprint past your guests it’s over all too quickly and your photographer will have time for maybe 1 or 2 shots. Frankly, that’s not enough. So, as we tell all of our couples before they make their exit “walk, do not run”. Grab your bouquet, hold hands and with big smiles make your exit. Walking past your family and friends as they cheer you on. Cheer back at them, wave, smile at each other, and of course smile at your photographer once or twice as well. We’ll be working with low light and slow shutter speeds, we’ll need you to move slowly in order to make these settings work to our advantage.
6. KISS HER! – Please, for crying out loud, make it a point to go in for a big kiss as you exit! It’s what everyone is hoping to see, and it makes for one heck of a photo. Make it a long one, make it a good one, and don’t be afraid to do a little dip. Heck, don’t be afraid to give the crowd a few good smooches. In fact, make it a plan to stop halfway down the aisle for a good long kiss, then once you reach the end do it again! As long as those sparklers are burning, we’re taking photos. So use up all of those 2 minutes and stretch out the grand exit.