We seem to get an incredible number of requests for sparkler exits! And why not? - it's an awesome and affordable photo op! However, there's often more to coordinating a sparkler exit than meets the eye! While sparklers are generally safe when used as intended, they still require careful handling. So, I've prepared some simple tips to help you plan a safe and sensational send off!
- Purchase the right sparklers:
Ideally, you should be looking for the metal rod type in a length that's either 14" or 20" long. Shorter sparklers (8" or 10") will burn out too quickly for most staged exits, unless it's for an intimate group.
Morning Glories are attached to wooden rods (sticks) and have 3 distinct burning phases - usually a red flame for about 20 seconds, then a crackle/snapping phase for 20 seconds, and finishing off with 20 seconds of a green/white flame. Since Morning Glories tend to drop small glowing particles (think of burning tissue paper) they must be used with extreme caution. It's truly frightening to think of these fiery particles landing on skin, hair or clothing during a staged exit, so I avoid them at all costs.
- Displaying and Discarding Sparklers:
One of the best ways to display sparklers is to fill a pretty painted pail or metal urn with white sand and insert the sparkler rods into the sand. This way, the sparklers will stand upright, and the sand base will provide the weight needed to prevent the display from tipping. Since the receptacle can get quite heavy once the sand and sparklers are added, it's best to assemble this nearby to the area where the exit will take place, if at all possible.
On one or two occasions, I've seen sparklers placed on the guest tables or at each place setting (like a favor might be placed) but in those cases, they were also shorter than the recommended length, and in my opinion not a very attractive addition to the decor.
It's important to remember that following the sparkler exit, the rods will be hot and need to be collected with care. The sand filled urn or pail is an ideal receptacle; guests can just place the burned end of the sparkler rods into the sand where they can properly cool down before being placed into the trash. Other things that work well are metal trays, a baker's sheet cake pan, and heavy duty foil pans; ideally, receptacles should be placed nearby to both the left and right sides of the exit line up.
- How to Use Properly & Safely:
I always carefully consider the number of people to be involved, as well as the size and layout of the space. Naturally, we look for an outdoor location such as a wide walkway, a courtyard or driveway, for these options seem to work best. Before the Bride & Groom exit, we organize the line up of guests so that they are shoulder to shoulder and can hold their sparkler out and away from themselves. This is much safer than a staggered line where guests must reach around each other.
Secondly, we have our staff or a few designated helpers assist with the lighting. We start at the point where the Bride and Groom will begin walking and work our way towards the furthest point. We use butane lighters or sterno fuel (cans) to get the sparklers started - the constant flame is the key! We proceed at intervals - every 5 or 6 people - because a lit sparkler can also light other sparklers; this is an organized approach which speeds the process. A few strategically placed tiki torches also work nicely. Remind guests to take turns lighting their sparklers; it's unsafe to light multiple sparklers simultaneously.
It's important to maintain a safe distance from the newly wed couple as they make their way through the line up. Even though the sparklers are relatively harmless, it's better not to take chances; I avoid creating an 'arch' to prevent sparks from falling onto the couple. Likewise, if children are involved, they must be closely supervised; a parent may even want to give their attention to the child's safety and protection rather than holding a sparkler.
In my experience, if there are more than 100 or so guests participating in the send-off, it becomes more difficult to get the timing of the lighting and exit just right. Whenever this is the case, I suggest that the wedding party send off the Bride and Groom as the other guests watch - this cuts the number of participants down significantly! It's also an excellent way to control costs.
Photo Credits: Art Faulkner, Elegant Imagery, Misty Miotto
© 2009 E. Delgardio All Rights Reserved