Sparklers are among the most popular items used in wedding send offs today. They’re fun for guests to use and provide an elegant backdrop for wedding photos and video.
There’s a lot of information out there about wedding sparklers and much of it is generic and outdated. This makes planning the perfect sparkler send off easier said than done!
Luckily for you, I’ve done the work so that you don’t have to. I’ve put together this ultimate guide for savvy brides on wedding sparklers to help you learn every last detail there is to know about this classy send-off.
Despite the title “for brides,” this authoritative article can (and should) be used by anyone considering a wedding sparkler send off.
So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Watch A Stunning Wedding Sparkler Send Off
At Bride Envy, we’re serious about wedding sparklers. And we’ve helped with thousands of sparkler send offs.
Before we jump into the nitty-gritty of wedding sparklers, here’s a short video that shows how amazing a sparkler send off can be if you do it right.
The History of Wedding Sparklers
To fully explain the history of wedding sparklers requires a separate examination of wedding send offs and sparklers. Each with their own rich histories stemming from ancient civilizations and traditions.
Ancient Wedding Send Offs
Centuries before sparklers hit the scene, wedding guests were pelting newlyweds with handfuls of rice.
Tossing rise at a wedding send off is the oldest known tradition, passed down for centuries amongst varying cultures worldwide. The tradition originated with the ancient Romans who were known for throwing wheat at wedding send-offs.
They believed that throwing wheat during the new bride and groom’s departure was symbolic of fertility, prosperity, and good fortune for the couple.
Wheat wasn’t the only thing at send-offs historically, though. Other items included oats and even corn, which were significant in marking the same symbols to the couple in their future.
200 B.C. - The First Firecracker
Some historians believe that modern firecrackers originated in Chinese traditions that appeared in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to 220 A.D.).
As legend has it, Han citizens would cast bamboo stems into fire, heating the trapped air inside until it popped through the husk, to repel evil spirits.
850 A.D. - The Invention of Gunpowder
Fast forward a thousand years, the Chinese invent black powder (AKA gunpower), a breakthrough technology that would become the cornerstone of modern fireworks.
The first recorded formula for Chinese gunpower appeared in the Song dynasty during the 11th century, but anecdotal evidence suggests that Chinese alchemists discovered gunpowder as early as the 9th century.
While originally developed for the military, the secret formula would eventually be discovered and used for more leisurely pursuits.
960 A.D. - Fireworks Explode Over China
Fireworks first appeared in China during the Song Dynasty (960–1279).
Unlike modern fireworks, these early firecrackers were merely sticks of bamboo loaded with gunpower.
1486 A.D. - English Royals Display Wedding Fireworks
1908 A.D. - Germans Patent "Spark-Emitting Candle"... The Original Sparkler
Sparklers Appear at Weddings
In the last century of weddings, the age-old tradition of a send-off has exploded, seeing a wide variety of symbolic gestures all designed to wish the happy couples the best in their departure.
Some of the more modern weddings send-off ideas include releasing butterflies, blowing bubbles, or my personal favorite, lighting sparklers in the path of the new bride and groom as they leave their wedding venue and embark as a newlywed couple.
You can take a look at 25 awe inspiring wedding send-off ideas for the perfect exit for more modern twists on this tradition.
Just as quickly as these new-age traditions have become customary in so many weddings worldwide, it’s worth taking a moment to discover why we have veered away from the traditional wheat and rice.
Primarily, many moved away from tossing rice as a wedding send-off due to a myth that the rice was harmful to birds. As rumor had it, the birds would fill up on this uncooked rice, which would expand in their stomachs, and ultimately lead to their deaths.
Thankfully, this silly rumor has since been debunked by scientific research.
Still, the tradition of a wedding send-off is more popular than ever, with creativity flowing amongst the happy couple to decide the perfect ending to their perfect day.
As previously mentioned, my personal favorite send-off includes wedding sparklers. Let’s continue on our journey as we learn everything there is to know about this modern twist on a traditional classic.
An Introduction to Wedding Sparklers
It’s time for a deep dive into all things related to wedding sparklers. In this in-depth introduction, we will cover all of the basics, including what sparklers are, what makes them sparkle, and what differentiates wedding sparklers.
What Are Sparklers?
Generally speaking, there are two broad types of fireworks: firecrackers and sparklers. Firecrackers are designed to create a controlled explosion, while sparklers are meant to be slow-burning with showers of sparks.
The substance on a sparkler that creates the slow-burning sparks is a mixture of chemicals that are held together with a binding agent. At Bride Envy, we call it “sparkler batter.”
The “sparkler batter” is molded to a wire by dipping or pouring. Once everything dries, it becomes a sparkler ready for use.
What are sparklers made of?
Sparklers are typically comprised of four different substances; an oxidizer, a binder, a fuel, and a colorant. While the exact chemical composition varies from one brand to another, these four components are the most common combination used to make sparklers.
How the Chemical Reaction Creates Sparks
When the sparkler is lit, the oxidizer produces oxygen. The fuel burns the oxygen, emitting a hot gas. Finally, the burning powdered metal from the sparkler creates the magical sparkle we all know and love.
If science is your jam and you want to get into it further, check out CompoundChem for more information.
How Wedding Sparklers Differ From 4th of July Sparklers
While most of us are familiar with sparklers, it’s important to understand the features that make wedding sparklers different.
As you review various sparkler brands for your wedding, these features should be important considerations.
Here’s a quick reference.
|4th of July Sparklers||Wedding Sparklers|
Bamboo or Metal Wire
Short (10 inches)
Long (20 to 36 inches)
120 to 300 seconds
Why These Features Matter for Weddings
The unique design of wedding sparklers makes them ideal for those special days for several reasons.
Here’s a brief explanation of why the features listed above are important.
A Wire Core is Stiffer & Smokeless
Wedding sparklers should have a steel wire core instead of wood or bamboo. Why? Because sparklers with a wood core produce significantly more smoke than sparklers with a wire core.
While this might seem like a minor detail, the smokeless feature of wedding sparklers provides clearer photos.
Additionally, wedding sparklers are longer and heavier than regular ol’ sparklers. Steel wire keeps the sparklers straight, stiff, and unbroken.
Long Sparklers Provide Extended Burn Time
Traditional sparklers are 10″ long and burn about 40 seconds.
Wedding sparklers are 20″ to 36″ in length and burn up to 300 seconds.
The extra burn time allows you and your guests enough time for a spectacular wedding send off. And your photographer will be able to take dozens of photos without feeling rushed.
When you choose to use wedding sparklers specifically for your special day, you know that you won’t have to worry about them running short of whatever designated time you have planned for them.
Companies can include chemicals into their wedding sparkler mix to create a more magical glow. Ideally, wedding sparkler companies will have videos available for you to see for yourself before purchase.
Traditional firework sparklers tend to produce ash as they burn. Thankfully, in wedding sparklers, you don’t have to worry about this potentially hazardous side effect.
Whether your guests will be holding wedding sparklers or you plan to use them on a cake, you don’t have to worry about ashes scattered everywhere.
Easier to Photograph
A burn time that exceeds 2 minutes makes wedding sparklers ideal for photography. The extra time provides your wedding photographer with ample opportunity to capture the perfect shot.
The brighter sparks from wedding sparklers also improve wedding photos. As any seasoned photographer will attest, strong lighting is a key ingredient of sharp photos.
Wedding sparklers also produce less smoke than traditional firework sparklers, which means the sparkles emitted can be captured that much easier by your photographer, without the worry of haze from smoke.
How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Sparklers
A quick Google search reveals dozens of wedding sparkler vendors in the United States.
The following buyer’s guide should help you determine the ideal brand for your special day.
Indicators of High-Quality Wedding Sparklers
As you review various sparkler brands, the following list of attributes should help you determine their quality.
As I mentioned, wedding sparklers should have a steel wire core. You may be able to find other sparklers that claim to be made for weddings with bamboo or wooden cores, but the extra smoke produced by these sparklers can ruin your photos.
In addition to looking for steel wire cores, you’ll want to make sure that it is strong gauge steel. Some cheaper models are made with less durable steel, but these flimsy wedding sparklers can be hazardous to your guests.
In addition to the core compounds, you’ll also want to keep an eye on the length. When I mean length, I am explicitly referring to the length of the flammable mixture.
Long wedding sparklers can be pretty long, but it’s the flammable compound that will account for a longer burn time.
As you shop for wedding sparklers, you’ll discover that they come in various sizes.
The answer to the size of your wedding sparklers is not a one-size-fits-all, which is why there are so many different options out there.
When you are trying to determine the size that would work best for your wedding sparklers, you’ll want to consider the number of guests, how long you want them to last, your goals, and the amount of lighting time.
As the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for.”
It’s not uncommon for sparkler vendors to claim high-quality at low prices.
But don’t be deceived, these low-price sparklers are merely cheap 4th of July sparklers with fancy packaging.
Don’t fall into the trap of buying cheap sparklers.
While you might pay more for high-quality wedding sparklers, you can rest assured that the quality reflects the price.
High quality sparklers provide brighter light, a longer burn, and a smokeless and ashless result.
How Long Do Wedding Sparklers Last?
The length of time a sparkler lasts is commonly called the “burn time.”
A common misconception is that sparkler length determines the burn time.
This is false.
Sparkler burn time is based upon length, chemical composition, and sparkler batter volume.
In the last few years, I’ve purchased and tested nearly every brand of sparkler in the United States. And I’ve witnessed that the burn time varies GREATLY from one brand to another… even among sparklers of identical length.
Keep an eye on this metric as you consider various wedding sparkler brands.
Bride Envy offers wedding sparklers with three different burn times.
20 Inch Sparklers
36 Inch Sparklers
5 Minute Sparklers
How many sparklers to buy for a wedding
Determining the number of sparklers you need depends on how you’ll use them in your wedding.
Some wedding blogs recommend buying multiple sparklers for each guest.
If you buy high quality wedding sparklers, like Radiant™ Wedding Sparklers, you only need one per guest.
Keep in mind that some of your guests will leave before the wedding send off.
But it doesn’t mean you’ll have a pile of leftover, unused sparklers because you can them for additional photo ops.
As a rule of thumb, buy one sparkler per guest.
If you’re concerned about running short, you can always buy extra and return the unused sparklers afterward.
Just make sure the vendor has a strong guarantee and a fair return policy.
Luckily, if you happen to have leftovers after your big day, you can always hang onto them for Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve.
Best Practices for Wedding Sparklers
Now that you’ve got a better idea of what wedding sparklers are and how to choose the right ones for your wedding, let’s get into the best practices for using wedding sparklers.
When & Where To Use Wedding Sparklers
One of the most exciting things about integrating wedding sparklers into your special day is that there are no rules on when and how you can use them. Ultimately, your wedding day is meant to be the day of your dreams, which means decide on how to make your dreams become a reality.
Most frequently, you will see wedding sparklers used to line the path of a wedding send-off, but other happy couples integrate these magical features for moments throughout the reception, including the first dance.
The Wedding Send-Off
For a modern twist on a wedding tradition, wedding sparklers make a beautiful touch for a flawless send-off. For the guests remaining at the end of the night, have them each hold a sparkler as they clear a pathway for you.
The bride and groom will walk, or run, through this aisle lined by sparklers. The lighting, excitement, and magic brought on by wedding sparklers make this moment one to remember for everyone involved.
You can learn more about how to execute the perfect sparkler send-off in this extensive article.
The First Dance
Another popular way to integrate wedding sparklers into your wedding is to use them for your first dance. Keep in mind that to be able to do this, your venue, or at least your dance floor area, will need to be outdoors for this to remain safe for you and your guests.
Guests will circle the dance floor to enjoy the first dance, as they traditionally do, but with a bonus of holding a wedding sparkler in their hand.
Much like the magic felt with the wedding sparkler send-off, having the addition of wedding sparklers for your first dance makes this moment sparkle.
You will also want to keep in mind that the first dances can be the length, and you will need to find a wedding sparkler that can hold up through the dance. I like the 5-minute radiant wedding sparklers best for first dances because they are the longest lasting.
Wedding Party Introductions
Not all weddings do wedding party introductions, but for those that do add wedding sparklers to this moment can be another beautiful touch. Depending on the size of your wedding party, you’ll have to make sure you find sparklers that will last through all of the introductions.
A fun way to have a lasting moment in your wedding through wedding sparklers is by using them as a cake topper.
The wedding cake is such a magical part of your reception, so why not take it one step further by bringing it with a firework show of its own?
I’ve also seen people give wedding sparklers away as a favor. While this is a cute touch, it’s not one that I would readily recommend. Especially for those weddings that require travel, keep in mind getting sparklers on an airplane or through customs might be a challenge.
How to Light Sparklers
I can honestly say that I’ve tried every method possible when it comes to lighting wedding sparklers. Matches, grill lighters, you name it, and I’ve tried it.
Here is some guidance on choosing the best way to light wedding sparklers.
Don’t Use Matches
There are several different reasons that matches are not recommended for lighting wedding sparklers. For starters, matches require two hands to light, which makes the whole process instantly more challenging than it needs to be.
Additionally, the flame from matches can be incredibly inconsistent. Trust me when I tell you the last thing you need on your wedding day is for any sort of minor inconsistencies.
Some couples have opted to provide personalized matchbooks as a favor or part of their favor, and while it is a cute idea, it’s not one I best recommend.
Lighting wedding sparklers with matches can be time-consuming and dangerous for your guests. Save the matchbooks to be favors and provide your guests with a different lighting source for your wedding sparklers.
Don’t Use Traditional Lighters
Traditional lighters are one baby-step up from matches, in my book. While they take less time and effort to ignite, the flame can still be quite inconsistent.
Wedding sparklers require high heat to burn correctly, so your guests might experience rogue sparking on their extremities before they can get the sparkler lit perfectly and move it away from their body.
Grill Lighters are Safe But Not Ideal
Another step up in terms of lighting wedding sparklers comes from grill lighters. These types of lighters allow more distance away from the flame, allowing your guests to be able to hold the flame over the sparkler longer.
While it’s not my favorite method, I’ll admit that grill lighters are probably the second-best alternative in lighting for wedding sparklers.
Butane Torches Are Best
Above all options, I’ve found that the easiest and most effective way to light wedding sparklers is with a butane torch. Not only are they easy to use, but they are also very safe for you and your wedding guests.
Butane torches are designed with a long handle which allows more clearance from the sparkler and your guest. Also, because the flame is much higher and consistent, your guests will be able to light their sparklers much quicker.
One essential element to remember if you choose to purchase butane torches for your guests is that they rarely come filled. Keep a close eye on this and make sure you are buying enough butane fuel along with torches for your wedding.
Maximize Burn Time
The goal of lighting your wedding sparklers is always to maximize the burn time. That way, the sparklers last through all of the special moments without a sense of being rushed. It will also allow for more photo opportunities for you and your guests.
To maximize burn time, it is best to choose one of the recommended lighting options for your wedding sparklers I have mentioned.
As a rule of thumb, you will want to purchase one lighter for every six wedding guests. You can also encourage guests, or have someone do this on your behalf, to light each other’s sparklers with a lit sparkler.
Arrange a Dazzling Wedding Sparkler Display Table
If you’ve decided to integrate sparklers in your wedding, I recommend arranging them on a cute display table in a convenient location for your guests to grab when it’s time to let the sparks fly.
Here are some things to consider as you assemble a memorable sparkler display table.
Everything should reflect the wedding theme & colors
Before we jump into the list of elements to consider for your sparkler display table, it bears mentioning that everything should match the theme & colors of the wedding.
A fully dressed sparkler display table will have the following elements;
- Sign with details of the send off
- Container to hold the sparklers
- Sparkler tags
- Instructions for guests
- And of course… the table itself
First - Select a Table
You’ll save time and money by taking this simple step before anything else.
The reason it’s important to select the table first is because the size and style of the table will influence everything else on the table.
For example, if you’re working with a small surface, the containers you choose to hold the sparklers and lighters need to be small enough to fit alongside the other elements. You may also need to choose a smaller sign, use a tripod or stand to hold it, or hang it on the wall.
And consider using an alternative surface. You could choose to have your sparklers on any type of display that matches your wedding theme, including a vintage dresser, bookshelf, or cart.
A Container to Hold the Sparklers
Wedding sparklers are longer and heavier than common 4th of July sparklers. So it’s best to avoid containers that are short, lightweight, or flimsy.
As a point of reference, consider the length and weight of Radiant™ Wedding Sparklers from Bride Envy.
- A box of 20 inch Radiant™ Wedding Sparklers (48qty) weighs 23 ounces (~1.5 lbs.)
- A box of 36 inch Radiant™ Wedding Sparklers (48qty) weighs 85 ounces (~5 lbs.)
- A box of HUGE 5 Minute Radiant™ Wedding Sparklers weighs 170 ounces (~10.5 lbs.)
Keep in mind that Radiant™ Wedding Sparklers are heavier than other brands because they have more sparkler batter (that’s why they burn brighter), so if you choose a container that is study enough to hold Radiant™ sparklers, it’ll certainly be able to hold any other brand.
Buckets, baskets, and barrels are all good choices.
I’ve found good containers at home decor stores, craft stores, and Amazon.
Here’s a few from Amazon.
Sparkler Send Off Sign
A customized send off sign should include the couple’s names and the date and time of the send off.
Here are some examples from Bride Envy’s Sparkler Send Off Display Kits.
Tags add a nice touch to a sparkler send off display. Ideally, the tags should reflect the design of the other items on the table.
Here are some sparkler tags that match the signs above.
Additional items to consider include instructions for guests, lighters, and complementary decorations.
Most importantly, remember to include details about what the sparklers are for and the time of the send off so that everyone can be on the same page.
Wedding Sparkler Photography
Wedding photography is a detail that should not be overlooked. After your wedding, you will look back on the day as a blur of love and happiness that went by far too quickly. Luckily, we have photographs to reflect on our magic moments and bring us back to these moments throughout our present and futures.
These captured moments can come in all ranges of styles and looks. You can learn all about the essence of stunning wedding photos in this detailed infographic.
That being said, while wedding sparklers add a magical touch to any moment, what’s nearly equally as important is being able to capture that moment through photographs.
Here’s all I’ve come to learn in my experience of photographing wedding sparklers.
How to Capture Sparklers in Photos
Most professional wedding photographers you will hire will have a good idea of getting wedding sparklers to show in pictures. But, if your wedding sparkler moment is beyond your photographers’ time or you’re looking for some pointers, I’ve collected some of the expert secrets.
Tips for Using a Traditional Camera
The Think Make Share blog put out by Hallmark is a tribute to everything in the creative realm. Luckily for us, they have put together some easy-to-follow pointers in shooting wedding sparklers from traditional cameras.
Any professional photographer will tell you that the shutter speed is one of the most crucial elements, especially in terms of wedding sparkler photography.
If you are responsible for picking out the camera for your wedding, make sure you find one that allows you to adjust the shutter speed. This feature shouldn’t be hard to find since it is such a critical element of photography.
Once you have the camera, you should play around with the shutter speed on your own. First, begin by using a shutter speed of three seconds. If the picture is too bright, try two seconds instead. If the picture comes out too dark, try adjusting the shutter speed to four seconds.
Since the shutter speed will need to be longer to perfect the long exposure for the perfect wedding sparkler shot, you will need to have a steady surface to rest your camera.
Although you may not realize it, any slight movement in the camera will cause the image to come out blurry. Movements could be caused by anything even as subtle as the heartbeat of the photographer.
If you cannot find a stable surface, you can always have a tripod ready to go.
When it comes time to focus the image, you’ll want your photographer to focus on the sparklers and not the individuals holding them. Focusing on the wedding sparklers will ensure the image to be crystal clear in the end.
Use a verbal countdown to when you will take the picture. The countdown will help the person or people involved in the image to start at the right moment.
Tips for Camera Phones
If purchasing a new camera is out of the question, don’t worry. You can easily use a phone camera to capture some excellent wedding sparkler shots.
Today, a wide range of apps allow you to adjust your smartphone camera’s shutter speed.
Like how you would handle a traditional camera, start with a larger shutter speed and then adjust as you need.
You’ll still want to steady your phone on a flat surface or with a tripod if you are able. This step is not one you want to skip. Trust me on this.
Writing with Wedding Sparklers
You can write or draw out different things with wedding sparklers to make for not only a good time but some spectacular wedding photo opportunities as well.
Here are some of my best recommendations for you if you want to try out some shots with writing or drawing.
Face the Camera
Make sure you are facing the camera directly for the optimal shot.
When you spell out your word or words, make sure you do so in mirror images or backward. When you spell from right to left, the word will come out correctly in the photo.
Write in Cursive
If you are writing out a whole word yourself, it will be easier and faster for you to write in cursive.
Make it a Group Photo
Rather than being rushed by writing out a word on your own, opt to get a whole group involved. When you have a group writing, you can assign one letter to each person for optimal results.
Make sure your hand is in the right place before you get started. This way, you don’t have to worry about any blurred lines in the final picture.
Have a Designated Lighter
Last but not least, whenever you can, designate a person as a lighter. This technique will help you to keep your proper position and align for the most precise image.
Safety and Laws of Wedding Sparklers
I cannot stress enough the importance of being well educated on wedding sparkler safety and legality. While you want to create lasting memories for you and your guests, most importantly, you want to ensure their safety while they are at your event.
Here are a few pertinent questions you should have the answers to.
Are Wedding Sparklers Safe?
Firework sparklers have been around for hundreds of years, so it’s safe to say that if they were significant safety concerns, they would likely not still be on the market.
Wedding sparklers, in particular, typically have a design that is safer than traditional sparklers, including longer and slower burn times and further distance from the spark to your hands.
That being said, sparklers can be dangerous as they can burn up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of this, it is essential for anyone using a wedding sparkler to do so with caution. It is not recommended for children to use sparklers of any kind.
Can Wedding Sparklers Be Used Indoors?
Some wedding sparklers are entirely smokeless and made with a steel core that can be used indoors. You should never use sparklers with wood or bamboo cores indoors.
Check with your venue and your wedding planner before banking on the ability to use wedding sparklers indoors. Another reason send-offs are a great way to integrate wedding sparklers into your special day is because this can often, this can easily occur outdoors, which is the safest option for everyone.
Can Wedding Sparklers Burn You?
There’s no sense in hiding the truth. Yes, wedding sparklers can burn, which is why they should always be used responsibly by adults only.
A few quick tips to avoid any types of burns associated with wedding sparklers include making sure your guests only hold them by the wire handle and one at a time. Additionally, they should never be lit in another guest’s direction and should be disposed of properly once they are no longer in use.
Can Wedding Sparklers Start a Fire?
Wedding sparklers can start a fire, which is why I stress the importance of handling them with proper fire safety, especially when it comes to their disposal.
Are Wedding Sparklers Legal?
Today, the only state that bans sparklers is Massachusetts. Vermont and Illinois only allow the purchase of sparklers with bamboo or wood cores, which are not recommended for wedding sparklers.
To check if sparklers are legal in your state, you can check the American Pyrotechnics Association website for a complete directory.
The Department of Transportation considers wedding sparklers to be a novelty item, which is why they can be sold and distributed throughout the United States.
In terms of using wedding sparklers in venues, it is best to consult with the venue directly or your wedding planner, just to be sure. Most wedding venues encourage wedding sparklers for send-offs because they are much easier to clean up than some of the other options out there.
Safety Tips for Wedding Sparklers
In my experience and research, these are some of the best safety tips I’ve encountered when it comes to using wedding sparklers:
- Ensure adults are carefully supervising any children
- Make sure everyone has ample space
- Only purchase high-quality wedding sparklers
- Never wave, throw, or run with wedding sparklers
- Always dispose of wedding sparklers properly
How to Safely Extinguish Sparklers
Let’s not forget about safely disposing of the wedding sparklers once the moment is over.
As the sparkler send off concludes, allow the sparklers to completely burn out rather than attempting to extinguish them.
Once the sparks stop, your guests will be holding bare sparkler wires. These wires will be hot, so they should be discarded in buckets of water, strategically located in several places in the area.
These designated disposal buckets offer a safe a convenient way for your guests to dispose of the hot wires.
Wedding sparklers are an excellent way to add a fun and exciting memory to your wedding. Whether you choose to use wedding sparklers at some point during your reception or as a send-off, they serve their purpose and make for magical photo opportunities.
While they can be magnificent additions to your wedding, it is always important to remember to handle them properly and always opt for high-quality sparklers, ensuring the safety of all of your guests.
Pinterest Pin - Wedding Sparklers Definitive Guide for Savvy Brides
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