Wedding sparkler exits

A question I get from many of my clients is about having wedding sparkler exits at their reception. It’s a very popular trend here in North Carolina and most go off without any issues at all. However, there are more than a few horror stories about damage to property & people from not taking the proper precautions. Trust me, I have first hand knowledge of how dangerous sparklers are.

With that being said, wedding sparkler exits make for beautiful wedding photography and when done correctly, are very, very safe. Below I have some resources, tips & tricks on how to safely conduct a sparkler exit as well as some additional resources.

Picking the right wedding sparkler

First and foremost, all sparklers are NOT made the same. The typical inexpensive 4th of July sparkler burns more like a smoky blowtorch with very little actual sparkle. These don’t photograph very well and, on top of that, are more dangerous with their incendiary characteristics. Wedding sparklers “sparkle” with almost no smoke, a very small “flame” and give off beautiful sparks (usually gold or silver but i’ve seen different colors as well).

wrong sparklers on wedding exit
Heres an example of the wrong wedding sparklers being used Very smoky no sparks and it burns like a blowtorch

When looking for wedding sparklers, pay attention to the following:

  • Sparkler composition (make sure they say smokeless or low smoke).
  • Sparkler length:
    • 20″ gives a 90 second burn time (125 people or less)
    • 28″ gives a 135 second burn time (125 – 200 people)*
    • 36″ gives a 180 second burn time (more than 200 people)
  • Appropriate display (will you have packs laid out or have them removed from packaging for display & collection.
  • Buy them from a reputable retailer. I recommend: Wedding Day Sparklers or Sparklers Online.

* 28″ sparklers are hard to locate. If in doubt go with the longer ones.

wedding sparkler exit
These sparklers are the proper type to use for sparkler exits No smoke great spark and long handles

Organizing the wedding sparkler exit

As you can imagine, getting everyone at the wedding to participate in a single task can be challenging, especially when alcohol is present. Having someone in charge of the exit is very important to insure everything goes according to plan. We (your photographers) choreograph most of our clients sparklers exits but the wedding planner and venue also step in as well. The most important factors are:

  • Distributing sparklers to your guests (1 per person MAX. Lighting a big bundle of sparklers at once is how accidents happen).
  • Lining up your guests in a fashion giving you and your new spouse enough room to both fit thru the “tunnel”.
  • Giving a safety briefing to all guests to hold sparklers up & out away from them and do NOT, under any circumstances, make direct contact with the sparkler to ANYTHING (sparklers burn very, VERY hot and will instantly burn skin and/or scorch/ignite clothing if touched directly).
  • Getting them lit as quickly as possible. We recommend using a torch and lighting various spots in both lines then having guests light their sparklers off their neighbors.
  • Having a “signal” pre-arranged with the newlyweds when everything is ready for them to begin their walk.
  • Having a bucket or water, sand or other collection method for the spent sparklers. Even after they are finished burning, they can scorch/ignite wooden decks or flooring.
wedding sparkler exits
Notice how the couple has ample room on each side and the sparklers are held up high

Choosing whether to have a wedding sparkler exit

On your wedding day. I can provide all the technical details, give advice, coordinate the sparkler exit and capture some amazing photos. What I can’t do and rely solely on my clients for is making the decision on the level of responsibility of their friends and family. I know this sounds a bit harsh, but while we can take all of the proper precautions, it comes down to the responsibility of the person holding the sparkler. Deciding to light 40 sparklers at once or “spanking” the couple with a lit sparkler are a couple of examples of bad decisions that had less than ideal outcomes.

Sparklers burn anywhere from 1800-300 degrees (for reference the heating element in an over is about 1500 degrees) at their core. The sparks coming off of the rod are that same temperature but have one major difference: thermal energy. While the main rod has some mass, the sparks coming off of it have very little mass so the heat dissipates very quickly. when it comes in contact with something else. While you don’t wants to hold 20 sparklers 6″ away from the wedding dress, it’s uncommon to have any damage or injuries from properly used sparklers.

99% of all sparkler exits I have photographed and helped coordinate have been beautiful and gone perfectly. The 1% is the reason I have written this article. I hope it’s helped you but if you have ANY questions about your sparkler exit, please feel free to reach out to me!

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