Update: According to this site, Indiana has banned the use of sky lanterns. As of now, Kentucky still allows it.
Everyone loves the Chinese Sky Fly Fire lanterns at the end of their wedding. They are sweet, romantic, and make for awesome photos! However, as planners, we are the ones behind-the-scenes making sure that this event (if incorporated in your wedding) goes off without a hitch.
Besides the obvious fact of having a lot of room in the sky for the lanterns to take flight in the air and understanding that you cannot, I repeat, cannot light these if winds that are over 10mph … we thought we’d give you some real tips on the Chinese lanterns.
hot tips on creating an awesome chinese lantern event at your wedding:
1. Buy lanterns that are already assembled.
These thin paper products range in price. You may be tempted to purchase the cheapest ones. Stop. Do not do it. You’ll deeply regret it and probably burn yourself. The cheap ones require you to assemble the burning mechanism in the lantern in advance. It’s time-consuming and often will not stay in place. If you DO get it lit, sometimes the “on-fire” burning portion will fall out … while the lantern is in the air. And that may land on you! So spend the extra money per lantern.
2. Buy disposable lighters that are “wind resistant”.
This is almost as important as the type of lanterns you purchase. Lighting the lanterns is the biggest headache of all. You’ll want to use lighters that you would use for the grill (I’m sure you already thought of that). But if there is any type of breeze, the lighters are hard to use. Especially with child safety. Your thumb grows tired and it is frustrating. Opt to spend a little extra and purchase a wind-resistant lighter. It is disposable but when lit, looks like a little butane flame. We like the Coleman brand.
3. Have sober people disperse the lanterns and manage the lighters.
If we are on site, that is us! But if you haven’t opted to get a wedding professional to help you with your day, then designate someone that will be sober. The management of getting the lanterns distributed and actually lit will make the process safer. Trust this.
4. Trash cans.
Unless you unpack each individual lantern (from the packing cellophane in advance), you’ll need a trash receptacle to collect a lot of packing material. Even then, sometimes you need to throw away ripped lanterns. Keep your reception looking neat.
5. Don’t forget the music in the background.
This isn’t critical, but since we are always thinking about a great guest experience, don’t forget about having some background music as you watch the lanterns float away into the air. The last time we did this, we simply moved a boom box (it was a quality one) outside and played a few pre-designated songs. No need for moving out your DJ’s equipment, as this event usually happens at the end of the evening anyway.
In final words, there is an art to doing these, so practice in advance. But always be sure to do so in a safe area. Not in the middle of your subdivision with a lot of trees. Overwater (with the proper direction of the wind) is the best environment.
photo credit: photorexit photography
ps The photos above were “in real life” photos as we tried to get lanterns lit in too strong of winds. The photographers and we had a great time with it. And due to the winds, we had to cancel this event.