Open thread: are there safer wish lantern alternatives for a nighttime send-off?

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Are there safer wish lantern alternatives for a nighttime send-off?
Like pretty much every other person who watched Tangled, I fell in love with wishing lanterns (Chinese lanterns, sky lanterns, etc.). A lot of people caught the trend early and incorporated this into their wedding, which is beautiful and sweet and can also pretty dangerous. Aside from being (ecologically speaking) mass littering, there is a risk of injury or wildfire.

Have you seen or can anyone come up with a safe and eco-friendly alternative? Our wedding is on the lake and our send-off is going to be after dark by pontoon. Can you just imagine how pretty those wishing lanterns would be?. – Sarah

We've talked a lot about alternative send-offs in general, including some biodegradable options like those from Wish Lantern. They're made of 100% biodegradable material that will bio-degrade in two to three days. Even then, there is still some controversy which may keep you away from those and other lanterns in general.

My suggestion is to harness the power of light with something that doesn't float in the area in general. Here are some of our ideas:


making our exit

Sparklers are an easy way to shed some light on a situation with a minimal amount of cleanup.

Glow sticks

Wish lantern alternatives as seen on @offbeatbride
Let love Glow sign by Chalk Designs By Me

Glow sticks are wearable, danceable, and shakeable for awesome photos, natch.

Glow-in-the-dark bubbles

Wish lantern alternatives as seen on @offbeatbride
Bubbles by ThinkGeek

Glow-in-the-dark bubbles for that traditional-gone-weird spin that we love.


Wish lantern alternatives as seen on @offbeatbride

Geeky, easy to find, and awesome on dance floors, too.

Glowing cotton candy

Wish lantern alternatives as seen on @offbeatbride
Glowing cotton candy by Hollywood Candy Girls

LED-lighted balloons

Wish lantern alternatives as seen on @offbeatbride
LED Balloons from Amazon

How about some LED-lighted balloons (that you don't release)?

Lighted optic wands

Wish lantern alternatives as seen on @offbeatbride
Optic wands from AliExpress

Optic wands reminds me of Ice Capades and I don't hate that one bit.

Throwing it out there: what wish lantern alternatives (or safer wish lanterns) would you guys suggest for a nighttime send-off?

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Comments on Open thread: are there safer wish lantern alternatives for a nighttime send-off?

  1. oooh thanks for the optic wand idea! We have lots of couples at my venue ask about sparklers, but we don’t allow them. The optic wand gives a more similar look to sparklers than any other ideas I’ve come up with!

  2. I’ve looked into fiber optic wands and glow sticks and I DO like this idea a lot, it kind of plays into the epic-dance-party-rave (sans ecstasy) feel we love.

    But…I am still hung up on the idea of glowing items floating in the sky. I read somewhere about glow sticks in helium balloons tethered to the ground by long strings so you get the glowing-floating look without littering or creating a hazard. Someone else did point out though that helium is nonrenewable and, since it’s used for important medical procedures, using it for a pretty balloon display may not be the most ecologically responsible. That’s not to say anyone else shouldn’t do it, it’s just one of those things that nags me in the back of my mind.

    It’s not “floating” but I already read about having a “paparazzi” style send off with your guests taking rapid-fire pics using the flash on their camera/phones. I can’t find any pictures right now of this, anyone else??

    • Just musing, but could you not attach glow stick to kites or something that doesn’t require helium? Or, hell, just tie some fishing wire to the Chinese lanterns and have someone responsible for reeling them back in at the end of the ceremony. They should have enough lift that a bit of wire wouldn’t interfere; and then they don’t go anywhere they are not supposed to.

    • Just a photographer’s perspective on the paparazzi exit – super creative idea but it will be very hard to capture that in a photo. When light sources are popping in and out that you have no control over it would be very difficult to know what settings to use, so your guests’ flashes will just show up as a ton of light on you two likely washing you out. However, I do think it would look really cool in video and in person – just don’t expect a super great pic from it.

  3. I really don’t like the sparklers. Although they are pretty, they’re often being utilized at the end of the evening by tipsy people, and a lot of the wedding sparklers (which are longer than your July 4 ones) take quite a bit of time to light. As the event planner, it was a hazard and I nearly got burned 3 times by people waving them around a little too emphatically as I tried to light them. Also, if there are children around, it can be very dangerous for them. Just keep the thought in mind about your location and the makeup of your guests as you make the decision!

    • Is there a reason that people use longer sparklers for weddings? I mean does it just look better for pictures or something else? and would normal sparklers eliminate some of the issues?

      • Yes, there is a reason: (WARNING: some graphic photos of his hand)

        More details there, but basically the longer ones used for weddings don’t burn down as quickly and have a different color. The 4th of July sparklers are meant for a shorter time so they would NOT be good for this, because sometimes you actually need to do 2 or 3 takes of the bride and groom walking through, or standing for a kiss, so you definitely want the long ones if you insist on using them.

        Also, the ones at the wedding I was coordinating were specifically meant for weddings but were still not very easy to use, and another hazard was that the bride bought little paper signs with their names on it that she stuck on the end of the sparklers, and we had to run around taking them off so we wouldn’t catch people on fire. It was a nightmare.

  4. What about something floating on the late instead that can be gathered/collected afterwards.

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