Tips for the best wedding sparkler photos

If there’s one fun addition to photos on your wedding day that’s stood the test of time, it’s the iconic sparkler shot!   Starting many years ago these would have taken the form of a sparkler send off or sparkler exit, perhaps acting as a last celebration for the couple before they left the reception to depart for their honeymoon; often relatively early in the evening. With couples not usually leaving early and instead wanting to continue celebrating with their family and friends, the idea of “sparkler exits” has transformed over time into more of a beautiful wedding sparkler photo opportunity. 

Sparklers are a fun way to add a little bit of sparkle to your wedding photos – there’s nothing like a little bit of sparkle to brighten up your pictures. Whether you’re going for a traditional look or you want to add a little bit of fun, sparklers are a great way to do just that. They can look amazing against a backdrop of twinkling lights at your venue, or are awesome all by themselves against a rich, dark blue sky.

Over the years I’ve picked up a few tips for getting the best sparkler photos on your wedding day, which if this is something you’re planning on doing I’d recommend having a quick read through! 

Start with the basics – check that your venue allows Wedding Sparklers!

Before you even think of planning wedding sparklers on your big day, start with talking to your venue or wedding coordinator – check with them to be sure that they permit the use of sparklers.  Some venues don’t allow sparklers and if they do say no, it’s normally for a good reason. Please do ask though – it’s always best to ensure everyone’s on the same page and working together for a sparkler shot as it makes life MUCH easier on your special day. 

Your venue team may also have some helpful suggestions around where to do a sparkler photo along with having ideas on timing within your wedding day schedule. Please do also check in with your wedding photographer and videographer on timings so that they know you’re planning to do sparklers and can have everything they’ll need ready to capture perfect photos!

Buy the right sparklers

Now, I know that adding the word “wedding” into things sometimes bumps up the price, but please do buy “wedding sparklers” if you want to achieve the best possible sparkler photos on your wedding day. The reason for this is simple – they’re longer and burn for more time! 

Sparklers come in all sort of sizes from normal bonfire night ones which burn out in a few seconds, to long wedding sparklers which are usually 30-45cm in length. These give us more time to ensure everyone has theirs lit, along with making sure there’s actually enough time for you two special people to enjoy the moment and perhaps sneak in a kiss or two right in the middle!

If you have an exceptionally large wedding party, it’s worth looking for even longer sparklers as they burn for yet more time – helping make it easier to get around everyone to get things started.

It’s also worth trying to make sure you have enough sparklers for two per person – double the fun and much more fabulous sparkly light to play with. 

Get the timing right

From all our previous weddings, the absolute best time to do sparklers is around dusk – after all those beautiful sunset moments are finished, the sun’s gone away but it’s still not quite properly dark.  This is also often when the sky is a rich deep dark blue and there’s normally enough light for people to see what they’re doing, which always helps when it comes to getting this organised.  Dusk is also often the perfect time to take advantage of any twinkly lights at your venue for a backdrop as they’ll stand out and shine against the dark sky. 

Have a chat with your venue and photographer/videographer around timings too – they’ll be able to tell you when sunset should happen and will probably be keen to keep that reserved for golden hour photos. Once you’ve established that, plan to do sparklers a little later. 

Safety – not necessarily in numbers!

If you’re planning a larger wedding, one thing to keep in mind is that you don’t necessarily need to include everyone in your sparkler photos. They won’t all be visible in the photos as the focus tends to be on you and your partner, and coordinating a sparkler photo with a LOT of guests can make things much harder to manage on the day for your venue team.  I’d suggest having a think about who you’d like to include – it might be your wedding party along with close family and friends, or perhaps just a hand-picked list of guests… or you may decide to include everyone who fancies venturing outside for a sparkler photo.  The choice, as they say, is yours – but don’t feel compelled to include every single person just because they’re there. I’ve shot sparkler photos with just parents and bridesmaids/groomsmen, all the way to 60-80 guests in various tates of merriness. It can always be done, but just needs a little more effort and coordination to keep things on track. Inevetiably there will be a few people on the day who decide they’d rather stay indoors than go outside, and that’s absolutely fine too. 

Children

If you haven’t invited any small people to your wedding, ignore this…!

Otherwise, please, please, please make sure any small children who will be present for sparklers have someone attentive and sober looking after them. In all of the craziness that these moments can bring, there’s a risk that someone little might get too close to sparklers with all of the danger that would present. It’s best left to the parents involved as to whether they should or shouldn’t have a sparkler of their own (providing they’re carefully supervised by someone responsible!) but it’s best to let that happen somewhere away from any wedding dresses!

Herding cats / getting everyone organised

Following on from the bit about safety is that we need to be sure to arrange everyone to achieve awesome photos, without catching anyone on fire or having a nasty accident.  However we look at it, sparklers are potentially relatively dangerous things – red hot metal sticks with actual fire happening at the end… and placing them in the hands of perhaps rather merry guests can not always produce the desired outcome. 

It’s vital that we establish who’s going to help organise your guests on the day, and those people (ideally at least 2 – 4 of them!) should be people you can trust and rely on to make it all happen safely. They’ll need to ensure sparklers are handed out, have something ready to light them with and indeed have buckets of water or sand ready before anything is lit.  They’ll also need to do the sparkler lighting and help with clearing up etc afterwards. You may well find that when you mention sparklers, your venue team will be keen to step in at this point to coordinate everything and if they do, we’ll work with them to make it all happen around you! 

Depending on when sparklers sit during your day it may also be helpful to ask your wedding DJ to announce that sparklers are going to happen outside and encourage people to participate. Suggest thinking about who you’d like to have involved before doing this though! 

Get the party started!

Soooo we’ve confirmed your venue’s on board, sorted out when we’re doing sparklers and who’s involved – and done a fantastic job getting all involved guests outside and given them sparklers. How are they going to light them? 

Normal matches won’t work as they’ll just blow out and cheap disposable lighters are often not worth the effort as they rarely work to light sparklers and tend to get too hot for guests to use them as they keep the flame lit for too long.  The best way I’ve come across is to buy windprooof jet flame lighters or BBQ gas lighters. They’re not expensive and are readily available from Amazon etc. You don’t need lots of them – usually 3-4 are enough as once those first few sparklers are lit, other guests can light their sparklers from the ones that are already lit.  Another option sometimes favoured by wedding venue teams is to use kitchen blow torches or chef’s torches but that’s always best left to the team to coordinate!! 

Hold them high!

We’ll remind everyone on the day, but it’s fabulous if your guests can hold sparklers high. This is both because it looks awesome when they’re (gently) waved around, but also helps keep sparklers away from clothes and ensure that noone ends up with sparklers in their faces.  We’re not looking to recreate some sort of sword fight so any waving should happen with a little care! 

What do we do? Take your time – it’s not a race!

And…… we’re off! Grab your partner’s hand and have fun!

Sparkler photos can sometimes feel a little like a race – as sparklers only burn for a limited time… right? 

Well, kind of. Sure, they won’t burn forever, but assuming we’ve got those extra-long wedding sparklers and have successfully got them all lit – we’ll still have 60-90 seconds or so for photos. That’s loads of time to work with and means you two fabulous people can TAKE YOUR TIME and walk slowly! There’s no rush and this allows you to enjoy the moment much better – along with helping ensure that we can get the best shots we can. Enjoy every moment of it. It’s fabulous fun while your excited guests are cheering and waving their sparklers – drink it all in and enjoy every second!  A fabulous thing to do right in the middle of it all is to stop walking and have a kiss or two, perhaps a bit of a dip… laugh, cuddle and generally enjoy each other’s company surrounded by your awesome guests!  Makes for fabulous photos too!

Once you reach the end if the sparklers are going, let your photographer move past you; turnaround and go again! Make the most of it all and enjoy every moment. By this point there should be a fabulous haze of smoke in the air too adding to the atmosphere and helping create incredible photos and film to remember it all with. 

What Happens afterwards? 

After we’re all finished, wedding sparklers are going to be hot and your guests will be keen to dispose of them as quickly as they can. Your venue team (or those organised sober people appointed earlier!) should have a metal bucket of sand or water nearby specifically for this reason. Your guests will need to be asked and encouraged to place sparklers carefully into the bucket and someone should keep an eye on them to make sure noone does anything silly. 

Some venues might need you to arrange your own bucket – best to make sure it’s metal and not plastic as they’ll melt! 

Sounds good? Let’s do this! 

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About Tim

Tim Stephenson is a multi award-winning creative Norfolk wedding photographer based just outside the beautiful city of Norwich, Norfolk. He photographs weddings across the East of England including of course Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex,  Cambridgeshire and is always happy to travel further afield. Tim specialises in photographing weddings in a relaxed, natural style without any need for formal posing or awkward moments. Get in touch to check his availability or to have a chat about your fabulous plans!