chinese sky fly fire lanterns at your wedding

Update: Guess what kids? 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 prices. 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 air. And that may land on you! So spend the extra money per lantern.

chinese sky fly fire lanterns 1

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 the 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.

chinese sky fly fire lanterns 2

3. Have sober people disperse the lanterns and manage the lighters.

If we are onsite, 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 receptical to collect a lot of packing material. Even then, sometimes you need to throw away ripped lanterns. Keep your reception looking neat.

chinese sky fly fire lanterns 3

5. Don’t forget 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.

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. Over water (with 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 us had a great time with it. And due to the winds, we had to cancel this event.

plan on!

get your wedding guests dancing …

We have the coolest clients who are willing to try something, a little different. Especially when it comes to getting your wedding guests dancing!

This fall we had a client, Rachel Adams Sansing, who implemented a brilliant idea on getting everyone on the dance floor. She also has a kick-ass blog, just in case you were wondering. Back to the story.

the formal dances were switched up

  1. First Dance as a Couple
  2. Mother of the Groom / Son Dance went first (as everyone knows this is the last dance)
  3. Father of the Bride / Bride Dance

This is when it got interesting. Shortly into the dance, the Rachel and her father stopped dancing and ran out to get new partners. The two couples danced for awhile.

Then they stopped and ran out and got new partners. And so on, and so on. Until the dance floor was completely filled!!

Then the DJ kicked off Open Dancing and everyone was up and moving immediately after the end of the formalities. It was so cool!

Would you consider doing this?

featured photo credit: pfe iphone

plan on!

why you should join your reception cocktail hour …

We live in a very traditional area, especially when it comes to weddings. That’s okay, but it’s time to break out and change things up at your wedding. For instance, joining your reception cocktail hour with your guests.

why joining your reception cocktail hour, is like, awesome

You’ve planned the biggest party of your life, your wedding reception. Lots of time, energy and money has been spent on this one evening.

So instead of spending time with your guests (especially the ones that have flown across the country to share your celebration), you’ve decided to take tons of photos after your wedding. Maybe, because you didn’t see each other before your ceremony (we’ve talked about the benefits of this here).

Of course, this is totally up to you … but we suggest, a simple alternative.

just imagine

Your guests have sent you off from your ceremony. You take a few moments to be together (just the two of you) or with your wedding party. Allow the guests to go to the reception and enter; getting themselves a drink and munching on your hors d’oeuvres. Then, while everyone is still basking in the glow of your lovely ceremony, you enter! *HINT: be sure to have your emcee announce you.

You’re rushed with loved ones wanting to congratulate you and actually be a part of your day. You get to have some of your treats, instead of just hearing how good the bruschetta was later on in the evening.


Now you have probably made direct contact with at least half your guests. No more walking around during the meal to greet your guests. I’ve never really liked that idea. How awkward to have your guests of honor talk to you when you are trying to eat.

All of our brides and grooms (and I’m happy to report, this is happening more and more) are so happy they decided to join their guests during their reception cocktail hour.

It makes for a more memorable day. What do YOU think?

feature photo credit: jordan barclay photography

plan on!


let’s compare reception timelines…

Last week I was able to visit Kelly McWiliams in Cape Coral, Florida. She is an unbelievably talented Destination Wedding Planner and I was lucky to spend some time with her discussing the differences between Florida and Indiana weddings.

When creating your reception timeline … be sure to not get boxed in go with the usual flow. Look at your guests, your venue, the time of day of your ceremony and what fits you best. Below is what Kelly and I compared to what “usually” happens at our respective receptions.

Indiana: (typical 250 person reception)

  • Introductions
  • Welcome by Father of the Bride
  • Blessing
  • Dinner Service
  • Best Man Toast
  • Maid of Honor Toast
  • Cake Cutting (Guests serve themselves)
  • First Dance
  • Parent Dances
  • Dollar Dance
  • Anniversary Dance
  • Bouquet/Garter
  • Open Dancing

Florida: (typical 120 person or less, destination reception)

  • Introductions
  • Welcome by Father of the Bride
  • Best Man Toast
  • Maid of Honor Toast
  • Blessing
  • 1st Course
  • Intermezzo
  • 2nd Course
  • Cake Cutting
  • Bride and Groom say Thank You
  • First Dance
  • Cake Service to Guests
  • Parent Dances
  • Open Dancing
  • Formal Send Off for Bride/Groom

Other Major differences:

  • There are usually Send Off’s in Florida for Bride/Groom
  • Florida weddings will end early (around 10pm) and Indiana weddings will go to midnight
  • More Live Entertainment in Florida
  • More full Open Bars at Destination Weddings

Interesting, isn’t it?

featured photo credit: pfe iPhone

plan on!





make a grand entrance to your wedding

Getting introduced into your wedding reception is a tradition that we LOVE to keep. It’s obvious you both are the guests of honor and it’s proper to make that recognition.

Here’s a couple of ideas:

  1. Let your wedding party go into the reception and start the party. Only you and your groom will be introduced into the wedding reception. It’s quick, clean and easy.
  2. Consider being introduced about half way into your cocktail party. Why miss all the fun?
  3. Make a real splash and do something fun and funky (but safe too). Like our clients Amanda and Brian. They had a super fun wedding party that were doing impromptu dancing and lots of fun antics. Amanda turned to my intern, Aubree, and asked, “What should we do?” Aubree suggested that Brian put Amanda on his shoulder….before the next beat, up she went!

amanda monarch and brian woods grand entrance wedding

photo credit: walker studio
feature image photo credit: studio b

What a fabulous entrance that made a great photo and the audience totally whooped it up!

So how will you enter your wedding reception?

plan on!