For couples looking to literally go out with a bang on their wedding day, there’s something supremely enchanting about a fireworks display. After all, what could be more celebratory than a dazzling array of sparks and starbursts in the sky above?
Often set off just before the second half of the wedding reception, fireworks also add pizzazz to the transition from dinner to dancing, thus reinvigorating the spirit of the night. “It’s the perfect ‘the party starts now’ kind of wow factor,” says wedding planning expert Kristin Phalines.
Meet the Expert
Kristin Phalines is the owner of and lead wedding planner with the Philadelphia-area office of Kyle Michelle Weddings & Events. She's been in the business for ten years and executes two-to-three weddings per year that feature a fireworks display.
Interested in setting off fireworks at your own nuptials? You’ve come to the right place! Exciting as they may be, fireworks do require careful planning in advance and cooperation with local bylaws in order to be executed safely and successfully. Read on for answers to the most commonly asked questions about wedding fireworks packages, including how much they typically cost. (Hint: it’s less than you might think!)
What venues are best for fireworks displays?
Phalines prefers venues overlooking a river, beach, or another body of water because the fireworks can be set off from a barge. The separation from the venue helps minimize safety risks, and the fireworks look all the more dazzling when they’re reflected off the glassy surface of the water.
“If you don’t have water, then you need a space of land that is not surrounded by anything,” she adds. For this reason, country clubs and golf courses work well, because there’s typically lots of wide open space without many trees in the way.
Are wedding fireworks legal near me?
Before you get too excited about the idea of fireworks at your wedding, be sure to consult your venue on whether or not they permit fireworks displays. If this is something they do allow, the venue will likely have a list of recommended vendors you can hire to produce your display. The venue and fireworks professionals will work together to secure the paperwork, permits, and safety officials necessary for legally setting off the fireworks.
Hosting an at-home wedding or marrying on private property? You’ll need to do a little more research. For an overview, try Googling “fireworks laws [county of wedding] [state of wedding].” (If you’re marrying in Atlanta, for example, you’ll Google “fireworks laws fulton county ga.”) Click on results from county or city government offices for the most factual information on restricted spaces and dates, curfews on displays, and more.
If “consumer fireworks” displays are allowed in your county, that’s a good sign that professional fireworks displays on private property are also legal. From here, the easiest next step is to consult with a local pyrotechnic professional that produces wedding fireworks displays. They’ll know which questions to ask, what permits to acquire, and what, if any, fire marshals or other safety officials need to be present for the display.
No matter where you get hitched, wedding fireworks should never be DIY. Hire pyrotechnic professionals and you’re guaranteed a more dazzling display that won’t get you in trouble with the law—or put any of your beloved guests in harm’s way.
When should we set off the fireworks?
Your county or state will likely have curfews in place for fireworks displays. In Pennsylvania, for example, the curfew is 10 P.M with the exception of a few holidays, so all fireworks displays need to be over and finished before 10 P.M.
Even without curfews, Phalines still wouldn’t schedule a fireworks display as the last element of the reception. “An hour-and-a-half to two hours before the end of the night is the ideal time frame for fireworks,” she says. The reason being: Dinner is over, dessert or the cake cutting is happening, and everyone can use a bit of a break. A fireworks display will fill the lull, and get folks revved up and ready to hit the dance floor.
A fireworks display can also make a great surprise gift to the couple. In these scenarios, Phalines typically lures the couple and guests outside under the guise of cutting the cake or posing for photos.
How long should the fireworks last?
Three to five minutes tops. “We’ve done 12 minutes, and it was awful,” says Phalines. “Twelve minutes on a wedding day is like 30 minutes—it’s far too long.”
How much do wedding fireworks cost?
“One of the biggest misconceptions about fireworks is how expensive they are,” says Phalines. “It’s not affordable for everyone, of course, but it’s not a crazy number.” She typically recommends budgeting around $5,000 for a three-to-five minute display, but many reputable companies offer packages between $2,500 and $3,000. Important to note: If your display will be happening from the water, the barge or boat rental will likely be a separate cost.
What seasons are best for wedding fireworks?
Fireworks make a great addition to weddings in every season, though they’re most common at summer weddings and winter weddings and on holidays such as the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve. Spring typically sees more thunderstorms and rain showers, which can make it trickier—but certainly not impossible!—to pull off an outdoor fireworks display.
What happens if it rains?
Fortunately, fireworks displays can still happen even underneath a light drizzle. If, however, severe thunderstorms, heavy winds, or heavy downpours are plaguing your wedding day, you’ll likely have to nix the fireworks. (Once the fuses are soaked, the fireworks won’t light properly, and heavy winds would carry debris into unsafe areas.)
If rain cancellation policies aren’t written into your contract, you’ll likely have to eat the cost. Or, you can get a little crafty with who picks up the tab. If you’re marrying at an established venue, Phalines suggests seeing if another couple who is interested in fireworks might be open to buying out your contract. That way, the company will still be rendering the same services at the same location, just on a different date. Of course, you’ll need to first confirm with both the venue and the fireworks provider that they are open to this approach.
What are some less-costly fireworks alternatives?
Cold sparklers, which don’t produce flammable sparks, are trending hot as a way to bring pyrotechnics to indoor receptions. These displays shoot pyrotechnics up from the ground in a controlled column and can be used to frame the dance floor, mark the couple’s entrance to the reception, or even surround the cake cutting. They typically rent for around $250 apiece.
Then, of course, there’s the classic sparkler send-off, which involves guests waving hand-held sparkler wands as the couple exits the reception venue. This makes for a fantastic photo op, and cases of sparklers can typically be purchased for under $150.