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Wedding Sparklers and Fireworks Guide

Updated on June 22, 2019

Adding Sparkle to Your Wedding

The appearance of fireworks at weddings of all sizes is becoming increasingly common. Their addition to a ceremony or reception can add a fairytale ending to an already memorable event. While the most common images that come to mind are the large scale July 4th style fireworks displayed by cities and festivals, a number of beautiful and possibly more appropriate alternatives do exist. Including fireworks in one form or another in your special occasion is not as difficult as one might initially assume. Here's what you need to know to make it happen!

Step 1: Deciding What Effect You Want

There are a number of possibilities when it comes to deciding what kind of fireworks you would like to incorporate into your wedding celebration. The following list gives a basic idea of what's out there to choose from:

  • Sparklers
  • Gerbs (fountains)
  • Ice Fountains (basically a gerb or fountain made to be used on cakes and centerpieces)
  • Waterfalls (upside down fountains which spray sparks beatifully to the ground)
  • Set Pieces (signs spelled out with special pyrotechnic flares)
  • Close Proximity Pyrotechnics (like you see on the stage during a rock concert)
  • Low Level Fireworks (multi-shot cakes with many different effects)
  • Aerial Display Shells (large scale 4th of July style)

The above options each have their respective differences in cost, safety, and other hoops which you must jump through to legally make them part of your event. Hopefully the information which follows will help you to decode all this mumbo jumbo and shed light on the whole process.


  • Low budget
  • No separation distance
  • Check with local fire department


I think everyone knows what sparklers are. This effect could probably go without much description since many of us remember writing our names in the air with these simple but brilliant little devices. Sparklers have made a recent comeback as a popular farewell send-off, taking the place of more traditional customs such as bird seed and rice. A nighttime wedding reception send off lined with a wall of glowing sparklers makes a stunning visual impact in photos.

Although simple and cheap, this might prove to be the best option for many venues. Sparklers are easily obtainable and the law is fairly lenient in most states with respect to their use as long as you are outside. Sparklers may be used inside, but depending on the venue and local laws, a professional fireworks company and permitting may be required.

Sparklers are available in a variety of colors and durations. Gold and silver are the most common while the colors of the rainbow are also available. One important aspect to consider is the construction of the sparkler. They have traditionally been produced using metal wire as the base/handle. Another version which makes use of wooden sticks is also available. While the wire version is generally cheaper, safety should also be considered. In an environment where people are frequently innebriated from the joys of marriage (or more likely alcohol) the wooden version provides a number of obvious advantages. This is also more desirable when considering the presence of children at the event. It is always a good idea to have someone watching out for where the sparklers end up once they're spent, whether it be the wedding planner, one of the event staff, or good 'ol uncle Rufus.

Ice Fountain
Ice Fountain


  • Low budget
  • Minimum safety distance
  • Professional company recommended
  • May require permitting


These little devils have been growing in popularity as well. They are basically gerbs (fountains) which many tought as producing "cold sparks".  While the material used to produce the spark effect does so at a much lower temperature, it is essentially still a pyrotechnic device which produces burning embers.

Ice fountains are commonly used on cakes as well as centerpieces. When used on cakes in outdoor situations you might be able to get away without going the professional route but it is not recommended. The addition of ice fountains to table top centerpieces can be a very impressive addition to a toast. For this you need to consult a professional display company. They will have the ability to simultaneously and remotely fire the centerpieces for the desired effect. This will also cover your soon to be hitched butt safety-wise. Some brands of ice fountains do produce a fair amount of smoke with a strong odor, something which can be very undesireable indoors.

Example of Gerbs


  • Medium budget
  • Typically 15' safety distance
  • Professional Display Company
  • Permitting


They might sound like something a 12 year old boy feeds his pet hampster but they are actually a very beautiful pyrotechnic effect. These can be seen in a number of hollywood movies as a beautiful and artistic accent to wedding festivities.

Gerbs are actually very precisely made fireworks "fountains" which produce a beautiful upward or horizontal spray of gold or silver sparks. There are indoor and outdoor versions They are available in a wide range of durations and heights and are usually fired electronically. Electronic firing makes sequencing and choreography possible with gerbs. This allows for dancing and chasing effects. A frequent use of such a chasing effect be observed in the form of a wall of sparks which ignites in tune with the bride and groom as they depart on foot or by car.

The use of gerbs does, however, come with some added cost. They are more expensive on a per item basis and the real kicker is that they require the use of a professional display company and permitting by your local fire department. Don't let this scare you away! We are still in the realm of affordability and minimum hassle. The use of a good fireworks display company can make everything smooth as that silk garter belt, I mean tablecloth. This will be covered in detail later.


  • Medium budget
  • Typically 15' safety distance
  • Professional display company
  • Permitting


These provide a very beautiful, delicate backdrop when utilized correctly. Imagine a waterfall of glowing embers cascading down from above while you share your first smootch or dance. Waterfalls are also available in both indoor and outdoor varieties and can be made to cascade off of trussing or other fireproof surfaces in much the same manner as water. This is also a commonly used effect for rock concerts and requires the use of a display company.


  • Medium budget
  • 75' safety distance
  • Professional display company
  • Permitting


These are essentially pyrotechnic signs which spell out a message in any color or combination of colors of your choosing. Commonly the bride and groom's names are spelled out along with congratulations! Some crafty gentlemen even use set pieces to pop the initial question which leads to all the rest of this hoopla. This is an outdoor only effect available only through display companies.


  • Medium/High budget
  • Typically 15' safety distance
  • Professional display company
  • Permitting


This is the technical term for the variety of fireworks you see on the field at professional sporting events. The advantage of close prox is that it provides impressive results in areas where safety distances and regulations won't allow larger effects. Typically, only 15 feet is required between close proximity fireworks and the guests. Some very artistic and beautiful accents can be produced with this type of product. Once again, professional display company only.


  • Medium/Large budget
  • 125' safety distance
  • Professional display company
  • Permitting


This category gives a lot of bang for your buck and also caters to venues with somewhat limited safety distances.  These are typically multi-shot "cakes" of fireworks with anywhere from 12 to 1,000 or more shots per firing.  This option gives the feel of a big fireworks show without the big budget.  Professionals required here too!


  • Large budget
  • Minimum of 210' safety distance
  • Professional display company
  • Permitting


Here's where you really graduate to the big leagues. This is the variety of fireworks which you see on the 4th of July. With the big leagues comes bigger budgets and bigger safety distances. Aerial shows usually start at around $5,000 and can rise quickly with the addition of barge costs (if fired from the water) and larger shell sizes. This type of display can be very impressive but typically works best if the entire ceremony or reception occurs outdoors. It is sometimes difficult to get a large group of people, especially the elderly, to move outside in a timely fashion.

Step 2: Making It Happen

Once you have your budget in mind and know what type of effects you want just give a few companies a call. Go ahead! Don't be afraid to shop around. Some of the smaller companies may be able to give you a better deal because they don't have as much overhead. You can even inquire with your wedding planner (if you are using one) first and see if they have any experience contracting a fireworks display. Sometimes planners actually have promotional materials from a few companies on hand.

Some of the more well known companies include Zambelli, Pyrotechnico, and Melrose. Talk with the salesperson about what it is you want and your budget range. They will be able to present you with a variety of options and let you know what will work at your venue. Once an agreement has been made the display company will be able to take care of all insurance, permitting, and firewatch. In most cases a downpayment of half the quoted price will be required to get the ball rolling. The remainder will be due upon completion of the display.

Step 3: Enjoy!

Be sure either you or your wedding planner coordinates with the technician once he/she arrives to make sure everything goes off on cue.  The last thing left to do is say your vows, have a good time, and watch the sparks fly!

Hopefully the information provided here will help you make a well informed decision and know what to expect when adding a fireworks display to your wedding.


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