I’ll declare my position right from the start: I believe that Chinese lanterns should feature at more weddings. And I will happily explain why.
I think they look good. They’ve got that sort of yellowy-orange warm glow to them and I think there is something within all of us which loves that natural, naked flame type of light. Maybe it’s some kind of deep-seated primal human thing relating to fires, but I find that warm, flickering light deeply pleasing to the eye.
At weddings where we set up our mobile crepe stand outdoors, we usually get a great view of the the slow, steady way they rise into the air, wafting about on air currents, eventually disappearing into the dark skies. Guests love to stand outdoors, drink in one hand, nutella crepe in the other, watching the lanterns drifting off out of sight.
The simple way they are designed and the way by which they rise is a fascinating process, and I always think of them as being miniature hot-air balloons. And then my mind begins to run riot and I imagine them being piloted by mice or small hedgohogs with leather flying helmets and goggles.
They are also very cheap – and I mean ridiculously cheap – so they are a very inexpensive feature to include at a wedding. They are a great way to get everyone outdoors and into the open air towards the end of the evening, breaking up the evening and giving everyone a blast of fresh air before they return to the dancefloor for one last round of energetic dancing.
For obvious reasons, it’s always as well to nominate one (sober) guest to be the chief firelighter and general all-round organiser of the process. Some guests will inevitably start challenging others as to who’s lantern will rise the quickest/go the furthest/crash land/become an inferno and every other imaginable outcome. That’s all part of the fun.
On a clear night, the lanterns will be visible for miles around (they actually look quite large even from a distance) and once they find their altitude they generally move in a slow, eerie glide across the night sky – at first glance they look like UFOs (I can’t confirm this exactly of course, but I believe it to be true) – so it’s almost guaranteed to cause people to consider why they are in the sky – which is good if you would like to draw attention to your wedding.
One last thing however – if you are getting married near a flight path (much of Cheshire is on the flight path for Manchester airport, for instance) it might be as well to give the lanterns a miss. We attended a wedding a few miles from Leeds / Bradford airport in Yorkshire and as we were loading our crêpe cart back into our van, lanterns were being prepared for take-off. Luckily one alert guest intervened – otherwise the wedding risked drawing attention from the boys in blue.
Not the greatest finale to a wedding, I’m sure you’ll agree.