Magical Wedding Wish Lanterns


Since Bachelorette Ashley Hebert and onscreen boyfriend Constantine Tzortzis launched a pair of enchanting glowing orbs into the starry sky, the popularity of sky lanterns has soared among brides from the U.S. to the U.K. It is easy to understand why — there is certainly something enchanting about sending your dreams for the future as a couple out into the universe.

The sky lantern tradition originates in China, but the thought-provoking beauty of the dazzling lights has captured the hearts of the entire world, from Thailand to Portugal to Brazil, where extravagant festivals are held each year. Often referred to as wish lanterns, these serene paper lights radiate romance with their hopeful messages for forthcoming prosperity and luck.

Asian rice paper lanterns, which are available in an assortment of sizes and shapes, are typically constructed on a bamboo frame that holds a small candle or flammable fuel cell that propels the lamp into the air. The miniature hot air balloon can create a dangerous situation if it collides with a tree, building or power line. As a result, most venues will require permission from the local fire marshal before letting you light the sky on fire.

While I certainly understand the need to get your wedding decorations at a great price, this is one item that you will likely need to pay more for to ensure everyone’s safety. Look for a reputable company, such as Chinese Sky Lanterns from St. Louis, Missouri, that uses biodegradable, flame-retardant paper and bamboo instead of cheap metal wires. A securely attached fuel source also makes the product safer as well as simpler for guests of all ages to operate.

Launching your love wishes into the heavens is often problematic for inner-city weddings, but you can still create a breathtaking lighting display using hanging paper lanterns, glowing LED balloons or paper candle bags. Colorful paper globe lanterns, decorated with dangling gold tassels, are suspended outside Chinese homes and draped over wedding reception dance floors to ward off malicious spirits. A riddle is usually attached to each lamp to further confuse the spirits.  You can provide your guests with a bit of entertainment by having them solve silly brainteasers about you as a couple using just a word, phrase or poem.

Pink lotus lantern floating on a pond

Whether floating in the sky or on water, wish lanterns epitomize the hopes and dreams newlyweds have for their future life together. © Hanhanpeggy | Dreamstime.com

Venues that offer a lake, pool or large water fountain are perfect for the breathtaking beauty of floating lotus flowers. A popular ritual in northern Thailand, the handcrafted krathong is typically made from eco-friendly dried banana leaves or biodegradable rice paper. Guests can write their wishes on the petals and place a coin in the center as a token of good luck.

For some inspiration on quotes and poems that beautifully represent the meaning of a sky lantern wedding ceremony, browse my latest WeddingTraditions.about.com article on Sky Lantern Wedding Wishes.  

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