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Thai Wishing Lanterns at Your Wedding Monday, July 25, 2011 ~ 9:06 a.m.

As many of you know, Dale and I went to a wedding up in Sonoma earlier this month, and I thought I'd share an interesting little activity that everyone participated in at the evening reception! It was actually the first time that I had ever seen or heard of anything like it, although Dale claims that they make an appearance in the Hangover 2, and I later saw them on an episode of "The Bachelorette!"

Anyway, as the evening reception began to wind down, all of the guests congregated out on the dance floor (which was outdoors) to release what many call, "Thai"- or -"Wishing Lanterns." If you're unfamiliar, they're made of the same material as most paper lanterns, and are made with the wire frame and a good amount of wax for lighting! It's probably a little too complex to DIY, but I've come across more than a few websites where one could purchase them. In addition to the paper lanterns, all of us guests were given black markers and a small book of matches. We were told to write our wishes for both ourselves and the newly married couple onto the paper lantern, light the wax piece at the bottom of the lantern, hold onto the string attached and watch it float up into the nighttime sky. It was an inspired idea - one that got all of the guests working together at the end of the night - but I did come up with a few tips that I thought I'd share today, just in case anyone is looking to recreate the activity at their own wedding in the future!

First, I thought I'd share the meaning behind these Thai Wishing Lanterns. After conducting a little bit of research, I learned that the releasing of these lanterns originated and continues to thrive today in Thailand, where loved ones gather (often at festivals) to release their lanterns into the sky with hopes that any misfortune or bad luck would soon fly away right along with them. Additionally, the lanterns themselves are said to symbolize knowledge, like a "...light guiding revellers on the right path to follow in life," as one of online resource explained.

Thai Wishing Lanterns at evening wedding reception


At the wedding, I snapped as many pictures as I could, while watching my fellow guests (sometimes) succeed at the lighting of the lanterns. My husband quickly became one of the pro, "Lantern launchers" because of his extraordinary height (he's 6'6). Honestly...many people had a good amount of trouble getting their lanterns to stay up in the air; however, as you can see, many did eventually succeed! Here are a few tips that I gathered from observing that night:

  • The biggest problem seemed to be getting the wax (which was attached by wire right underneath the lantern) that basically "powered" the thing to actually stay lit and burn enough to puff up the paper lantern with air.

  • At the wedding we attended, this lantern activity didn't happen until the end of the evening. The problem? Everyone was pretty intoxicated by that point, and you know what they say...alcohol and matches just don't mix. Should you decide to do a lantern lighting at your wedding, I would suggest doing it earlier in the evening when everyone's a bit more lucid!

  • Another way to keep it a little more safe and under control is to have several designated (and sober) "lantern launchers," (as my husband was that night!). Multiple guests could write their wishes on the same lantern, and that way you have less people working with fire and less lanterns up in the air at the same time!

  • You know what they say, what comes up, must come down. There was a small water tub available nearby for guests to drop their lanterns into in order to put out the fire once they were finished with them. I highly advise having several of those tubs around to make sure that anyone who needs one, has one.

  • Last, but not least, be smart. Make sure you aren't near any trees, dry brush, telephone wires, anything that could be in the way of the floating lanterns. Our launching area was underneath some lights strung across the dance floor, which quickly became difficult for most to avoid.


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2 Comments


Spun Sugar Suite ~ Neallie (Bellingham)

Jul 25, 2011 1:23 PM

I love this idea! I saw some floating lanterns over the fourth of July and thought they were so amazing up high in the sky! They are so romantic and beautiful :)

Colleen {Soundtrack To I Do} (California)

Jul 27, 2011 12:09 AM

They did something like this in the movie Tangled and I totally wanted to do it at my wedding. Now it seems to be popping up everywhere! (Like the Bachelorette.) We'll see if I end up doing it, but I do love the idea! SO romantic.