In past generations, the wedding tradition was to have the ceremony, treat guests to appetizers, cake and punch during picture-taking, and then mingle with guests for a while before changing into your honeymoon clothes and leaving in a big send off.
This timeline isn’t usually how we do weddings anymore, but the send off is still a fun tradition that isn’t too hard to do and can add a lot of excitement and memories to the day. However, it does require a little bit of planning and organization to go off without a hitch.
First, you need to decide what look you want for your send off.
The traditional activity is to have the guests throw rice (a sign of fertility and wealth) or birdseed at the couple, though most venues don’t allow it unless you hire someone to clean up. Other items like rose petals, silly string, bubbles, butterflies, doves, and balloons can be used to fill the air place with energy. These are all options, but each create their own level of pollution, so please make sure to think about clean up.
Another idea would involve objects you don’t throw. Having a traditional military exit with uniformed people holding their swords in an arch for the couple to walk under, or waving colorful streamers (this looks reallycool in pictures), or sticks with pennants on them are all options. Another exit idea involves sound. Ringing bells (and if you can get church bells chiming it is even better!), a bagpiper playing, a marching band, trumpets, heck…kazoos, can send you off with a blast. And yet another idea is for a night time exit. Sparklers rock, they look amazing in pictures and people love to play with them. Using sparklers, fireworks, floating lanterns, or anything glow-in-the-dark for your exit is a great end to the evening.
Whatever type of send off you do, there are a few constants that I would recommend following for everything to be a success. Getting wedding guests to do anything is like herding cats, so having a little bit of organization is important.
1) check your venue for any restrictions ahead of time and any clean up that needs to happen. Stick to environmentally friendly options.
2) have four people be your “send off crew”…two at the exterior doors to hand out the products and two where you’d like the line of guests to stop (so position them by the get away vehicle but not too close). This crew needs to be a bit vocal and energetic to get the crowd going (and to keep them waiting rather than wandering off), and the two by the vehicle should also have some product so they can hand them to people that might not have grabbed one as they left the ceremony venue.
3) have someone inside the ceremony site let the guests know when the couple is ready to exit. At this time, guests should start blowing bubbles or lighting their sparklers so the air is filled when the couple comes out. If doing sparkler lighting, I’d suggest at least 4 if not 6 or 8 people with lighters walking up and down the crowd at the same time. Since sparklers don’t last more than a few seconds, it is important to coordinate the lighting. For bubbles, consider having automatic bubble guns for some people to really fill the air.
4) be sure to smile, laugh, high five guests and enjoy your red carpet moment!
What I would personally love to see? A floating lantern release. This is an eastern tradition and is simply an amazing photo op ; ) Purchase lanterns either to release into the sky or into the water and hand one to each guest or couple. At the same time, everyone lights them and forms an aisle for the couple to walk down. The couple walks to the front of the group where another lantern is waiting for them. They light it together, and then at the same time, everyone releases them. Romantic, gorgeous, memorable.