Everyone wants a grand and gorgeous exit to their wedding, and sparklers are becoming increasingly popular. We all adore the magical glow sparkler exits create in wedding photos! There are, however, some very important lessons to keep in mind, as one of SB&G’s preferred photographers found out the hard way. Below, we share NC photographer Brian Mullins‘ tale of caution, and provide useful tips about how to have a safe sparkler exit at your wedding.
In April 2014, Brian Mullins was severely burned by sparklers while shooting a wedding and it almost cost him his career as a photographer.
At this particular wedding there wasn’t an event planner, so at the close of the reception, the DJ ushered guests outside for a sparkler exit and Brian took a handful of sparklers to help hand them out to guests.
As he was in the process of making sure the lines were far enough apart and handing out sparklers, the bride and groom appeared in the doorway ready to walk and sparklers started to be lit. Brian can’t recall if someone else lit the sparklers or if he did, but he does remember a bright hot flash and searing pain in his hand. The sparklers had been lit and burned down all the way through to where he held them.
In a state of shock, but with his adrenaline flowing, he moved forward with shooting the exit, but his fingers wouldn’t bend. He shot a quick 30 frames with his pinky finger before running to the closest bathroom to put his charred hand under cold water.
In the pictures, the sparklers are burning with a blue/purple color and put off a ton of smoke—like a blowtorch. They aren’t the pretty yellow “wedding sparklers” you often see in photographs. Different kinds of sparklers burn in a different ways.
Brian’s business partner Jenn had already sworn off sparklers when a drunk guest touched her braid with a sparkler a few months and burned off about 10 inches of her hair.
Brian was shuffled to multiple emergency rooms while in shock from the pain then sent via ambulance to the UNC burn center because his hand had suffered second and third degree burns and had severe skin and tendon damage. Treating his injury required a complicated litany of bandages, creams and wrapping that took about 20 minutes each day and evening, not to mention occupational therapy. It was five weeks before Brian could actually use his hand for typing, eating or writing. After about six weeks, he could hold a camera for about two hours a day before his hand was too weak. Regardless, he knows he is lucky not to have permanent damage from the accident.
After the incident, Brian researched sparklers and their chemical makeup. “Honestly, I was shocked with what I found…magnesium can burn at temperatures of 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit or more (although the sparklers we had are said to burn around 2,000f) and sparklers comprise the largest segment of fireworks-related accidents in the U.S.” he shares.
Five Tips for a Smooth Sparkler Exit
1. Ensure you have the right kind of wedding sparklers, not the shorter “4th of July” sticks. Wedding sparklers are typically 20 or 36 inches long. Even if you can find less expensive sparklers elsewhere, or think you want a different color glow, stick to what is safest and recommended by the venue, planner or photographer.
2. Have a wedding planner or a responsible team in charge of handing out and lighting the sparklers so no one is stuck with too many in hand at once or with a dangerous lighter.
3. Be sure you have enough space. If sparklers are allowed at your venue, check to see where the most spacious exit path is. Even if you’re getting married in a backyard, make sure there will be enough room so guests are not crammed together and the bride and groom’s path is wide enough.
4. It never hurts to have an emergency kit on hand. A small kit with Neosporin, Band-Aids, gauze, etc. could be given to your planner or venue coordinator just in case. Another safety tip is to have a couple buckets or containers with sand in the bottom for guests to bury their burned sparkler in or to put one out.
5. You know your guests best. If you have an open bar and a lot of “party people,” maybe a sparkler exit isn’t the best idea…consider alternatives like flower petals, bubbles, or pom poms!
To read Brian’s full article, click here.
Photos by Brian Mullins Photography