Welcome to the fourth edition of “a thousand words”. This story is called “Switching from Sparklers to Sky Lanterns”. While a picture is worth a thousand words, sometimes actual words can help to add context. Here is what this photo is saying.

Each person has certain aspects of their wedding that are dearly important. Perhaps it is wearing your grandmother’s dress, or a special broach that you were given by your aunt. Whatever it is, it’s obvious that we are very emotional creatures when it comes to weddings. For Katie Willis, her dream was to have a bright and spectacular wedding sparkler exit!

However, circumstances can change quickly and you need to be willing to adapt. When the venue of Katie and Doug’s celebration abruptly changed, they made lemonade out of lemons. Here is their story about switching from sparklers to sky lanterns, and why the picture above means so much to them and their family.

Katie, Doug, and Her Wedding Sparkler Dreams

Katie and Doug had been planning their summer lake wedding for nearly 2 years. Living in Wisconsin, it was an easy choice to have it at a local lakeside pavilion. However, Doug is an active military officer, and he was unexpectedly called away to Jacksonville, Florida. His assignment was to last for two years, and the wedding date fell right in the middle of it all. Sure, they could have had their wedding at the lakeside pavilion still; but they chose to change their plans instead

However, it wasn’t an easy choice for Katie at all. She had long dreamed of her wedding being complete with a grand exit illuminated by sparklers. While it may seem silly to have this dream to some people, Katie has a very good reason. Sparklers had played a large role in her life, and it all goes back to her childhood with her grandpa.

Grandpa Joe and the Sparkler Stand

As a child, Katie spent most of her summers with her grandpa, Joe. He had a nice little cabin on a lakeside property. They enjoyed swimming in the lake, fishing, hiking, and sitting around the campfire. Katie’s favorite time was the 4th of July, because she got to help her Grandpa run the local sparkler stand at the American Legion.

Each year, the Legion would sponsor a sparkler stand with the proceeds going to charity. Katie and her grandfather would always volunteer, and had made many friends over the years. She fondly remembers chatting with the veterans and other patrons and sipping on lemonade as the hours of conversation with her pappy passed. However, her favorite treat was yet to come.

After the stand closed on the 4th, Katie was allowed to pick whatever she wanted from the sparkler stand. She chose long sparklers, and green ones, and even ones that were as tall as her! When they returned to the lakeside home, they would do them all together as part of their yearly celebration. This had become a favorite tradition, and it’s easy to understand why.

Katie’s Sparkling Vision

Unfortunately, Grandpa Joe passed away a few years prior. He would not be able to be there at the wedding in the flesh, so she wanted to find a way to have him there in spirit. So, she devised a fun twist on the classic wedding sparkler exit.

It would begin with a few kind words from Katie about her grandfather and other loved ones who couldn’t be there. Next, she would light a single sparkler in remembrance of pappy Joe. After a few moments, Doug would light one as a symbol of unity. Finally, the guests would participate and create the sparkling aisle we are all familiar with. As the couple makes their way down the aisle, they will be holding their sparklers to show their love and to carry the ones they love most with them on the journey. And, best of all, this would all take place on his lakeside property.

Image of Kids Helping with Sky Lanterns at a Beach WeddingChanging from the Lake to the Beach

Flying back to Wisconsin seemed like a huge hassle, so moving the wedding was the best option. However, it is much easier to plan a beach wedding in Florida rather than a lake wedding. So, there were some big changes on the horizon for Katie and Doug.

After securing a pavilion at a local beach, Katie had to deal with the biggest dilemma yet. Since the beach was considered public property, it is illegal to use sparklers there. She tried to file for a special permit, but the local government wouldn’t budge an inch. So, she had to make peace with the fact that she wouldn’t be having sparklers at her wedding and come up with an acceptable alternative.

Deciding on Switching from Sparklers to Sky Lanterns

Deciding on switching from sparklers to sky lanterns required a lot of careful thinking. Katie didn’t rush into a hasty decision; she wanted to get this right. It had to be something similar to fireworks, but it also had to be legal at the beach. More importantly, it had to be something she thinks pappy Joe would have liked! She decided that beautifully colored sky lanterns would be the best fit for all those key reasons.

First off, she knows that Grandpa Joe would certainly approve of them. Second, they are legal to use on public property as long as they are carried over the ocean and not towards the land. Lastly, they involve fire so they are about as close as you can get to a sparkler under the circumstances. With the decision made, she just had to figure out how she wanted to use them.

Pulling Off a Sky Lantern Exit

Coordinating a bunch of people with sparklers is one thing; but coordinating several sky lanterns is a much harder task! Katie and Doug decided that they would have everyone pair up and release a sky lantern together at the end of their ceremony. As they floated off, they would make their “getaway”. The concept was to create a sky lantern wedding exit if at all possible. They knew it was going to be a challenge, but they were determined to get the job done.

With a little preparation, they were able to put all the pieces into place and have a successful sky lantern wedding exit. They had all of their friends, family, and children participate, and that is what mattered most. Katie’s favorite memories of pappy Joe were spending time together and having fun. In the end, it wasn’t really about the sparklers at all; so switching from sparklers to sky lanterns worked out great! Katie and Doug were glad things turned out the way that they did, and everyone at the celebration had a fun time that they will cherish for the rest of their lives. The pictures shown in this post are proof that change can be an amazing thing. Embrace change at your celebration and you are sure to enjoy an unexpected treat!