Wish Lanterns and Your Wedding

Every bride wants her wedding to be memorable, and one way to achieve that wow-factor during your wedding is to incorporate wish lanterns into your ceremony or reception. Not only do these lanterns create a beautiful effect when they are released into the night sky all at once, but they also have an important meaning that dates back thousands of years. Wish lanterns, also known as sky lanterns, have long been used during Asian festivals and Chinese New Year celebrations, where they were traditionally released into the sky as a symbol of knowledge and wisdom. Today, some brides and grooms choose to set aside a portion of their ceremony or reception where they and their guests can release wish lanterns into the sky as a symbol of their new union.

Wish lanterns are one of those things that are really easy to incorporate into your wedding, and will also create a lasting memory for you and your guests. The lanterns are a great idea for beach weddings in particular, because the lanterns can float out over the water unobstructed and create a really beautiful image that you’ll treasure for years after your wedding. Whether you have ten lanterns or 100, seeing them glowing and floating away into the sky and beyond is both aesthetically pleasing and incredibly meaningful at the same time. In fact, some bride and grooms choose to write wishes or dreams on the lanterns before releasing them into the sky, which makes the tradition even more personal.

Origins and History

Traditionally used in Asia for celebrations and festivals, the launch of a Wish Lanterns symbolizes the release of worries and problems. Today, lantern festivals are part of many cultural ceremonies throughout Asia, ranging from China to Taiwan to Thailand.

One source notes that sky lanterns first floated over China during New Year’s celebrations in the 3rd century B.C., but Chinese military hero Zhuge Liang is generally credited with creating the flying lights. During the Three Kingdoms Era, sky lanterns were strategically used on the battlefield as an efficient means of communication.

After peace settled throughout the land, everyone from peasants to royalty began using the rice paper lanterns to thank the gods for their blessings, to cast away their fears and to declare their hopes for a prosperous future. Traditionally, sky lanterns are sent into the sky with written wishes attached, ranging from prayers for a good harvest to blessings for a happy marriage to requests for relief from life’s worries. In Thailand, green lanterns are lit for personal growth while purple lanterns carry dreams of opportunity to the heavens.

Wish Lanterns are biodegradable, non-flammable and easy to use. They create an amazing visual effect that adds enjoyment and wonder to any special occasion. Simply light the fuel cell, wait for the lanterns to fill up with hot air and then let go. You and your guests will gaze as the Wish Lantern floats up into the night sky. Using the power of fire, the Wish Lanterns will be in the air for about 12-20 minutes and go up over a mile in the air.


Lighting your Lantern – When, Where & How

If you decide to invite your guests to launch their own wishes along with you, providing them with colorful markers so they can write down their well wishes for your future is a great addition to the ceremony. Guests can send off their lanterns as you emerge from the chapel, anytime during the reception or just as you are departing to start your new life together. (Note! It will be much easier to gather your sober guests at the beginning of the event rather than the end)

You can also launch a lantern together as a couple at your rehearsal dinner with your closest family and friends or incorporate it into your marriage ceremony as your unity ritual. Also be aware that some communities ban sky lanterns at certain times of the year due to the fire hazards they can present (especially when the ground is very dry), so it is crucial that you check in with the local fire department to get clearance.

Considerations when launching Wish Lanterns

  • Always keep water or fire extinguishers nearby
  • Children must not be left unattended with the Wish Lanterns.
  • Ensure that the wind is not stronger than 5 mph.
  • Do not use around dry crops or if a burn ban is in effect in your county
  • Ensure that trees or buildings are not in the flight path.
  • Do not release within five miles of an airport.
  • Wish lanterns are safe when used correctly but are not toys and should not be handled by children.
Wish Lantern Fuel Cell
Wish Lantern Fuel Cell

How to launch a Wish Lantern

  1. Check wind direction.
  2. Ensure there are no obstacles in the way of the intended balloon flight.
  3. Ensure Wish Lantern is fully open and corners are not creased.
  4. Lighting with two people (RECOMMENDED): Have one person hold the top of the Wish Lantern and ensure the sides are opened out enough to create a good air chamber within the lantern.
  5. Once the fuel cell has caught alight, hold the lantern from the top and wait for it to fill up with hot air which can take anywhere between 30 seconds and 4 minutes depending on conditions.
  6. Be patient – Do not attempt to throw the lantern into the air – wait until you can feel it tugging away from your hands and allow more time if unsure. When you let go the lantern should fly right up into the sky.
  7. Stand back and watch it float up into the sky.


While the flame is lit, wish lanterns can fly into the air for up to 20 minutes, traveling several miles in distance and up to 1,000 feet in altitude before the flame goes out and the lantern floats safely back to the ground. Because they can travel such long distances, wish lanterns should always be released outdoors in a clear and wide open space without any overhead obstructions like trees, power lines or buildings. To maximize the visibility and enjoyment of a wish lantern release, the launch should take place on a clear night with little or no wind. Good luck and enjoy your wedding wish lantern release!