Etiquette: Fireworks will make Fourth of July wedding sparkle

For the News-DemocratJuly 1, 2013 

Q. I can't believe I am going to a wedding on the Fourth of July, and I'm supposed to wear some kind of red, white and blue outfit I don't have yet!

The wedding and the reception are going to be outside and I understand all the adult guests are going to be given some kind of firecrackers to light at a certain time and every kid will have a sparkler. Is this far-fetched or what! I think it is ridiculous and tacky. I've also been told everyone will be provided with some kind of glittered tophat to wear for the evening.

I am going if I can find something to wear, but I think it will be a real sideshow! What do you think about this?

A. Well, it may not be as far-fetched as you might think. Yes, perhaps a different type of wedding in your eyes, but believe it or not, fireworks as a part of weddings is not something new. Nor is the color red as a part of the theme. For example:

* According to ancient Chinese wedding traditions, which go back to almost 400 B.C., the official color for a wedding was (and remains to be for many couples) red. Red to signify joy, love and prosperity. Wedding gifts were presented in red baskets and the color red was used as an accent color throughout the festivities.

Another part this ancient Chinese wedding tradition was fireworks, gongs and drums which served as the surrounding heraldry of the wedding procession along with the groom as he headed to his bride's house. All of this was meant to "chase away any evil spirits that might be following the groom into his new life. (Yes, that's what the references say, I didn't make it up: "evil spirits which might be following the groom.")

Simultaneously, there was music and dancing, for the purpose of attracting good luck for the couple as the evil spirits were being chased away.

There were many other ancient Chinese wedding traditions; some of which prevail and others which do not. But fireworks and the color red remain popular.

* Bulgarian wedding traditions include fireworks as the bridal party proceeds from the bride's home to the ceremony. The fireworks are considered a significant part of the "cheerfulness" of the overall event.

* The recent June wedding of the famous couple: Mena Suvariand and Simone Sestito, which took place in Vatican City, also included fireworks as part of the festivities following the ceremony.

By now, you may be saying to yourself, "well, that's not here in the United States." But, oh yes, it is. The famous and popular wedding spot in San Diego, Calif.: The Grand Tradition Estate and the Beverly Mansion incorporates an arch of sparklers for the married couple to traverse immediately following the ceremony.

"Wedding" sparklers are available for purchase on line, identified as 10-, 20- and 36-inch heart-shaped sparklers. Also available are "wedding cake" sparklers.

The website VIP Sparklers says "wedding sparklers are trendy and becoming increasingly popular." This company also offers a choice of sparklers for wedding toasts and for the first dance. It also sets up, assists with the execution and monitoring all of the fireworks and sparklers at the wedding event until the very last flame is out. Whether they provide this service or some other company, safety for the bride and groom, the entire wedding party, all of the guests and the facilities is critical.

Fireworks on the Fourth of July, and any time for that matter, have always been a sign of celebration and fun and happiness. If you look at the upcoming wedding with these positive thoughts, you may be attending one of the most exciting, wonderful, beautiful and memorable wedding events, ever! And what a wonderful tribute to the meaning of the Fourth of July as well! I wish I knew this couple so that I could have been invited.

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Pat Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427. Or email to

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