The end-of-the-evening send-off is a fun way to wrap up the night’s celebrations and get one last awesome photo op. There are a lot of ways to make this moment exciting and fun, so let’s look at a few!
So many options for colors, sizes, types… the options are just about endless! Before you start buying or making confetti for your send-off, first check your venue rental policies to see if it’s actually allowed at your venue. If this is something that is a must-have at your wedding, make sure you’re asking about it while venue shopping so you are making the best choices for your wedding vision. Some venues prohibit confetti of any kind, some allow only natural/biodegradable options, some are totally okay with anything you have. If it’s not addressed in your contract/policies, ask your venue representative to make sure you’re on the same page and to ensure your confetti choice is allowed. If it’s not on their list of approved options, choose. something. else. Do not go against your venue’s policies or you may end up losing deposits, getting charged extra fees for cleanup, or any other array of things you don’t want to have to deal with on or after your wedding day.
There are tons of confetti types out there to choose from…
Paper Confetti – I don’t particularly like paper confetti as a rule since it’s not necessarily environmentally friendly and you will, far more likely than not, be required to clean up every last piece dropped. However, if your venue allows it and you’re good with the cleanup, there are some really fun perks to it! You can get or make just about any color you like, you can cut/punch/order from tons of shape options (like stars or hearts or initials/words), and it can often be ordered in bulk if you find the right vendor for your budget. However, if you do opt to make it yourself, start early and work on it over multiple sessions as it can take a long time.
Biodegradable Confetti – Another great way to get the colors you want, but also work better with a lot of venue’s policies! You can order biodegradable confetti from a variety of sources, including local artists/vendors. One thing to note: while it may eventually degrade, most types of biodegradable confetti take a week or more to do so fully with the right weather conditions, which means it’s still visible on the ground until then. Due to having events and weddings regularly and wanting to provide a clean, fresh space to new rentals each time, venues may still ask you to clean up your biodegradable confetti.
Artificial Flower Petals – They’re pretty, eye catching, and can usually be found for cheap! Most venues will be okay with artificial rose petals (or other larger artificial petal type) because they would require you to pick it up anyway as part of your décor. Still, check with your venue before investing in the petals because some venues choose to not even allow these and skip the whole hassle. However, you have so many color options to choose from, they can be ordered cheaply in bulk, and they tend to photograph nicely since they’re more floaty and bigger than traditional confetti styles. Just be sure to fluff/separate them before the big day so they don’t stick together and plop on the ground, rather than float around romantically.
Sprinkles – Like the kind that go on cupcakes? Sure! They are just sugar, so they’ll eventually break down with rain or be eaten by animals, come in a bunch of colors and shapes, and can be purchased in bulk for cheap! I’d recommend either doing this inside over smooth flooring for easy sweeping or outside on grass/unpaved ground so it can break down and disappear easier. If it gets stuck on a rough pavement or something that can get stained easily from the dyes, your venue might not be very happy. If you’re really brave, you could sweep them up and use them in future baking adventures! (JUST KIDDING)
Natural Confetti – There are a variety of types of “natural” confetti options and your choices are only really restricted by what you can find and pay for. These are great alternatives to traditional confetti because they are naturally-found materials and generally aren’t going to create negative environmental impact. Some venues still require cleanup of larger styles, but often the types that have smaller and less noticeable pieces can be left to blow away and degrade on their own. I love suggesting natural confetti options to my clients because they’re unique, often smell lovely, and give more delicate vibes than traditional confetti options. A few examples of natural confetti: crushed lavender, fallen/fall leaves, hole-punched leaves for a smaller toss (time consuming), wildflower petals or whole wildflower heads (trim off the stems, smaller would be better), crushed/separated wheat, bird seed (I don’t now, I just work here), biodegradable seed paper confetti (best for a family yard to potentially spread wildflowers- you don’t want to disrupt a venue’s landscaping/ecosystem with unplanned plants), crushed baby’s breath, dried or crushed herbs like rosemary or dried mint… I can just smell it now!
Non-Throwing Options – Maybe your venue doesn’t allow tossed anything or you don’t really feel like picking bits of things out of your hair and clothes after. There are a number of ways to have a fun and interactive send-off without confetti! Bubbles are a whimsical and visually intriguing way for your guests to contribute without harming the environment or creating a mess. They also are SO fun in photographs! Sparklers are a big hit as well since they create a romantic glow and can be waved around for longer-exposure shots that create neat patterns in photos. However, make sure your venue allows these – ask specifically about it. They do pose a burn risk and can’t be picked up and reused, so be sure to get a longer style than the usual short kiddie ones. Glow sticks are an excellent alternative to sparklers for that evening-time glow without the burn risk! Another cute alternative is ribbons or pom-poms or pendant flags on sticks! You can purchase or make these and they can come in any color for your guests to wave as you walk by. Bells or noisemakers are a fun audible way for guests to celebrate your love and can double as wedding favors if you like!
Some more cost-involved options could be releasing doves/butterflies (please do so through a professional), hiring a special effects specialist to create a fireworks display (CHECK FIRST WITH YOUR VENUE), or cold spark machines like this option from AV For You.
And of course, a completely free and extra personalized option: CHEERING! Big smiles, arms waving, hands clapping, woo-hoo-ing, and all the excitement not only sounds super fun in person and builds on the celebration, but also looks so FUN in photos! It may help to designate a “cheer leader” to pep up the crowd ahead of time, but nothing beats some good ol’ fashion cheering.
Things I Don’t Recommend
Releasing Lanterns – While these look super cool and romantic floating away, the environmental impact is not worth it in my opinion. Firstly, you’re sending off unnatural materials into the environment (whether by air or water) with flames actively burning inside. You don’t know where it’s going to land, who might run into it, or if it could cause a fire; and on top of that, how will it be cleaned up and disposed of once it’s grounded? Owls and bats regularly get disoriented and fly into in them (almost always resulting in death), they’ve started countless wildfires around the country, and I can’t imagine how much litter has been picked up that included their remains. They’re cool, but honestly I don’t find them worth the risks they pose.
Rice – Not only is this a massively outdated practice, but it’s not good for local wildlife (the starchy grains offer no nutrition and act similarly to bread in their systems.) In addition, it gets gross and sticky very easily from moisture which is hard to clean up and off of people. The rice you might have used for your send-off photos could be donated to a food shelter and something less food-wasteful could be used instead, like dried baby’s breath.
Glitter – No.
In the movies, the “send-off” depicts the couple leaving their venue before the end of the evening to head off on their honeymoon. It’s cute, but not realistic of most weddings these days. Couples usually stay until the end of their reception to continue dancing, celebrate with the guests who stayed late, and in reality, to start clean up after the last song. Also, your photographer likely will not stay all the way to the end, yet you want to get pictures of that send-off!
Just like with your getting ready photos, you can stage your send-off. By picking an earlier time to stage send-off photos, you are able to include more guests that would have otherwise headed home by that later time, you’re able to actually see the things being tossed if it’s lighter out, and you can continue the dancing and fun right after! Your early-departure guests will love being involved and you will have a stronger guest presence in your photos.
You can also have your recessional (leaving the ceremony after you kiss) be part of your send-off time and have guests pick up materials as they find their seats so they’re ready to go. Just before the ceremony begins, someone can hand out materials to anyone who skipped it when they entered and let everyone know the plan for launching the materials. Similarly, you could stage a send-off when leaving your ceremony location itself (or just transitioning from ceremony to cocktail hour within the same venue) by having your guests line up for you to walk out through them. It’s like a party kick-off!