Words: Nicola Smith
Picture the scene: you’re planning your upcoming nuptials and ticking off the never-ending to-do list: cake, photographer, venue, dress. Eventually the topic of conversation swings round to fireworks. Fireworks? At my wedding? Is that even possible? And if it is, wouldn’t it be insanely extravagant? If the only fireworks display you’re familiar with is the one that explodes above Edinburgh Castle at Hogmanay, then yes, the idea that you might commemorate your marriage by lighting up the night sky may indeed seem like a far-fetched notion. But, on a smaller scale, organising a fireworks display at your wedding is actually both accessible and affordable, as our insiders reveal.
Bang for your buck
For the lucky couple with an uncapped budget, there are no limits to the style, pace and dynamic of a wedding fireworks extravaganza. With the help of a pyrotechnician, as they’re known in the trade, you’ll be able to create a dazzling display in sync to your favourite songs with sparkling waterfalls, whirling aerial shells, and a dramatic finale that sees your newlywed initials etched across the sky.
Back down to earth, there are plenty of options for those with a more realistic budget too. Most professional displays start around the £500 to £750 mark (growing into the thousands if you’re determined to make a statement). “You can achieve a good fireworks display for £500,” says Mark Copland of Fireworx Scotland.
Start with the basic selection, then feel free to indulge in some of the more spectacular possibilities. “With our fully professional service, all choreographed and brought to life with two operators, a bespoke service is usually priced from about £750,” he adds.
There are plenty of dazzling options if your budget won’t stretch that far. “Many people mistakenly think that a professional fireworks show is expensive. It doesn’t have to be,” says Geoff Crow of the 21CC Group. “With our spectacular wedding pyrotechnics starting at just £250, your guests will be dazzled – and convinced that you spent much more.”
So, what’s the best plan of action if you decide to go ahead? “If fireworks are high up on your list of priorities, don’t book your venue until you’ve asked if they allow fireworks,” says Fraser Stevenson at Absolute Fireworks. There are various reasons why some venues say no – most of them related to noise restrictions or health and safety issues – so talk to your venue’s wedding co-ordinator. “It sounds like an obvious question but it is one that many couples ask only after paying their deposit for the venue. Some will simply say no,” adds Fraser.
If the answer is no, all is not lost! If the answer is yes, however, your fireworks company can get to work, liaising with the venue on your behalf. This is the best-case scenario, as the rules and regulations around pyrotechnics are complex. “We deal with everything,” says Fraser. “Whether that means contacting any nearby airport to alert them about the display or getting a courtesy notification to the police or coastguard.”
A reputable fireworks company will be properly insured (sometimes in the region of up to ten million pounds) and they’ll have all the latest gadgets, features and safety equipment in hand – something an amateur display couldn’t come close to matching.
Keep to the beat
It’s possible to add music to your display to create what’s known as a ‘pyromusical.’ “Our pyromusicals are thrilling, with lots of crescendos and aerial bursts in time to the music,” says Geoff. Music can be added to your display for around £250 – and it can be anything from a dreamy Disney number to a classical piece or your favourite song.
And if you’re staying true to your roots with a Scottish wedding, the team at 21CC Group can incorporate set pieces that tie in well with a pipe band.
Not everyone is keen on the loud bangs that accompany fireworks, but, incredibly, there is a way round this that doesn’t involve earplugs: quiet fireworks. Believe it or not, as the name suggests, there is such a thing as fireworks that make hardly any noise. “There’s a big trend for low-noise fireworks,” says Mark. “Some of these are much prettier and can really build a beautiful display.” It’s certainly an option to consider if there are sensitive ears among your party. What you lose in the drama of the bangs and explosions, you gain with a show that allows you to focus on the colour and shape of the fireworks. A clever compromise would be to start with a quiet display that gradually builds up to end on a big ol’ explosion and a round of applause.
And if your venue refuses to permit a standard display? Why not have one inside instead? Indoor fireworks can make a huge impact. The best part is that none of your guests will expect it – unlike with outdoor fireworks, where the game is given away by the fact that everyone has to troop outside. You can set off your indoor display at any time, but Fraser recommends using it to mark one of the following three major events: “The bride and groom making their way to their table; cutting the cake; or the first dance.” Don’t go for all three – it loses its impact after the first time!