Serene, colorful, and beautiful, hot air balloons are symbols of peace, tranquility, and freedom floating in the clear sky. What better way to celebrate your wedding than with a balloon ride? Charter a balloon for a morning or sunset ride for a brilliantly colored sky and an experience that you won't soon forget.
Planning Your Ride
As much as you'd love to take everyone up in the air, you'll need to limit your ballooning group to a few special people. Large balloon baskets can fit up to 15 passengers, while smaller balloons fit only three or four people including a professional pilot. Prices vary by region, but are usually around $100 to $200 per person for a flight that lasts an hour or so.
Want to keep your ride intimate? Consider using your balloon flight as a send-off for just you and your sweetie on the way to your honeymoon. Many companies offer "champagne flights" or other deluxe services for special celebrations. These are usually more expensive, but offer outstanding photo-ops. Ask ahead of time if you'd like to land at a special location, like a winery, garden, or spa retreat. Ballooning companies can sometimes arrange for special drop-offs if they have advance notice.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. Does the balloon company offer complimentary pick-up and delivery? Since your flight will probably not be taking off directly from your wedding site, you'll need a way to get your guests to the take-off point and a way to get them home again.
Ask to meet the pilot you'll be flying with before signing any contracts. After all, you will be spending a few hours in very close company with this person, so it should be someone friendly and pleasant to be around.
Do you want a certain color or pattern on your balloon? While you may not be able to get your first choice because of scheduling concerns, it never hurts to ask for a balloon that matches your wedding colors.
Are you nervous about being so high in the sky? Don't worry. Professional balloon pilots are trained to handle their crafts. When you're looking for a hot air balloon company in your area, look for a service that employs FAA Commercial pilots and commercially insured balloons with a 100 percent safety record. You'll be able to enjoy a beautiful view from the safety and security of the balloon basket.
The most important factor in avoiding a scary flight is in knowing what types of weather to avoid, so be prepared to schedule alternate plans if the sky starts darkening or the wind picks up. While it can be a huge disappointment to forgo your much-anticipated balloon ride on your wedding day, it's better to go up later (or not at all) than to risk an unsafe ride. Make sure your contract covers refunds or rescheduling in the case of uncooperative weather.
Even if it's warm on the ground, the wind can pick up once you're in the air. Dress in plenty of layers, and avoid open-toed shoes and short skirts so you don't get too chilly. If you have long hair, you may also want to bring a scarf or hair clips so you don't look too windblown in the pictures. If the bride is traveling directly from the wedding ceremony to the balloon ride and doesn’t wish to change out of her wedding dress, she can bring a large coat to wear over it (once the photographer is finished taking photos, of course).
Becoming a Hot Air Balloon Pilot
What if you don't want to share your wedding day with a pilot you hardly know? The answer could lie in becoming a pilot yourself. Do you have a passion (or a friend with a passion) for soaring through the sky? If you've always wanted to fly your own hot air balloon, the upcoming wedding could be the perfect excuse to finally get that pilot license. It will cost around $3,000 for the private pilot certificate. You will have to study and practice hard, log many supervised hours in the air (depending on the type of license you're seeking, it's best to become an active crew member on someone else's balloon or ground crew first), and pass a number of written and in-flight practical tests. When you're done with that, you'll also have to buy your own hot air balloon.
While the licensing process can be long and difficult–sometimes taking up to two years–it's a wonderful present to be able to give to the couple getting married (not to mention to yourself!). If you're attracted to the thrills of owning and operating your own hot air balloon, an upcoming wedding is a wonderful time to start. You can celebrate soaring love and emotions while you soar through the air!
If the feeling of riding in a hot air balloon is more important to you than the concept of taking it for a journey, you can rent a balloon to give tethered rides at your event. This means that the balloon will be staked in place while the pilot takes it up into the air and back down again. This is the most affordable option if you want everyone at your wedding to experience a taste of balloon flight.
Beautiful Wedding Details
The actual hot air balloon ride is only the start of a beautiful wedding theme. Adorn your dessert table with balloon-shaped cake pops, and decorate your evening reception with balloon-esque glowing lanterns. Hot air balloons make beautiful prints for invitations and thank-you cards, as well as paper punch-outs for guests' place cards. Embrace the ballooning metaphor for your marriage: a colorful balloon soars through the air, skimming over hills and valleys below for a smooth ride. Is there any phrase more romantic than, "Come fly away with me"?