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Everything You Need to Know About Bringing in Wedding Lighting

Your ultimate guide to BYOL.

Contributing Writer
lanterns hanging from trees
Photography by: Stefano Stantucci

Many couples don't give their wedding lighting much thought, but they absolutely should. With terms like "pin-spotting" and "LED," the whole process seems technical, and much less exciting than choosing centerpieces and your dinner menu. But without great lighting, your guests won't be able to see your hard work and your photographer won't be able to capture it. To ensure you don't underestimate the importance of wedding illumination, we're sharing everything you need to know about lighting. 

 

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The Different Types of Wedding Lighting

To help you determine which type of lighting works best for your venue and your needs, you need to understand the options that are available today. Below, a breakdown of your choices. Remember that you can select more than one type of lighting to achieve your desired look.

 

Gobo Lighting:

Have you attended a wedding with the couple's names or wedding date displayed on the dance floor? They likely used gobo lighting, which projects the image of a personalized stencil onto a wall, floor, ceiling, or other surface. While you certainly could use gobos throughout your space, they're a better choice for statement areas.

 

Pin-Spotting:

If you want to highlight one aspect of your wedding, like your centerpieces or the dessert table, then consider pin-spotting. This type of lighting relies on a beam of light that is directed at a certain area of space, effectively creating a focal point. You could also use pin spots throughout your entire reception space to shine line on each dinner table.

 

Spotlight:

As another way to draw attention to a particular object, a bride and groom can use spotlights. These beams of light are more powerful than pin-spotting and light up something larger, like the first dance or the cake-cutting festivities.

 

Fairy Lights:

Strings of lights made of many soft-glowing bulbs attached to a wire are often called fairy lights. Many couples love the budget-friendly twinkling displays for their ethereal appearance, which dress up any tent or garden setting. Consider draping fairy lights to the ceiling of your tent, or wrapping them around tree trunks along your reception site.

 

Color Wash:

If you want your wedding colors to have a prominent place in your reception, then use color wash, which is created by placing colored gels over lights. Color wash instantly alters the atmosphere and appearance of a room, since it covers an entire space in the chosen hue.

 

Landscape Lighting:

If you're hosting a reception outdoors, you'll want to light the way to the bathrooms, parking lot, and dance floor. This can easily be done with landscape lighting, since the fixtures are usually staked to the ground along a pathway.

 

Other Light Fixtures:

Depending on the desired wedding aesthetic, a couple may choose some other form of lighting for their ceremony and reception. These include chandeliers, candles, mason jar lamps, and lanterns. 

 

Underlighting and Uplighting:

While underlighting will illuminate tables or other items from below, uplighting shines light upwards—usually onto a wall.

 

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Who Should Provide Your Lighting?

It's best to hire a lighting professional who understands the ins and outs of wedding illumination. First, check if your venue has its own lighting specialist. If not, start researching reliable lighting companies; your wedding planner or designer may have some recommendations. Make sure to discuss your budget before making any plans as the cost of lighting varies widely based on style and quantity. In addition to lighting, you may have to pay for delivery and set-up, as well as overtime charges and damage fees.

 

Venue Considerations

Even if your venue doesn't provide lighting, you should consider your ceremony and reception location when choosing your lighting solutions. Start by bringing your specialist to the venue; once they check out the space in person, they'll be better equipped to recommend lighting that works for your desired aesthetic. If the wedding is at night, make sure to visit after the sun sets.

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About the Author

Nicole Harris

Nicole fell in love with the bridal industry after a summer internship with Martha Stewart Weddings. Although she's still a couple of years away from tying the knot, she can't help planning her own Big Day. She's crazy about creative DIY décor, classic lace gowns, colorful invitations, and huge (preferably endless) dessert spreads. Until it's time to pick her first dance song, though,...

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