When it comes down to it, receptions can prove to be the most challenging part of a wedding with the presence of so many uncontrolled variables. You are stuck in a low light scene, forced to work with the DJ’s light setup, and you have no choice but to adapt.
Lighting is key to any event. You can change the whole look of a room by adding color, design, or highlighting an important accent piece. You know that wedding cake you spent a fortune on? Why not draw attention to it by shining a spotlight right on it? Your guests will be wowed and you will feel like that cake money was well spent. Have you ever walked into a room and instantly felt happy? Or vice versa, sad? Next time, pay attention to the color on the walls and the lighting in the room.
Believe it or not, there is a psychological side to colors. Yellow can make you feel happy and upbeat, while blue is more of a relaxing, calm color. If you are trying to pick a venue for your event and are having troubles with the feeling of the room, it could be the coloring and/or lighting. Don’t fret! You can hire a lighting specialist to use a technique called “color wash” to spread color throughout the room. A color wash will drape your room with any color of your choice and can totally transform your event space.
Learn Lighting Lingo
Here are the types of lighting commonly used at weddings.
Pin spot: A focused beam of light that shines directly onto an object, like a centerpiece or wedding cake, as a highlight effect.
Color wash: Basically a blanket of colored light covering an entire area to create a mood or change the look of built-in décor.
Gobos: Circular stencils that are put over a light to project a design or pattern onto a wall, ceiling or floor. Monograms, dates and wedding motifs are popular gobo designs.
LED: Short for "light-emitting diode," LED lights use much less electricity than (and don't get as hot as) regular incandescent light bulbs. They can also be wireless, which makes them even more discreet. LEDs are great for color changes and vibrant hues.
String lighting: A strand of lights that can create a magical effect (think Christmas or market lights). An installation can be labor-intensive, but the lighting itself is fairly budget-friendly.
Lighting by Style
Now that you've got all the tips and tricks, learn what type of lighting is best for your wedding style.
Your Wedding Style: Classic
Many classic reception spaces are outfitted with gorgeous fixtures, like crystal chandeliers and wall sconces, that add elegant ambience to a space at no extra cost. If you're looking to up the glitz, add silver candelabras to dining tables—they'll give off a soft glow and serve as decoration. Consider adding a monogram to your dance floor with a gobo, or use a spotlight to show off a raw bar, an ice sculpture or a gorgeous cake. If you're dining and dancing under the stars, twinkle lights are pure magic.
Your Wedding Style: Rustic
Saying "I do" in a barn? Start with market lights. These globestyle strands add a bit of whimsy to outdoor spaces. They're larger than twinkle or Christmas lights, so each bulb provides a generous amount of illumination while also creating a charming atmosphere. Make an open space feel more intimate by designating spaces within the venue, like hanging a chandelier over the lounge area or creating a ceremony backdrop with suspended paper star lanterns.
Your Wedding Style: Romantic
Enhance your picturesque plantation home or castle with twinkle lights. Hang them vertically to create a ceremony backdrop, or drape them from a tent for a canopy or starry-sky effect. If you're celebrating outdoors, consider suspending lanterns from trees, or use them to light pathways. Chandeliers make any setting feel more intimate, while pink color-wash lighting will give your whole space a romantic, rose-colored glow.
Your Wedding Style: Modern
Opt for hues that flatter skin tones, such as pinks and purples, and let them build in intensity over the course of the evening. Consider adding LED lights to floral arrangements for luminous stems that double as décor and mood lighting. A moving design or video projection of blooming florals or a bustling cityscape is another cool, techy option.