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: 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 lightbulbs. 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.
Now that you have all of the tips and tricks, learn what type of lighting may best suit 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 are looking to up the glitz, you can add silver candelabras to dining tables—they will give off a soft glow and serve as decoration. Keeping things more modern? Fill glass hurricanes with pillar candles for the same romantic effect. 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 are dining and dancing under the stars, twinkle lights are pure magic. And do not forget to end the evening on a high note with a classic sparkler send-off, venue permitting.
Your Wedding Style: Rustic
Saying “I do” in a barn? Start with market lights. These globe-style strands add a bit of whimsy to outdoor spaces. They are larger than twinkle or Christmas lights, so each bulb provides a generous amount of illumination while also creating a charming atmosphere. Line ceremony aisles or outdoor pathways with luminaries—the simple paper bags will make a big statement. If you are going for a more eclectic look, opt for a unique chandelier treatment (think mason jars or Edison bulbs) or mix a few styles of lighting. 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 are celebrating outdoors, consider suspending lanterns from trees, or use them to light pathways. (Mini lanterns could also make cute escort cards.) Chandeliers make any setting feel more intimate, while pink color-wash lighting will give your whole space a romantic, rose-colored glow. At the end of the evening, ask guests to send lanterns into the night sky with a wish for your future.
Your Wedding Style: Modern
Add a party vibe to an unfinished modern space (a gallery, a city loft) with color-wash lighting. Opt for hues that flatter skin tones, such as pinks and purples, and let them build in intensity over the course of the evening. Sleek, pre-lit tables, which literally glow from within, offer a warm but contemporary feel. Consider adding LED lights to floral arrangements for luminous stems that double as décor and mood lighting. Illuminate venue walls with a cool gobo pattern effect, or project tiny stars on the ceiling above the dance floor. A moving design or video projection of blooming florals or a bustling cityscape is another cool, techy option.
Your Wedding Style: Edgy
Planning to exchange vows in a converted warehouse or historic building? Play up your unique style with lighting that matches. Use up-lighting to draw attention to architectural details or add a wash of color to the space. For table lighting, look to clusters of iron lanterns, which can double as illumination and centerpieces. Or incorporate an Edison bulb chandelier for a more retro look. Personalize your ceremony space with a custom marquee sign or strands of vertical market lights. Hosting an after-party? Have some fun with ’90s-style glow sticks, or ask your bartender to add LED cocktail stirrers into your signature sip for a festive nightcap.