Everything You Need to Know About Wedding Lighting

by Bridestory [[ 1462240800000 | amDateFormat:'ll | HH:mm' ]] in Wedding Ideas  


Photography: J. Wilkinson Co.

Let's face it, lighting sounds so technical that most brides and grooms just leave everything to the experts. But did you realize that lighting actually plays a really important part in your wedding? After all, lighting can affect your wedding's whole atmosphere, creating a particular kind of experience for your guests. That's why we think that learning a bit about wedding lighting can help you work better with your wedding decorator and lighting designer to achieve the kind of look you want.

Types of wedding lighting
First things first, learn some lighting lingo so you can understand what your decorator and lighting designer are talking about. We've prepared a list of the most common types of lighting used for wedding celebrations.

Photography: via Inside Weddings - via Colin Cowie Weddings

This is one of the most popular lighting techniques used in weddings these days. Gobo is a die-cut stencil that slides into a projection unit and casts an image onto any kind of surface. Commonly, couples use this to have their monograms or names projected to the dance floor or wall. A variation of Gobo is called texture lighting, which projects a certain pattern or texture.

Photography: Christian Oth

Color wash
Colored lighting is made possible by using gels, which are layers of acetate placed over lights to change their color. This method is often used to add warmth to a room or create special effects. For weddings, it is typically used against ceilings or dance floors. Colored lighting can be either very flattering or very annoying, so make sure to have a professional help you choose the right color.

Photography: via The Bridal Detective

A pin spot is a narrow field of light used to highlight a particular item. In this case, pin-spotting can be used to highlight decorative centerpieces, the wedding cake, or the altar.

Photography: via Pinterest

Landscape lighting
This is an exterior lighting used for highlighting pathways, trees, bushes, gardens, even swimming pools. Basically, it's lighting that is applied to outdoor landscapes. Even though it is often used to help guests find their way on an outdoor setting, landscape lighting can also be used to create a dramatic effect.

Photography: Thomas Stewart Photography

A single beam of light directed to something that requires special attention at a particular moment. To name a few: the first dance, the couple entrance, or the wedding kiss.

Photography: Closer to Love Photography

Twinkle lights
Twinkle lights, also known as fairy lights, are simply lines of small lights. More and more brides have made use of this kind of lighting, as it is easy to find, versatile, and pretty too. The beautiful twinkles can easily add a magical feel to your wedding. However, restraint is key, as overdoing it will only make your wedding look tacky.

Photography: via Southern Weddings Magazine - via Pinterest

It is mostly used to light a glass table from below or to light a floral arrangement where the water is visible, to give out a desired glow.

Photography: Victor Sizemore

This method involves shooting a soft hue of light upward, usually against walls or other properties. It is commonly used to create accents on plain walls and to add color to draping fabrics.

Photography: Ashley Kelemen - Holeigh V.

Surely you're familiar with this one. Using candles as part of your wedding lighting can definitely bring a warm atmosphere to the whole room. However, that doesn't mean you don't need to think of other types of lighting, as candles won't be able to provide that much light.

Photography: Heather Kincaid - Anna Kim Photography

Also a very common element in wedding celebrations, chandeliers are used both as lighting and as part of the decoration due to its beautiful shape. Having chandeliers in your wedding will add a sense of glamour and elegance.

Outdoor wedding lighting ideas
Outdoor weddings are beautiful to start with, so imagine how much more enchanting it would be with a little extra lighting here and there? Take a look at these outdoor wedding lighting ideas and tell us which one you like best in the comments section below.

  • Starry nights

    Having your wedding celebration underneath the night sky is wonderful, but having twinkling "stars" made of lights will make it even more marvelous. Take this couple’s private villa wedding, which was held in Surabaya. White fairy lights created the illusion of a truly magical, starry night.

  • Hanging lights

    Hanging lights is probably one of the easiest yet most impactful way of decorating an outdoor wedding. What’s so great about it is how there are actually plenty of ways to experiment. Aside from using regular fairy lights, you can use light bulbs for a more industrial feel. If you prefer a rustic touch for your wedding, mason jar lights will be a better fit.

  • Letter lights

    Just look at those letter lights. Aren’t they a charming sight? They will make a great decoration on your wedding day; and a great backdrop for your guests' selfies! You can choose sweet words like "love", but your initials will work just as fine.

  • Patterns over the ground

    If you're planning an outdoor wedding with a vast garden or lawn area, why not try this unique lighting idea? Create shapes using flameless electric candles over the grass. Any shape is possible; swirls, initials, flowers, take your pick.

  • Photography: Thomas Stewart

    Floating candles

    If your venue has a pool, put some floating candles over it. This will make the whole area look really beautiful, especially at night. Even if the candles don’t cover the whole pool, make sure you have at least a few lights strategically placed on the water.

  • Lights along a pathway

    Having your wedding outdoors means that your guests might have to walk around a bit. Having lights along the pathway will not only make the venue pretty, it will also lead your guests to the right direction. Walking can be difficult when it comes to nighttime outdoor weddings, so your guests will thank you for this.

  • Outdoor chandeliers

    Chandeliers are usually associated with indoor weddings, but who says you can’t take them outdoors? A lot of brides have used chandeliers for their outdoor wedding and surprisingly, they don’t look out of place at all. In fact, they make outdoor weddings look even more interesting and glamorous. This is perfect for rustic weddings with an elegant flair.

  • Photography: Corbin Gurkin - Jessica Burke

    Unique lighting

    Make use of different kinds of lighting to bring a creative edge to your wedding day decoration. Mix chandeliers and lamps of different shapes and size.

  • Unique lighting

    Also, try looking for unusually-shaped light bulbs to hang from the ceiling like these ones here.

  • Candles

    Candles and outdoor weddings are like a match made in heaven, Optimize the use of candles in your wedding set-up to bring out that warm and ethereal atmosphere.

  • Tent made of lights

    Why not replace the usual outdoor wedding tent with lights? Just prepare a tent-like structure, then hang lights all over it to create the illusion of a roof over the dining area. However, you will need to come up with a plan to tackle any weather-related mishaps that might happen.

Dos and don'ts of wedding lighting
Before you sign any contracts with a lighting designer, follow these simple guidelines when dealing with wedding lighting.

Do: Hire a professional
Lighting is, without a doubt, a very technical thing. Therefore, it's not recommended to handle or even plan your wedding lighting all by yourself. If you want to DIY some parts, it would still be okay; how about making your own mason jar lights, for example? Hiring a professional lighting designer ensures quality and safety on your wedding day. It would be good to have a technician stand by to help you with any lighting needs and mishaps that might happen.

Don't: Forget to see what your venue has to offer
Before spending too much on a lighting vendor, check to see if your venue offers lighting in their wedding package. If the venue has all the lighting options that you like, it would be better to have your venue handle it for you. Your wedding venue will know which spots to enhance and shade, as well as the electricity that they are capable of handling.

Do: Consult your vendor
Bring along your lighting designer to do site checks, so that they can determine the kind of lighting that will suit your venue. Will your wedding be held indoors or outdoors? Be sure to tell your lighting designer as it will affect the setting and production costs as well. Also, brief them about your theme and how you want your wedding to look and feel. Lastly, disclose your budget to the team so they can produce well-balanced lighting without going over your wedding budget.

Don't: Forget your research
Before deciding on a lighting vendor, do your research first. Find and compare different lighting vendors before choosing one. Read articles about wedding lighting (like this one) to get inspirations and a general idea of what you want your wedding lighting to look like. Also try to understand common lighting terms, as they will come in handy when you're dealing with vendors.

Do: Check your venue's terms and conditions
Always check your venue's terms and conditions before agreeing to all the items offered by your lighting vendor. If possible, bring your lighting vendor when meeting with your venue. Some venues have restrictions regarding lighting, and it would be best that you know of them sooner, rather than on the wedding day. Would you need to pay for extra electricity? What kind of lighting equipment is necessary? Are there any that are not allowed? Be sure that both parties have a clear understanding.

Don't: Overdo it
When it comes to lighting, moderation is key. Going over-the-top with lighting will only make your wedding look tacky instead of beautiful. Adding too many colored lighting or applying too many different lighting types at once is not recommended. Just keep everything nice and simple, you'll like the results so much better.

Do: Watch the weather
Especially if you're having an outdoor wedding, pay attention to the weather. As lighting uses lot of electricity, it would be dangerous should it be exposed to rainfall. Think of a back-up plan and ask your lighting vendor to help you on this.

Don't: Forget to talk to your photographer
Lighting is an essential part of any wedding photography. When you've set the mood and lighting for your wedding venue, tell your photographer so that the team will be able to adjust and bring all the necessary equipment to produce good quality pictures of your wedding day.

Lighting Checklist
To not miss out on anything, double check with this simple lighting checklist to make sure you have everything you need.

Click here to download the image


  • Photography: Abby Jiu |

    Anna KIm Photography

    | Anna Roussos | Ashley Kelemen | Bryce Covey | Christian Oth | Closer to Love Photography | via Colin Cowie Weddings | Corbin Gurkin | David Newkirk | Heather Kincaid | Holeigh V. | via Inside Weddings | J Wilkinson Co. |

    JAYSU Weddings by Jacky Suharto

    | Jemma Keech | Jessica Burke | Koman Photography | Maraluce | Michael Radford | Rebecca Artgurs | Thomas Stewart | via Deer Pearl FLowers | via Southern Weddings Magazine | via Mod Weddings | via Pinterest | via The Bridal Detective | via Tulle and Chantilly | Vicki Grafton | Victor Sizemore

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