Lighting is one of the most impactful investments you can make in your wedding.
From fairylights and candles to uplighters and spots, paying a little attention to your wedding lighting can add drama, ambience, and really draw attention to an ornate venue or make a simple setting, all the more special.
A little goes a long way with lighting, and even the most impressive-looking rig-ups can be surprisingly simple. While many areas of wedding decor (bunting, flowers, origami or pom poms) take a lot to make a big impression, being creative, or hiring professionals to accent your space with lighting, could be all the decoration you need.
But where to start?
We’ve wanted to bring you a guide to wedding lighting for a while now, but with all the technical lingo (and not to mention, electricity!) it’s hard to know where to begin.
So, we brought in the professionals.
Light Motif are London-based event designers, who create, not only the most beautifully lit events, but also look after full production, from cool rentals to complete audio visual services.
It’s their ethos that every event deserves high quality lighting design, whatever the budget. (And we’re inclined to agree!)
Photo by Shewanders Photography
From lighting your pathways to adding your glowing initials to the dancefloor, Light Motif have lots of ideas for using lights throughout your wedding.
So, who better to not only crack the lighting jargon, but also guide us through what to consider before you book your wedding lighting, and things to tick off the list lighting-wise in the lead up to your big day.
Brides, grooms, and light bulb enthusiasts: welcome to our Ultimate Guide to Wedding Lighting!
Lighting Lingo 101
Do you know your string lights from your storm lanterns? Neither did we. We asked the team at Light Motif to tell us a little more about some of the most commonly used terms in event lighting.
This is a great, and beautifully simply way to light any room. Lighting around the perimetre of the room can light walls and columns, and add colour that can be changed to suit a mood or theme.
Lighting can help create an ambience and provide a setting for your day. Using colours and effects lighting can help make your rooms feel warm, intimate and can provide the backdrop to you evening reception party.
A light pattern effect that can be put over the ceiling, and over the tables and is a cost-effective way of decorating the room.
Simple spotlighting to highlight your flowers. Highlight your table centre piece with a technique called “pinspotting”. A narrow beam of light is used to light the centre of the table.
Festoon and Fairy Lights
Festoon and fairy lights are an excellent and cost effective way of decorating your venue. Festoon is suitable for outdoor spaces, gardens, marquees, tents, and high roofed venues.
Fairy lights can be placed around trees, bushes, stairways, and strung across ceilings to create a “canopy” effect. Equally a dropped-bulb effect is visually stunning.
Flambeaux and Storm Lanterns
Place flambeaux outside your venue to create a grand entrance for you and your guests
You can have your initials projected onto a wall, floor, or ceiling by creating a gobo; an image that when you pass light through it projects the image onto a surface. A great way to personalise your wedding!
Things To Think About Before Your Book Your Lighting
So you’ve decided you love lighting and want to deck your wedding out in uplighters, string lights, and those super cool dropped bulbs.
Before you drop a deposit on the first lighting crew you find, Light Motif advises you consider what your venue already has, what other vendors you might need, and how exactly you want your perfectly-lit party to look like.
All In One
Your event design company can help source your venue, design your invitations, and style your day by sourcing a florist, caterer and entertainment.
They can attend a venue visit with you to talk through your day and requirements, and with often years of experience can suggest ideas to make your day unique and special. By having one company oversee everything, it takes the stress away from having lots of suppliers involved.
A Realistic Budget
Do tell your event design company how much you have to spend. Whether your budget is low, medium or high, your production company will have options to suit your style and venue.
See What Your Venue Offers First
Photo via Love With Me
Does your venue have a lighting package? If not, then ask your production company to provide some options to suit your budget.
From something very minimal to very grand there are multiple options to decorate and create ambience. High impact can often be created with very little when it comes to lighting!
Double Up on a DJ Booth
Ask your lighting company to provide a quote for DJ Kit, sound system and DJ booth. However, it is worth checking to see if your DJ is bringing his own stuff first.
Are You Having a Marquee Wedding or Outside Wedding?
Photo by via Santana Photography
It is worth thinking about the time of year for an outdoor wedding, as weather can have a huge impact, even on production!
Make sure you tell your production company if you are using a marquee or tent and they will be able to suggest things to make having an outdoor wedding more simple and comfortable, ie. pathway lighting, lanterns, foliage lighting, grass or mud floor covering, and gazebos etc.
Picture Your Ideal Wedding Day
Create a mood board of images for your wedding day. This can help your event design team, wedding planner or even the venue help your imagine your dream! Do you have a theme or colours you want to use?
Your production company will be able to create a solution for your ideas, or suggest new things to brighten up your day.
Expert Advice Ahead of Your Big Day
So, you’ve booked the lighting company, and you’ve bought candles in bulk. Job done.
Not so fast!
There are still a few things to consider in the lead up to your wedding, changes you might want to make, and key people you might want to put in touch with each other.
Light Motif gives us their last minute planning tips for lighting.
Watch the Weather Forecast
We cannot control the weather, sorry. But if you do realise it’s going to be a gloriously sunny and hot day, your guests might be using the outside more! You might want to think about outside furniture, and pathway lighting.
If it decides to rain then a last minute pop up gazebo might be what’s needed! If your guests are outside in cold weather you also might want to think about providing patio heaters.
Sync Up Suppliers
It is beneficial for all your suppliers to chat through the day with each other.
It is always helpful to let your suppliers know who you are using for catering, flowers etc. and if you have a wedding planner then they will coordinate all of your suppliers together.
Think Added Extras
Let us know if you need additional seating areas for your guests to relax in either after the ceremony or during the evening reception.
Or if the weather turns out to be nice, your guests might be using outside and therefore additional furniture might be required. Your production company shall be able to supply this for you up to a week before your wedding.
Whether you need a a stage for your band to play on, or carpet for your aisle. You can use a sound system for background music during your ceremony, and for speeches during the wedding breakfast. If your band or DJ has a rider your production company can provide the equipment for this.
A Few Tips of Our Own
While we may get our fairy lights tangled every single Christmas, as wedding bloggers, we’ve seen a lot of lovely lights in our time.
Here’s a few of our own top tips for planning gorgeous wedding lighting.
Talk to Your Photographer
Photographing lights is a real skill. If you’re dreaming of gorgeous night time shots under a sky of fairy lights, check that’s something in your photographer’s repertoire.
Many photographers shoot with natural light, and specialise in dreamy day time or sunset shots, so be sure to choose a photographer who’s forte is shooting after dark.
And don’t forget to let them know your lighting plans so they can bring the right equipment on the day.
While you know how much we love DIY weddings – do be careful when it comes to DIY lighting.
If it requires more than just plugging in some fairy lights or lighting some candles, we suggest bringing in the professionals!
Get Venue Permission
Photo via The Style Co
You might have your heart set on 20,000 light bulbs adorning your wedding, but your venue could have other ideas.
Before you book your wedding lighting, chat to your venue, not only about what lighting equipment they have already, but what you’re permitted to add. Some older buildings, or more remote venues might have dated fuse boards, electricity restrictions, or rules on what can be hung from ceilings and walls.
The last thing you want is to have your guests dine in darkness because your patterned light instillation blew the generator at your venue!
Call in the Candles
You can never have enough candles. If you’re budget won’t stretch to wedding lighting, remember you can always get instant ambience with candles, candles and more candles.
Stock up on lots of tea lights and pillar candles ahead of your wedding day, and ask your venue staff to keep them lit throughout the night.
There is nothing more dramatic and romantic for you and your guests than walking into a room filled with flickering light.
So much gorgeous lighting inspiration – did you pin them all? Or was that just us!
And such amazing advice from Light Motif – thanks so much to them for guiding us through the glimmering world of wedding lighting.
Have you any more wedding lighting questions? Do leave them in the comments below, and we’ll do our best to find you the answers!
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