Your Ultimate Guide To Wedding Lighting - I Do Crew

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I love that lighting transforms the look of a wedding.  But very often when I chat to couples about the design of their wedding, wedding lighting doesn’t initially come up.  They are excited to share details about their colour palette, flowers, furniture and table settings, but not lighting.  Often it’s not that they don’t want wedding lighting, it’s just a little harder to know where to start when it comes to technical aspects like lighting; which is where our ultimate guide to wedding lighting comes in.

Let’s begin with some technical terms

Knowing some of the lingo before you start talking to the experts will help you to be able to make good decisions about your wedding lighting.  Basically you want to know your Gobo’s from your LED’s and everything in between.

Uplighting – those pretty lights that are placed on the floor and shine up the walls; come in various colours.  

Gobo light – a template that light shines through to project an image onto a surface (if you have been to a wedding where the couple’s initials appear on the dance floor, you have seen a Gobo in action)

Texture lighting – similar to a Gobo, texture lighting is like painting with light in that it projects a preset pattern (for example leaves or clouds).

Spotlight – a lamp that projects a narrow beam of light on one particular area or object

Pinspot – a tiny light used to illuminate a small area, such as a centerpiece on a table

String lights – small white or differently coloured electric lights spaced evenly along a cable and used for decoration; for example, fairy, bistro, or cafe lights.

LED light –  a type of bulb that is cost-effective, long-lasting, and provides more vibrant colour than a traditional bulb

Colour wash – a general fill of colour used throughout an entire room that doesn’t highlight any particular area

Candles – not technically a lighting term but they are a type of lighting that give you a cost effective option for lighting up your wedding beautifully

wedding styling

What’s your style?

Below we have listed out some different wedding day styles and included some suggestions of the type of lighting usually associated with each of them.  But before you dive into the list for inspiration, the more important thing to do is to think about your wedding style and ask yourself these questions:

    • What is the look and feel we are going for at our wedding?
    • What lighting styles will complement our style?
    • What is our budget for lighting?
    • Does our venue have lighting options (restrictions) we need to consider first?
  • What are our priorities; do we have special or unique elements featuring in the overall design that we want to draw attention to?  For example, dramatic floral centrepieces, a Whiskey Bar we want your guests to gather around, or dance floor we want people enjoying until the early hours.

Romantic – If you would like to create a Romantic atmosphere at your wedding (doesn’t everyone?) think ‘soft glow’.  Consider lighting up your wedding with lots of candles, string lights and if your budget will stretch to them, chandeliers.  

I Do Crew Tip:  If you would like to make a Romantic Statement with lighting, look for a venue that features Crystal Chandeliers.

Rustic – The rustic look is characterised by raw, natural charm. To help create this look think about the vessels you choose for your candles; lanterns are ideal.  String lights will also help to give that ‘at home feel’.

Modern – If you are going for a modern and minimal look for your wedding, lighting can help to soften the edges of your design and bring warmth into the overall look.  Consider a venue with high lighted ceilings and a number of different options when it comes to what lighting you can use. Coloured lights will also work with this style.  Go bold with pink or try brilliant blue. Red lighting lends an air of drama and romance, while cool blue lights give the impression of an outdoor space.

Glamorous – If your wedding day style is glamorous you can mix a number of different lighting options from Chandeliers to Statement Candelabras and Taper Candles, curtains of lights look fabulous when used as backdrops and of course, you will want your initials etched in light across the dance floor.

wedding lighting

Visit Pinterest to research your style and possible lighting options to go with it

What wedding lighting do you need?

Here’s a handy list of the areas of your wedding that could require some lighting

    • Reception Tables
    • Overhead/Ceiling
    • Dancefloor
    • Ceremony Backdrop
    • Ceremony Aisle
    • Sweetheart Table Backdrop
    • Food Station Backdrop
    • Cake Table
    • Guestbook Table
    • Bar
    • Photo Booth
    • Lounge Areas
    • Cocktail Tables
    • Outdoor Walkways
    • Trees
  • Reception exit (sparklers, glow sticks, etc.)

Tips for indoor and outdoor wedding lighting

Indoor Wedding Lighting

If you are getting married indoors, your first task is to assess what lighting is already there so you can make a decision about whether to use it, or work around it (if you see fluorescents, you will need a work around).  Larger venues will be able to help you understand how the lighting at the venue can be used to best effect, so take the time to talk to them about your wedding and the design and bring your Wedding Designer, Stylist and Florist in on this conversation.

Outdoor Wedding Lighting

For an outdoor wedding, you need to assess what, if any lighting is available to you, but more importantly, you need to know what power sources you have.  If you are getting married at night, you need to consider a lot of different lighting on top of the actual space you are partying in, such as pathways, driveways, bathrooms and parking areas.  You may also need to hire a generator, as it is likely that it won’t just be your lighting that is drawing on the power at your wedding (think catering and your cold room for a start). This is where a lighting professional will be your best friend; they can advise you on what you need and what your options are in terms of powering it all up (and avoiding outages).

wedding styling

Questions to ask about wedding lighting

Questions for your lighting designer/lighting hire company
    1. How much time do you need to set up and take down?
  1. How much power will you need for the entire lighting setup?
Questions for your venue
    1. Where are the outlets located?
    1. How much power can the built-in outlets accommodate?
    1. What type of lighting is already provided?
  1. Are there any types of light sources that are prohibited, such as open-flame candles?

There you have it, our guide to helping you to light up your wedding beautifully.  For lighting inspiration (like a lot of it) check this board out on Pinterest. For help designing or managing your lighting plan, and especially if you are getting married outside, in a backyard, on a farm or remote private property, contact us!  We would love to help you light up your wedding!

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