One of the most overlooked décor elements when planning a wedding is lighting. Wedding lighting can completely transform your venue from ordinary to spectacular and make everything look even more beautiful on your big day. Lighting can have a very powerful impact on the overall look and feel of your event space as well as the mood of your guests.
The proper wedding lighting not only enhances the look of your venue, it also highlights the important elements of your décor, like the centerpieces, or makes certain areas of the room focal points, like the dance floor or head table.
Photographers love wedding lighting because it gives them additional visual elements to use in their pictures and makes for beautiful wedding photos.
Finding a Wedding Lighting Designer
When considering wedding lighting you should discuss your vision for your wedding décor with a lighting designer who can take your ideas and turn them into reality. Some people opt for a more subtle lighting design for their wedding while others choose a more flamboyant one. It is important to work closely with your lighting company to make sure they understand your vision.
When selecting a lighting company for your wedding, make sure to go with a reputable and experienced company. What kind of experience do they have? What kind of equipment will you be getting for your money? What is their background in lighting design? You will be trusting the look of your entire wedding reception to this company; make sure they will do a good job.
Lighting Your Wedding Space
As you plan your wedding lighting you and your lighting designer should visit your venue in the evening so you will know how things will look when the sun goes down and the lighting elements come more into play. You should also consider the following:
-What room features do you want to highlight?
-What features do you want to de-emphasize?
-What areas of the room do you want to make focal points (the head table, the dance floor, etc)?
-What décor elements do you want to highlight (a backdrop, the centerpieces, etc.)?
-How does the venue’s lighting play into the design?
-Do they have fluorescent or incandescent lighting?
-Can the lights be turned off or dimmed as needed?
-Can the different types of lighting fixtures in the room be controlled individually (i.e. wall sconces, chandeliers, overhead lights, etc.)?
-What type of power is available in the room?
Wedding Lighting 101
The following is a list of some commonly used lighting elements used at weddings. Familiarize yourself with these basic terms and you will be able to impress your lighting company with your extensive knowledge in wedding lighting:
Gobo – A specially designed metal or glass insert that goes into a special lighting fixture to project an image. Many couples use a custom gobo to project their monogram onto the dance floor or the wall behind the head table. This is a very impressive effect that always has the guests commenting as they walk into the room.
Break Up Pattern – Using a gobo to project a large pattern onto the dance floor, a wall or the ceiling. This is a great way to differentiate different areas or bring focus to a specific area of the room. You can pick image patterns that go with your wedding theme and tie the lighting in nicely with the rest of the décor. Break up patterns work incredibly well for tented weddings where the entire tent can be used as a canvas to decorate your wedding.
Pin Spot – A miniature spotlight used to highlight important focal points such as centerpieces, the wedding cake, the sweet table, etc. Pin spots are an absolute must if you have beautiful tall centerpieces that you want to show off. By using pin spotting you can also dim the overall lighting in the room effectively hiding more unsightly features of the room and bring your guests attention to where you want it, the décor.
Uplighting – Placing special lighting fixtures next to architectural features or against the wall around the perimeter of the room to project columns of light upwards. The color of the uplighting should coordinate with your wedding color scheme. Uplighting is probably the most cost effective and dramatic wedding lighting element.
LED – LED is short for Light Emitting Diode and is the newest technology in wedding lighting. The fixtures are more expensive but allow you to achieve millions of different colors with just one lighting fixture. In addition they consume far less power than traditional uplighting fixtures and do not get hot to the touch.
Color Wash – Bathing an entire area in color. This can be a very powerful and dramatic effect and isn’t recommended for every lighting design but is a great way to bring attention to a specific area (think dance floor). Color washes work really well in a tent wedding where the whole tent becomes the canvas to decorate.
Intelligent Lighting –Lighting fixtures that can be controlled through the use of special controllers or software. This will allow your lighting designers to change the look and feel of the lighting throughout the reception. With the right intelligent lighting fixtures you can turn your dance floor into a high-energy, nightclub-style dance party at the flip of a switch!
As you work on your wedding lighting design consider what colors you would like to use. You can opt for colors that match or compliment your wedding color scheme or go for something more neutral like rose or amber. Amber is a great color as it goes with almost any color scheme and creates a soft romantic glow that mimics candlelight.
If you are using intelligent LED lighting your lighting designer will be able to change the color of the lighting throughout your reception; imagine a soft amber glow during dinner that slowly fades into a more festive purple when the dancing begins. Your guests will be amazed at the transformation of the room into a festive party atmosphere.
Lighting for Tent Weddings
Lighting is an extremely important element for tented weddings and can range from subdued and simple to wild and flamboyant. A tent affords your lighting designer a completely blank canvas to work with and the ability to use a wide variety of lighting fixtures in their design to achieve just the look you want. Some common lighting elements for tent wedding include chandeliers, color wash, break up patterns, lanterns and string lights.
Lighting for Outside Weddings
If you are hosting an outdoor wedding reception you should definitely consider lighting in your plans. There are a variety of extremely affordable lighting options that will not only illuminate the reception area for your guests but will add to the beauty of the setting.
If there are pathways or steps consider using candles or luminaries to light the way. Lanterns or string lights look fantastic in an outdoor setting and are a great way to highlight the dance floor or the dining area.
Create Your Dream Wedding
Lighting can be a way to completely transform the look and feel of your reception and create an atmosphere that will wow your guests. Make sure to do your research and find a quality wedding lighting company that will work with you (and within your budget) to help bring your vision of your wedding day to light!