How Do You Light Up a Wedding Reception?



How Do You Light Up a Wedding Reception?
How Do You Light Up a Wedding Reception?

When it comes to weddings (particularly outdoor wedding receptions), your lighting choices are absolutely critical.

From creating dazzling disco overhead lighting arrangements that entice your wedding guests over to the dance floor to ensuring that everyone can navigate their way around the outdoor space afforded by your chosen wedding venue – your lighting plays a vital role in the overall success of your wedding day.

So, given that wedding lighting is one of the most important elements of your wedding décor, how do you ensure that you get it right?

What to Keep in Mind When Lighting Your Wedding Venue

There are several aspects you need to keep in mind when developing your lighting plan for your wedding. There are too many to run through them all here. However, let's explain a little more about the most crucial factors that will shape your decision – starting with the nature of your venue.

#1: Are You Hosting an Outdoor Wedding Reception?

Almost all of your wedding lighting decisions (across the entire space) will be influenced by whether you are working with indoor or outdoor event space. For instance, lighting choices such as paper lanterns and string lights work brilliantly in an outdoor setting. Whereas Edison bulbs, elegant tabletop candelabras, and over the top chandeliers are much better suited to indoor wedding reception venues.


That's why, when you approach a lighting company or lighting designer to talk about your wedding, it's one of the first questions they will ask you. It will shape your lighting designs from the minute you make a start on adding lighting to the venue.

With this vital consideration out of the way, you'll need to move on quickly, as there's still plenty of ground to cover!

#2: Decide Your Overall Wedding Lighting Theme

Once you've relayed the setting of the wedding reception venue to your lighting designer, it's time for the real hard work to begin. When working with an event production company, we often first ask you about your overall wedding theme when it comes to choosing the right lights.


For instance, if you are hosting a rustic outdoor wedding production in the French countryside on a beautiful outdoor evening, then a more casual style of lighting might be the most appropriate way to go. One way to emphasise the starry sky and dark outdoor space over the outdoor dining tables would be to use string lights with LED lights that look like traditional bulbs.


That way, you can enjoy the aesthetics of what appears to be a rustic, traditional lighting package while harnessing the power of modern LED-powered string lighting.

Once you've talked over your wedding lighting, you can start to nail down your lighting fixtures during the wedding planning phase.

#3: What Mood Are You Trying to Create?

On all of the wedding websites you've ever visited, you will notice one buzzword that keeps cropping up – mood lighting. And it's not without good reason. Mood lighting lets you set the tone for the entire space.

From highlighting the stunning architectural detail of your wedding venue to their decorative aspect(s), they have the ability to totally transform the look and feel of your indoor or tented reception area.


If you are planning an outdoor wedding, then a lighted tent or marquee gives off an inviting glow that draws your guests in, and floor-mounted LED uplighters are often the best method for achieving that effect.

Alternatively, even if you hosting an indoor wedding, you can use mood lighting as a ceremony backdrop or to light up the building exterior to make an incredible difference to its appearance.

#4: Think About How You Want to Light Your Wedding Stage

When it comes to your wedding reception, the stage will act as an event focal point. It will likely play host to the live band you've booked or the DJ you've hired to get everybody up and grooving on the dance floor.


Stage washes are usually essential fixtures. They achieve the same glow as LED uplighters while being less focused with their beams. They combine LED technology with programmable features, meaning you can create impressive lighting displays with just a single set of features.

However, you're likely going to want to continue expanding on the types of lighting fixtures you hire for your stage so that those in the reception area space immediately direct their attention to the stage and dance floor area.

#5: Don't Forget About Dance Floor Lighting

It may seem obvious, but don't forget that a massive proportion of this wine fueled night will take place on the dance floor! A dance floor without any dedicated lighting is akin to a wedding cake cutting without the cake!

Therefore, one of the most important wedding details is the disco lighting you plan on hiring. This is perhaps even more crucial for outdoor weddings, where you may have more natural light to contend with, dampening the effects of fixtures such as lasers and spotlights.


Both your budget and your specific preferences will come to the fore for disco lighting, but we would recommend hiring lights that sync with the music, along with a few more dedicated disco lighting fixtures. Plus, laser and smoke machines are a must!

#6: Decide How and Where You Will Implement Pin Spots

Pin spots are a vital lighting element of most wedding receptions. Despite being small in stature, they play a crucial role in highlighting important décor element(s). Elements of your event lit by pin spots will include but are by no means limited to:

  • Dessert table(s)

  • Table centrepieces

  • Wedding cake

  • Floral arrangements

  • Sweetheart table

  • Dance floor sections

This small list is by no means exhaustive. In the case of outdoor weddings, you can get creative with battery operated pin spots. So if you want to highlight those grand oak tree branches, then go ahead!

They do require a little more in the way of rigging, but here at On Tour Events, we are well-versed in placing them on wooden beams or even utilising anchor suspension cables if necessary.

#7: Think About Your Wedding Table Lighting Choices

Pin spots aren't for everyone, and that's totally fine! You might want to, instead, opt for table-mounted lighting fixtures to create the desired effect. There are plenty of lighting options for you to choose from, and your final decision will most likely be decided by your overall wedding lighting theme discussed above.


If you would love to go the old-fashioned route, you could use taper candles within more formal candelabras or choose simple but tasteful pillar candles. Alternatively, you could go for a faux candle lighting option on each table that combines LED technology with rustic styling for increased safety and reliability.

These represent a mere few table lighting options, and you can speak to your lighting designers to run through the entire list.

#8: Choose Your Overhead Decorative Lighting

Along with pin spots, there may be other overhead lighting choices you wish to implement for your wedding reception. For instance, you could install eye catching pendants or hanging chandelier(s). There are numerous chandelier styles to choose from, and many alternative ceiling-mounted lighting fixtures create such an appeal.


Don't forget that you don't necessarily have to go for attention-grabbing single light fixtures. Other options such as string lights will always be popular due to their "fairy-tale" nature. There are plenty of creative ways to incorporate overhead fixtures, even if you are celebrating outdoors.

If you're celebrating indoors, then this is where you might want to think about incorporating textured lighting into your wedding event production.

#9: Ensure You Have the Necessary Power Sources

It's all very well planning the most extraordinary wedding light show or display, but if you don't have the power sources to support such an installation, then it's never going to see the light of day (pardon the pun). Therefore, while you make your way through the wedding planning process, keep in mind how many power sources you have available, and crucially where they are located.


Of course, these considerations become even more vital when planning an outdoor wedding. While many LED lighting fixtures are wireless and/or battery operated, you will still likely require power inputs for some of the bigger hitters of your wedding production.

You can work on these issues with your chosen lighting hire company, which neatly brings us to our next point.

#10: Seek Advice from Your Lighting Hire Company

While you might have already developed a rock-solid idea of your lighting plan for your wedding, there will be many of you that wouldn't have the foggiest clue of where to begin.

That's why it's imperative to seek the input of whichever outfit you have chosen to work with on the design, supply, and installation of your wedding lights.


They will have completed hundreds of lighting installations at weddings and other similar events if they are anything like us. Thus, you would be a fool to n