Your wedding day is one of the biggest occasions of your life. That's precisely why you will want to make sure that you get every single aspect of your wedding production right.
While some elements of your day may be more vital than others, your wedding lighting choices will have a significant influence on the overall success of your special day.
From ensuring that the right photographer lighting is in place for your wedding photos to making sure that everyone can find their way around your outdoor wedding venue when the night sky rolls in – lighting influences almost all aspects of your wedding day.
But what lighting do you need? Are the requirements roughly the same for each wedding, or will you need to make choices that reflect the specific nature of your celebration?
In this ultimate guide, we'll take you through the wedding lighting fixtures you will definitely need, those you may wish to add and discuss those that make more sense in an indoor or outdoor wedding setting.
But first, let's review the factors that will be influencing your wedding lighting choices.
Factors That Will Influence Your Wedding Lighting Choices
When choosing which lighting equipment to hire for your wedding, several factors will make some of your decisions for you. Some of those are obvious, others you may not have even given any thought to yet.
So let's quickly run through some of these influences and explain how they will impact your choices.
Are You Having an Indoor and Outdoor Wedding?
Of course, one of the first things your lighting designer will ask you is whether the ceremony and/or reception are inside or outdoors. The lighting fixture lineups will be different for each type of celebration.
For instance, outdoor weddings taking place in expansive outdoor spaces have far more natural light. Therefore, you may want to focus your budget on performance-orientated lights that boost the impact of the live band or DJ have you booked for the evening.
By contrast, if you are hosting an indoor wedding reception, you will focus more on fixtures such as LED uplighters that can shift the mood and ambience of the whole room. They can also help create a grand entrance or accentuate the architectural features of each room if you have booked a particularly ornate venue.
What is Your Overall Wedding Theme?
Your broader wedding style or theme will influence many, if not all, of your wedding lighting choices. For instance, string lights (often referred to as fairy lights) are almost a given for a rustic outdoor wedding reception. However, for an extravagant and modern indoor wedding reception, they wouldn't make sense.
Thus it makes sense to bring your wedding planner and lighting designers together to ensure that both parties are on the right track when making the correct lighting decisions for the overall event design. Plus, they will both understand the lighting lingo, which is a nice added bonus!
What is Your Budget?
Of course, we can't talk about your wedding day without talking about budgets. Rarely, in fact, never, is the sky the limit when it comes to spending your money on wedding lighting.
Thus, you will have to communicate your budget expectations to your lighting designer and lighting company early in the process to avoid complications later down the road. Rather than being a negative aspect, having a specified budget to work will actually inspire your lighting designer to get creative with their ideas and maximise the "bang for your buck."
It will also help focus both of your minds on what is absolutely vital regarding your wedding lighting and what is merely nice to have.
Don't Forget to Include Your Photographer and Videographer
While the day and evening wedding celebrations are undoubtedly about living in the moment, pictures of the bride and groom are of the utmost importance. Memories fade, but photographs and videos don't.
That's why you must consult your wedding photographer on your lighting arrangements to make sure they can perform their role as intended. Many photographers understand how lighting impacts a photo and can give you expert advice regarding what they will need to capture those candid, special moments on camera.
Yes, you want the lights at your reception to create a party vibe and give off that pure magic feel, but if all you have is photo after photo with shadowy faces, then it will put a dampener on your special day when you receive the photos back.
What Lighting Equipment Do I Need for My Wedding Day?
The above list of considerations is by no means exhaustive. However, they will help you understand what you will need to keep in mind when deciding which types of lights to hire for your wedding.
With them out of the way, we can now take you through some of the more specific lighting fixtures you will likely need on your wedding day, starting with string lights.
String Lights (Festoon Lighting, Fairy Lights)
Going by many names, string lights (also called festoon lighting, fairy lights, twinkle lights, or pea lighting) refer to those lights that you've probably seen at many weddings yourself.
They are a series of LED lights attached to what appears to be a rope or a string (hence the name), which you can then run from point to point or drape around wedding venue features such as wooden beams. They are not too dissimilar from Christmas lights.
These twinkle lights are so popular for weddings (particularly outdoor celebrations) because they instil a fairy tale vibe. Whether you wrap them around the wooden beams of your tipi marquee or you use them to light up a relaxation area away from the dance floor, they have a certain magical feel to them.
No other wedding lighting options boast quite the same ability to add drama and sparkle to your wedding reception.
While not technically a fixture, and more of a category, no wedding event production is complete without some form of mood lighting.
Typically, when we are talking about creating moods and ambiences, we are referring to wireless uplighters, which can be placed strategically around a room (or outdoor venue) to color wash walls and/or the ceiling to create a specific ambience for your evening reception. At the same time, they can draw attention to specific architectural features by shooting up a beam of light in the colour of your choice.
They are perfect if you have a simple setting and want to transform a blank canvas into a venue that much better reflects your overall wedding event design. It's far more cost-effective than hiring wall drapes, and you will create a far more impactful atmosphere with lighting than physical decorative pieces.
That said, mood lighting isn't exclusively limited to wireless uplighters. Stage washes, for example, can also deliver a similar effect while highlighting the stage as a focal point for your evening wedding reception.
It's an excellent idea to speak to your lighting designer or lighting company (such as us here at On Tour Events) to receive more information regarding wedding lighting options that create moods, atmospheres and ambiences.
Traditional Wedding Lighting Options
Of course, not all lighting has to be modern. While we have now reached an area where impressive technical lighting displays can be created using battery-powered or wireless lights, you may want to head back in time to create a more magical feel.
In that regard, you may want to think about flame-based lighting options such as candles. Pillar candles, taper candles, and paper lanterns are all popular choices for weddings. Pillar candles, in particular, are a good option for wedding table lighting. Candles are also often incorporated into many wedding ceremony productions.
So, just because the technology is there, that doesn't mean that you can't incorporate candles and other flame-based lights into your wedding style. In fact, it might be quite nice for your guests to experience a mixture of old and new.
Pin Spot Lighting
If candles aren't your thing, or your venue won't allow them on-site, then you may want to consider pin spots. As you might have guessed, a pin spot is akin to a smaller version of a spotlight. It emits a narrow beam of light, and they are most often used to highlight a specific feature.
The most common "targets" for pin spotting include but are not limited to the wedding cake, table centrepieces, floral arrangements, dance floor, and even the signing book at the ceremony.
While these overhead lighting fixtures are small, they can make a huge impact, so make sure not to overlook them when you add lighting fixtures to your wish list.
Dance Floor Lighting (Disco Lighting)
Of course, once the wedding ceremony is out of the way, it's on to eating, drinking, and then DANCING! No dance floors are complete without an extensive accompaniment of disco lighting. From disco balls to fixtures that work in time to the music, you need to create an atmosphere that drags people onto the dance floor when the mood strikes!
Lasers, smoke machines, and other specialist lighting fixtures such as disco strip lights are recommended to make this space of your reception venue a shining beacon to your guests!