Let there be Light


Lighting plays a key role in setting the mood and ambiance of a space, and it can make or break a wedding reception. When you envision your reception setting, you’re probably imagining a scene filled with soft, romantic lighting that’s warm, inviting, and flattering. As far as the creation of lighting schemes goes, there are essentially three potential outcomes: too much, too little, or just right. You don’t want harsh or garish lighting, but you don’t want to leave your guests in the dark—literally—either. Budget permitting, it is usually wise (particularly with large indoor venues) to enlist the services of a professional lighting company that will collaborate with you or your event planner to develop a lighting concept that suits your venue. If you’re totally on your own, try to test out your lighting scheme in advance, or ask your venue’s coordinator for lighting suggestions. He or she will likely have ideas about what has and has not worked in the past at his or her particular venue. Simple, inexpensive lighting options that are practically impossible to bungle include candles (make sure open flames are permitted at your venue), luminarias (we’re bananas for these DIY pressed flower luminarias), string lights, hanging paper lanterns, and pinspots (to highlight cakes and centerpieces). Here are a few of our favorite lighting schemes.

Photo by Jose Villa (via KT Merry)

String lights and tabletop candles provided ample lighting for photographer KT Merry’s rustic-chic outdoor reception in Nevada. The spectacular sunset didn’t hurt, either!

Photo by Kirk Mastin of Mastin Studio (via Apple Brides)

We love the simply elegant design of these loosely draped string lights.

Photo via Pinterest (original source unknown)

Luminarias, tabletop candles, and a few whimsical overhead lights provided the perfect amount of illumination for this beachside reception.

Photo by Jose Villa (via Once Wed)

Votive candles arranged in a swirled pattern on a manicured lawn added both illumination and fancifulness to an elegant wedding celebration in Tuscany.

Photo by Elizabeth Messina (via Style Me Pretty)

We love the soft pink glow of these modern geometric lanterns.

Photo via Cococozy, styling and lighting installation by Breezy Decor

This leaf and Edison-style light bulb chandelier is one of the most creative and charming outdoor lighting fixtures we’ve come across.

Photo by Sean Walker Photography (via Archive Vintage Rentals), styling by Yelena Johnson of A Stylish Soiree

String lights dripping like glowing ribbons from the branches of trees added a fairy-tale glow to this Malibu ranch wedding.

Photo by Andrea Salvia Photography (via Jet Fete)

Designed by Diana Sorensen of Sugokuii Events for a celebrity couple’s destination wedding on the island of Capri, this reception tablescape featured hundreds of candles and overhead tea lights suspended in delicate glass vessels among tendrils of hanging jasmine.

Photo via Green Wedding Shoes

Hanging strands of light bulbs cascading onto the floor would befit a contemporary wedding in an urban or industrial setting.

Photo via BCG Events

Although we’re not huge fans of traditional gobos (the screens that project light patterns onto walls, floors, or ceilings), we do like the modern look of this one and the incorporation of the Chicago skyline.

Photo via Aunt Ruthie’s Sugar Pie Farmhouse

We couldn’t leave out the humble ol’ Mason jar! This setup has such a wonderfully homespun feel, and we love the varying shapes and sizes of the jars, which, from distance, appear to be filled with fireflies.

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