How to Light Up Your Wedding
When you’re consumed with all the obvious aspects of wedding planning, such as food and flowers, it’s easy to forget about components like lighting that are seemingly behind-the-scenes. But most wedding professionals agree that how you illuminate your event is actually a key décor detail.
If you’re still in the dark about this essential wedding element, these expert tips will help you see the light.
Why You Need It
According to Karen Bussen, author of the “Simple Stunning Weddings” book series, good lighting is the most important part of creating the proper mood for a space.
“You can spend a fortune on flowers and tabletop details, but if the room is too dark, you won’t be able to see any of it,” says Bussen. “And if the lighting is dreary or, on the other hand, too bright, the party simply won’t feel festive.”
What You Need
If your ceremony will take place in an interior space such as a ballroom, consider using small uplights in the area where you say your vows. They add extra emphasis to the moment and can enhance your photos, says Bussen.
At the reception, the most important area to light is the band and the dance floor so that guests will feel inspired to get down. But instead of using moving lights or disco effects that can distract, Bussen recommends going with colored lights in soft hues that match your wedding palette. If you opted for a buffet, it’s also imperative that the service tables have acceptable lighting so that guests can see what they are eating.
The next priority is your dinner tables. Candles will help provide light from underneath and around, but generally they aren’t sufficient to show all the intricacies of a fabulous centerpiece. Consider using pin-spots that project downward to highlight the center of a table, allowing your floral arrangements to really shine.
Bussen also advises lighting the perimeter of the space to accent any architectural details, such as a gorgeous ceiling, woodwork or a fireplace.
Be sure to visit your venue at least once during the hours when your celebration will occur so that you fully understand what you’re working with, adds Bussen. Ask the manager if the various in-house lighting elements can be dimmed and if they are on separate switches for easy individual adjustment.
Lighting can be used to draw attention to favorable aspects of a space, and to hide the less appealing parts, says Anja Winikka, site director of The Knot. For instance, if you love the Gothic columns in a room, lighting them from the base will turn them into showstoppers. Hate the floral pattern on the carpet? Project a pattern on the ceiling to draw eyes upward. Gobos are essentially glass or metal “stencils” that are attached to a light projector to produce images. Cast soft vines or branches on the walls and ceiling for an organic effect, suggests Bussen, or cover your dance floor in geometric patterns for a modern look.
You also can create beautiful atmospheric transformations during an event by using color washes, Winikka says. “Cool blues and purples set a soothing, sophisticated vibe, while intense ambers and reds let guests know it’s time to party.”
The price for bringing in additional lighting can vary from a couple hundred dollars for a few simple effects to tens of thousands of dollars for a complex installation in multiple spaces, so make sure to get comparative quotes from at least two pros, advises Bussen.
“But,” says Winikka, “If your space isn’t up to snuff, we promise it’s totally worth the expense.”
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