Do-It-Yourself Lighting for Wedding Receptions


Lighting is an important element for any event and should not be overlooked. It has the ability to create a romantic ambiance and set the entire tone for your event. Doing your own lighting can save you thousands of dollars. Overhead lighting, paper lanterns, up-lighting, centerpieces, projected images, outdoor lighting and the use of candles are a few ways that you can quickly add light and interest to your reception venue.

Things You'll Need

  • Chandelier
  • Christmas lights
  • PAR can
  • PAR can base
  • Colored gel
  • Candles
  • Paper lanterns
  • 10 mm LED lights
  • Lithium coin-sized batteries
  • Gobo
  • Colored glass holders
  • Battery operated lights
  • Dim the facility's overhead lights. Remove fluorescent lights. You want your venue to have a romantic glow to it, so you must avoid bright lights that create glares. Turn on any chandeliers. If your venue is outside and does not have a chandelier, bring a chandelier that operates off of candlelight or batteries. String it up in the middle of the venue.

  • Highlight the architectural details of your reception venue. String lights around windows, columns, domed ceilings and archways. White Christmas lights work well for this purpose, or use colored lights to match your theme.

  • Use up-lighting to create a splash of color in your venue. This causes light to flood a space by projecting the light upwards. Place a PAR can on a sturdy base. Place the base underneath an area you want to highlight. Place a colored gel on top of the light. You will now see a beam of light that fills the area. Place other PAR cans around the venue until you achieve the desired look.

  • Add paper lanterns. Use a cord kit to string many lanterns around one area and to evenly space them out. Use a variety of colors to add interest. Attach a 10mm LED light to a lithium coin-sized battery to create your own light source for the lanterns. Tape the light to the paper lantern.This is a cheaper alternative than buying paper lanterns that come with their own lighting kits. Lanterns can serve as a ceiling treatment, add light to tables -- or you can place them in nooks, and on shelves around the venue.

  • Add lights to your centerpieces. Use battery operated lights inside clear vases for a pretty effect, or float candles on top of the centerpiece. Colored light sticks hidden behind foliage create a similar effect. Colored lights will call attention to the centerpieces and guests will be able to see the glow from far away.

  • Use a gobo. A gobo is a stencil or laser-etched image that you place on top of a light. Project the image of your choice onto the wall. You will have both a pretty light source and a personal image for your guests to see. Use colored stage lights around the stage or dj's booth.

  • Hang lights outside your venue to welcome your guests. Place votive candles in colored glass holders and hang them from trees. Add a strand of Christmas lights between trees and hang paper lanterns on the string.

Tips & Warnings

  • Ask your venue coordinator about any lighting restrictions before you begin. Many sites may prohibit you from stapling, screwing or tacking anything onto the walls or ceiling.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
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