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Wedding Lighting Guide

Updated: Mar 19

Incorporating lighting elements into your wedding should definitely be on your planning checklist. Wedding lighting can take your venue from elegant to magical with a few well-designed lighting features. You can make all areas of your wedding sparkle with gorgeous lighting elements. From illuminating the dance floor to highlighting the small design details, lighting may be one of your favorite aspects of your wedding design.

This guide will showcase the various lighting styles you can add to your wedding and how they elevate the aesthetic of your ceremony and reception.

Importance of Wedding Lighting

Wedding lighting may be one of the most beautiful yet overlooked decoration features. Lighting has a powerful impact that can change the mood in a room and add a stunning visual element for photos. Whether you're hosting an intimate wedding or a grand celebration with everyone you know, there is a lighting style that will work with your event.

Well-done wedding lighting can light up a room and showcase unique focal points on your wedding day. You can add lighting designs around your wedding cake, on a welcome table, over the dance floor, around a sweetheart table and in plenty of areas inside and outside your venue.

Your wedding day is all about the love you and your partner have for each other. The decorations and floral arrangements you use display the beauty of that love. Just like your DJ or live band will play music that reflects you and your partner and sets the mood, lighting can have the same effect on you and your guests.

Create a stunning environment on your wedding day with beautiful wedding lighting. From string lights to rustic lanterns, there is a style that will match every person's wedding day.

Common Wedding Lighting Styles

As you begin your search for wedding lighting ideas and different style inspiration, you'll hear new lingo and terms you might not be familiar with. A surprising amount of lighting options are available for you to choose from for your ceremony or reception. It's helpful to familiarize yourself with the types of lighting fixtures and designs to narrow down your choices for your wedding day.

1. Uplighting

A common lighting element you'll find in wedding receptions is uplighting. Uplighting is a beautiful way to highlight your reception area and create an elegant atmosphere.

People usually set up uplighting fixtures around the perimeter of a room and cast light upward and onto the wall. These fixtures are placed on the ground strategically so they are out of the way of guests. You can use uplights in any color you'd like, so you can match the lights to your wedding theme easily. LED uplights are an excellent option for both indoor and outdoor venue lighting. Uplighting can enhance the design features of the venue and can set the perfect wedding ambiance.

2. Gobo Lights

A fun way to personalize your wedding day is with a gobo light. The word gobo is a shortened version of the phrase "go between optics." Gobo lights are fixtures that project custom monograms, text or patterns onto various parts of the venue. Lighting professionals create these displays with custom stencils and place them over the gobo light. The light from the gobo will cast the projection onto any surface you choose.

Gobo lights are a favorite among couples for their wedding day. A custom monogram light with the initial of your last name, your wedding date, both your first names or a combination of the three can stand out to your guests and make your big day much more special.

3. Cake Mapping

Take your wedding cake to the next level with some unique wedding lighting known as cake mapping. Cake mapping is a technique that uses projection mapping to cast an image or video onto a wedding cake. Couples typically use cake mapping on a plain, white and multi-tier wedding cake to get the best projection quality.

This wedding lighting technique is a one-of-a-kind idea to enhance your wedding day. You can use a projection that matches your wedding theme and color scheme. If you're looking to wow your guests and make your day unforgettable, cake mapping is an excellent option. You can display you and your partner's name, a unique pattern or numerous other design or video ideas.

4. String or Bistro Lights

You can add a romantic vibe to your wedding day with bistro lights. Bistro lights are a simple fixture that offers a dazzling visual to any space. These lights are versatile and work both indoors or outdoors. Bistro lights project a feeling of romance and warmth, perfect for an event like a wedding.

5. RGB Lights

You can amp up the party at the reception with some RGB lights. The acronym RGB stands for red, green and blue. These primary colors are what the light system uses to project numerous colors during the wedding reception.

RGB lighting is perfect for getting the party started at your wedding. You can customize RGB by using sound-activated lighting, color-changing lighting, star visual lighting and more exciting options to create a fun atmosphere on the dance floor. You can get as creative as you'd like while working with a lighting professional on your custom RGB lighting fixtures.

6. Pin Spotting

Highlight essential aspects and decorations at your wedding with pin spotting lights. Pin spotting uses small spotlights and directs the light onto a singular item to showcase the object. You can use these fixtures at a wedding by shining the lights onto the wedding cake, centerpieces, name cards, floral arrangements and other decorations.

Pin spotting lights aren't harsh or overly bright. They produce an elegant beam that matches the ambiance of the venue. In indoor venues, you may dim the lights to provide a romantic feel. You'll still want to showcase all your decor with the darkened lighting, and that's where pin spotting can help.

7. Globe Lighting

If you like the look of bistro lights but prefer a rounder glass shape, use globe lights for your wedding decor. Globe lights give the ambiance of a sweet little cafe and are a warm and romantic addition to your wedding venue. Add globe lights to the outside of your venue for a whimsical feel, or add them inside your venue hanging over the dance floor to add optimal lighting.

Lighting Styles: The Best Wedding Lighting Ideas

Every couple's wedding is different. Perhaps you've created Pinterest boards of your perfect day and found themes and styles that best fit your personality. To help make your lighting decisions easier, check out these lighting ideas organized by wedding style:

Rustic Wedding

A rustic-style wedding is a sophisticated mix of vintage, country and heavenly styles. You'll see decor items like reclaimed wood pieces, delicate flower arrangements and airy linens that bring the theme together.

You can incorporate lighting into a rustic wedding that enhances the natural features of the decorations and venue. Consider some of these lighting ideas to transform your rustic wedding:

  • Globe lights for outdoors: Create a whimsical reception area for your rustic wedding with globe lights. You can string these globe lights, or a type of bistro lighting, across the outdoor seating and dance floor area for the perfect reception lighting. Globe lights will give a simplistic and warm feeling that perfectly meshes with your rustic affair.

  • Antique fixtures: Placing antique light fixtures around your venue can tie the rustic theme together. Search for unique light fixtures at local second-hand stores or antique shops.

Modern Wedding

If your style is more contemporary and new, a modern wedding is likely your theme choice for the big day. Modern weddings are distinctive in their clean lines, sleek attire, trendy floral arrangements and sophisticated atmosphere.

Adding lighting elements to a modern wedding will showcase all the unique details, like geometric shapes and monochromatic color schemes. Check out these lighting ideas for your modern wedding:

  • LED lights: The sleek color of LED lights is great to incorporate in your modern wedding. You can add small lights to flower arrangements or pin spotting lights to enhance various decorations at your venue.

  • RGB lighting: RGB lighting allows you to create any number of colorful effects, such as a moving light wall or a classy, twinkling wall of stars. However you style them, these lights add a beautiful, modern touch.

  • Uplighting: Use uplighting in your reception space to set the tone for your modern wedding. Uplighting is great for both focal points and ambiance. You can choose a light color that matches your color scheme and bring attention to the modern details of your reception space.

  • Cake mapping: Cake mapping can truly take your wedding dessert to a new level with modern lighting effects that perfectly complement your theme and add a unique touch.

Romantic Wedding

All weddings are about love and romance, but a romantic wedding truly embodies all things love. This wedding style can be described as delicate, soft and glamourous. You may incorporate light colors and airy details in the wedding attire.

Wedding lighting can make a romantic wedding even dreamier. Check out the different types of lighting you can include in your romantic wedding:

  • Twinkle lights: Adding twinkle lights or bistro lights to your wedding can make your big day feel like a fairytale. You can use twinkle lights to drape behind the ceremony space to make saying your "I do's" magical.

  • Chandeliers: Incorporating chandeliers in your indoor ceremony or reception space can add to the romantic feel of your wedding day. A chandelier can add a warm ambiance to the room and make your romantic wedding day feel more fairytale-like.

  • Gobo lighting: Gobo lights are great for adding personalized, romantic shapes to your wedding. You might choose to project a monogram of your initials on the wall or place snowflakes on the ground during a winter reception.

Minimalistic Wedding

Couples hosting a minimalistic wedding aim to have a visually streamlined venue and decor. You may see a pop of color among bright whites and natural florals in this style.

Adding simple lighting to your minimalistic wedding can enhance the clean features of your venue. Check out some helpful lighting ideas for your minimalistic wedding:

  • Pin spotting lights: Pin spotting is soft and gentle, great for the minimalist who doesn't want anything too flashy. These lights are a great way to highlight certain focal points without being heavy-handed.

  • Bistro lights: Stringing some bistro lights around your venue is an easy way to add lighting to your minimalistic wedding. You can even add bistro lights to your ceremony space, either over the aisle or as a ceremony backdrop.

  • Marquee letters: You can make a big statement with a few marquee letters. Display marquee letters that spell out "Love" or your new last name to include some personalization into your minimalist-style wedding.

Lighting Factors to Consider

Before you start placing orders for different lighting fixtures, it's important to take all of your venue's restrictions into consideration. Speak with your venue first to make sure certain lighting elements are allowed or even possible.

If a portion of your wedding is outside, make sure you have a power source you can use for lighting. This is especially important if your whole wedding is outdoors as you'll need an energy source to power all the lights you'll have installed for the big day.

You'll also need to consider the time of day your wedding will be held and the weather for natural lighting. It's helpful to play off the natural lighting of the venue to ensure the lighting you add meshes nicely.

Professional Versus DIY Lighting Benefits

Some wedding aspects are great for a DIY project. While lighting can sometimes be one of them, the difference between professional lighting installation and DIY lighting work can be drastic. Professionals can enhance your event into the magical day you deserve.

Here are five reasons to choose a lighting professional for your wedding day:

  1. You leave all the hard work to the professionals, which is a huge relief when planning a wedding. You don't have to worry about setting up lights and taking them down yourself.

  2. Professionals have the experience to back up their knowledge and expertise of lighting designs. They'll be able to make your vision come to life.

  3. Professionals have high-quality lighting equipment in stock, so you know you're getting reliable decorations.

  4. If something goes wrong with the lights, professionals have the expertise to fix the problems quickly so your special day can resume as planned.

  5. Safety is always a concern when hanging up fixtures at high heights, and professionals are able to perform the tasks efficiently and safely, so you don't get hurt.

Your venue or DJ may offer lighting services, and while they might be classified as "professional," they don't specialize in lighting. These teams often use the same cookie-cutter approach for all their clients. DJ lighting setups also typically focus on the dance floor and reception — which is only part of your big day.

Working with a lighting company instead can make your experience truly unique. Professionals focus on every aspect of your wedding day to help set the mood and evoke the emotion of the event in every detail. Professional lighting is all-inclusive, covering the ceremony, reception, dance and anything else that could be enhanced with light. Whereas DJ setups have a narrow focus and standardized appearance, professional lighting can evolve to meet any need and help create unforgettable photos that your venue or DJ cannot do with what they have on hand.

Contact Illuminating Design to Light up Your Wedding

Your special day should be amazing, and wedding lighting can help set the mood for a romantic evening. For quality wedding lighting and installation services, contact the professionals at Illuminating Design.

We specialize in wedding lighting design and rentals to make your big day shine. We'll use our industry knowledge and light design expertise to give you reception lighting ideas and create the wedding atmosphere you desire. Fill out our contact form or give us a call at 404-454-8944 to learn more about our professional lighting design services today.


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