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  • Alexis Alvarez

Your Guide to Lighting Design For Your Wedding

Most of the time when we start talking to couples about designing the aesthetics of their wedding, their focus is on color palettes, florals and linens, which, don't get me wrong, are HUGE parts of the design process. But one element that goes widely overlooked is the impact of lighting!

Quickly, here’s why lighting design is so important to the overall visuals of your wedding design - most of the time you buy your venue in the daylight, but your wedding, or at least your reception, takes place at night. So what happens when you lose all of that gorgeous natural light when the sun goes down? You lose all impact of your design. And honestly, all impact of the money you spent on those design elements.

Here enters, lighting design.


Brian Coss Photography

Easily, the most commonly used lighting element and a cost effective option. It adds ambiance directly to your table and IMO gives that cozy, homey, dinner party feel. Also great for creating a romantic atmosphere for a sunset or night time reception!

Tips on using candles in your wedding design:

Most venues require candles to be enclosed by glass, which makes those pretty taper candles you’ve seen all over the internet very expensive because of the cost of those glass covers.

Please please please, I’m begging you to stop putting candles on the aisle for your ceremony. You’re guaranteed to be picking up broken glass as guests walk in and inevitably kick them over.


JPP Studios

It surprises me how many couples don’t realize that there is uplighting in their favorite wedding inspo photos and even in their favorite photos of their venue.

Uplights are the most strategic way to add ambient light to the entirety of the space on a budget. They definitely have a higher cost to them than candlelight, but the cost to impact ratio is higher than anything else on the list. They’re also the simplest way to add lighting elements to your overall design. Place them around the perimeter of your venue and set them to amber to add a candlelit glow to your entire space.

Tips on using uplights in your wedding design:

Most DJs and venues have uplights you can add onto your package, so they are relatively easy to find without adding in another vendor (with a potential minimum spend).


Aaron Ehinger Photography

I’ll be honest, pin-lighting is something it took me years to see the value on. It’s a little on the costly side in terms of design elements because it requires installation, but where it’s value comes in is highlighting the color palette of your floral design.

With the loss of natural light comes the loss of saturation of your floral color palette. But adding in pin-lights - small lights, usually connected to points on the ceiling that are angled to spotlight specific design pieces, or placed directly underneath the centerpiece - bring that color back to life.

Tips on using uplights in your wedding design:

Talk to your florist or decorator to see if this is something they can provide.

Dance Floor Washes + Gobo Lighting

Aaron Ehinger Photography

Dance floor washes and gobos are an easy to way to use lighting to communicate a theme. For example, gobos with a monogram can be projected onto the wall behind your sweetheart table or a dance floor light wash of flowers or snowflakes can be projected onto a dance floor or you can use dance floor washes to create an effect like rain or sparkles over a dance floor.

Tip on using dance floor washes + gobo lighting in your wedding design:

Connect your stationer with your designer and use this lighting technique to carry elements from your invitation into your wedding day design.

Installation Lighting

Akintayotimi Photography

Installation lighting is that next level type of design (and comes with a next level cost) because it’s where we start customizing your venue to your specific tastes. Installation lighting can look like cafe or twinkle lights strung from the ceiling, chandeliers, hanging globes with tea lights in them, and more!

Installation lighting is gorgeous, but costly because of the labor hours + equipment it takes to install these pieces.

Tips on using installation lighting in your wedding design:

Look for a venue that has some sort of lighting already installed to help get the same look for less.

When talking to designers about installation lighting, make sure that the pieces you select are dimmable so that you can bring down the lights when the dance floor opens!

Using lighting in your wedding design doesn’t have to be scary or overly expensive. Interested in learning more about how to use lighting in your design? Schedule an info call to talk with our pro team of Chicago Wedding Planners about creating a design and planning package tailored to your needs!

Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner?


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