Light Up Your Love

Lighting.

Where do I start? Well folks, I implore you to at least consider this crucial element (in my humble opinion) when planning your wedding decor.

I know what you’re thinking – that you’ve already got a seemingly endless list of items to fit into a rather stretched wedding budget and lighting really doesn’t feature all that highly.

I get it.

Honestly I do. In fact I’ve been there myself, frantically worrying that I’m going to bankrupt myself in the process of getting this wedding off the ground so that it will be absolutely PERFECT on the day.

Is adding the most fantastic light display that the world has ever seen absolutely essential?

Will it be the end of the world if I depend solely on the existing (and basic) in-house lighting at the venue?

Perhaps not. But what I will say is this…

A well-lit space, and by this I mean, a space that utilises a carefully thought-out lighting design, is key to successfully creating mood and atmosphere within your reception venue.

Lighting is your best friend – in more ways than one. It can actually complement your chosen pieces of decor whilst being an element of display in its own right. Luminary devices subtly help to influence mood and signify the beginning and end of different stages of the wedding day. Plus your photographer will thank you too.

I strongly suggest that you conduct a site visit at your chosen venue to really examine existing lighting facilities in detail. This will help you assess what you need and those elements which really aren’t that essential.

In case you’re stuck, a few items to look out for include overhead and fixed lighting. Look closely at light fixtures above you – can you dim it effectively so that it interacts appropriately with any additional illumination schemes that you might be integrating?

What about non-moveable luminescent devices – do they only highlight walls and ceilings or can the light be manipulated to focus it exactly where you want it?

Right then, what are we waiting for. Let’s take a look at the plethora of goodies below…

All The Colours Of The Rainbow

Many brides are terrified about using vivid swathes of colour in their decor lighting. I don’t blame them – if done badly, this look goes from fantastically dramatic to downright gaudy.

And we wouldn’t want that would we…

But folks, successfully projecting colour washes onto key areas of your venue such as the walls, ceilings or dance floor is a really simple and effective way of creating instant impact and is comparatively inexpensive.

Good lighting exists to accentuate your design, not overwhelm it. Try to avoid blanketing your space with solid blocks of the same colour as this can feel overwhelming. Instead choose accenting and contrasting colourways that are compatible with one another – two of the wedding venues shown here demonstrate that pinks and yellows look blinking amazing together.

The same principle also applies also to your other wedding decor elements such as table linens and blooms, bar space and communal walkways.

The type of illumination you opt for should vary across the course of the wedding day too. Use softer coloured lighting during the meal and more intense and striking hues for the party later in the evening. This helps guests with the transition of the wedding as the day progresses.

Take it from me, if you’ve decided this is where your heart lies, then please call in some lighting experts. They know all about the technicalities of performing such feats and have the necessary skills and insurance policies in case anything should go wrong.

Lastly, if you’re still nervous about using tinted lighting in your reception decor, opting for props that incorporate this such as the large letter in this bundle of inspiration is one way to carry off the look a little more subtly.

Starry Heavens

Light strands are one of my vices. Honestly, my favourite part of Christmas is seeing folks deck their houses and trees with reams of fairy lights. If I had my own way, the tree would simply be dressed by the twinkle of little luminaries.

‘Starry Heavens’ are best utilised in spaces that are essentially blank canvases such as a marquee or in a barn or anything that is a dry hire. The majority of the inspiration pictured here uses LOTS of light strands in some shape or form.

Despite the fact that this type of illumination is just SO pretty, fairy lights create instant ambience whilst throwing out light left, right and centre. If you’re concerned that light strands don’t strike quite the right note of luxury for you, try combining them with chandeliers or Moroccan lanterns for variety and glitz.

Alternatively suspend your strands from a single focus so that they radiate down to the floor below – this also bestows any venue with a sense of depth.

If you’re smitten with this idea then I guarantee that your photographer will love you – it can be somewhat difficult to get the right lighting and thus good photos in marquees given the expanse of space without additional illumination.

Finally, amalgamating huge drapes of cloth with decadent chandeliers is the ultimate in tented beauty. I just wish I had pots of money so that I could re-enact the look at my own wedding.

At The Table

There’s nothing worse than going to a restaurant with poor lighting where you can’t make out what you’re eating.

For me it’s all part of the experience, drinking in the exquisiteness of decadent food displays. The last thing you want to hear is the sound of forks squeaking across dinner plates as guests try to prong pieces of meat that are actually on the other side of the dish because they can’t see properly.

And whilst much of the lighting options that I’m going on to talk about here aren’t fuelled by electrical means, they’re no less important.

You can never have enough candles.

Never.

And their benefits are threefold; they create the most glorious atmosphere whilst being easy on the pocket and instantly form part of your table decor, helping to illuminate the beauty of your luxurious floral centrepieces that frankly cost you the price of a small pony.

Is there anything more decadent than a chandelier hanging daintily above you as you dine with your nearest and dearest? No? Thought not…

For those of you used to reading my inspiration posts, you’ll know that I’m also slightly addicted to dramatic hanging centrepieces over tablescapes. A creative alternative to using flowers, is to suspend bundles of thin branches and hang bulbs or bud vases containing tealights from them for extra and dramatic pizzazz. Just make sure that they are secured properly – nobody wants to see Uncle Bob’s hairpiece going up in flames.

Think beyond the conventional and traditional. Just about anything can be used as a vessel for a tealight – I love the cut crystal glasses in the middle of the moodboard and the floating candles in the mason jars. Proof that style doesn’t have to cost the earth.

Play with different heights too – these extra long tapered candles create a focal point right along the table without breaking the bank.

For a really luxurious dining experience why not indulge in a bit of pin spotting. Pin spots are focused beams of light that are used to illuminate a particular feature such as a table centrepiece or wedding cake. Imagine shining your initials or favoured song lyrics onto the centre of each of your tables for an unusual twist.

The Great Outdoors

Granted, the UK hasn’t exactly got the best track record for outdoor events but if you have decided to host your big day at the mercy of the elements then I take my hat off to you!

Actually I’m a little bit jealous.

Regardless, if you are having an outdoor wedding then it’s paramount that you pay some attention to the lighting that you’re incorporating into your decor. Providing sufficient illumination allows the party to continue once the light starts to fade as well as a sense of ambience and heat once the warmth of the day is over.

Trees are your ally – they are nature’s answer to man-made support structures. Try looping strands of fairy lights around tree trunks or suspending lanterns and candles from their branches.

Such touches are reminiscent of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream – apt really given that you’ll be experiencing your own real-life fairytale.

Exterior lighting doesn’t have to be expensive. Spend the months running up to the big day collecting jam jars and equivalent glasses for an economical alternative to traditional hanging lanterns. Just pop in a tea-light and string up the vessel with some ribbon and you’re away!

Light The Way Before Me

I’m a sucker for a candlelit aisle. Yes I know it’s been done a million times before but I still smile when I see a wedding complete with a softly glowing pathway.

Ultimately this look is high impact, minimal effort. Don’t limit the success of this look by allowing your candle placement to become too regimented. Equally play with different heights and vessels and even add some electrical lighting into the mix for variety.

From a practical point of view, place candles in hurricane vases or similar where possible to prevent guest’s clothing from catching fire – you don’t want anything to detract from the ceremony itself.

Mirrored vases such as Mercury glass helps to reflect the light and are the ultimate in glamour luxe. Consider polishing it all off by adding a carpet of petals and turning the overhead lights down on low for a truly romantic atmosphere.

Now folks, I want to hear all about your lighting choices on your big day.

Is this something you’ve even considered or have you decided that you’re going to prioritise elsewhere?

And where are you lot getting married – we love to hear all about your venue choices.

I’m currently on the hunt for the most perfect grey dinner candles. Any suggestions?

All my love Lolly xxx

Author: Lauren Gautier-Ollerenshaw
Lolly is a self-professed frustrated florist and styling maven with an endless passion for all things pretty.

40 thoughts on “Light Up Your Love

  1. Oooh it’s like looking at my Pinterest wall 🙂 great minds! In fact I think one of these images have sneaked into my RMW real bride entry mood board!

    Lighting is at the top of my list at the moment! Trying to turn our big white marquee into a magical grotto is not easy or cheap. Plus trying to persuade our marquee company that I don’t want multicoloured uplighters is like fighting a loosing battle (although they look incredibly awesome in those pics at the top!)

    Xxx

  2. Oh I wish every bride and groom would read this. In terms of photography, NOTHING is actually more vital than pretty light. But, please, please, don’t use vibrant colours like pink, modern cameras still can’t cope that well when a colour blows out and skin tones look hideous washed in hot pink.

  3. Oh Lolly,

    I need to snatch you away and cart you off to our venue so you can tell me what to do! I LOVE great lighting, but I am RUBBISH at it. I’m the girl who’ll always put the ‘big light’ on at home.

    Our venue (The Athenaeum, Liverpool) is gorgeous. But how I light the place? Clueless. Due to cost – I’m thinking candles, and lots of them, but it’d be just my luck that I end up setting fire to a) myself or b) an entire shelf of priceless first editions.

    @Tab – hmmm… multicoloured uplighters? I suppose it might work, depending on the colour! As @Kirsten says though… maybe not hot pink 🙂

    xxx

  4. Those images are stunning, there’s something about fairy lights! Our reception is at the Battery Club in Canary Wharf, as it’s November it will be dark early so we plan on going mad with candles to try and keep it very cosy and romantic.xx

  5. You just reminded me how much I love pretty lighting! I would LOVE fairy lights, candles and pretty much any form of outdoor lighting for my dream wedding but it was never going to be within my budget to pull it off, I can still dream though! 🙂 x

  6. Wow Lolly these pictures are stunning!
    To be honest I really haven’t been thinking about lighting – main reception venue is a restaurant/bar (The Gatsby) and seeing as there is no getting in to decorate until the morning, and we have a limited budget, I have been concentrating on smaller things (such as table decor)

    BUT I do absolutely love candles and will be having candles playing a prominent role. The collection of candlesticks and glasses to put tealights in has already begun – and if I’m honest is becoming my favourite part of the whole wedding!!
    As for grey dinner candles – if you do find them please let me know, they sound wonderful! 🙂

    ps. I’m having cocktail glasses with tealights in (collection already started!) so is fab to see that my idea is not so crazy at all &, fingers crossed, will work!
    xxx

  7. I love this post! Lighting was always a top priority for me, and I trawled the internet looking for budget options as I knew that I wanted twinkly but I didn’t want to pay a fortune. Having got married earlier this month, this is what I did:

    – Bought lots of sets of battery operated fairy lights from Amazon.
    – We weren’t allowed candles in our venue so I bought lots of battery operated tealights and placed them in jars that I sprayed silver and gold
    – bought solar fairy lights via a Groupon deal.

    We have sold them all to one of my bridesmaids who is getting married next April 🙂

    I also found a local supplier (AC Disco) based in Oxford who was extremely reasonable. They did exactly what I wanted.

  8. @Karen – Ha no I definitley do not want them. I’m going to adorn the place in fairy lights whether they like it or not!

    @Naomi – also agreed – it’s an art! Beautiful post Lolly xxx

  9. Some truely beautiful images Lolly, you have me drooling into my tea! I’m a fan of fairy lights and the mercury/silvered tealight holders – so pretty!
    Check out these places – nordichouse.co.uk OR roseandaster.com – they seem to have a good selection of coloured candles 🙂
    xx

  10. It’s so true, good lighting makes that most wonderful ambiance. I know of a much loved Theatre Director who had worked at a particular theatre for years and years. Before leaving he managed a refurbishment, of which interesting lighting featured heavily. A while after his departure he returned to watch a show and a regular customer told him it wasn’t the same without him since he left, it was like he was the lights had gone off. It turns out that to improve budgets the new Director had decided to use cheap light bulbs, resulting in poorer lighting, so in effect the lights literally had gone out! It just goes to show how lighting effects a persons perception and appreciation of a space.

  11. Ooooh lovely post with such pretty pictures 🙂

    Lighting was very high up on my list of priorities. I wanted fairy lights and candles rather than a wedding full of flowers. We had twig lights in vases lighting the aisle and tealights in a variety of jars and lanterns on the mantlepieces at either side of the ceremony room and window ledges, and fairy lights along the picture rail at either end. I wish I could share the mental picture I have as I first stepped through the door onto the red aisle carpet cos it was exactly as I wanted it to be 🙂

    For the meal the twig lights were moved to the sides of the room and big hurricane vases filled with sand (beach names for table names as we got engaged on a beach) and big church candles provided the table centrepieces, with tealights dotted around the tables too. The fairy lights stayed up throughout as did the candles on the mantlepieces. On the top table we had a big candleabra at either end, more hurricane vases and tealights.

    My mum was worried beforehand that we should have had more flowers but she wasn’t worried when she saw it all come together. Fairy lights and candles set a lovely romantic mood for the room. And I’m just amazed no one set fire to themselves! 😉

    xx

    (Oops, long post, sorry)

  12. Lauren, your posts are so packed full of beautiful images and oodles of well-researched and informative content- love them! I am all over the festoon lighting for my wedding- both inside and out. Apart from that I will have some uplighters for the ceremony backdrop… and then of course, the all important disco lights as provided by the band!

    Canny frickin wait.

  13. Lighting is up there as one of the most important parts of our decor. I’m a keen photographer and appreciate what a difference it makes.

    I’m completely smitten with the images (mainly from US weddings) of festoon lights creating a sparkling outdoor ceiling. Theres a strip of courtyard between the barns at our venue which will be perfect for this so I’ve sourced a hire company that provide them. They’re expensive though. I’ve also got some solar lanterns to hang around outside, they’re nylon so won’t be too badly affected if it rains.

    Our marquee company hires out LED parcans, which will light the stone barn walls beautifully (no nasty colours though, you’ll be pleased to hear, @Kirsten! I know our photographer Chloe Browne would not appreciate that!) The barn has few windows, so I’ll be hitting Ikea in January to purchase a shedload of fairlylights in the sale.

    Finally, inspired by a RMW post, We’re having a lightbox strip along one wall, we’re thinking along the lines of a ’till death us do party’ graphic with lots of photos of the guests.

    Squee!

  14. Ladies that are hiring festoon lights – which companies are you getting them from? I’m really struggling to find anyone? Xxx

  15. Ahhhh girls you’re all just so blooming lovely aren’t you. You’ve certainly put a smile on this face despite the torrential rain and overcast skies. Incidentally has anyone else put the heating on this morning?

    @Kirsten – good point missus. Take it from her ladies because this woman knows her stuff. Maybe save the pinks for later in the evening when everyone has been reduced to a sweaty mess on the dance floor and the cameras have been put away.

    @Naomi bless you sweetheart – it means A LOT. Can’t wait to see you in a couple of weeks.

    @Karen I am very open to being snatched away and I can always advise for a fee…I take payment in Minstrels 😉

    Big lights are a no-no. Go and invest in some lamps for romantic lighting – they also hide a multitude of sins. I also have never been to Liverpool so I think a trip is in order…

    @Rebecca BIG ‘cocktail glasses with candles in’ love coming at you lady. They sound delicious.

    @Maddy aren’t you the thrifty, crafty queen. I think I could learn a few things from you love.

  16. @Lolly – i’ve got the heating on full blast. it’s hailstoning here!! You have NEVER been to Liverpool? I think you girls need a road trip, the new Harvey Nicks Beauty Bazaar opens soon so perfect excuse. Lunch and cocktails on me (and minstrels) xx

  17. @Annie – thank you for the recommendations doll. I shall check them out and report back ASAP.

    @LadyFuschia and thanks your your grey candle tips too hon. You sound just as smitten as I do with the whole candlelit aisle idea…

    @Sama thank you sweetheart. If I’m inspiring just one person then I’m thrilled. When is your big day then?

  18. @Karen hailstoning? In August? Well it is the UK. I know it’s not right is it, I’ve never been and to top it all off my wee sister goes to uni there so I think I’m due a trip!

    If you’re buying lunch and cocktails I am so there!

  19. @Phillipa I love the sound of your wedding – I’ve also been looking everywhere for festoon lighting and it’s probably my rubbish use of google but have been completely unable to find anyone who hires it out – is there any chance of you pointing me in the right direction on this?? Any help from anyone in sourcing festoon type lights would be appreciated!! xx

  20. @Sophie- I don’t know what they’re like or how much they are but I’m currently organising a site visit with a company called STL Production Group. Kent based I think. Festoon lighting isn’t on their website but they do do it x
    @Lolly- 25th May! xx

  21. @Philippa and @Sama Thank you!! I will go straight to them both now – I have spent a long time googling and failing so this has helped no end! (It actually took me about 2 days to find out they were called festoon lights!) Wishing you both beautiful and well-lit weddings 🙂 xxx

  22. I’m getting married next July at Compton Verney in Warwickshire. The ceremony room is beautiful – white from floor to ceiling with some gorgeous Georgian pillars and detail. We are not allowed candles but I would love to use lighting especially for the evening. Any recommendations for good lighting companies or suppliers?

  23. I love love love that picture of the table snaking through the garden with the lights all down in. Reminds me of Bilbo Baggins’ 111th birthday for some reason! And who doesn’t want a Shire wedding?!

    I do have to say… “to prevent guest’s clothing from catching fire – you don’t want anything to detract from the ceremony itself.” … this made me laugh.

  24. Candle light and fairy lights can make for some really beautiful flattering photos, especially in the evening as standard lighting or as some of you have said bright vibrant lighting really can be too harsh and everyone wants to look their best in their wedding photos.

  25. @DebG – I had my ceremony at Compton Verney three weeks ago! It was perfect in every way. We didn’t light it as it was daytime only and we had reception at Ettington Community Centre so that we could DIY it. FYI We tried the recommended lighting supplier in the CV info pack and they were hopeless at getting back to us and kept changing quote.

    We had a ‘smarties’ colour scheme and a very lighting heavy reception with:
    – Paper lanterns in various colours (The Hanging Lantern Company) Rigged all wiring ourselves CURRENTLY FOR SALE OR HIRE
    – lava lamps (own and borrowed from friends)
    – UV cannon and martin scanners (disco lights) hired v.cheap from university student union as outside term time
    – LED parcans (colour wash) bought from eBay CURRENTLY FOR SALE OR HIRE
    – Home made illuminated letters ‘A&S’ with ‘bargain bin’ chip board from homebase, festoon borrowed from friend of a friend and we used incandescent candle bulbs we rummaged from our parents stockpile (we could not find cheap festoon hire anywhere either)

    If you are looking for anything tell everyone you know – you’ll be surprised what people have in their garages and attics.

    Enquiries about lighting for sale/hire (also have bunting) email: benn.fell.wedding@gmail.com

  26. I LOVE this post!

    For me, lighting is going to be my main decoration. We’re getting married in a garden followed by a reception in the neighbouring coach house and the building and grounds stand alone as being absolutely stunning so I don’t want to go overboard with decorations when the place already looks amazing.

    However, I think, with the right lighting, the place could look even more incredible so I’m thinking lots of fairy lights hanging from the rafters and over the walls would be perfect. Now I just have to find where to get these lights and how to power them!

  27. So I saw a link to you on Pinterest and followed it out of curiosity… never suspecting that I would find the answer to my prayers! I am planning an outdoor, evening wedding and am head over heels for the whimsical and romantic look of twinkle lights, candles, and mason jars, but I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. This answered so many questions and brought up aspects I hadn’t thought of before! Thank you so much for all the advice!!

  28. There are so many amazing lighting ideas. I love it! I especially love the barn with the chandeliers and white Christmas lights. Beautiful.

  29. I used a company called STL (www.stlproductiongroup.co.uk) in Kent for my wedding. They were brilliant, they provided festoon for the garden and projected hearts and stars on the building. Inside they colour washed the walls in my colour theme, it looked amazing. They were really creative and helpful too.

  30. Amazing idea to decorate with lighting, Looks very beautiful specially the outdoor lights. Thanks to share a stunning collection of lights!

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