The cold dark nights have started to take hold now and so what better time to share a post full of pretty sparkly lights with you all?? I’m certainly feeling festive after putting this post together and as it’s December we can all legitimately put up our trees now! Hooray!!
It’s also very exciting for you lovely Winter Brides who can exploit the use of lighting to the maximum and create a gorgeous warm, cosy and inviting atmosphere at your venues. We’ve combined our favourite lighting ideas for you all and would love to hear what ideas you’ve got lined up too. Does your venue have any fabulous lighting features you can use? Have you found a hire company who provide epic lighting? Do share! (And if you haven’t found anyone yet – be sure to visit our Love Lust List supplier directory, which is full of fabulous hire companies who can help bring your dreams to life).
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.
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.
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?
For a more rustic affair, I’ve picked out two different takes on doilies. First up, the traditional lace kind, sewn together to make runners – a really rustic vintage addition to tables, particularly long trestles, although I can totally see these re-worked for a round table set up too.
And for what must be the cheapset bunting ever, that still looks really sweet and could be made in any colour, how about using paper doilies strung together in this super simple DIY?
Welcome back and consider today’s wedding your daily dose of sunshine. Perfect for planning week this bride created stunning DIY decor and the reception food, entertainment and vibe were exactly what they wanted. A real ‘their day their way‘ wedding mixing traditional elements with a relaxed bohemian reception.
We knew that Simon was the ideal photographer for us as soon as we sat down with him for a chat and saw some of his previous albums which were incredible. We loved his relaxed and natural style and his stunning photos really reflect the atmosphere of the day.
Neither Andrew or I like being in front of a camera, and he managed to put us both at ease. Needless to say, we absolutely love the results.
The chapel itself didn’t really need decorating, so we opted for a single large statement arrangement near the altar.
For the marquee, we used a mix of soft flowers in shades picked out from the fabric that we used for the napkins and bunting, all arranged in jam jars that we collected (or pinched from our neighbours’ recycling boxes) over the months leading up to the wedding.
Although I knew roughly what I wanted for the marquee, our florist, Jamie Aston, really brought those ideas to life and they surpassed my expectations on the day.
Andrew’s mum made our delicious cake, which was inspired by one we found in a book by Lindy Smith. The layers were lemon, carrot and chocolate sponge, so there was something for everyone.
The cake topper was custom made for us by Hillary from “Bunny With a Tool Belt” on Etsy, and is now a lovely memento of the day.
We were inspired by previous weddings that we’d been to to make a contribution to a charity as part of the day. We opted for Oxfam Unwrapped wedding favours which let us give each guest something worthwhile, and to some extent to match a gift to the guest.
One thing we realised about having a marquee is that it involves a lot of extra work. We were there for most of the day before and after the wedding, and only got everything ready with the help of our amazing friends, family and suppliers.
We opted for a traditional canvas marquee from Simpers, which set the tone for a more rustic style for the reception. We picked up on this by keeping the tables fairly plain, using plain muslin which we folded to create simple table runners – very affordable compared to hiring linen. We decided to use yellow alongside the green for the reception, and I found Heather Bailey’s ‘Pop Garden’ fabric range which I used to sew bunting and napkins for each guest using all of the different designs rather than trying to be too co-ordinated.
Our main decoration came from coloured paper lanterns and poms which we strung across the marquee. My thanks go to Rock My Wedding and Jung Lee’s fantastic book for those ideas. I’ve got our friends to thank for how well they turned out though, as we had to dash to our rehearsal and leave them to hang them!
As it was mid-summer, we didn’t need to worry too much about lighting, but for the evening we used a mix of mercurised glass candlesticks, tea lights and tiny LEDs in a few of the paper lanterns that we suspended from the ceiling to offset four uplights in each of the marquee corners. The path from the marquee to the gate was lit with candles in paper bags which looked so pretty after dark.
As a conversation starter we created mini play-doh games inspired by the board game Rapidough. We stuck a little sticker inside the lid of each pot of play-doh with a couple of modelling challenges written on each one. Unfortunately the pen rubbed off a few resulting in a “fetish penguin” among others! The best model of the day was an immaculately modelled computer with keyboard, mouse and all.
Instead of place cards, we made created tags which we hung from the chairs with ribbon. Our guests had a choice of meal, so we rubber-stamped a picture on each tag to remind our guests of their pie choice.
Food and Games
Instead of the standard wedding breakfast fare, our caterers were Pieminister Pies. Pieminister is an institution in Bristol, where we live, so it was great to have them come all of the way to Cambridge. We were able to give our guests the choice of four delicious pies which were served with mash, peas and ‘groovy’. We didn’t worry about starters, and instead opted for substantial canapes, which were all sourced from independent suppliers, including the amazing ‘bread egg boxes’. Pieminister’s team went above and beyond to make sure that the whole evening ran smoothly.
We set up a volleyball net which was incredibly popular after dinner and meant that lots of our guests could get involved in the same game.
We also booked the brilliant band Happy Hour, who got everyone on the dance floor once the sun had gone down. I can’t recommend them more highly.
They also learned “A Crazy Little Thing Called Love” for our first dance – Andrew and I went to some swing dance classes before the wedding so that we had a few moves, although I hadn’t really anticipated how difficult it would be to dance in such a full skirt!
Advice from a Bride
So, my only advice would be not to worry about keeping everything too themed or matching and simply do what feels right at the time. Also, enjoy planning all those little details – you’ll miss it when it’s all done!