Most couples dismiss lighting when it comes to styling their wedding reception, thinking that the standard venue lights will ‘do’.

The lights you’ll normally find in a wedding venue will either ‘dull down’ the room, or make it much too bright. This has a massive impact on the ambience and can put your guests in entirely the wrong mood for the night. Lighting sets the tone or the vibe for the whole event – it is part of your styling and should be considered, with budget set aside for it.

Take the table arrangement in the photo below. A ‘pin spot’ light is used to draw your eye to the beautiful flowers in the centre of every table. Without this lighting, the table would lack a focal point and the flower arrangement wouldn’t stand out. It’s a bit like the difference between the radiant glow of a lit candle, versus an un-lit candle.

Well lit wedding table setting

Image by Ovideo at Zest Waterfront, The Spit

As wedding planners, we try to allocate funds for lighting and try to find venues that include lighting in their packages (or at least have lighting rigging in place) to keep costs down. Here are a few tips:

1. When choosing your venue, look at the lighting that is already setup. In particular, look for rooms with lighting ‘rigging’ or ‘tracks’ already in place and pin spots as standard.

2. A venue will charge you extra for using their lights, but it is usually much cheaper than having to hire in all the trusses, rigging and lights. Not to mention all the manpower to transport, setup and pack up the equipment.

3. If you do hire in external lighting, you may need to pay for additional ‘bump-in’ hours (time to setup). Some venues can charge upwards of $1000 for this.

4. Consider other types of lighting such as candles, if allowed. Some venues won’t allow real candles, especially heritage buildings, therefore you will need to provide fake candles (electric or ‘flameless’ candles) if you have your heart set on candles.

5. An easy way of decorating a large surface such as a wall is to use light. Consider using a ‘gobo’, a template inserted into a light that creates a projected pattern. The gobo in the photo below is a snowflake, in keeping with the winter wonderland theme of the wedding.

Lighting using a gobo to create a pattern

Image by GD Photography

6. Don’t forget lighting for your DJ or band. Gone are the days where the band or DJ turn up with their flashing ‘traffic lights’; these days, ‘entertainment lighting’ is all about the pro package, including moving lights (often called ‘moving heads’) and a variety of spotlights. See the photos below for the difference good lighting makes.

Sincopa band performing with “normal” lighting.

Band performing with 'normal' lighting

Sincopa band at the same venue with much better lighting.

Same venue, same band (Sincopa Band) similar setup with much better lighting

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Ms Gingham says: Lighting is so important. Not just for creating the mood of the night but it also makes such a huge difference to the photography. We see such beautiful weddings shot with poor lighting all the time and you know that they’d be done justice a million times more with the right lighting. When you’re left with the images forever this is very much worth looking into.

About Jennifer: Jennifer’s background is in advertising and marketing, working in client and project management. Jennifer has packaged her core abilities, such as negotiating with suppliers, attention to detail, time management, budget know-how, exceptional organisational skills and a flair for design, into the highly successful and respected Bells n Whistles Events.