From Budget to Blowout, Three Ways to Add Lighting to Your Wedding Reception

Wedding Style & Decor

So often we discuss how the floral arrangements, reception decor, and wedding venue set the tone for your whole evening, but there's another element that's essential to your big day—your reception's lighting! No matter if you're throwing your wedding in a tent, barn, or banquet hall, how it's lit totally sets the tone for your whole wedding reception. Whether you choose candlelight, string lights, backlit walls, or chandeliers can make a huge difference! But like any other aspect of the wedding planning process, picking a picture-perfect lighting scheme (via DIY or a lighting director) can get costly. Here, three viable and easy ambience adjusters for any budget.

Low-cost option: Candlelight is an affordable way to create an intimate setting. Stock up on votives (just 29 cents each at—hello!) and use them liberally on tables, windowsills, walls, and walkways. Add pops of color by hanging paper lanterns overhead (80 cents each at

Medium-cost option: For extra atmosphere, string café lights, a.k.a. globe lights. Tip: buying them is often cheaper than renting. And since guests will spend lots of time at their tables, splurge on light-catching accents like gold-rimmed china and tinted water glasses.

Highest-cost option: For maximum impact, hire a lighting designer who can change the colors to match the mood. During dinner, use amber hues to mimic candlelight. As the party progresses, switch to a bolder shade, like a deep orange, to energize guests and get them on the dance floor. (Avoid unflattering shades like yellow and green.)

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