20 Unique Wedding Lighting Ideas

Here's how to make your day shine.

bride and groom wedding day portrait


At Brides, we're all about the wedding details—cakes, flowers, monogrammed invites, and more. Most importantly, though, we absolutely love incredible lighting. For us, lighting is the single most important décor element at any wedding, and while this element may sound more functional than fun, that's definitely not the case. The bulbs and candles you select (whether they're simple votives or over-the-top chandeliers) are what will ultimately light your perfect venue, make your photos pop, and keep the party going after the sun goes down.

When planning your event, take a moment to think about your priorities and create a lighting plan around them. For instance, if you're a foodie bride who envisions a wine-fueled night under the stars, consider hanging string lights above the reception area or placing a long line of taper candles down the middle of each table. Both would spotlight the night's main show (the food) and keep your guests in their seats way past the final course.

Ahead, keep scrolling to see a few picture-perfect wedding lighting ideas that will make your day shine.

01 of 20

Create a Ceiling of Lights

string lights hanging above a table

Photo by KT Merry

How amazing is this photo? We love how the ceiling of lights defines the dinner space, while also creating the look of a starry sky (even in daylight).

02 of 20

Use Dainty String Lights

Unique lighting idea

Photo by Sylvie Gil Photography

This photo proves why string lights are a great choice for any wedding reception. The dainty lights above work especially well because they're easily strung through an existing trellis of greenery.

03 of 20

Line Up Lanterns

neutral lantern decor

Photo by Kaylee Chelsea Photography.

An assortment of lanterns has the ability to create a unique, open-air dinner setting. You can choose to stick to neutrals (á la the above photo) or opt for lanterns that match the theme of your wedding.

04 of 20

Mix With Drapery

Sophia and Louis's tented reception suspended with string lights, greenery, rattan lanterns, and draping

Photo by Jeff Brummett

At this Austin real wedding, the couple chose to create a ceiling with greenery, string lights, and white draping. The result? An ultra-modern design that exudes casual elegance.

05 of 20

Hang a Light Fixture

Unique lighting idea

Photo by Davy Whitener

You will always make a statement with an eye-catching light fixture. As pictured above, the antique bronze chandelier is perfect for those who want their wedding reception to feel like an at-home dinner party.

06 of 20

Add Taper Candles to Tables

Photo by Nirav Patel Photography

We can't get enough of this light-filled scene. The balance of taper candles, banquet tables, and bistro lights make for a perfect dinner setup.

07 of 20

Create Chandelier Orbs

Photo by Sylvie Gil Photography

These cool chandelier orbs are perfect for both a Restoration Hardware showroom and a modern wedding reception. Nonetheless, we absolutely love them filled with greenery against a sleek white backdrop.

08 of 20

Scatter Spot Lights

Photo by Lauren Fair Photography

This might sound obvious, but you should use lighting to show off your beautiful venue details. Here, golden spot lights are used along the perimeter of the dinner space to highlight the lovely stone walls.

09 of 20

Illuminate the Outside

Candles Outside Tent

Photo by Corbin Gurkin Photography

Don't forget to illuminate the outside of your space, especially if you're pitching a tent in the middle of a dark field. Here, Tara Guérard Soirée lined the edges of this white-draped tent, with pillar candles in tall glass vases.

10 of 20

Bring the Outside Indoors

bride Sam Hirschmann and Eli Boskey lifted on chairs

Photo by John & Joseph

At this multi-day Italian real wedding, floral designer Vincenzo Dascanio brought the outside indoors with this incredible greeny ceiling fixture. Talk about a statement-making moment!

11 of 20

Line Your Staircase

Photo by Rebecca Yale Photography; Flowers by The Bloom of Time; Planning by Taryn Leach Events

Don't forget to light up the tricky areas where your guests will gather after dark, like staircases and paths to the bathrooms and bar. That being said, we can totally see this candle-lined staircase as a first-look location or ceremony site.

12 of 20

Light Up Trees

Wedding reception venue

Photo by Lauren Fair Photography

Now here's a unique idea: Set up your tables around a well-lit tree. We're obsessed with how this light setting draws your eyes to the center of the room for a memorable and unique design.

13 of 20

Hang Chandeliers Outdoors

outdoor chandelier lights

Photo by Alessia Franco for David Bastianoni Studio

If chandeliers are your thing, think outside the box by hanging them at your outdoor venue. We love this unexpected take at an Amalfi Coast real wedding.

14 of 20

Use Candles of Varying Heights

candles in glass cylinder votives

Photo by Jeff Brummett

When you spend months curating the perfect venue, it's best to use candles of varying heights that show off your handiwork. In this photo, these tall pillar vases and mini votives do just the trick.

15 of 20

Hang Lights on Trees

lights hanging on tree branches

Photo by Valorie Darling

Trees are a great way to display your lights, as further highlighted in the above photo. We especially love the atypical tree design, which effortlessly works well with the caged hanging lights.

16 of 20

Use Moroccan-Inspired Lanterns


Photo by Meg Smith Photography

At this elegant backyard bash, a cluster of Moroccan-inspired lanterns kept the open-air tent well lit into the night. Plus, the silver hue added a metallic accent up above, which was coordinated with the marble-inspired table settings.

17 of 20

Mix Antique Chandeliers With Greenery

White tablescape

Photo by Lisa Poggi

Talk about a statement installation. Here, an unexpected mix of antique chandeliers and flowing greenery make for one serious photo op moment.

18 of 20

Light Hundreds of Candles

candles settings

Photo by Christine Flower

This photo is yet another reminder of how to use lighting to highlight your space. The dozens of candles accentuate the natural beauty of the ceremony site and are a wonderful complement to the white florals.

19 of 20

Use Candelabras

Reception Tent with Candles

Photo by Corbin Gurkin Photography

Tall candelabras do double duty in that they add light and height to your tabletops. At this wedding, white candles, mixed with white linen tablecloths, allow the gold accents (and candlelight) to be the focal point.

20 of 20

Dance Under a Disco Ball

disco ball decor

Photo by Katie Ruther

When it comes to dance floors, don't underestimate the power of a retro disco ball. After all, let's be honest, who doesn't want to be in the middle of this dance floor?

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