Wedding Receptions: Decorating With Lights

Floral Sphere with Lights

Gorgeous wedding receptions are created by decorating with lights. The right lighting can make a huge impact on your wedding reception either as a bold and dramatic statement or a soft and romantic one. Choose from different colors to spotlighting to design the perfect wedding reception ambience.

Decorating with Light Basics

Lights can add a gorgeous glow to wedding receptions and can create unique visual appeal with any color décor.

Incorporating Lighting Into Your Wedding Theme

When considering lights as part of the reception décor, keep in mind the overall theme and feel of your wedding. A series of small twinkle lights and tiny votives can be lovely lighting to offset a romantic wedding, while the décor of a bold black and white wedding may benefit from a dramatic lighted cake backdrop or select lighted areas. A wedding with a whimsical theme can played up with the addition of single or multi-colored lights.

Do It Yourself or Contact a Lighting Professional?

Lighting for wedding reception runs the gamut from simply adding a romantic touch with candles on the reception tables to elaborate lighting schemes involving nearly every area of the reception. While simple lighting arrangements or lighting selected areas can often be simple to include as part of the reception décor, consider discussing elaborate lighting plans with a wedding coordinator, lighting specialist, or special events lighting company.

Also be sure to discuss your plans with the hall or venue where the reception will be held. There may be restrictions, limitations on lighting, or specific safety precautions couples must adhere to when using special lighting in the facility. Discuss the overall electricity needs as well - if a band or DJ will need substantial power for their sound system and equipment, for example, you'll need to take that into consideration. Some venues may also have lighting options that can be added into your package for an additional fee.

Types of Wedding Reception Light Decoration

There are many ways to accent your reception décor with lights. You may want to consider visiting the reception site during the time the reception will take place to get a better feel for your lighting needs. If the site has windows, you can choose to infuse some natural light into your lighting plans if desired.

Colored Lighting

Colored lighting can add new and interesting dimensions to the reception. If an overhead lighting system allows, color wash lighting can change throughout the evening to signify different activities, such as warm, vibrant hues during cocktail hour and seating, a soft romantic color for dinner, and a mix of colors for dancing.

Colored lighting can also be use in standing lighting or lamps to accent walkways, areas such as the guest and gift table, or just to create spaces within the reception area where guests can mingle and talk.



Pin spot or spotlighting can draw attention to specific areas or objects. The wedding cake is often a great source for spotlighting so the design can be admired. Lighting may also be focused on the head table during dinner when speeches are given by the wedding party.

Stencil or Textured Lighting

For couples who want lighting that truly adds a personalized motif, gobos (special stencils that can be placed over lighting) can create a specific spot of light with a monogram, wedding dates, wedding motifs, or used to incorporate specific themes. These add a unique and playful touch to any wedding, and are ideal for wedding reception with whimsical theme. Lighting specialists may have various options available for stencil or textured lighting.

LED Lights

LED (light emitting diode) lights are available for a wide variety of accents, from faux tea lite candles to buffet lamps to floating lights. These emit less heat than standard bulbs and their unique construction makes them a great option for many different types of lighting.

Ideas for Wedding Reception Decoration with Lights

Use your creativity or browse galleries from special event lighting companies to get inspiration for your own wedding reception decorating with lights. Here are a few ideas on wedding reception decorating with lights to get you started:

Indoor Wedding Lighting Ideas

  • Used dimmed overhead lights for a romantic, intimate feel.
  • Use lighted centerpieces or lighted vases to add a splash to dinner tables.
  • Accent walkways or entrances with lighted trees.
  • Consider unique types of lighting, such as globes.
  • Use icicle or strand lighting in certain areas for a dramatic yet romantic effect.
  • Use mini lights to decorate screens, lattices, or around fountains
  • Wrap columns or pillars in lights to dress them up
  • String lights across a portion of the ceiling for an ethereal feel.
  • Quickly add richness and sparkle to any reception table with net lighting.
  • Use flattering lighting in a special photo area for guests.

For Outdoor Weddings


For decorating outdoor wedding receptions, there are also many ways to use lights.

  • Decorate shrubs and large plants with net lighting.
  • Set off walkways with rope lighting.
  • Use unique paper lanterns to create a special glow.
  • Use umbrella lights from specialty lighting companies for a whimsical touch.
  • Use holographic trees or other wedding light art for an incredibly unique decoration.

When it comes to creating visual appeal at wedding receptions, decorating with lights can create tremendous impact. From a few carefully placed accent lights to a creative décor scheme with light art and color washes, any reception, large or small, will shine when lights are included in the decoration plans.

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Wedding Receptions: Decorating With Lights