Lighting Up Your Wedding Day

October 21st marks the anniversary of Thomas Edison’s 1879 lighting of the first  incandescent light bulb. This first light bulb burned in Edison’s Menlo Park, New Jersey laboratory for almost 14 hours, lighting the way for millions of artificial lights to come. Today, the use of lighting, both artificial and natural, has become somewhat of an art in the bridal industry.

Tiered head table with pink lightingThe wedding reception pictured above is an excellent example of carefully balanced natural and artificial lighting used to create ambiance. The bride and groom’s seats at the top of the dais are spotlighted, drawing attention to the newlyweds as the two most important people of the day. Lesser players will be seated at the lower seats amid dim, yet romantic candlelight.

Wedding reception tables highlighted by candelabra centerpieces.Lighting is an important aspect of wedding decor that is often forgotten. Expertly placed lighting becomes an important design element in the hands of a professional wedding designer. But you don’t have to spend big bucks to play with the lighting at your own wedding. Simply spend some time studying other weddings to get an idea of what you like and incorporate the best ideas into your own wedding design.

When planning for your wedding lighting, it is important to determine the exact ambiance you would like to create. Do you want a brightly lit space where your guests can mingle at their tables, or would you prefer the spotlight be aimed at the dance floor?

Factors to Consider

  • Consider the needs of your guests as well as your own. While you may want the majority of your guests to spend the evening on the dance floor, be sure Great Aunt Sophie (and her walker) have a well lit seat where she can view the festivities without being forgotten in the shadows.
  • Make use of both natural and artificial lighting to create a unified ambiance for both the wedding ceremony and the reception. Carefully placed candles on reception tables can create intimate conversation spaces around individual tables no matter how large the reception hall. Meanwhile, up-lighting in your wedding colors placed around the perimeter of the room will unify these individual spaces.
  • Visit the venue at the time of day you plan to be married to see how natural lighting affects your artificial choices.
  • Consider how the size of the room may affect your lighting as well as how many electrical outlets are available for your use.
  • Plan for all types of weather as your lighting may look very different on a rainy day compared to a sunny day.
  • When planning for special lighting options such as a projected monogram, consider the equipment needed, as well as the placement of the equipment. Plan your decor so projection equipment does not block the bride and groom from view of the guests.
  • Find out how long your individual candles will burn to determine the best time to light them. You should also appoint a specific person to be in charge of lighting candles and replacing burned out candles throughout the evening as needed.

Personalized Sand Ceremony Complete Unity KitThis personalized sand ceremony unity kit is an excellent addition to your wedding ceremony. Consider the placement of candles when planning lighting for the ceremony. All too often, unity candles are placed in a brightly lit area where it is difficult for guests to fully appreciate the symbolism of the ceremony.

The lighting of the unity candles represents the coming together of two souls into one. During this ceremony, the bride and groom each light a taper from the two smaller candles. They then light the tallest candle (engraved with two first names OR two first names and a wedding date at No Additional Cost.) together.

When done properly, the lighting of the unity candles can add a beautifully dramatic element to your wedding ceremony. For the greatest effect, place your unity candles in a dimly lit area where their light can be seen even by those seated in the back of the crowd. If possible, have someone dim the lights throughout the church at the time of the unity candle ceremony so that attention is drawn directly to the unity candles.

All eyes will be on the bride and groom as they come together to light the unity candles. The light from the candles will shine out from the dimness as a symbol of the light their love will create in their lives.

Thomas Edison would be amazed at the way his invention has evolved into the art form it is today. When thoughtfully combined with artificial light, the seemingly ordinary light bulb has the potential to become the highlight of your wedding decor.

Check This Out:

  • I love this custom designed wedding monogram on Wedding Light’s Blog. This blog is a great resource for wedding lighting information and inspiration.
  • Christopher Gellings, Director of Sales and Catering at Pleasantdale Château discusses how good lighting can make your dream wedding.
  • Check out this picture of a little girl with a balloon in front of a well lit window. The photographer discusses how the afternoon light shining through this window was both an advantage (for her picture) and a disadvantage (for guests seated facing the window.)


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