December 13, 2018

Reception Lighting Tips for Brides and Grooms

Recently, I blogged about lighting for your ceremony. Today I’m talking about reception lighting and how to make the most of it for your wedding photos.
Reception Lighting Tips for Brides and Grooms

As I always mention, your photographer should be skilled enough to work with any lighting situation. However, carefully planning the lighting at your reception can improve the lighting that the photographer has to work with and can also create a great atmosphere for your guests. I’ll break this reception lighting post into two sections: outdoor receptions and indoor receptions.


Outdoor Reception Lighting

Unless you’re having an outdoor daytime reception, you’re going to have to use artificial lighting to ensure guests can see. Options include paper lanterns, string/market lights, or twinkle lights. These are great ways to light up an outdoor reception, however I always suggest hiring a professional team to string and light the event. Luminaries are also great for lighting up pathways!
First dance at San Diego Botanical Garden, Cavin Elizabeth Photography

If you’re having an outdoor reception that’s tented or outdoors with a number of trees or vertical wall spaces, you could add uplights. Uplights can come in many colors. I recommend using amber or neutral tones to keep the space elegant.
Father daughter dance with bride and dad at wedding reception tall centerpiece with white and green flowers at the Santaluz Club tented reception, Cavin Elizabeth Photography

Lastly, adding votives or candles to your centerpieces outdoors is always another great way to light up your reception. Not only do lit centerpieces produce more light, they also enhance your reception table decor and provide a more affordable alternative to a flower-only table. There are tons of options for outdoor reception lighting, so it’s a great way to get creative and plan something unique and special to you!
Rose quartz velvet linen table with orange glassware and marble dinnerware, Pink peach violet and white floral arrangement, Wedding at Estancia La Jolla, Cavin Elizabeth Photography 

Indoor Reception Lighting

I’ve seen incredibly well-lit reception venues as well as spaces that I can only describe as ghastly. Sometimes reception spaces are beautifully lit, but the band or DJ introduced green laser lights into the dance floor causing unflattering lighting on the skin or wedding gown. Avoid that at least until open dancing so it won’t be on your faces for parent dances or toasts.

Some venues have a great existing lighting scenario or wedding setup that they work with. Always be sure to ask what the lighting situation is BEFORE you book. If there’s a ton of light, but it’s an unflattering color you’ll need to reconsider using that space. Or begin looking into professional lighting packages!
Reception with tall ivory and blush centerpieces, gold chairs, French ballroom, Westgate Hotel Wedding in Downtown San Diego, film by Cavin Elizabeth Photography

Indoors, there are often many options for lighting reception spaces. Uplights, seen above in the pink wall lights, and pin spot lighting (often used on flowers and cake), make the best choices for ambiance.
Gobos: Stencils places over lights in order to cast the design onto any surface.
Uplights: Lights placed often near walls to throw light upward.
Pin-spot: A focused beam of light that aimed to shine directly on an object, such as a centerpiece, wedding cake, etc. See below on the centerpieces for an example of pin-spot lighting.

White reception with white draping and carpet ceremony Pelican Hill Wedding - Cavin Elizabeth Photography

[…] that lighting does need to be installed for the reception. I’ve written a whole article on reception lighting, but a quick tip would be to consider market lights or uplights on surrounding structures or […]

[…] just talking about professional lighting, although I will cover it. Next week I’ll discuss reception lighting, so be sure to keep an eye on my […]