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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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.