Bright Ideas for Lighting Your Wedding Reception
By: Karen Sullen

Sometimes the walls of ballrooms and reception halls can be a bit basic, too corporate or just not the right color scheme for your wedding. What's a bride to do? Jazz it up with lighting. Whether you change the color or create an entirely different mood, luxurious lighting can transform a meeting space into a marvelous space! From a single spotlight to an entire room that's bursting with color, lighting allows you to add just as much or as little as you like. Depending on the desired effect, there are some enhancements you can do yourself. However, for major transformations, you'd probably need to consult a professional. There are many creative ways to use custom lighting for your wedding, but let's begin by discussing some basic lighting terminology so you'll know what to look for.

The Language of Lights

1) Color wash: A "wash" of colored light that covers an entire area. Color washes are an excellent way to change the color or mood of a room.
2) Pin spot: A beam of light that shines directly onto an object. A centerpiece, wedding cake, ice sculpture or display of memorabilia can all be spotlighted with this technique.
3) Gobo Lighting: Projection of a design or pattern with stencils that are stamped out of steel or laser cut (for more intricate designs) and then put over a light.
4) Light-Emitting Diodes (LED): Probably the most versatile light source, LED lights use much less electricity than regular light bulbs. Because they can sometimes be wireless, they can bring color to a variety of unexpected or hard to light areas.

Decorating Ideas

Winter Wedding
: Cool blue lights flooding the reception area can give the room a winter wonderland effect. Hanging "Christmas" lights vertically from the ceiling behind a white backdrop creates an amazing effect, as well as placing water-activated lights in floral centerpieces.

Transitional Lighting
: As you move from one event to the other, use LED light fixtures to signal to your guests that the next activity is underway with a change in the color of the lighting. While guests are arriving and getting seated, dim the lights and use a spotlight for the introductions of the wedding party. Switch to rich romantic reds during dinner and create a splash of vibrant colors when it's time for dancing. Guests will really enjoy the unexpected change of colors throughout the night.

Romantic Lighting: Candles are the most romantic addition to your wedding décor. But instead of just a few candles here and there, set the mood with candles all around. Elaborate candelabras on the table accompanied with tea lights and votives along the entrance walkway. Dim the fluorescent lights and enjoy the candle's glow. Luminaries can even be used along the aisle as pew markers during the wedding for a grand entrance for the bride.

Gobo Lighting: Project an image or monogram on the dance floor or on the wall with this versatile lighting. Project sunburst patterns on the wall would be like having a beach wedding indoors. Or just think about a fall leaf pattern on the dance floor for an autumn wedding and the names of bride and groom on the wall behind the head table. Gobo lighting can be used for just about anything.

Outdoor Weddings: If your wedding reception is in the evening and you want more light than the stars in the sky, add some hanging tea lights on tree branches and along walkways for a stunning sparkle all around. Liven up the grounds by using a wash of colored lights on the tables or as a backdrop of color. And don't forget to use sparklers instead of throwing rice for a grand getaway.

Whether you consider hiring a lighting professional or create some of these effects yourself, there's no doubt that theatrical lighting is a bright idea when it comes to giving your wedding the extra touch.