Setting the Scene: Lighting

Lighting is one of the under-appreciated aspects of event design.  It’s a subtle way to change the feel of your room and can even hide bits and pieces that you don’t like very much.  Let’s look at a few commonly used lighting elements for weddings, as well as the logistics of securing lighting.


Uplighting is usually colored lighting that is projected from floor-based units to provide a wash of light up towards the ceiling.  This is a great way to bring in a color that can’t be used in florals easily (like, say, turquoise) or to provide more ambiance in the room by allowing you to shut off or dim the existing overhead lights.

Uplighting Dallas wedding

Photo courtesy of Cherie Callaway Photography


Pinspots are bright white lights that are narrowly focused on a single element in the room to make it shine.  Pinspots are a great idea when you know that your room will be really dark, but you want your centerpieces, cake, or other decor elements to really stand out.  You can do a single pinspot on each element, which lights it from one side only, or you can cross-spot, using multiple pin spots to illuminate all angles.  Pinspots require a little bit more effort and time than uplighting, because they do need to be rigged from a high point in the room.  Depending on your venue, this may require bringing in tall lighting trusses.

Pinspotting Dallas wedding

Photo courtesy of Sil Azevedo Photography

Patterns and Monograms

It’s always a fun personal touch to include your monogram or names in light, projected on the dance floor or a nearby wall.  A newer trend is to use light patterns instead to evoke a different feel for your room.  Say, for example, your wedding theme is fairytale forest.  A hotel ballroom is very, well, indoors.  Using light patterns to create vines and branches on the wall can bring that outside magic back in to your reception.  Both of these lighting techniques involve the use of GOBOs, custom or pre-cut stencils that fit into spotlights.

Patterned lighting Dallas wedding

Photo courtesy of Monica Salazar Photography

Market Lights / String Lights

If you have a more rustic or laid-back design to your wedding, you may want to consider using market lights over your ceremony, cocktail, or reception space. These create a more casual environment and have a homemade, DIY feel to them. Market lights are extremely heavy, and require support to ensure that they don’t fall on your guests.  We definitely suggest working with professionals on these – but, boy, are they super cute!

Market lights Dallas wedding

Photo courtesy of The Minnericks Photographers

Chandeliers and Specialty Hanging Lights

Sometimes, you just need that extra special pop of pretty to complete your look.  A single chandelier hanging in a tree or a ballroom can add just that little touch of elegance you need to bring your vision together!

Chandelier Dallas wedding

Photo courtesy of Joseph Mark Photography

Where to Get It and Timing

So, thinking a little lighting might be right for you?  Wondering where to start on finding these things?  The best first stop is often your DJ, if you have one.  Many DJs can provide uplighting, and some will also offer pinspotting or GOBO lighting. Another place to check is with your larger rental companies.  Several of these offer lighting.  The best one stop shop for all of your lighting, though, is an event lighting company.  They’ll have multiple options in terms of style and, if they don’t have what you need, they often know who does!  Be sure to build in enough set up time with your venue for getting your lighting rigged.  Also, be sure that your elements to be lit (say, centerpieces) are in place before the lighting company arrives. Otherwise, your vendors are in for some serious guesswork!

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