The Shopping List for planning your wedding lighting

Great lighting is the foundation of a truly spectacular event. When it comes to creating the right atmosphere for your wedding ceremony and reception, using the right lighting features and techniques is crucial. But with so many options and ways to light an event, how do you know what the right lighting solution is? When planning your wedding, stress levels are already piqued so our experienced Technical Event Director, Rocco Anzellotti has developed a list of only 6 things to think about when planning your wedding lighting. 

Weddings don't come cheap. As we try to recreate the beautiful scenes from our favourite romance movies, we have to be realistic on what's achievable for the everyday couple without multimillion dollar production companies behind them. Earlier this year the Herald Sun reported the average cost of a wedding for Australian couples is now $65, 482. And that's not taking into consideration the recent wedding blow-out of the year by Auburn deputy mayor Salim Mehaje which has estimated to come in at around $200,000 - conservatively speaking.

The Shopping Trolley - Setting your wedding budget

Before even going down the path of deciding what lighting to use, you and your partner will need to set a wedding budget you're comfortable with. The next step is to then break that budget down and allocate amounts to the main areas - catering, venue, lighting, AV, dress etc. This will help manage your expectations as you'll need to be realistic in what you want and what you can afford. Of course, we're not expecting you to know this straight up so it's important that you keep an open mind about how your wedding will look and let the event experts come up with the best lighting solution that fits your budget. A good way to approach this is to think of it as a shopping trolley, "I'll have a bit of this and a bit of that". 

What's in the shopping trolley? - Lighting Ideas for Weddings

Now that your wedding lighting budget is set, the second thing to think about is deciding what you want to light. Making a pool of all the possible elements at your wedding that will need lighting will help define and prioritise the best lighting solution. 

1. The Bridal Table

The first thing to light is the bridal table as that’s why everyone is here. The Bride and Groom and the remaining wedding party are a major focus point.  This should be listed as a priority. Throughout the wedding reception, all eyes are on the happy couple trying to catch their reactions to speeches or see the Best Man or Father of the Bride deliver their toast. That's why it's important you consider the most flattering lighting design for this table and don't rely on house lighting to make sure they are lit. Quite often people like to have a white drape behind the wedding table as a clean backdrop to the the table as the wall might not be very favourable to your wedding. So why not add some colour to those drapes. This can be done in a various way either colouring the whole drape or doing some uplighting which will have the look of beams of light going up the drape but with gaps between the colour.

2. The Wedding Cake  

The Wedding Cake is another hero feature that requires its own lighting. The cutting of the bridal cake is ritual at most weddings so it's imperative that you have enough lighting so no matter where your guests are seated or placed, they can clearly see what is happening. Not to mention the wedding cake is more of a form of art than baking item with the average cost coming in at around $500 according to the Bridal Guide.

If you're investing this amount into the cake's design, you need to do it and it's creator, the justice in designing lighting that makes the cake stand out. 

3. Decorating the Walls

So thinking about uplighting now we have set the bridal table, cake and bridal table drape lighting, what about the room look? It can look quite nice to have some uplights around the room. This gives a nice ambience to the space. It also makes the people sitting in the room feel like its also part of the celebration.

4. Lighting for Wedding Toasts and Speeches

Now a small one is the speeches, this can be done from the bridal table but if your planning not to then a light would be needed to highlight the person speaking. You don’t want the wedding video to have the brides father in the blotchy lighting and you don’t want the videographers light on the whole time   

5. Introducing the newly weds!

The walk-in. Depending on your location or wedding style, the walk-in can be a major part of a wedding. It's the first time you are introduced as a married couple in front of all your guests. In recent years, we've seen the walk-in extended to the entire wedding party - bridesmaids, parents with the bride and groom the last to enter. More often than not, they're supported by some backing music and moving lighting to give them the dramatic entrance they wanted and build excitement around the room - after all it is a joyous occasion! Lighting design is very scalable and can be tailored to suit your wedding venue and compliment the walk-in path. Why not get lights that can do the walk-in as well as light up the dance floor?

6. Lighting the dance floor

Now that you have considered lighting for the formal parts of the wedding reception, the final element is the dance floor. If you've invested money into a decent live band or DJ you want to make sure you get a good crowd going. You can create a decent dance floor vibe with the use of some moving spot lights, gobos, coloured, lighting projections or even romantic festoon lighting for the more relaxed wedding. Good lighting for the dance floor delivers the same impact as you get in nights clubs by enhancing the music and overall atmosphere of the wedding. 

Last but not least is the wedding dance, or the bridal waltz for the more traditional weddings. This is your time to shine literally! Wouldn’t it be nice to have a moving spot light (called a Followspot) to follow you and your partner as your glide around the dance floor? By dimming all the other lights, this creates an immense impact as all of the wedding guest are focused on the couple. Another option here is to have custom gobo's made displaying the newly-wed's initials on the dance floor.

The thing to remember is all of this is scalable.  By having moving lights that can pan and tilt around the room you are able to tick off some of the above ideas with the same lights.  What if the room you hired  doesn't  have enough power to run all of these lights? No problem! We currently run a lot of our wedding lighting in LED which is a low cost - low power run inventory. 

Weddings by Staging Connections

Staging Connections provides creative lighting design and installation, venue styling, audio visual supply and management, staging and theme development and much more to give you complete confidence your wedding experience will run smoothly and leave a lasting impression on you and your guests.

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Written by Rocco Anzellotti, Technical Event Director, Staging Connections.

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