As with any event, lighting is an essential but often not properly considered element that plays a vital role in more ways than one. If you think about it practically you don't want to blind your guests, but you also don't want to have to squint at each other through the gloom of a few pillar candles. When you pick your venue you should consider how you plan to comfortably light the room, whether your reception is in the middle of the day, late afternoon or the dead of night, there should be some serious consideration taking place from the first viewing!
This is often one of the first factors you should consider when planning your lighting, you can't allocate a budget or pick venues if you have no clue how you want things to look. Lighting aesthetic can generally be broken into two categories, light colour and light saturation. Do you prefer warm light or cold light? Do you want huge spotlights on each table or string lights hung all around the venue? Determining these two factors will help narrow your decision down into something more manageable.
When it comes to weddings you don't have to search long before you come across string lights, they've really become a staple of wedding design in the last few years and for good reason! String lights come in all shapes and sizes, from bistro to lantern, berry to fairy, the versatility of these little beauties offers a wide range of options for any aesthetic regardless of the preferred colour or brightness (dimmable LEDs to the rescue!).
If you've been blessed with a venue flooded with bright natural light then your lighting setup is substantially less necessary for practicality and is really just there for the looks (and there's nothing wrong with that!), as a result of this you can really hone in on the design aspects you like and don't like. Rent some fancy fixtures and adorn them with electric candles (you don't want hot wax dripping into your guest's hair!), greenery and anything else that peaks your fancy. After all, all you have to worry about is the look!
A smart budget is incredibly important to consider when it comes to planning your lighting setup. It can mean the difference between some clever and cheaper cuts for an overall beautiful display (battery-powered string lights being sneakily threaded around floral displays and centrepieces for extra drama), or some fancy and expensive, but lacklustre lights that cost too much to change.
Just because your budget for lighting isn't huge doesn't mean you can't have a lavish display to wow your guests! It might take a little more finesse and research but there's nothing stopping you from decking your nuptials out like Burning Man other than a little bit of elbow grease.
If you have the benefit of a big budget for decor that includes lighting then a lavish display is on the table. Incorporate your lighting into a statement display to make an incredible impact and to ensure your money is being put to good use!
Depending on your venue you may find that your need for elaborate lighting can vary. If you're booking a venue with large windows for a late lunch reception then the sunlight in itself could potentially do the lions share of the work when it comes to creating an ambience, combined with the general lighting available in the space (chandeliers or light fixtures) there probably won't be a need for extra lighting. Wrap trees in lights or place candles in naturally formed alcoves.
Sometimes you have to let the venue itself dictate the lighting of the event, I don't just mean natural light vs electronic, take advantage of the unique specifics of each reception hall/wedding venue/church hall/courtyard to perfectly marry your wedding with the actual space (you would be surprised with how a few small details can make your venue seem like it was made specifically for your wedding day!)
Consider how your wedding is going to look at night if the ceremony takes place in the afternoon. Time flies when you're having fun, this will also be the case on your big day! Plan in advance for what to do when the darkness starts to set it, break out a disco ball, light a bonfire or hand out sparklers; forethought is your best friend, put some forethought into your nighttime lighting.