Day 9 – Wedding Tips: Reception Lighting 

Wedding Reception at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA

As important as it is to select great food and decor for your wedding reception, the lighting is just as important or more. There are several things to think about when you are designing the lighting for your reception:

– Does it look beautiful, of course.

Everyone wants to have a beautiful looking reception. Lighting can definitely achieve that look for you while setting a mood and working with the set theme that you selecting for your wedding. Working with a good wedding planner and lighting company, they can help you design a look that will work well and be a plus to any room.

– Does it make your guests feel comfortable both during dinner and when they hit the dance floor?

I hear often from DJs and bands that guests are more likely to get out on the dance floor if the lighting of the dance floor is set properly. This normally means a dimmed main room lighting mixed with properly placed dj, band, or room lighting to accent the dance floor and give that party environment. People are often more likely to dance when they feel like the spotlight and attention is not put directly on them.

Not only is it important to have great lighting for dance time, but it is just as important to set the mood for dinner service, toasts and those special dances with the bride, groom and parents.

– Does it change the appearance of an otherwise ordinary looking room?

Wedding Reception detail lighting at the Glen Oak Country Club in Clarks Summit, PA

Up lighting is a popular way to change an ordinary room into something really special as you see above. Calling it up lighting is an over simplification of what can be done, but we will keep it simple for the purpose of this post. Turn a white ordinary room into the color of your choice by running colored LED lighting up the sides of the walls, tables, and decor. This not only looks great to the eye, but will make your images and video pop with that little extra flair.

Other things like spotlights, table accents, candle light, pin lighting, gobos, accents and much more.

– Is there enough ambient light produced by the lighting to be suitable for both your photographer and videographer?

Up lighting used at a beautiful indoor / outdoor reception at Glen Oak Country Club Clarks Summit, PA

Although it is great to have lighting that is appealing to the human eye, it is also important to check with your photographer and cinema team to make sure that the lighting is not too low or too distracting that it will interfere with them capturing moments of your wedding. This mostly applies with the room being too dark. Now digital cameras these days can do a lot of things in low light very well. However, the darker the situation the harder those cameras have to push their limit and you can start to see things like grain and what we call ‘noise’ appear in the images.

Most professional photographers will have the knowledge to be able to tell you quickly if your plans for your room will be too dark and how to arrange things slightly different in order to optimize the lighting for both appearance to the guests and to the camera.

– Are the lights too over powering or distracting?

Avoid lighting that projects too harshly on guests – Huntsville Golf Club Shavertown, PA

There are certain lights that we suggest people stay away from for your wedding reception. This mainly comes into play with DJs that have lights but honestly do not know how to properly use or position them. Lighting effects should be more then just placing them on the front of the DJ table. These lights are meant to be hung and directed so that they hit the wall, dance floor or crowd properly. Each light has it’s own characteristic and way that it is meant to be used.

It is important to have a talk with your DJ and bands to see if they provide lighting with their packages and what their knowledge base with those lights are. You can also decide to forgo what the DJ might have and hire your own lighting company to handle that aspect of the reception. Just like with everything, people that specialize in something will almost always be better at it, but do come at a premium price.

The lights that you see above is a type of light we highly recommend that you avoid for your reception. You can see how when improperly positioned it can create spots all over your guests that is not pleasing and will appear in your photos and videos in an unflattering way. At this particular event and others, we asked the DJ if they would kindly turn off this particular light after showing them how it would impact the images.

Other things you might want to avoid is pointing particular colors directly at people on the dance floor. We have found that purples, reds and pinks directed too harshly onto the dance floor can cause a lot of problems with skin tones in your images and videos. Again, a proper lighting company will know how to avoid these colors hitting your guests too boldly.

You might also want to tell your lighting person to turn off certain lighting during moments like the first dance, toasts, and parents dances if it is distracting to the mood that you are trying to set for those moments. Something like a spotlight might be more appropriate for this time of the day.


So I hope those quick tips were helpful in showing you some examples of what to look for in lighting for your reception. I know that with any of my bookings I am made available to help you through these ideas as well to optimize what will look the best in a venue for your photos.

What do you think? Leave your comments and thoughts in the area below as well as like this post for facebook. Your feedback is always welcomed!

LIghts from the Band Picture Perfect illuminate the dance floor walls at the Lackawanna Station Radisson in Scranton, PA
Multi Color Reception lighting and spotlights at Westin Jersey City NJ Wedding
Pleasing lighting on guests at Huntsville Golf Club Wedding



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