Landscape Lighting for an Outdoor Wedding
An outdoor wedding and/or reception has become an increasingly popular option for today's bride and groom. Adding the openness and beauty of nature to your festivities creates an ambience that no amount of man-made decorations could ever achieve.
If your event will run into the evening hours, a very important aspect to consider is your landscape lighting.
Nothing would put a damper on your fun like a guest getting hurt due to inadequate lighting, so consider safety your first priority when thinking about lights for your outdoor gathering.
First, make sure to light all footpaths leading to and from the main area where guests will congregate. Make sure everyone will be able to navigate to and from the parking area easily. A nice way to do this is by lining pathways with ground-stake lights. Install them enough ahead of time so that you can test them out on a dark night (other than the night of your reception!).
Next, concentrate on the central area where your guests will be. Will you have a dance floor? A bar or buffet table? What about seating? Consider each sub-area of your main gathering area as a sort of "station" and try to imagine any logistical or safety needs regarding light at each one. For instance, you'll want to make sure that food and drink areas are well lit enough for safety, cleanliness, and accuracy in serving but you may not want those areas' lights to encroach onto other stations, such as the dance floor where you may prefer a less invasive type of lighting.
Use a flood light (which come in various wattages depending on your desired level of brightness) to illuminate one long area where you'll have a line of food, drink, perhaps a guestbook, and other stations where brighter lighting will be suited.
If your stations are more scattered, affix spotlights above each to illuminate these areas individually while still keeping other areas less brightly lit.
Once you've cinched up safety and practicality, it’s on to the fun stuff: style and placement based on your taste and personality.
Create Your Mood
Now, you can really get creative and add those special touches that will make your outdoor wedding or reception something that is uniquely yours.
Again, think of the area you'll be using as being divided into stations. Once you've covered lighting your utilitarian stations for practical and safe use, you can look at the other areas.
Will you have sitting areas? Tables? If so, you may want to place an individual light on each table. Small lanterns and lamps are available in unlimited styles and price ranges for such a purpose. Some are battery powered, others have solar cells built in. Research the individual product you are considering to make sure it will have enough output for your desired level of illumination. Another way to light up your tables is with candles. Candles provide a soft glow that is hard to match. However, candles definitely pose a significant safety hazard and are not recommended for parties where young children will be present.
If you opt for candles, look into glass enclosures to enhance safety, ramp up the cool effects of the candlelight, and to protect the flame from wind and other elements. You could also use oil lamps on each table for a neat retro look.
Even if you have individually lit each table, you will probably want some overhead lighting for your seating/eating area. You'll probably want to consider a similar strategy for any performing areas like stages or a dance floor. There are a lot of fun ways to do it, too. One popular favorite is string or web lights. These hang above like twinkling stars, lending a sparkly and romantic feel to the atmosphere.
Another option is hanging lanterns and/or torches. This works particularly well if your party is island, tropical, or beach-themed. Paper lanterns strung overhead give off a fun, soft glow. As with candles, consider safety and practicality if using real torches. (You can add a couple of citronella torches into the mix if mosquitos are a concern).
Good old Christmas lights can also bring out landscape features, such as trees and bushes, adding a muted luminescence to the area. Use colors that match or compliment your theme colors or just use white/clear lights for a nice twinkly, yet subtle, look.
For more information:
Have fun in choosing the right landscape lighting for your outdoor wedding. Compare prices online as you shop to find the best deals available. This frees up money that could be spent on more cool lighting features or other party details.
Keep in mind that photos will probably be taken, and make sure your lighting is adequate (and flattering enough - flourescents are a big no-no here) to suit that purpose. If hiring a professional photographer, it is wise to discuss your plans for lighting so that he or she can bring the proper equipment to take the best possible pictures given the light you'll provide.
Please feel free to leave your questions and/or comments below. Best wishes for a fabulous outdoor wedding party!
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