The Most Budget-Friendly Lighting Ideas for Your Reception

The Most Budget-Friendly Lighting Ideas for Your Reception

Lighting can set the mood: natural lights usually make us feel more awake, while soft lighting can feel more relaxing. For your wedding day, you’ll have to work with the venue manager and possibly a wedding planner to decide how you want to illuminate the area. Proper lighting also means better photos of this special day. However, you should keep things within a price range you can afford. In this article, we’ve detailed the most budget-friendly lighting ideas for your reception to ensure everything looks incredible.

8 Popular Budget-Friendly Lighting Ideas

As you think about your ideal lighting options, begin by thinking about how you want to decorate the space. Will you use lanterns as centerpieces? Do you plan to hang curtains or silks? Is the reception outside? Answering these questions and choosing your wedding décorhelps you decide which lighting options would look best. Below, we explain some great lighting ideas for you.


Lanterns allow you to add a few functional decorations to the venue, and you have various options on style. You could hang paper lanterns outside or use glass lanterns as centerpieces at the tables. You’ll also have to decide how you’ll illuminate them. While some paper lanterns may be battery operated, this may not be the case with a glass lantern.

Bridal Tip

If you need to add lights to your lantern, consider using a candle or fairy lights. Both are popular options that help you maintain a romantic atmosphere.

The Most Budget-Friendly Lighting Ideas for Your Reception


Candles look great and help give the space a subtle glow that is especially lovely at the dining tables. Decide on the size you want—sticks, tea lights, etc.—and the color. Additionally, you’ll have to decide whether you’d prefer to put out natural or artificial candles. Some couples don’t like LED candles because they look fake, but real candles can be risky, specifically if you place them too close to the dance floor.

Bridal Tip

Some people prefer the natural look of a real candle and flame, but this can become a fire hazard. Due to the risk, some venues won’t allow you to use real candles. If you have permission to use real candles, you could also mix natural and LED candles, depending on placement.

String Lights

String lights can help illuminate your reception space, and you have various options to choose from when it comes to the style. For instance, a winter bride may want Christmas lights accenting the area, but a spring bride may prefer globe-shaped lights. You can use string lights:

  • Wrapped around trees
  • Hung behind curtains
  • Strung along the ceiling

The way you hang your string lights depends on your venue. Many couples that hold their reception in a barn string Edison bulbs along the ceiling beams to further the natural industrial look.

Bridal Tip

Some indoor venues come equipped with hanging lights and chandeliers. In the event that yours doesn’t, you can create this look with your string lights. Shop for pendant lights and hang them around the venue to create the perfect look you’ve envisioned.

The Most Budget-Friendly Lighting Ideas for Your Reception

Fairy Lights

These are a bit like string lights, but they’re usually dimmer and can be battery powered. For this reason, they make perfect accent pieces if the venue already has lighting like chandeliers. Consider fairy lights inside of glass jars or vases for centerpieces on the tables. Doing this adds some mood lighting to the area.

Bridal Tip

Mood lighting helps set the tone and atmosphere. At your wedding, you want guests to feel comfortable and ready to party, so most couples have a mix of lighting types. Typically, dimmed light helps create a fun and relaxed atmosphere, which you want at your reception.

Colored Lights

Some couples choose white or yellow lights while others prefer something that stands out. Colored lights are perfect if your wedding takes place around a holiday, but it’s also great if you have a color scheme. This is a great way to sneak in those shades and add some illumination to the venue—it’s a two-for-one deal!

Monogrammed Lights

You could also have a monogrammed light or two either with your and your partner’s initials or your shared last name. This is a cute touch to personalize the dance floor. Monogrammed lights are easy to set up since you just have to place and aim the projector and then turn it on to display your design.

Glow Sticks

Will glow sticks add a lot of lighting to your venue? No. But are they fun and a great way to keep up with the party atmosphere? Of course! Hand out glow sticks or reusable foam glow sticks for guests to swing around as they party. Your photographer can also stage a few incredible photos with this fun party favor.

The Most Budget-Friendly Lighting Ideas for Your Reception

Natural Lighting

This one may sound silly, but it’s easy to overlook. Depending on the time of day and your venue, you may be able to get away with using natural light. Typically, this works best in an area outside or inside with large windows during daylight hours. Sometimes, you may be able to rely on natural light during cocktail hour and the first half of the reception, but if you get married in the evening, you’ll have to rely on artificial light at some point.

Bridal Tip

While you may not always be able to use natural light for your reception, you should use it for the getting-ready photos. In addition, natural light leads to pictures with better image quality since colors appear richer.

Mix and Match Options

If you can’t decide on one, don’t worry about it! Often, couples intermix various lighting options to make their dream wedding a reality. Use fairy lights as centerpieces but adorn the rest of the venue with lanterns or string lights. Talk to the venue manager and your wedding planner about what they think would look best and what you’re allowed to do.

Why Lighting Matters

Now that we’ve talked about some budget-friendly lighting ideas for your reception, let’s discuss why lighting matters. Can’t you just use the venue’s lights and call it a day? True, some venues like halls, resorts, and restaurants already have some lighting; you can’t say the same about outdoor venues. However, couples getting married at a beach, winery, or barn will need to think up great ways to light up the space for guests. And regardless of where your venue is, you’ll want to personalize it, and selecting the right lighting is an essential part of the process.

Lighting Sets the Mood

Lighting impacts our mood in any setting. The morning sun usually helps wake us up, while dim artificial lighting enhances feelings of relaxation. Additionally, the type of light you choose and where you place them can help emphasize different parts of the wedding. For example, a mini spotlight under the cake will draw more attention. Likewise, adding a few extra lights surrounding you and your sweetheart at the main meal keeps guests fixated on you.

Why Is Lighting Expensive?

It’s no secret that weddings are expensive, and without creating a budget, it can be easy to overspend in this area. But why is wedding lighting so costly? There are a few reasons for this: safety, aesthetics, and overbuying. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement as you shop around for your chosen lighting option, but this can also result in overbuying. Keep things budget-friendly by deciding how many lights you need before shopping for them.

Lighting is an important part of the wedding and reception. It sets the mood, but it also enhances the photos of your big day. Use the inspiration we’ve sparked in this article to decide which lighting option you like the most to decorate your venue.

Leaf accent icon

Everyday Bride

Freelance Writer
June 14, 2022

Stay Connected

How To Pick Out the Members of Your Wedding Party

6 Reasons To Write Personalized Wedding Vows

5 Wedding Photography Trends & Why You Should Avoid Them