Getting the lighting right is essential for setting the mood at all weddings – but it’s especially important for outdoor weddings where sunny days and starry nights can only take you so far.  It’s undeniable that outdoor weddings are romantic, elegant, and whimsical – but without proper lighting, your guests will quite literally be left in the dark once the sun sets.  And while the idea of a blackout wedding could be fun in theory, in practice, you want everyone to be able to see each other (and you!).  So how do you light up your outdoor wedding in a way that’s practical but doesn’t detract from the venue’s natural beauty?

Decide Where You’ll Use Lighting

First things first, you’ll need to figure out what needs to be lit. You want to ensure that you’re lighting your wedding in a practical way that keeps the party going when the sun goes down and allows the photographer to capture magical moments well into the night.

Wedding dance

Lighting is especially important during the day-to-night transition.

Whether you’re getting married in a tent, backyard, farm, or field, at the very least you will need to make sure tables, the dance floor, and the DJ booth and/or band stage are adequately lit. Then, depending on your venue, you may want to highlight surrounding buildings, trees, greenery, or other unique attributes to the venue that make your wedding setting exceptional.

Decide How You’ll Use Lighting

Once you’ve determined where you’ll need lighting, you need to figure out what kind of lights you’ll use and how you’ll use them.  Lighting is so much more than just lights; it also provides beautiful décor that can transform outdoor spaces into magical wedding wonderlands.

Outdoor wedding tent chandelier lighting

A combination of chandeliers and uplighting work together to make a big tent feel a bit more intimate.

There are tons of ways to use lighting as decoration for your wedding, but some common outdoor lighting ideas are:

  • Pin Spot Lights: These narrow spotlights are perfect for lighting centerpieces, cake tables, buffets, floral arrangements and more.
  • Uplights: Use strategically placed outdoor uplighting to showcase striking structural details, draw attention to trees, or project a pattern or monogram onto a tent.
  • Chandeliers: Hanging chandeliers from the top of a tent or tree branch can light up the dancefloor and make a wide-open space feel a bit more intimate.
  • Hanging Lanterns: Lanterns provide a rustic look and feel, making your reception feel cozy and warm. Lanterns come in all shapes and sizes, from wine bottles to mason jars to paper – the possibilities are endless!
  • String Lights: String lights are ubiquitous at outdoor weddings – and with good reason. Whether they use Edison bulbs, LED lights, or traditional light bulbs, there are tons of ways to use string lights to lend ambiance to an outdoor space.

Still in need of some outdoor lighting inspo? Pinterest is your friend – but be careful, you may soon find yourself 4 hours deep into a Pinterest rabbit hole. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Don’t Overdo It

Lighting is one of the most important parts of your big day – it plays a central role in setting the mood and providing a gorgeous backdrop to your wedding.  But when you have an outdoor wedding, it can be really easy to get carried away and over-compensate.  Remember that the goal is to strike the right balance between practical needs and decorative ones.  One chandelier or uplight can only do so much; but too many lights and you’re detracting from natural beauty of your outdoor space. Think dim, not bright.

Your best bet is to avoid the DIY route when it comes to outdoor wedding lighting and find a professional lighting designer with extensive knowledge that will work with you to bring all of your awesome lighting ideas to life.