Time and time again, the most important factor in getting perfect wedding pictures at your reception is too-easily forgotten. While the dress may be lovely and your smiles divine, you can still end up with just plain awful pictures if you forget this small but critical component: the lighting! Good lighting is not only key to helping ensure perfect pictures, but also in setting the mood for the entire wedding. Here are the basics on lighting your reception to ensure that everything looks just right, both on the day itself and in your wedding pictures and video.
A reception lit only by candles sounds incredibly romantic- but it’s also impossible to photograph. While your wedding photographer can use daylight and some small lighting equipment to help out, if you don’t have sufficient levels of brightness, you’re going to feel a bit dim. When you’re choosing a venue, be sure to scope out the site for the existing light levels so you can see whether you’ll need to augment or alter the levels. Be sure to ask to see the venue after sunset if you’re planning an evening reception, as the loss of natural daylight can be devastating if not properly designed.
Did you ever notice how everything looks sickly and green under florescent light, or how old streetlights give everything an older glow? This is because light bulbs of different types give off different colors, even though the light itself is always the same. A good way to test the existing color of the lights in your venue is to wear a white shirt and stand in the area that gets the most light. You’ll be able to see how the white changes color; it may go slightly blue, green, yellow, or orange, depending on the types of lights used. By knowing the light color of the venue, you’ll be able to plan accordingly so things don’t look sallow or too ruddy.
If you’re planning on adding some lights to a dim venue, be sure to vary the heights of different light sources. Candles on the tables, popcorn lights hung from the ceilings, and stained-glass hanging lanterns will all give you different layers of light and create an interesting visual. Placing lights at different levels also means the reception room will glow all over, instead of having light in spaced apart pools.
A Word about Safety:
If you’re adding light to a venue, you need to confirm what is and is not allowed. Some venues do not allow any type of live fire, such as candlelight or firepits, because of the risk for starting a blazed. Others have a limited power supply, and thus can’t allow you to add dozens of electric lights without risking a blown fuse. Stick to any rules given by the venue carefully; should you disobey and have anything go wrong, the venue might charge you for damages and make you forfeit your deposit. Many venues will be happy to work with you to find lighting solutions, so don’t be discouraged if they do not allow certain types of light.