Wedding Uplighting Dos and Don'ts

Some illuminating ideas to enhance dark reception spaces.

wedding reception
Photo: Tec Petaja

If you want to add a warm glow to your reception space but candles and string lights aren't enough, you may consider uplighting. That's an effect created by putting lighting units on the floor pointed up. Magical makeover! Here are a few things to do and a few to avoid to ensure the look is tasteful, elegant, and totally flattering.


Do: Focus on important areas first.

This includes the cake table, the dance floor, and any spectacular floral displays. You'll also want lighting on your reception tables, so speak to your vendors about choosing the right options for each area.

Don't: Choose the wrong color.

For the most flattering uplighting, choose amber gels. While other popular uplighting hues include red, blue, magenta, and purple, these are best reserved for your dance floor or after-party. Remember that your reception space will be bathed in whichever color you choose, so purple uplighting will transform your all-white centerpieces into an arrangement of violet hues. Amber, the most universally-flattering color, will give your space a warm, romantic glow.

Do: Know that uplighting can transform a bleak setting.

A few well-placed uplights can change a room from drab to dreamy in seconds. Take a wedding at a community center, for example: If you were planning to turn off the overheads (too bright!) and light lots of candles but something more is needed, uplighting a few areas will wash the room in lovely glowing hues, which can be instantly changed throughout the reception.

Don't: Underlight the space.

If the venue is extensive or the guest list is large, be sure to have enough lighting. In situations like these, a little won't go a long way. If you want your guests to see all of the details you spent so much time prepaing, you need to ensure they're visible.

Do: Hire a company that uses LEDs.

There are several types of products you can use for uplighting. The safest are LEDs, which produce a lot of light while generating little heat and offer numerous color options. Par cans are less popular because they get very hot, which can cause an electrical fire, and come in limited hues. LEDs are available in wired and wireless formats-the latter is preferable (but more costly) because they're battery-operated and don't come with long electrical cords someone could trip over.

Don't: Use LEDs outside if they're not waterproof.

If you're DIYing the uplights, rent LEDs that are specially made for outdoor events. If they're not waterproof and it rains, the wet lights could catch on fire.

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