Outdoor Wedding Lighting Ideas from Real Celebrations

Photo: Polly Alexandre Photography

Don't let the party stop when the sun goes down.

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lights with big bulbs
Elle Jae

Outdoor venues can be absolutely stunning, and especially with good weather and natural scenery. But designing your wedding's outdoor space can pose a little more of a challenge. Aside from the basics—like forming a rain plan—you'll need to consider lighting your celebration. With open air and the possibility of a plug shortage, getting creative is a must. Whether you're tying the knot al fresco or dancing the night away outside for your reception, the right mood is key. That's why you'll need to plan the event's glow accordingly (plus, quite frankly, everyone needs to see). Nighttime, evening, and daytime needs will differ, so get a full picture before you choose.

Ahead, gorgeous outdoor lighting ideas from real weddings hosted in a variety of outdoor settings. From chandeliers and candles to string lights and lanterns, these outside-friendly ideas are sure to inspire. See which lighting options spark your interest, and ask your planner or venue how to make the magic happen.

Teardrop-shaped containers held votives above the reception tables at this wedding. String lights were also woven overhead for a striking look.

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Yellow Glow

well-lit reception space at night
Gennia for Docuvitae

This entire reception was set ablaze with dazzling lights. String lights were dangled, criss-crossed, and clustured, and tabletop candles upped the effect.

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Stylish Chandeliers

wedding chandeliers
Heather Kincaid

Who says chandeliers should stay inside? These looked so stylish hung from a tree.

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Rounded Accents

round bulbs over reception table
Ryan Ray Photography

This wedding featured rounded lights hung from varying lengths of string.

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Simple Lanterns

lanterns hanging from trees
Stefano Santucci

These simple, light-gray lanterns brought a cool feel to this outdoor space.

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Floral Projections

string lights and light projections
Steve Steinhardt

Floral light projections decorated the ground at this reception, while rows of string lights added something extra.

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Candle Centerpieces

wedding reception
Nirav Patel

Tall candles adorned these dreamy reception tables, giving the venue a warm, moody glow.

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Illuminated Plants

wedding reception
Lacie Hansen Photography

Lights shone from beneath the trees and bushes surrounding this Palm Springs wedding reception.

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Lights and Flags

Jillian Mitchell Photography

Alternating rows of paper-cut flags and string lights were strung above this Mexican reception.

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Strings of Lights

Christina Richards Weddings

Twinkling bistro lights lit these reception tables as the sun set during dinner.

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Outdoor Chandeliers

Braedon Photography

Chandeliers sparkled overhead these tables, which were set with pastel blooms, including cream-colored peonies and peach garden roses.

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Southern Flair

Elisabeth Millay Photography

Bistro lights, inspired by the restaurants in New Orleans' French Quarter, cast a romantic glow on this backyard celebration, while chandeliers hanging from the tent's ceiling lent a dramatic touch.

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Antique Lighting

Glen Allsop

Antique lanterns illuminated the walkway to the reception, held in Blue Hill's intimate private dining room, with pine floors, Venetian plaster walls, and an arched ceiling.

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Strings of Stars

Stephen Karlisch

At a garden reception in Dallas, single strings of twinkling lights created a starry sky beneath the tree branches.

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Chic Chandelier


Hang elegant lighting fixtures that you'd usually spot indoors in the trees at an outdoor reception to create an extra dramatic effect—and an ideal spot for a portrait like this.

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Palm Tree Light Display


For a destination wedding in Bermuda, this couple made local palm trees a part of the decor at their alfresco reception by wrapping their trucks with lights and stringing them strategically from tree to tree.

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Casual Canopy


At a laid-back Texas wedding full of rustic details, basic bistro lights were strung to create a canopy effect over dinner tables.

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Light Bundles


Outside the barn at The Fearrington House Inn in North Carolina, starry bundles of lights wrapped in and out of wicker balls provide a dreamy scape for a photo shoot.

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Cafe Lighting

Tec Petaja

Styled like a sidewalk cafe, the tables at this Tuscan reception were adorned with sleek lamps that were then switched on at dusk.

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A Lit Path

Skip Hopkins

Luminarias (paper bags holding lit candles set in sand) created a glowing path at this eclectic Ohio wedding reception.

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Vintage Chandeliers


Need a bit of structure for your lighting but still want everything out in the open? Try a tent frame sans the tent. Here, vintage French chandeliers hang from a frame to cast a warm glow onto a garden reception.

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Majestic Maypole

Rachel Thurston

A maypole-like structure hosted strings of lights and turned the area outside the historic Stagecoach Inn Museum into a reception-worthy space.

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Day-Time Twinkle


If you've chosen to wed during the day, your ceremony can still get a boost with a bit of added lightning. Simple string lights created a lovely ambience at this afternoon Florida fete.

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Creative Lantern Display

Erin Hearts Court

For a destination wedding at the Alila Ubud resort in Indonesia, white lanterns were hung in bundles against tree trunks that seemed to mimic the look of tropical fruit.

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Open-Air Lighting


Work with existing structures in an outdoor space, like this slatted patio roof, to hang lights and lanterns over cocktail hour tables.

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A Warm Glow

Polly Alexandre Photography

As the sun began to set at this destination wedding in Tuscany, the garden was illuminated with hanging string lights and scattered lanterns.

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Projected Light Pattern


Classic bistro lights were coupled with a totally unique light show at this outdoor reception in Santa Monica. A pattern wash was projected on the lawn and patio to give guests something to gab about.

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Light Columns


Looking for a new way to use the oh-so versitile white lantern? Run a string of lights up one side of bamboo stick or dowel and down the other, securing it with masking tape. Then stack paper lanterns over the stick, securing the lanterns to each other with tape. Plant these sticks securely in the ground to add a modern look to an outdoor reception area.

If you intend to place these fixtures by a swimming pool, be safe by plugging the lights into GFCI outlets and use extension cords approved for outdoor use.

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Lights Plus Lanterns

Jose Villa

As the sun set over this casual California dinner, bistro lights and paper lanterns started to give off soft lighting that would illuminate the reception space for the rest of the night.

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Faux Lanterns


Like the idea of candles but not the idea of mini open flames in the great outdoors? Set the mood with solar lanterns, such as the Soji Modern, that turn on automatically at dusk make alfresco dining elegant.

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Rustic Lanterns

Jen Fariello Photography

As the sun set, glowing wood lanterns hung from the trees lit the lawn at this farm wedding in Virginia.

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Vellum Shields


A celebration at sundown is more memorable when you supplement the waning daylight with lanterns. The tabletop ones consist of colorful sheets of vellum paper sandwiching tall votive candles in glass holders.

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