Getting lit! Everything you need to know about lightning for your wedding venue

The dark days of planning are over! Is the lighting at your venue ready to shine on the big day?

These YES lights, by I Love Letters, look fantastic, even in broad daylight

A quick snoop into what’s currently available in Scotland will illuminate the possibilities for your big day. There’s large props, such as light-up letters and colour-changing pop-up bars and seating. You can decorate tables with glowing arrangements or candelabras, or transform how the entire room looks with starlit cloths and LED twinkling dancefloors.

It can hide a multitude of sins – even the swishest venue will probably have a few décor flaws. Use it to highlight the bits you love, and to draw the eye away parts you don’t. For example, if you love the ornate ceiling but can’t stand the muddy brown curtains, colour-wash uplighting is a great visual makeover.

Don’t splash the cash with a wedding supplier before you check out what sort of lighting the venue already has. “Take time to look at the venue properly,” advises Frances Maria Douglas, head designer at Daydreamer Events Studio. “Does it provide any additional lighting?”

From left: Daydreamer Events Studio; Get Knotted (photo: Alex Martin Photography)

To ensure a full diary all year round, most venue décor companies adapt what they offer to those on a budget and the big spenders. “Simple uplighting around your room makes a great impact, without the higher costs of something like an LED dancefloor,” explains Maria Joliny at the Blue Parrot Company.On the other hand, she notes, draping an entire room in starlit cloth “will transform the venue into a dreamy wonderland that looks fantastic”.

You’ll have your hands full as the wedding approaches, so it’s good to hear most lighting companies are happy to take on almost all of the leg-work. “We offer a full delivery, installation and collection service,” says Maria. This means you won’t need a lengthy sit-down with your venue co-ordinator, she says, though there are a few key points to cover when speaking with them: “We will need information about access and the location of plug points.”

While you’re at it, ask what other couples have done with the function spaces – this can be a great source of inspiration. If it’s a castle or a stately home, you might think this has to dictate the overall style of your day, but when you see pictures of previous weddings you might realise that colourful lanterns don’t clash with the dark wooden beams, or that giant LOVE letters can offer a quirky contrast to an intricate mural.

It doesn’t get much better than the Blue Parrot Company’s full room starlit draping
It doesn’t get much better than the Blue Parrot Company’s full room starlit draping

The most atmospheric effect, ironically, costs the least – we’re talking candlelight, of course. But it is absolutely imperative you find out what your venue’s policy is before you buy up a ton of tealights. Some, for insurance reasons, flat out refuse to permit naked flames on the premises.

All is not lost if that’s the case, as Frances explains: “The new kind of LED candle is excellent – it’s often hard to tell the difference between it and the real thing. And one extra beauty of electronic candles is that they can be switched on and off by remote control.” We’ve also never heard of a bridesmaid’s hair extensions going up in flames with LED candles. Could it be time we let the e-version take over?

So what’s on the cards for lighting in 2016? “We reckon it’s going to be big and bold,” says Frances. “Mixing up styles – combining trendy Edison bulbs with ornate candelabras, perhaps – creates a unique style that looks effortless, if it’s done well.” She also suspects there will be a rival to the ever-popular fairylights – bistro lights. These are still in the string light family, but with fewer, larger bulbs – “they look spectacular in outdoor spaces, and in barns and marquees.”