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Outdoor Lighting for Summer Events


Summer nights are prime time for outdoor events and creative lighting is an excellent way to dress up a celebration under the night sky.

Types of lighting

String lights are always a great foundation to start the lighting design, as they add the right amount of whimsy to the mix. However, people are open to doing things beyond classic fairy lights and we’re seeing more and more creativity infused into outdoor lighting design.

One of our favorite ways to incorporate lighting is through the use of hanging chandeliers. They bring a magical feel to an event with elegance that juxtaposes perfectly with an outdoor setting. Depending on the energy available, you can hang them from string lights, in a tree, in a gazebo, or from any free-standing structure.

We also love using single Edison bulbs to add an extra touch here and there. They tie in really nicely with string lights and make a great impact when hanging from trees or free-standing structures.

Photo courtesy Jenny DeMarco Photography –

Logistic considerations

Of course, you need to consider the feasibility of your lighting design within the venue’s parameters. This is especially important in outdoor events, as access to power may be limited. Connect with the venue coordinator to ensure that there is enough power available to keep the lights running through the event.

We also strongly recommend setting up the lighting design at least a day prior to the event, preferably in the afternoon. This allows you the opportunity to see what the lighting looks like when the sun goes down. Then, you can ensure that the spots and patterns are all correct and you have time to make adjustments as needed. If you set up on the same day as the event, there’s a chance you won’t be happy with the final result and you won’t have the time to fix it.

In terms of chandeliers, you also need to be very mindful of how much they weigh. Chandeliers come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s important to have an idea of the best way to support them. Safety should always be the top priority, so you should never hang anything that’s too heavy. Make sure you know how much weight a structure can support before assuming it will hold.

Proactive preparation

In order to keep your logistics in mind, always have a site survey to see the space in advance of the event. This allows you to know what will work best. We happen to see a lot of outdoor lighting requests at private homes, so we are usually the first ones providing anything at that site. Be realistic about what lighting styles can be accommodated and remain transparent with clients about their expectations. You’d be surprised how many times we’ve had requests for chandeliers over the dance floor without any supporting structures!

It’s also worth noting that lighting design, like string lights, chandeliers, and other fixtures, aren’t typically intended for illuminating the space. They’re more for decorative purposes, so be sure there are also lights onsite so guests aren’t trying to navigate by way of lantern light.

When it comes to outdoor events, lighting design can have the most impact on an environment and can lend itself to many different vibes. Work closely with your clients and their venues to ensure that their vision is being met while still remaining within the bounds of what is safe and possible.

Opening photo courtesy Sunshower Photography –

Kevin Dennis

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.