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Reception Lighting Trends

Many consider the reception their main event, at least in terms of wedding design and décor. While professional lighting for ceremonies might be a “nice to have” item for many couples these days, it is far more common to see it applied to receptions now than it was just five or ten years ago. Uplights, pin spots, chandeliers, gobos, and candle features play a huge role in transforming reception space into unique and stunning custom designs. So, what are the latest trends in reception lighting design?

Hanging installations

Dramatic décor features suspended from venue ceilings have rocketed to popularity in the last to two three years. Guests are entranced by the daring height, and designers have so many opportunities to incorporate the element of surprise. Whether you begin with a chandelier dripping with crystals and add flowing greenery that reaches down as if to touch a VIP table, or you rig a wide lattice over the dance floor and suspend flower garlands and tiny candlelit lanterns, you are sure to wow the crowd with hanging décor that incorporates lighting.

Creating a lounge space

This recent favorite trend will endure this season as it becomes a more mainstream request by clients. A separate area where guests can do more than just stand and chat—where they can really kick off their shoes on cozy sofas, oversized Bohemian pillows, or upholstered ottomans—lounges are meant for comfort and camaraderie.

Lighting in a lounge space should be low and romantic. Lanterns and glowing candles are the perfect source, particularly safe LED varieties if the design includes a lot of flowing fabric or fire is a concern. The more the better!

Backdrops create focal points. Photo courtesy Erika Layne Photography

Showcase walls & backdrops

Take your standard hotel ballroom “airwall” and disguise it with your own wall of flowers, greenery, or both, and you can transform an otherwise unremarkable area into a show stopping focal point. Treat VIP guests like royalty by setting sweetheart or wedding party tables in front of a backdrop.

“Don’t neglect accent areas like the guest book table, cake table, and escort card table. Your guests need to find them, so catch their eye with clusters of gorgeous pillar candles in a variety of heights, or votives in colorful and unusual containers.”

Rig spotlights to draw attention to the centerpieces on the table and add uplights to enhance the dramatic scene. Go overboard with votive candles at and around each place setting and frame the scene with giant lanterns filled with LED candles. Complete the look by replacing standard banquet chairs with a luxurious upholstered loveseat for the newlyweds. All attention will surely be on them throughout the party!

Finally, don’t neglect accent areas like the guest book table, cake table and escort card table. Your guests need to find them, so catch their eye with clusters of gorgeous pillar candles in a variety of heights, or votives in colorful and unusual containers.

Many venues will not allow an open flame without a glass enclosure. Photo courtesy Sweet Tea Photography

Safety always

Towering candelabras with slender tapers may be visually distinct and on-trend, but many venues don’t allow open flame without a glass enclosure. Either choose a style of candelabra that complies with venue requirements and includes glass around each traditional wax candle, or take advantage of totally safe and highly efficient, battery-operated LED candles. Most varieties even flicker like real candles and in the dimmed light of a reception space can hardly be distinguished from them.

Receptions offer the perfect opportunity to use light to shape your guest experience. Get creative and try out some of these popular lighting trends at your receptions this season.

Audrey Isaac

Audrey Isaac is the spokesperson of 100 Candles, a wholesale market for candles and lights. Since 2002, thousands of wedding and event professionals have entrusted 100 Candles with their wholesale candle accounts. For more information, please visit