Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wedding Lighting & Decor: Up, Up, and Away!

Bride-to-be, Melissa, is wondering what to do with her reception space. It's spacious, has exposed brick, and dark chocolate wood beams stretching above - gorgeous! Because it is such a wonderful venue, she doesn't want to overdo the decor; keep it simple but still interesting.

The collage above exhibits three different venue decoration ideas, plus a little surprise ending in the upper right-hand corner. Let's start in the upper left and go counter-clockwise, shall we?

The lanterns idea has been all the rage the past few years. They're perfect for indoors or out, can be lit or unlit, and are relatively inexpensive (not to mention portable - they're completely collapsible at the end of the day). You can do a few, or go all out (like in the picture). The first time I saw this done was in a cafe about eight years ago in downtown Seattle. It had bright red painted walls and the highest ceiling I had ever seen. The lanterns brought the ceiling in closer so your eyes didn't get lost in the space. I can still remember being completely awestruck and wanting to replicate it someday.

Next is the parasol idea, which has also been done quite a bit, but not nearly as much as the lanterns. Hang them at angles (like in the picture) or simply upside-down over the dance floor, or even from trees if you have and outdoor ceremony (like in the movie, "Meet the Fockers"). If you have bridesmaids, you could also have them carry them down the aisle. Hanging them above the dance floor would reference back to the ceremony and tie everything together. It's almost a theme, but not too hokey.

The third option is Martha Stewart's tissue pom poms. These are probably my favorite out of the three, and the one that Melissa has talked with me about the most. They're the least expensive (but do require the most work), and they add a beautiful texture (and any color you want) to the space. When people ooh and aah, you can brag about how you made them yourself (or commissioned good friends to make them for you)! These aren't lit, but you could purchase slowly-twinkling white mini-LEDs and tuck them throughout the tissue folds for some sparkle, but avoid too many lights, otherwise they could end up looking like an X-Mas Sparkle Ball (unless that's what you're going for...).

The last photograph in the collage above captures a lantern release, which is apparently common at Thai weddings, but slowly coming to the US, too. It is supposed to signify the couple's problems floating away and starting a new, wonderful life together. When I first saw the idea, I was worried about all of the lantern pieces eventually fluttering back down to earth and killing fish and ducks and other small animals (there's my hippie side...). BUT you can get biodegradable ones! So cool! My guess is that the flame would eventually go out due to lack of oxygen as it ascends, so hopefully a flaming lantern landing in a field of dry grass isn't an issue... hopefully.

White lights are always a beautiful addition to any evening reception. A multi-clothesline effect like this would be beautiful in an open space with high ceilings.

Or, do the same thing with hanging mason jars with candles. If you're worried about real flame, frost the jars with frosting paint and use fake LED candles (frosting the jars helps because the fake candles are not very attractive on their own). The mason jar below is actually lit by a solar-powered lightbulb! A great solution for an outside afternoon wedding that goes late into the night. Buy them here, or make your own here.

What other ideas have you heard of/used? Please share!



  1. i love the latern release idea! the parks department probably not so much.

  2. Those lanterns are beautiful!