Understanding wedding lighting pricing can be confusing and varies widely. We’ve set out to take away the confusion and give you the information necessary to budget and plan for the costs of wedding lighting.
The most beautiful venue, flowers, linens, food, centerpieces, design, decor, gifts and people all look the same without quality wedding lighting…DARK! If you can’t see what you’ve done then there is no point in spending money on it for your reception.
Most receptions are in the evening and are in dimly lit reception spaces. Lighting can transform the worst and enhance the best space features into something spectacular.
Knowing the elements of the venue that you like, or absolutely can’t stand, is a good place to start. If you hate the carpet, pin-spot lighting can help by drawing guests’ eyes upward and toward elements you want to highlight. If you hate the color of the walls, uplighting can completely change the color of the venue. If you HATE a piece of artwork, pipe and drape or lighting can help mitigate the differences in taste between you and the venue. If you LOVE your flowers, pin-spot lighting can be a fantastic way to highlight them in a very elegant fashion.
A hotel ballroom ceremony space is transformed into something spectacular with lighting and imagination.
Budgeting for Wedding Lighting
Lighting costs vary depending on the location, market, length of event, date of event, travel distance, venue, types and amount of lighting fixtures, seasonal & citywide demand, planning, theme, engineering, etc. Many variables go into determining the exact pricing for an event. Rather than address all of these variables, we’ll outline a typical scenario that we face with many of our wedding clients so you can have a general sense of lighting pricing.
Let’s start with the basics and assume the following:
– Saturday wedding, non-holiday
– Hotel ballroom (fairly modern)
– Wedding size of ~150 guests
– 15-20 tables
– Standard 4-hour load-in, 2-hour load-out (no challenging load-in, load-out requirements)
We will also assume labor and supplies are included in a base uplighting package price. Any other lighting elements would be added on to that package.
A custom Gobo light above the door at this reception personalized the space and added some whimsy.
General pricing guidelines:
- Uplighting for the entire ballroom, labor and supplies: $1,200 – $3,000
- Add a monogram light: $250-$500
- Add texture lighting: $100 per light fixture/pattern
- Add cake spotlight: $50 – $100
- Add pipe and drape: $150 – $350 per linear foot (priced in 10ft sections)
- Add a starry sky effect: $250 – $500
- Add pin-spot lighting: $45 – $75 per light/table
- Add intelligent lighting: $150 – $300 per fixture
- Add projector, computer, screen: $400 – $800 per setup
The general pricing above helps shed some light on what wedding lighting might cost. Labor costs and supply costs would be higher with more complex setups.
If lighting seems like it might be out of your particular event budget range, DIY wedding lighting can be a great alternative.
Texture lighting, bistro lighting, pin-spot lighting and uplighting were all used to add layers of color, pattern and visual interest at this Washington, DC wedding.
Getting the Most Out of Your Lighting Budget
Achieve the best results at a price point that fits your budget. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your lighting dollars.
1. Everything looks the same in the dark
Spending money on elements that you or your guests won’t be able to discern quality differences in or be able to see at a dark reception is money wasted.
A tall arrangement of baby’s breath lit correctly with pin-spot lighting will look 10x better than an unlit, dark arrangement of more expensive flowers.
Cakes with amazing detail won’t be seen unless you have a cake spotlight. Your reception will start behind schedule if guests are squinting at the place cards because the table is unlit. White linens will reflect uplighting colors nicely, making them look more expensive than spending the equivalent amount on higher-end more expensive linens.
2. Lighting purchased through the venue will be more expensive than going through an outside vendor
9 times out of 10, lighting purchased through a venue is more expensive than going through an outside vendor.
This is especially true for hotels that markup the cost of everything, especially lighting & A/V. Watch for service charges, gratuity, etc. that can inflate the cost upwards of 40%.
A/V reserved through the hotel or venue will always be more expensive than choosing your own vendor.
3. Look for example photos of weddings and lighting that you like
Starting with an idea or a concept will help narrow down the look that you are going for. Lighting companies are interested in:
- Textures / patterns
- Thematic elements
- Unique features (cake, artwork to be featured, tables to highlight, floral elements, ceremony location)
- Looks you like
This helps the lighting company understand what might be required to achieve your vision in your specific venue. Get inspired on our Pinterest photos of wedding lighting. Or do a Google image search of your wedding venue to find example photos in your particular space.
4. Know your wedding lighting lingo
Going into a conversation with your lighting vendor armed with wedding lighting terms and definitions shows that you’ve done your homework and will help you achieve your event lighting vision!
Lighting In The Big Picture
Lighting is the most cost effective way to transform and enhance your reception space. Choose a company that strives to understand your event, asks questions, and is able to show you what each of the lighting effects will do to a space.
Flowers, cakes, food, place card settings, photos, venues and people all look better in the right light. Vision is the most important sense in entertainment. Lighting is the magical element that helps you define exactly what your guests will see.