Do I Need Additional Lighting At My Wedding? Is Uplighting worth the investment?


“Do I Need Uplighting At My Wedding? Or should I work with what my venue has to offer?”  Is a question I get all the time from my brides-to-be.

My quick answer, after photographing weddings for 11+ years: Yes, it is worth the investment.

I definitely don’t want you to blow your budget by upgrading every last detail, but even upgrading your venue’s chairs and lighting can make a big impact on the way the venue will feel on your wedding day. Enhancing the lighting is worth the investment because it can elevate & transform even the most neutral spaces!

I wanted to educate my brides (and grooms) on how additional lighting (cafe lights, hanging lights, tea lights, candles, uplighting, etc.) can drastically enhance the ambiance & aesthetics of your wedding ceremony and reception.

cafe lights at wedding first dance

Additional lighting is a photographers’ dream! I especially love cafe lights or any sort of hanging lights! 

I interviewed my friends Tori from Sound By Design & his wife Tiara from Events to a T to answer some pending questions around additional lighting at your wedding & why they are worth the extra investment.

Why uplighting is something Brides should consider when deciding their wedding budget?

Uplighting is one of the best ways to add to the overall feel of an event. It has become a popular choice when looking to “fill” a room because it generally will be more cost-effective than traditional decor avenues.
Not only does the lighting look great the night of, but it makes a lasting impression in your photos or video. The most popular choice for additional lighting is “up-lighting.”

What is uplighting?

Simply put, uplights are light fixtures that rest on the ground and shine a light “up” highlighting features of a space. Typically they will be placed around the perimeter of the room and can be set to different colors. A lot of lights are battery-powered and can be controlled wirelessly to possibly change those colors throughout the night.

uplighting wedding worth the investment

What colors work best?

Tiara and I both highly recommend sticking with neutral and natural color tones for your uplighting.
She says, “Doing a soft white color, similar to candlelight, will keep your wedding timeless when looking back at photos or videos. If you do want to add color I would suggest soft color palettes like a warm blush purple or very light blue for the dancing portion of the evening. This gives you the pop of color but still has the timeless elegance.”

What is the importance of adding uplight/additional lights?

Adding lighting can create an immediate ambiance to the wedding.
If placed properly, it can do wonders to your event space by highlighting the architecture of a room, the draping behind a head table, or sprucing up a classic ballroom. As the sun sets, rooms can become very dark. When you add lights you can be less reliant on overhead lights from the venue which can often be harsh or not dimmable. Looking at photos with and without uplighting you will see a huge difference.

Can additional lighting enhance my wedding vision?

Without knowing it, what catches people’s eye is the lighting at an event. Uplighting can create a great background but there is also other styles of lights that can create focal points or an atmosphere. The lighting can tie your whole wedding decor vision together,” suggests Tiara.
She continues to explain, “When looking to add lighting it’s important to work with someone who can help design the space with you. A good lighting designer will learn your vision and apply the different options accordingly.”

As a photographer, I think added uplighting can enhance the most beautiful parts of your venue and even deter from the parts you aren’t in love with (dated carpet, entrance to the kitchen, etc.)

Look at this beautiful uplighting behind the head table at The Grain Exchange in Milwaukee, Wisconsin:

uplighting at wedding grain exchange uplighting at wedding grain exchange

What is the approximate investment/cost?

A lot of DJs/Bands offer lighting as an extension of their entertainment service. Each room varies but the uplighting budget should be around $500.00-$1,000.00. Things can get more costly when you add different styles of lights (Cafe lights, spots lights, Marquee letters, etc.).


Are there other types of additional lighting I can add? 

You betcha! Tori of Sound By Design explains other lighting options that you can add to uplighting for your ceremony or reception:

  • Tea-Lights: Candlelight feel on the tables.
  • Uplights: Easiest and most popular way to spruce up the room. Uplights can transform any room by adding light/color to the walls around the space.
  • Dance Floor Lighting: These are usually intelligent lights on trusses that interact with the music to give you more of a concert/club feel.
  • Cafe (String Bulbs/Bistro): Very popular for outdoor weddings. This creates an overhead canopy and looks amazing in photos/video. You can also use it to create a backdrop behind an altar or head table. ** Caleb and I had these Edison Cafe Lights at our wedding and we now have them hanging in our backyard!! I love having a piece of our wedding day as everyday decor!
  • Spot Lights: Brings focus to different areas such as dessert tables, the head table, or floral arrangements. Really helps keep your investment in those floral arrangements prominent as the room gets darker.
  • Marquee Letters: Large wooden letters with bulb lights in them. Typically you will see initials or phrases like “LOVE” or “XOXO”
  • Monogram: Create a custom print to cover a wall/tent ceiling or add a wedding logo (Usually with a combination of the date, names, and initials)
  • Twinkle Lights: They are the same concept as holiday lights often used to create backdrops like a twinkle light curtain. Again can be used behind an altar or head table. You can also weave twinkle light throughout your floral and/or centerpieces to add to the look.

uplighting wedding worth the investment

Final Thoughts

Work with your partner, your planner, your photographer, and your venue to determine which wedding rental upgrades will make the biggest impact on your wedding day. And if/when in doubt, upgrade the details that will make a difference in the overall experience for you and your wedding guests. After all, they probably won’t remember the upgraded linens, but they will remember how incredible the reception hall looked upon arrival & the beautiful dance floor that kept them dancing all night long

Look how beautiful the uplighting & string bulbs at The Atrium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin makes the head table look! I love the bokeh effect!!

uplighting wedding worth the investment

Share this post

comments +

Leave a Reply

follow us On instagram:



follow our studio space: