Of all the details that go into planning a wedding, local experts say one shines as the difference-maker between perfection and paltry—lighting.
“Lighting touches everything,” says Jake Anderson, owner of Lighting Professors. “And we’re seeing increased awareness of recognizing how important lighting is as an enhancement. We’re one of the first vendors couples are booking sometimes.”
According to Anderson, mastering illumination means understanding all three of its elements: ambient, focal, and decorative lighting. Ambient light is all around you; focal lighting directs attention toward the cake, dance floor, etc.; and decorative lighting adds that finishing touch on tables and accent pieces.
Marisa Vrooman, lead designer, planner, and owner of Orpha Events, says with increased awareness of lighting has come an exploration of new styles. Custom chandeliers and pendants have become popular to complement traditional sources of ambience like bistro and café lighting, she says. Tapered candles and votives have come on strong as decorative pieces.
Vrooman says clients in general are looking for statement pieces to make their lighting their own. But lighting is highly venue-specific, she says. For tent or barn weddings, where you’re working with a blank canvas, draped lighting can add layers and “really change the mood.” In ballrooms, where Vrooman might only be complementing existing chandeliers and uplighting, she favors pinspots to bring focus to critical areas.
Overall, Vrooman finds more and more customers want a “residential feel” for their big day. Anderson adds that his customers seem to be looking for modern, clean looks—straight lines and geometric shapes.
Vrooman and Anderson agree it’s all part of a move toward maximizing detail through luminous highlights.
“For a high-end wedding, there are so many different pieces, so something people underestimate is the importance of lighting,” Vrooman says. “It’s critical for good photographs, it enhances mood and your first dance, and your flowers are going to show better.”
Vrooman also says finding the right lighting vendor to execute your vision is critical. “You have to be really collaborative with the lighting professionals,” she says. In addition to understanding the different elements of lighting, she says having some general ideas about what you want before you approach your preferred purveyor is critical.
“I started doing weddings in 2012, and the market is completely different now in terms of education,” Anderson says. “My clients do have a lot more familiarity with lighting now than they ever did.”