Hanging Lights for a Wedding Reception

Looking for beautiful hanging lights for your wedding? Find out how with our complete guide from Zola.

By Jane Chertoff

Hanging wedding decoration  lights
Photo by Unsplash

Lighting can set the mood for your wedding just as much as the music, food, and overall decor. The right hanging lights for a wedding create the warm, festive, and romantic atmosphere you’re after. These twinkling lights can even serve as the perfect backdrop for gorgeous photos. But finding the perfect hanging lights for your event really depends on your wedding venue, theme, and budget. Here are some tips for lighting up the day or night.

Set the Right Vibe

Depending on your wedding’s theme and venue (romantic, modern, or rustic) there are different styles of hanging lights you might want to consider. Some popular choices of hanging lights for a wedding include:

Twinkle Lights

Twinkle lights are a versatile and budget-friendly option for any wedding. They can be used indoors or outdoors and give off a truly romantic and warm feel. Strung up over your indoor reception, they shine like little stars as you dance the night away. When hung at an outdoor wedding, they can be placed over the tables to frame the space nicely.

Globe or Edison Bulb Lights

If you’re hosting a modern or vintage reception—whether it’s in a renovated warehouse, on a rooftop, or in a penthouse—string up globe or Edison light bulbs across the length of your venue. Big string lights give off that cool and relaxed vibe that’s perfect for a city or vintage wedding.

Paper Lanterns

Paper lanterns are a lovely lighting option to string above your wedding reception. Plus, paper lanterns can be incredibly affordable. (You can get a pack of 10 paper lanterns for approximately $20—and pay even less if you buy them in bulk.) You could go with traditional white lanterns or choose them in your wedding colors to stay on theme.

Vertical Fairy Lights

As an alternative (or addition!) to twinkle string lights, use vertical fairy lights and hang them down from the sides of the tent or front trees at an outdoor reception. Or, hang them down the entire length of one feature wall for a gorgeous photo booth backdrop.

Hanging Lights for a Wedding Reception | Zola Photo Credit // Unsplash


For any romantic or glamorous celebration, hanging chandeliers or candelabras for extra lighting is a must. They’ll give your wedding reception a gorgeous touch that your guests will always remember. Consider the Venue It’s important to consider your wedding venue before you get your heart set on a vision of hanging lights that might not be possible at your reception.

First, what lighting is already in place? If you’re having a party in an open venue outdoors, the answer may, of course, be zero. If you’re having a daytime reception, you can get away with fewer hanging lights, but may still want to hang a few strings to add to your wedding decoration.

If your reception is in an indoor venue, you might want to visit both during the day and night to get a feel for what the current lighting will look like. Adjust the amount of hanging lights you plan to have based on how bright the current space is and how much of the built-in lighting you plan to use during your reception.

You can also ask your wedding planner to send you photos of lighting from past events. That way, you can get an idea of what works well for the space and know exactly what you’ll need to provide (if anything).

Enlist the Help of a Specialist

Not sure how you’re going to navigate hanging lights at your wedding reception? Consider hiring a specialist who can analyze the venue ahead of time and help you get all the lighting set up perfectly. Ask your venue coordinator or wedding planner if they work with a lighting designer, electrician, or other event specialist who works in lighting. Expect to pay for the labor costs, as well as the cost of the lighting, unless you’re providing it yourself.


If you’re going to provide and suspend your own hanging lights, make sure you purchase the following: · Enough hanging lights to string across the entire venue or desired area · String, fishing wire, or twine to string lanterns or other lights on extension cords · Posts if your venue is wide open and you don’t have anything to string the lights from · Electric tape, staple gun, screw-in hooks, and whatever else you need to secure the lights · Extra bulbs or LED lights in case some break or burn out before the party ends

Ready for even more décor inspo? Check out Zola’s Expert Advice here.