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Ruminations on Illumination

Tips and tricks to lighting a tented event

IRIS Photography/photoiris.com

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The purpose of your tented event lighting is more than just the assurance that your guests will be able to differentiate between their spring salad or the farm fresh garden centerpiece - lighting sets the mood and defines the space. If you are planning on dancing from dusk until dawn, then interior lighting is a must. The variety of lighting options and schematics can be a bit overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to ask the experts their opinion and advice. Many tent rental companies offer lighting options and if they can’t create the custom look you are trying to achieve, they can recommend a lighting company experienced with installing under their canopies.

Wedding lighting
emilie inc. photography

First off, it’s important to confirm the hue of your lights. LEDs are a great way to lower energy consumption and increase the lifespan of rentals therefore lowering the overall rental cost. Unfortunately, LEDs can have a hideous medicinal white glow. Unless you plan on pulling molars or doing heart surgery at the head table, confirm the bulb shade. Request a yellow or amber bulb  - the warmer tone will make your photos and guests look better.

For interior lighting the three categories are defined by how they are installed.

Usually the standard and most cost effective options are center pole mounted fixtures that are installed by dropping electrical cords down from the top of the pole and connect to the fixture. If you are installing your own lights or are having an outside lighting company do the job, it’s important to let your tent installers know how many cords need to be dropped down each center pole before installation.

Wedding lighting on table
emilie inc. photography

Large-bulb bistro lights foster the rustic charm of eating alfresco in Italy or a garden café. These lights are criss-crossed throughout the canopy and are generally hung lower than other lighting creating a more intimate atmosphere.

Lanterns or chandeliers suspended throughout the tent are a fun way to fill a large canopy as well. Asian lanterns, star lanterns and flower chandeliers are sure to distinguish your event from all the others. If you are hanging any heavy lanterns, confirm the load with your tent company since there is a maximum load the tent can bear.

However, not all lighting needs to shine down from above. Illumination can come from the table as well. Candles in hurricane glasses, scattered tea lights or twinkle lights amongst centerpieces create a soft, warm glow.

For a truly alfresco event, cascade bistro lights through an adjacent grove, nestle lanterns in tree limbs or uplight weeping willows. Carrying the lighting beyond the perimeter of the tent will transform your event from just a tented wedding to an outdoor soiree.

Remember that invention you need to make all those bulbs glow – electricity! Determine how many volts you will need to power your tent (including the entertainment and catering) and inform your lighting or tent company. They can provide you a schematic that ensures your lights will stay bright, your coffee will stay hot and your music will stay loud throughout the event. 

Kelly Huettner has been involved in the event industry for over 6 years planning and coordinating weddings, parties and corporate events. Currently she works for Sperry Tents Greenwich as the Marketing Coordinator where she has the pleasure of looking at gorgeous weddings all day and featuring them in many publications including Martha Stewart Weddings, Style Me Pretty, Well Wed & Town and Country.

Sperry Tents Greenwich logo

Sperry Tents Greenwich

Combining traditions of the finest American sail makers, Sperry Tents’ elegant peaks and signature pennants offer refined outdoor ambiance and a uniquely nautical feel. Sperry Tents Greenwich is distinguished in the wedding tent industry by the highest quality craftsmanship and white glove customer service.





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