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How can I create better lighting for my wedding reception?

I am having my wedding reception in my church fellowship hall and the lighting there is 100% fluorescent. The reception is scheduled to start around 6:00 pm. I would like to just keep these lights off and use something else, but I am not sure what to use that could light the whole room without using too many different fixtures. I would like it to look more "romantic". The hall is not all that big, just very open. Any ideas would be appreciated...

Details:

  1. using back lighting and up lighting is a cheap way to make the room glow from all around (behind objects and on the ground around the room shining up at the walls so it bounces into the room). Also using lighting under the tables gives a nice glow. Those can be pricey though. Christmas lights (white ones) are a cheap option to use around the room to add extra lighting to and make it twinkly.
  2. After Christmas clearance sales on strings of mini white lights could solve your problem. Put them in silk trees, behind tulle that's draped beautifully on the walls, or from a canopy on the ceiling. It's all light weight and could be hung without damage to the walls and ceiling. If you happen upon some battery operated white lights, those would be good to add to the table centerpieces. To know how many you need, you might take the lights to the hall, plug them all in and see how much light they give off with the room lights off. You will probably need several strands depending on the size of the room.
  3. Candles are always a great option (places various sizes around the room). White Christmas lights are another great option. As long as they are strings and not icicles or colored, you can drape them around the room to create a romantic atmosphere. You could also think about using regular living room lamps that have high wattage bulbs for a more eclectic feeling.
  4. Hi there! You are RIGHT ON in that lighting TOTALLY changes the atmosphere of a room. I planned a wedding in a church gymnasium once. We didn't want to use the fluorescent lights as they were very harsh, and we were after a romantic feel. So we worked with a caterer to rent street lights (old time street lights) and ficus trees with clear lights staged throughout the room. We also used canister lights under the cake table for uplighting. Tall candles enclosed in hurricane globes on the tables also add to the romantic lighting that you are looking for. Another thing that we did was place items of varying heights on each table to break the room up. For instance, this particular wedding, we hired a harpist & had her stationed opposite the cake table up on a riser. We also placed the cake table on a riser to elevate it above a standard table height. Check out a local caterer or decorator in your area for these items. If you're not able to locate any, call a local hotel & find out who they rent special items like linens, props, etc... They are almost always willing to share what they know. Be sure to break the open room up into stations, so that you create an intimate space. Hope this helps!

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