How to Use Christmas Lights as Wedding Decor

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…in the shopping malls and grocery stores, that is. Christmas lights (otherwise known as “fairy lights,” especially in the UK) have become ubiquitous symbols of winter cheer. Regardless of the holiday you celebrate, twinkling strands of lights are good news for anyone planning a wedding. Take advantage of the next winter lights display you see and pick up a few strands of the colors of your choice. Best yet, the LED lights available on the market today use 80 to 90 percent less energy than traditional incandescent lights, so you can use less energy and power them at a lower cost.

You don’t want your wedding to look like Santa’s workshop, though, so how do you use seasonal lights to create the romantic atmosphere you desire? First, avoid multicolor or flashing lights. Basic white goes with everything. Augment white strands with lights that softly glow in your wedding colors, and you won’t end up looking like you’re trying to one-up the neighbors.

Create an Under-glow

Forget draping strands of lights over trees in the yard. In fact, some of the best uses for winter lights involve shoving them under heavy pieces of furniture. With some strong tape (or thumbtacks, depending on the furnishings’ material and owner preference), affix the lights around the perimeter of the underside of reception tables, buffet tables, bar tops, and even couches. Your guests won’t see the lights themselves, but the whole room will take on a friendly glow. This works especially well if the floor is polished wood or tile that will reflect the light.

Wrap Them Around Branches

Since one of the most common ways to use winter lights is to wrap them around trees, it seems only right to do the same for your wedding décor. However, add an extra layer of elegance by bringing it inside. Wrap the lights around twisty, decorative branches (willow branches are perfect) and arrange them in upright sprays as glowing centerpieces–or hang them from the ceiling as chandeliers.

Make a Dramatic Entrance

Enter your wedding like you’re entering paradise. Not only do strings of hanging lights give you an ethereal beauty as you walk into your wedding ceremony, but a softly glowing doorway makes the perfect photo opportunity as you make your big entrance. 

Suspend strings of white lights from a grid of six-by-six-inch squares over the doorway (and the path leading through the doorway) so the strings hang straight down. When all of the guests turn to see the bride’s arrival, have your bridesmaids enter first and pull apart the hanging strands to each side as you enter. Make sure to rehearse a few times so the bridesmaids know to part the strands at the right height for your hairdo.

Transform Your Venue

Does your venue have an ugly wall or ceiling you wish you could transform? You can! Hang strings of lights from the rafters or run them along the wall or ceiling space you want to disguise. Hang them in a grid for an orderly dispersal of light, or swirl them in patterns for a more complex look. Cover the lights with several thin layers of gauzy material. (If you’re using lights that put out heat, leave some space between them and the material.) 

The light filtering through the translucent material will give your venue a soft glow that’s especially flattering for anyone standing near it in the wedding photos. 

Wear Them as Accessories

Once you’ve decorated your venue, don’t forget to decorate yourself and your wedding party! Since you can hardly walk around trailing a power cord, look for small strings of lights that come with their own battery packs. Intersperse these with your bridal bouquet for a truly radiant look (holding the bouquet near your face as you walk down a dimly-lit aisle provides a breathtaking photo opportunity). You can also weave them under the crinoline in your bridal gown or your flower girls’ dresses to give your outfits a special luster.

You don’t have to have a Christmas-themed wedding to appreciate the aesthetic possibilities of lights on a string. No matter what religious tradition you follow, these versatile decorations can be used anywhere you need a little extra brightness. All you need is a wall outlet or a battery pack–and your imagination, of course!