What are the best colors for your wedding lighting?

Ask any wedding photographer: the best indoor photos are all about good lighting. After all, you want to be able to see the tender moments that will tug at your heartstrings for years to come. You want to be able to see the expressions on your faces as you experience moments of pure joy. And, as anyone who has ever stood in front of an unflattering dressing room mirror knows: good lighting makes a huge difference!

Choose a Color “Temperature”

Professional photographers and videographers talk about light colors in terms of their “temperature.” The higher the temperature, the “cooler” the color. (Think about a candle flame; a bluish-white flame burns hotter than a yellowish one.) The next time you’re around a lot of lights, take a moment to notice the different color temperatures of each. 

You may notice that a white street light, for example, has a yellower tinge than a white flashlight beam. A white LED bulb may have a bluer hue than a white incandescent house lamp. In the classic “unflattering dressing room” example, the overhead florescent lighting of many department stores actually casts slightly greenish light–so it’s no wonder everyone looks a little sick!

As you plan your wedding lighting, consider what color temperature you want your lights to have. Remember that lights with subtle red, orange, and pink tones are the most flattering for human faces. Since even subtle variations among “white” lights can change the mood of a room, the multicolored hues you choose for your wedding lighting will have a huge impact.

Planning Overhead Lighting 

Choosing great overhead wedding lighting isn’t as simple as picking lights that shine in your wedding colors. In fact, lighting a room with your exact wedding hues is often counterproductive because it washes out color-coordinated wedding items like flowers, tablecloths, and dresses. (Have you ever tried reading red text under a red light? It can’t be done.) Instead, focus on choosing lighting that brings out the best in your wedding colors.

For this job, you may want a color wheel handy. Avoid colored lights that are on the exact opposite side of the wheel from your wedding colors, as these will make your wedding decor look dull and muddy. Likewise, avoid colored lights that are too close to your wedding colors, as these will swallow up your wedding items. Stick with lighting that’s in the safe middle ground–or err on the side of neutral-warmish white lights.

Planning Artistic Lighting

For the artistic lights–the ones that shine on only one part of the room to highlight it–you can pull out all your color-choosing creativity. Unlike overhead lights, which can interact unexpectedly with your wedding items, artistic lights can (and should) reflect your wedding colors.

Instead of shining brightly-colored lights overhead, use them to add vivid spots of color around the room. To transform a blank wall into a colorful masterpiece, use floor spots in alternating wedding colors for up-lighting. To draw guests’ attention to a specific detail (such as the wedding cake or sweetheart table), choose just one of your wedding colors and aim a narrow beam at the exact place you want to highlight.

When using brightly colored lights anywhere, it’s important to keep functionality in mind. Don’t aim a blue light at a guestbook where blue pens are provided, for example. If you expect photo-worthy moments (like cake slicing or the first dance) to happen in a certain area, stick with warm tones that flatter your skin. 

When in doubt, test different colors of lighting on the actual items that will be at your wedding. Try shining different lights on the bridal gown, the bridesmaids’ dresses, the napkins, the flowers, and any other decorative elements you intend to use. Experiment a bit and see what brings out the best colors in each item. Remember, colors have a powerful influence over the mood of a room. Take your wedding away from “department store dressing room” and into “magical romance!”