St Louis Outdoor Lighting Expert with over 10 years experience

M-F: 8:00am - 5:00pm

Call Today 314 332-2030

Ballwin, MO

Tips and Ideas for Better Outdoor Event Lighting

Want to plan a great outdoor event? Consider the lighting. 

Appropriate outdoor event lighting is one of the most versatile, cost-effective ways to make a big impact. Whether for a wedding, corporate conference, or 50th-anniversary party, choosing the appropriate lighting can completely transform a space. Here are a few important factors to consider and some creative uses of event lighting to take any special event to the next level.   

How the right lighting improves outdoor events

The lights used at an outdoor event venue are essential to set the scene, create the mood, and define how the space is used.  

Set the scene

If you are planning a wedding, incorporate candles and low-intensity lights to create a sense of intimacy. For a corporate fundraising event, use large, bright lights to create a high-energy atmosphere. Lighting can encourage people to mingle in large open spaces, or divide a large space into distinct areas for cozy conversations. 

Direct guests

Outdoor event lights can highlight or disguise certain features. Spotlights draw the eye to the impressive features of an event venue, such as a dramatic water feature or an elaborate winding staircase. Bistro lights and downlighting can lead guests to different activities like charcuterie tables and photo booths. Pathway lights make it easy for guests to navigate lines, entries, and event facilities. 

The right lights create flow in a venue and become part of the event experience. For example, strings of bistro lights can highlight the pathway leading into a venue, or can be draped on shepherd’s hooks along paths encouraging guests to explore. 

Enhance the experience

With the right kind of outdoor lighting, you can transform any venue into the desired space for all types of events. Different colors, lighting types, and lighting effects can help create the immersive experience every event planner hopes to accomplish. 

Tips for better outdoor event lighting

When planning outdoor event lighting, here are the most important factors to consider:

  • Type of event
    Weddings, anniversaries, corporate events, and more are all going to have different lighting requirements. Each event type and theme will require different lighting setups. String lights add warmth, charm, and a touch of romance to a more intimate gathering.  Large colorful spotlights would be more appropriate for the stage at a concert fundraiser. An event in the country might require an external power source or battery-operated lights.
  • Size of the venue

The size of the event space will ultimately determine how much lighting you need. Larger, more complex areas require more robust lighting solutions compared to smaller sites. Remember, though: there’s no rule stating that the entire space needs to be lit. Focus on the areas where key activities take place. Schedule plenty of time in advance to visit the event venue and take photos and measurements. 

  • Access to electricity

The available electrical power at an outdoor venue can determine how a space is lit. Outdoor venues in cities and suburban areas may come with their own lighting and will generally have enough outlets and power to accommodate most lighting requests. However, rural venues like vineyards, farms, and plantations may limit an event’s lighting options or require external power like a generator. Also, keep in mind how far away the outlets are from where the lights are set up. Can the power system handle a large load of wires and lights connected to it?  Are extension cords needed? 

  • Season/weather

Inclement weather is easily overlooked with outdoor events. Is there rain in the forecast? Does the event take place during a time of year when high wind gusts are possible? Is fire danger high due to drought? Consider which precautions to take to prevent damage or loss of lighting during someone’s special moment.

  • Specific attractions and venue highlights

Outdoor event lights can be a great tool for drawing attention to various event features. Brighten up a children’s play area with string lights in whimsical colors.  Whether it’s a special photo bridge or an area where games will be played, outdoor event lighting can set the stage for any special event or attraction for your party. 

  • Rules and limitations of the venue

Does the venue allow open flames like candles? If the event is in the courtyard of a church, do they permit bright spotlights or color-changing lights? If the event is on the beach or near a wildlife refuge, there may be special considerations for unique locations. 

  • Prepare for the unexpected

Bring extra light strings, bulbs, batteries, solar lights, and even an extra charger for your cell phone if you are controlling lighting features from an app. 

Lighting ideas for outdoor events

Outdoor event lighting can be a powerful tool when designing an event space. Here are a few lighting ideas that have become popular in recent years. 

  1. Uplighting in trees for visual interest

Many outdoor venues have beautiful trees, fountains, and other features. Uplighting brings out their natural beauty, drawing attention to specific branches and emphasizing shape or size.

  1. Uplighting to create a photo opp

Uplighting provides depth and intrigue to photo backdrops, providing the perfect setting for guest photos. Highlight grandiose architectural columns, add texture to draperies, and coordinate event colors.

  1. Twinkle lights as an outdoor ceiling

In recent years, twinkle lights have been a favorite at weddings. When used in large quantities, twinkle lights create a firefly or fairy-like atmosphere that is warm and whimsical. Create a “tent” over the dance floor. Give the illusion a ceiling in a large open outdoor space to provide a more cozy feel.

  1. Bistro lights over the pool

Bistro lights are decorative string lights often found at many outdoor street cafes, restaurants, patios, and backyards. They are easy to use, versatile, and create a sense of familiarity and intimacy. String them across a pool, creating a dazzling reflection. Modern bistro lights can be set to different colors and intensities and programmed to change on a preset schedule.

  1. Spotlights to highlight important areas

Spotlights are a fun and useful way for lighting stages, head tables, and other important features for any outdoor event. As a bonus, you can have different colors and effects with spotlights. You can use spotlights for uplighting or downlighting.

  1. Pathway lights to guide guests

Outdoor venues generally lack the ample lighting needed to easily navigate an event space. With floor and pathway lights, event planners can guide guests to different parts of the venue and create a welcoming ambiance that aligns with the venue and theme. 

Outdoor event lighting can truly make or break an event. They help create the mood, define the space, and create a truly unique experience for everyone that attends. We love helping our clients find the perfect lights for any venue and every event. Get in touch today for a free consultation.  

Comments are closed.