4 Simple Ways to Elevate Your Wedding Reception Look

From the Experts

You’ve thought through most of the big details for your wedding day— perfect venue (check), perfect wedding dress (check), and a menu fit for everyone, gluten-free and vegan included (check). But one of the most intimidating aspects of wedding planning is making sure the background that will be setting the scene for all of these priceless memories complements the vision you have for the day. After over a decade of photographing weddings, I find sometimes the decor of your wedding reception is the hardest thing to visualize, yet it also can impact your photos the most. Here are four easy, and sometimes overlooked, details that help pull everything together.

Pick Chairs that Accent Other Wedding Decor

In the grand scheme, it’s not fun or sexy to talk about the importance of chairs on a wedding day, but like it or not, they have the greatest impact. More than anything else, chairs repeat themselves over and over again throughout your reception. The color and design can either enhance the look you are going for, or be a complete distraction, drawing your eye away from your stunning centerpieces.

Say Yes to a Custom Dance Floor

There’s nothing that saddens me more than an absolutely gorgeous wedding reception with a parquet floor plopped down right in the middle. Floors and ceilings are almost always the first things I notice in a room because I know they are the things I can’t hide (that is, if you want any wide room shots of the two of you dancing while all of your loved ones look on). Is there a distracting Exit sign? No problem, I have a lens for that. But the horribly obvious, fake wood under your stunning Hayley Paige gown? Unfortunately, my hands are tied…  


Have Fun with Linens

Similar to chairs, your tables repeat themselves throughout the room. Table linens are an often overlooked detail when thinking about your reception. The color and texture chosen to accent your wedding decor has a huge impact in person and in photos. For example, if the bridesmaids’ dresses are neutral, linens are an opportunity to play up the accent colors in your wedding palette. Additionally, mixing and matching different linens throughout the room for different looks on tables is a simple way to mix simple tables with over-the-top decor all while keeping things inside of the realities of budget.

Invest in Professional Lighting

Ok, so maybe this isn’t as “simple” but it has such a huge impact on your wedding pictures that it needs to be included. First things first, I work incredibly hard to make sure the lighting in your photos looks like the room felt. If you dreamt of an evening soaked in candlelight and nothing else (but in reality, that’s too dark for photos), then we’ll work to make sure you see that ambiance in your photos while also seeing your best friend’s smile. But that often means flash, which can feel incredibly disruptive to guests. The work of a  professional lighting company is something I cannot fake or replicate in photos. 

Trust me, lighting makes a world of difference to take your reception from lovely room to stunning, once-in-a-lifetime photos. And if you use the same space for both your wedding ceremony and reception, it helps change the vibe from intimate ceremony to rockin’ dance party. Overall, consider using a natural, amber or white color of light. (Blue, green or purple lights can be fun later in the night, but you don’t want that light cast onto your skin during the romance of your first dance.). When in doubt, choose cafe lights (#alwaysinstyle).

If you consider hiring a lighting company, loop me into those conversations because things like the difference between a wash vs. a spotlight make a huge difference in the success of your wedding photos (and none of us expect you to learn all the jargon of these details). 

Bonus tip: This may only work for a smaller guestlist, but if you reeeeeally want to control the visuals of your wedding day consider telling your guests what color to wear. Yes, I know this sounds crazy but no, I’m not kidding. We’ve all seen photos of parties where everyone is dressed in white. Why not do that with blue? Or grey? I’m not suggesting you give your entire guest list a Pantone color they must match, but in general, guests donning similar colors does wonders to keep your entire room cohesive and it looks  like everyonenot just your wedding partybelongs together. 


At the end of the day, your reception is the time where you may have your most candid photographs of your wedding day. These details will ensure those priceless memories have a background that properly sets the scene and allows your loved ones to be the main emphasis in your photos.


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