How to Set up Lighting for a Party

The amount and type of lighting you use for a party will depend on the occasion. If you are having a cozy affair with just a few guests, you will probably want to keep the lighting soft and minimal. If you are having a huge party with a dance floor and some special effects, you will require a lot of bright lights and professional installation. You want the lighting to match the style of your party. Set up lighting for a party that matches the theme of the event, and be sure to leave plenty of time for testing and trouble shooting.


  1. Image titled Set up Lighting for a Party Step 1
    Plan lighting according to the type of party you are having.
    • Use candles for an intimate dinner party. If this is an occasion with just a few people that will take place at night, keep the lights low.
    • Plan on lanterns or solar lights for parties that you are hosting outdoors.
    • Expect to use many different kinds of lighting if you are planning a large party, such as a wedding reception. You will need lights for the dance floor and the dinner tables.
  2. Image titled Set up Lighting for a Party Step 2
    Decide if you will be buying or renting the lighting equipment. This will depend on what kind of lighting you need.
    • Buy items such as candles, hanging strings of lights, lanterns and chandeliers.
    • Rent equipment that is too expensive to buy or will be used just for this party. Examples include gobos, strobe lights or spotlights.
  3. Image titled Set up Lighting for a Party Step 3
    Schedule any professional installations. If you have major lighting to set up that has been rented from a company, that company will probably want to install it themselves.
    • Give the installers enough time to get the lighting set up and tested before your party begins. Leave some extra time for troubleshooting and repairs.
  4. Image titled Set up Lighting for a Party Step 4
    Arrange lighting in places people will gather. Places where guests will eat, drink and mingle should have enough lighting that people can see what they are doing.
    • Illuminate any walkways if the party is outside at night.
    • Keep lights on in the bathroom so your guests know where to go, and do not have to fumble for a light switch. Use a nightlight if you do not want to keep the overhead light on.
  5. Image titled Set up Lighting for a Party Step 5
    Take advantage of the space you are using. If your party is in a formal ballroom or a rented hall, make sure any interesting lighting is used such as a chandelier or sconces on the walls. If your party is in your home and you have a view of a city skyline, keep the drapes open and the nighttime lights exposed.
  6. Image titled Set up Lighting for a Party Step 6
    Run a dress rehearsal. Test all of your light fixtures and accents before the party starts. Do this at least 2 hours before your guests arrive so you have time to make adjustments or replace bulbs.


  • Ask any vendors, such as DJs, what they are planning to do for lighting at your party. This might save you the time of having to set up all the lighting yourself.


  • Plug electrical lighting into outlets that have a circuit breaker. This will reduce the risk of electrocution.
  • Keep an eye on any candles that you use for lighting at your party. Make sure no candles are left unattended, and use protective covers for them, such as hurricane shades.

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Categories: Parties