Wedding Wednesdays Q&A: Why Wedding Lighting Costs So Much

Wedding Wednesdays Q&A by Jamie Chang Destination Wedding Planner of Mango Muse Events

Q: I just got a quote from a lighting company and it’s crazy expensive!  Can you explain why it costs so much?  And will all companies be this expensive?

Since I don’t know what exactly you’re looking at or who you’re looking at, I can’t speak to the exact costs you’re seeing.  However, let me explain what the different wedding lighting costs are and what you’re paying for.

So, wedding lighting quotes will vary by company.  The better lighting companies will focus solely on lighting and have lots of options and capabilities.  They’ll also be much more design and customer-oriented meaning you’ll have someone dedicated to creating your wedding lighting.  Their equipment will also look nicer and hide better.  But, all of this means that they will typically be more expensive.

You can also get wedding lighting from a rental company and also sometimes a DJ.  Usually, their lighting will be pretty simple with few options.  They aren’t typically design oriented, so they’ll just do what they are capable of and that’s it.  But, if you’re going for really simple, then they can be a good option.  And they’re also much less expensive.

Now there are really 3 main pieces of a wedding lighting quote (and a rental quote as well).

#1 – The first is the equipment itself.  This means the physical lights, poles, wires, covers, etc… that are needed to rig and set up the lighting.  For this portion, you’re paying to essentially rent these items.  And their job is to keep their gear in good order which requires upkeep or purchasing of new replacements as needed.

#2 – The second is the delivery or trucking.  This covers the actual transport of the items to and from your wedding.  This will typically depend on location.  So the farther your venue is from their warehouse, the more expensive it will be.  So, it pays to find a local company that can do what you want because they’ll need to travel less.  For this portion, you’re paying to transport the items and pick them up.  This requires trucks in good working order, gas and travel time.

#3 – Lastly, the third piece is the labor.  This is typically the most expensive part of a lighting quote and this is because it’s hard work.  It’s physically demanding to unload and set up all the items needed to make your lighting work.  This not only takes manpower but time.  And so you’re paying for someone else to do all of that for you.

This also requires someone who knows what they’re doing because they’re working with power.  Your lighting team will be in charge of your power allocation (not just for themselves, but all the vendors) and if the lighting isn’t set up right you can blow a fuse.

So, those are the 3 pieces of your wedding lighting quote and an explanation of what you’re paying for.

Now there are variables that will play into your costs. For example, setting up a few uplights on some columns is relatively cheap.  But, rigging hanging lights over an entire space is more expensive.

Remember, you’re paying for the items, the delivery, and the labor.  The more elaborate the lighting is, the more expensive it is. The more labor-intensive the setup, the more expensive it will be.  The less time you have to setup, the more people you’ll need and the more expensive it will be.

These are just a few of the variables that can come into play with your wedding lighting quote.  So, what you’re looking at is going to be a combination of these pieces.

Now, to answer your second question, you may be able to find a less expensive lighting option.  But, that really just depends on what you’re looking for and who you want to work with.  If all you need is something simple, chances are you can find a cheaper option.  Just remember simple to you may not be simple in actuality.

The last thing I want to mention is that if you liked the company you got the quote from, talk to them about it.  You can see what might be possible to reduce the total.   They can suggest ideas and make recommendations to bring the cost down from the equipment, labor or delivery side.  Keep in mind that your initial quote is just a first run.  You can always adjust and revise it.

A wedding reception set up on a lawn with string lights, chandeliers and tree branch table decor. Planned and designed by Mango Muse Events

(Photo credit: Kate Webber)

Struggling with something in your wedding planning?  Ask your question in a comment below and we’ll answer it in an upcoming post.

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