colorful paper lanterns hang over reception tables in barn

We love the glow from paper lanterns at a wedding reception. Especially when colored paper is used, these Asian-inspired lanterns can give a warm light that transforms an ordinary venue into an ethereal wonderland. Above, string lights and large paper lanterns in a rainbow of colors are used to fill a barn with high rafters. Even before the sun goes down, you can already see the beautiful array of colors this adds to the space.

White tents, one of the most common wedding reception venues, can be an overwhelmingly blank slate. One of the best ways to fill them with your own color palette is to use giant paper lanterns combined with other paper crafts, such as poms (below, left) and garland. You don't even have to have lights inside (especially if it is a daytime wedding), for these to have a huge impact on an otherwise spartan tent ceiling.  If you want to create a faux chandelier with paper lanterns, weave ivy and ribbons around a large hoop and then hang a giant lantern in the center (below, right). Place a half dozen in a row along the highest point in your tent to soften the tent's stark white walls.

purple and aqua round paper lanterns hanging with poms
large paper lantern hanging in center of ivy and ribbon faux chandelier

When you have a really high ceiling, like the one below with exposed wooden beams, you can also use different size lanterns and hand them from different lengths of twine.  It will create an interesting hanging installation, and you won't have to spend time or money decorating the venue walls.

rainbow of bright paper lanterns hanging from rafters over tables

A similar technique is used with this white tent with draped ceiling (below). The purple lanterns vary in size, and dangle closer to the ground when they are directly over a table (thus no one will bump into them along the way).  Between the low lanterns and the high branches in the centerpiece, the entire tent feels much cozier and more intimate.

purple paper lanterns in white tent with draped ceiling

Clearly, we love a colorful lantern. However, white lanterns can also add tons of charm and elegance to a space. This white and gold lantern installation below brightens up the dark room and enhances the chandeliers.

white and gold paper lanterns hanging above reception at lodge venue

The same technique was also used with swathes of white fabric surrounding the large, central chandelier in the barn wedding below.

round paper lanterns in barn

Are you pretty handy with DIY projects? Create your own paper lanterns using different and unique mediums like string, papier maiche, coffee filters, and doilies!

coffee filter and doily DIY paper lanterns
arrangement of round paper lanterns with garland

Paper lanterns everywhere at your reception?  Why not also turn them into a craft at your kids' table with either pre-cut paper for wee ones or a broad assortment of art papers for older children?  They will love having something to do and also enjoy mimicking the decor they see around them.

DIY paper lantern project for kids
sweet paul copy

Credits:  Tanja Lippert Photography   |   Camera Hannah   |   Christina Carroll Photography   |   Jamie Bott   |   Mark Tatterall   |   Melanie Duerkopp Photography   |   A. Blake Photography   |   Fresh Ivey Photography   |   Scott Ebsary   |   Handmade Charlotte   |   Sweet Paul