How to build your own lighted wedding backdrops

Updated April 17, 2017

Most brides strive for every aspect of their wedding day to be perfect. Months of planning go into every detail, including the ceremony and the reception. Many brides like the idea of using a lighted backdrop in their wedding or reception but are unsure how to create one without breaking the bank. Options abound, but there are some basic steps that can be used depending on the budget and reception location constraints. However, check with your wedding venue before you construct your backdrop. Some venues will not allow this type of decoration.

Fabric draping

Buy a piece of fabric that's at least 6 m (20 feet) long. You can find this in a fabric shop or a department store. Make sure it's either white or a colour that complements your wedding colours.

Cut a piece of 30 cm (24 inch) long fishing line with scissors. Gather a section of fabric in your hand and have someone else tie the line around the bunched-up section. Repeat this process, every several feet or so. These gathered areas will be hung from the ceiling to form a swag effect. The farther apart the gathers are, the wider the swags will be.

Install small, screw-in-style cup hooks in the ceiling. These screw in by hand. You will need one hook per gathered area of fabric. Space them out in the ceiling, keeping in mind the hooks are the start and finish points for the swoops of the swags.

Slip the fishing-line ties onto the cup hook. If you are unhappy with the size of the swag, cut the fishing line with scissors and tie a new piece in a more suitable spot.

Place electric can lights on the ground so the light will point up. Plug in the lights and you will see light will glisten off the fabric. Do not let the fabric rest on the hot bulbs; the lights should be at least 30 cm (1 foot) away from the fabric.

Free-standing screen

Use wood lattice to form a folding-screen backdrop. Attach the pieces of lattice together using hinges. Inexpensive hinges can be used, and they will come with screws for installation. Using an electric screwdriver, install the hinges on the lattice. If you are using 8-foot-high lattice, use at least three hinges per joint (one at the top, one at the bottom and one in the middle).

Stand up the lattice and then use semi-sheer fabric -- at least 6 m (20 feet) long to drape over the wood. Create as many swags as you like with the fabric by swooping it in a free-form fashion over the lattice. Fasten the fabric with a staple gun or tie it the lattice with fishing line.

Nestle strand lights behind the fabric by hand, making sure that the end that plugs in to an electrical socket will be near the floor. You can also install the lights into the lattice from the back and use the clear fishing line to tie the strand in place. Do not use the staple gun on the light cord. Once the lights are turned on, there will be a soothing glow that will come through the fabric.


Scour the bins of clearance fabrics at fabric shops. You can even mix different fabric in one colour for a unique look. Use strand lights with a white cord, not green, so the cord is not easily visible. If installing the backdrop at the reception hall, bring extra supplies including hooks, scissors and staples in case something needs to be adjusted. Use white lattice instead of wood-tone lattice. White fabric on the white lattice will blend in and look more monochromatic.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric 6 m (20 feet) long by 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 feet) wide
  • Fishing line (or invisible thread)
  • Screw-in style cup hooks
  • Lattice screen
  • Faux garland
  • Strands of lights
  • Silk or faux flowers
  • Electric can lights
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About the Author

Kelli Shaw has been writing since 2008. She lives in Michigan and is an experienced business owner with expertise in e-commerce and customer service. Shaw has been featured in "Entrepreneur Magazine," "Woman's World" and "The Detroit Free Press."