Paper Lanterns

by The Wedding Design Directory on 06/28/2013 - 09:43 am

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By Marissa Poon/ Blogger of The Wedding Design Directory

One of my favorite weddings in television history is Susan and Mike’s in Desperate Housewives. Remember how romantic the paper lanterns looked as they were hung from the trees?  


The use of paper lanterns is an economic way to decorate your reception venue.  Paper lanterns come in various color, shapes, and sizes.  Most of them can be bought via the internet at a very low cost.  To hang them up, use fishing line to string them on the open beam on the ceiling.  Indeed, it’s very easy and inexpensive to create that romantic look for your reception.

Where to buy lanterns?

There are plenty of websites that sell paper lanterns.  For example, has a large collection of paper lanterns that are perfect for weddings.  The price per lantern can be as low as $0.80.  Other websites that sell paper lanterns include and Also check out your local Target store as their clearance prices can be very attractive.

What size should I choose?

This depends on the size of the venue.  If your venue has a high ceiling, it would be ideal to use larger lanterns.  On average, the lanterns used at receptions are 12” to 16”.  Nevertheless, the sizes of paper lanterns are usually available between 6” and 42”. It is possible to decorate your venue with lanterns of different sizes.



How to hang them up?

You can easily hang paper lanterns using fishing lines. First, make a lope on the fishing line.  Then, secure the lope by tying a knot on one end.  You will then have formed a noose.  Lastly, hook the noose to the top of the paper lantern.  Check out the following youtube video on how to hang paper lanterns.

At the reception venue, look for open beams to hang the paper lanterns.  If you are having the reception in a tent, there will be rafters where you can hang the lanterns.  For a more extravagant look, radiate fishing lines from the center point at the venue, and attach additional fishing lines to hang individual lanterns. 

One tip to create a romantic look is to have fishing lines of different lengths.  This also works very well with paper lanterns of different sizes.



How to light them up?

For a daytime wedding, the paper lanterns will look nice without being lit.  On the other hand, for a nighttime wedding, most people choose to light up the lanterns.  There are a number of ways that you can do so.  The methods include the use of (1) cord kits, (2) Christmas lights, (3) LED lights for individual lanterns, or (4) battery operated lanterns.

Cord Kids

Cord kits produce the brightest and most reliable lighting to the venue.   Because they are plugged in, you will not have to worry about the battery running out in the middle of your event.  Cord kits are sold at websites where paper lanterns are sold.  At, a 24-feet, 15-socket cord with 18” spacing is sold at $22.45 per piece.



Christmas Lights

Christmas lights works best with white paper lanterns.  Because you probably have Christmas lights sitting in your basement, you wouldn’t have to spend extra money for such method.  The major disadvantage of such method is that the spacing on the lights may not be ideal.  For example, if you have Christmas lights with 12” spacing, you might need to leave some bulbs out of socket if you want paper lanterns of 10”.

LED lights

Because each paper lantern gets its own LED light, this method gives more flexibility to spacing and heights.  LED lights are sold at $4.95 per piece on  One disadvantage of such method is that each of these LED lights last around 12-hours.  Hence, they may not be as reliable as other methods.



Battery Operated Lanterns

The simplest way to light up paper lanterns is to “turn it on.”  Battery operated lanterns allow you to do so simply by inserting a few AAA batteries.  This method also gives you the flexibility with regard to heights and spacing.  One disadvantage about this method is that the batteries only last around 3-5 hours.  Also, depending on from where you purchase these lanterns, each lantern can be quite expensive.  At, a 12” Paper Battery Lantern is $6.95 each (battery not included).