DIY Wedding Lanterns: Ideas and Guides


An evening/night time wedding is what most brides and grooms are opting for these days – and if you’re one of them, then you are probably on the hunt for great ideas that will make your big day magical and dreamy. One of the key elements of an evening affair is the whimsy brought to you by sparkling, bright lights. This season, paper lanterns are all IN, as they are an affordable and very chic way to bring light to your venue/outdoor space. But what types of lights are there? Are battery operated lights more cost-efficient? How about spotlights and LED? If you’re tempted to find out how to light paper lanterns for cheap, check out our tips and ideas and don’t hesitate to opt for some magical wedding lanterns to bright up the best day of your life.

DIY Wedding Lanterns: Ideas and Guides

Battery Operated Lanterns

Battery operated lanterns present a definite advantage over the other types of lanterns because they don’t require much effort to set up. And while they are not pricey, you must remember that batteries do run out after about 3 hours, so if you intend on using them for longer than that, they are not a good investment. Cost-wise, you can purchase about 10 battery-operated lanterns for $20, which is a good price – but do not be disappointed when you find out that being battery-operated means that the lights won’t be as intense. If you are looking for a dim light vibe for a romantic atmosphere, and you intend to use them for about 1-2 hours at the end of you event, then they are a great alternative.

Christmas Lights with Attached Paper Lanterns

Another relatively low-cost idea that you need to take into consideration when trying to figure out how to light paper lanterns for cheap is Christmas lights! Christmas lights can be purchased for very low prices right after the holidays – so if you are set on this method, make sure that you do your shopping in January. The cost per each lantern is not that high, considering that you can purchase strings accounting to about 1000 bulbs for less than $200 – to that, you must add the cost of the actual paper lanterns which you will attach to your string afterwards.

Before you go shopping (and when you do, places like eBay are a great start), make sure you aim to find sets that you can plug into each other, that don’t necessarily need a close-by outlet. That way, you can cover a large space and bright up your venue. And if you’re really looking for the lowest cost option out there, use your own Christmas lights as your wedding sparkle! After all, they are free and handy – just opt for one-tone ones (white or yellow) and forgo the multi-colored, rainbow ones.

Paper Lanterns with LED Lights

Lanterns with LED lights are some of the most popular solutions out there when it comes to how to light paper lanterns for cheap – basically, cost-wise, you are looking at $2.5 to $5 / lantern (including the paper lanterns themselves), depending on how powerful you want the light to be and on how many batteries you use inside.

In order to make your own LED paper lanterns, here is what you will need:

  • paper lanterns

  • 10mm LEDs in desired colors (opt for superlight diffuse)

  • strapping tape

  • monofilament line

  • batteries - CR-2032 lithium (the size of coins)

And here’s a great method to help you learn how to light paper lanterns for cheap by creating throwies:

Remove the batteries from their packs, as well as the LED lights, but without damaging the packaging, as you might need to put them back

  • Cut a piece of strapping tape

  • Place the battery in between the 2 wires of the LED, then secure it with the tape

  • Use multiple LEDs with batteries, depending on how bright you want your lantern to be

  • Cut a piece of monofilament line, almost as long as the diameter of you lantern and tie it in order to form a circle

  • Place the circle of monofilament between your lights and place its knot in between the lights


When your aim is to find out how to light paper lanterns for cheap, there is a list of things you should avoid: 

  • Firstly, the most expensive type of paper lanterns are the ones that use cord kits, which are around $4, up to $8 / lantern lit, so if you are on a budget, these are the ones that you should probably erase off your shopping list. 

  • Another expensive option is represented by the spotlights – basically, these retail at around $15 / spotlight lantern – however, they are much more powerful that a LED lantern or a battery operated one, so if you are not keen on having hundreds of lanterns at your wedding and you are fine with just a few bright spots hanging from the ceiling, then this option might be a valid solution for you.