Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lights, Lights, Lights!

When it comes to budgeting and planning, an aspect many couples overlook is lighting. However, since almost every venue can benefit from lighting of some sort, incorporating finances and planning time for the task is almost never wasted effort.

Lighting in venues usually consists of fluorescent or dim bulbs. These options tend to wash things out or not really provide too much light, resulting in photos appearing dim. Moreover, this lighting may only come in one brightness level – very high and without dimmer switches – and color – stark white - resulting in your venue’s ambiance appearing hospital-like.

There are three main types of lighting that can enhance the overall ambiance and design of a wedding:


This type of lighting provides just what its name suggests – lights that shine upward. For example, uplighting can be placed on the floor to shimmer up the side of a wall or on a tent pole to enhance the tent’s roof angle.

There are two main types of uplighting: LED lights and parcans. LED lights tend to provide very strong light, but come in shades of color that can be tweaked to reach the perfect color of the couple’s choice. Parcans, however, tend to be weaker in the brightness of the color they provide, making them perfect for shorter buildings. Yet, parcans only come in a few colors, making color choice limited.

The color of either type of uplighting need not be permanent throughout the wedding. It is quite common for a couple to choose one color for their uplighting during the cocktail hour and another for the reception, with the color change occurring during any room flipping. Usually, the color for the cocktail hour is neutral, such as amber, while that for the reception is more party-centric, such a pink or purple.


Pinspot lights shine down from above to highlight a specific object or space, appearing much like a small spotlight. Usually, they are placed above a table to showcase a floral arrangement or a cake, whatever is on the center of the table. This type of lighting is particularly useful to highlight those items upon which you spent a lot of money. Usually, they only come in white.

Dance Floor Wash

This type of lighting shines multiple lights onto a dance floor, either to create a more party-like atmosphere. It is also used in situations in which there is not a specific dance floor due to the venue’s floor lending itself to dancing without installing a specific dance floor , such as a marble floor. In this instance, it is used to identify a set-aside space for dancing.

Dance floor washes are available in a variety of colors, both neutral and bright. Many times, couples use it to darken a space, which typically leads to more guests dancing.

How and Where to Use Lighting

Lighting should be placed in areas where guests may mingle, such as cocktail hour spaces, balconies, and the reception area, as well as in areas that you would like to create ambiance and increase safety, such as staircases. When choosing where to put lighting, think about where your guests will spend time and how you want that space to feel.

Lighting Cost and Installation

You can spend anywhere from approximately the same what you spent on your cake to thousands of dollars on lighting. If your budget doesn’t allow for much lighting, go with uplighting as it tends to provide the most light and ambiance at the lowest cost.

Most DJs can provide basic lighting. However, if you seek something more complex or a combination of multiple lighting types, hire a lighting expert. These experts not only have experience on what to set up where for the most effect, but also work with venue managers to determine any extra power requirements necessary to install the lighting for your event.