The best events are always well-lit events and uplighting has gotten to be one of the top "must have" items on every discerning Bride's list. In this blog, I'd like to take a moment to go over some lighting basics, and help you to understand how to strike the perfect balance on your lighting and to get the absolute most "bang for your buck" possible. Perimeter Uplighting Colors
Color choice is key to making any lighting work and it also displays your personality, perhaps more than any other decor decision. In choosing a lighting color (or colors), we often see one of the most common mistakes; using a color that is too sub-dued. When used correctly, uplighting should make your room "come alive" and we always tend to lean towards more vivid colors. First, a vivid color is more eye-catching to your guests and it can't be stressed enough how important it is to overwhelm your guests' senses. This first impression is absolutely key in setting the proper tone and ambiance for your event. Second, vivid colors work to increase the depth-of-field for your photography and videography.
In selecting a color(s), we generally recommend the following: Magenta (bright purple), Royal Blue, or Amber (yellow-white, with just a hint of orange), Pink (for the girly-girl in you) or Red (especially for the holiday season). Keep in mind, it's not a necessity to try and match your table colors exactly, especially when using something like Silver or Gray. Go for a lighting color that works WITH your table colors. It's also highly-advisable to stay away from darkness-based colors (maroon, dark-blue, hunter-green, etc.). These colors are based on an absence of light (darkness), which means your fixtures will be putting out less light, not more.
Ambient Ties it Together
Before we talk about how to properly handle ambient lighting, let me give you an example of what NOT to do. This is an example from a wedding where we provided DJ service. Another lighting company did the lighting (they shall remain name-less) and they made the classic mistake of too much color and almost zero ambient:
As you can see, the room was simply too dark and the colors were over-whelming. The overall effect was almost a blacklight kind of look and, in my humble opinion, it detracted from the event more than it helped. On the opposite, here's an example where there's a much better use of ambient, striking a much-improved balance between ambient and perimeter lights:
A great lighting job takes more than just colored, perimeter uplights. It also requires a good blend of ambient light, usually in the center of the room, as well. The absolute first rule of good ambient is "NO fluorescent lights, ever". These can be traditional, stick-type bulbs or CFL bulbs installed into recessed fixtures (a lot of hotels are doing this these days). If your venue has fluorescent lighting fixtures, you need to plan on installing your own incandescent lighting. This can be traditional par cans bounced against a celing (for diffusion), leko lights (these can do nice gobo patterns) also bounced against the ceiling,
(Here's an example leko install for a church concert)
or Italian String Lighting. On ISL, make sure you're using commercial-grade stringers with incandescent bulbs in them. These usually are 15-watt bulbs at either 18-24 inch spacing. Here's an example:
Christmas lights and little 7-watt (1-foot spacing) bulbs just don't give the same effect. It's also highly advisable to make sure that whatever ambient lighting you use, it can be dimmed. For our events, we generally have ambient at 50% brightness for the guests' arrival (to maximize uplighting effect), then push it to 75% for dinner (so they can see to eat), then finally we'll dim it down to 30% for the dance portion.
If you're using perimeter uplighting at your event, make sure you discuss table placement with your venue or planner (whoever is responsible for the floor diagram) that you are doing perimeter lighting. The biggest problem we run into is when the venue doesn't know about uplighting and they push tables, right up against the wall. This often ends up with guest chairs that are bumping into lighting fixtures, which are sitting on the floor and shining up. End result, fixtures get bumped and the nice, uniform wall color patterns get broken up. We recommend at least 36" spacing between wall and table, to allow the fixtures to be placed without having them knocked over by guests.
In addition to guest table placement, also be aware of wall table placement. Many times, rectangular tables are placed against the wall for buffets, candy tables, gift tables, etc. If you stack these tables end-to-end, it can cause a break in the color patterns. For best results, we usually recommend no more than a single 8-foot table without having a spacer.
I trust that you'll find the above info helpful. If you have any questions regarding the info provided, please feel free to drop us a line (Contact Us). For other useful event photos and ideas, please also see our event photo page. We're always glad to help.