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I get this request often, especially in the case of weddings, “I want DJ and lighting.” Though it may sound pretty straight forward to the layperson, there’s a whole lot more details that goes into fulfilling this request, specifically with lighting, than one may imagine. There are several different lighting options to choose from. You need to know the best option for your event based on the effect you want to create. I also suggest checking with your venue first before choosing lighting options. They may actually have some options available for you.This is not meant to be a full blown course on event lighting, but more of a guide or things to think about when planning your event. My hope is to make you a more inform consumer when it comes to hire event lighting professionals. And while this can be a DIY project, I strongly suggest hiring a professional. Below is an event lighting guide from a company out of Winston Salem, NC by the name of High Impact Entertainment (shouts out to those guys), but is just as applicable to my clients also. Learn and enjoy.

Event Lighting-An Every Man & Woman’s Guide

When lighting is done correctly, it can make everything from your venue, flowers and Cake look better. There are lots of terms and lingo about lighting that can make someone who’s unfamiliar with it confused and have their head spinning in no time. But, you don’t need to be a lighting expert to have amazing lighting at your Event. If you can pinpoint the effect through a picture that you want to achieve, in all likelihood we can make the effect that you desire happen. So, let’s break it all down and give you a guide explaining these terms and examples of some lights visually.

If you’re planning lighting enhancements, it’s a good idea to visit the venue under the conditions that you’re having your Event. So, if you’re having an evening Wedding reception for example, visit when it’s dark outside. Ask yourself when you’re there and look at where the stationary lights are focused. If there are lights that take the focus away from the middle of the room or distract you in some way, ask the venue contact if those lights can be turned off or have dimmers on them. Fluorescent lighting? Definitely a no. The huge flood of light from overhead fluorescents isn’t a great look for a nice Event.

LED UplightingLED Uplighting: LED stands for light emitting diodes. Don’t worry too much about what the technical term means, although it’s fun to tell your friends. Just know that LED uplights use less electricity and are very cool to the touch, even when used for a whole night. Check out the example to the right of what an incandescent Par Can Uplightuplight usually looks like. Those get very hot to the touch, use more power, and aren’t as bright as LED’s. So, when choosing lighting, LED’s are the way to go. LED’s can be hidden and tucked away in a corner because they can also be battery powered. You can even custom match your own colors to match the look you want or change colors on the fly.

Custom MonogramGobos: What does this fun to say word mean? It’s basically a stencil that is usually laser cut that is then put over a light to project a logo, initials, name, or some type of pattern. “Name In Lights” or “Custom Monograms” are the buzz words that are usually used instead of gobos. The cost is usually dictated by the intricacy of the design. The stencils are primarily made out of steel or for detailed designs made out of glass. You can also go a step further with your gobo and use a solid color to match your Wedding or theme colors. Or, if you’re having a beach theme, you can even have palm trees displayed on the ceilings or on top of the tent as an example. So many possibilities!

String LightingString & Lantern Lighting: This is a popular look and very trendy. They’re traditionally hung above the Event area or from 10 foot poles. If you’re going for a rustic feel or a “Night In Italy” decor, string lights or paper lanterns might be a good option.

Intelligent Lighting at EventIntelligent lights: What makes a light intelligent and another not-so-intelligent? Simple-any light that can be controlled via computer or another proprietary controller is an intelligent light. They have many more capabilities beyond a stationary light like a basic spotlight. “Intels” are the building blocks to create extremely customized shows for your Event. American Idol, The Voice, or any Broadway production incorporates some type of intelligent lighting. Since the lights have to be programmed by an actual trained lighting technician, these lights and their price points are higher when incorporating them into your Event.

Moving Head LightMoving Heads: “Movers” are a type of Intelligent light. They can swivel and move their heads (of course!) in any direction as they’re programmed to do. On top of looking really cool, they can also project gobos, act as spotlights, strobes, or create a sweeping motion or pattern on the dance floor. They’re incredibly versatile, & a pair or 2 of these at your Event can really produce dramatic results.

Color Washing at EventColor washes: A “color wash” simply means a blanket of colored light that can wash over the walls or your entire Event space. This type of lighting can make your entire room change from one color to the next. You can also use a color wash to highlight a specific area of your space, like a head table or candy bar. Color washes can come in the form of large “flood” type fixtures or be a feature of a moving head intelligent light. It’s a perfect way to brighten up the ambience of any room.

Night Sky EffectNight Sky Effect-If there are vast ceilings at your venue or your Event is outside under a tent, this effect by a fixture called the Blisslight creates 1000′s of pinpoints of light that look like stars. The stars can be set to move fast or slowly towards and away from each other creating an awesome starfield effect. The light also produces a blue/purple cloud effect that slowly moves and makes the ceiling or structure feel taller. A startlingly low rental price can create a stunning effect for your next Event.

Pin Spots at EventPin spotting: A pin spot is a focused beam of light that shines directly onto an object, like a centerpiece or Wedding cake, as a highlight effect. They can be hung from the ceiling or on a pole or truss and projected downward. This is fast becoming a very trendy look in 2014 & beyond.

Pipe and Drape with UplightingPipe & Drape: True, pipe & drape are not lighting fixtures, but it certainly walks hand in hand with any uplight to create a great look. Pipes hold up the fabric panels that can be used to define spaces, cover up features of a room you might not like, create cabanas, or make a cool backdrop. Our favorite pipe & drape color is white since you can uplight it & create an even more dramatic effect.

Pro Tip: Dealing with a limited budget? No problem. Have the bulk of your lights toward the focal point of your venue, which is usually a head or sweetheart table at a Wedding for example. You can then add some pipe & drape to enhance it further and have your guests eyes focused on the area you want!

After highlighting some common lighting fixtures and their applications, hopefully the landscape is a bit clearer to you as you’re making decisions to make your Event & venue space come alive with color!

Swank is the lifestyle. http://www.swanklifestyle.com

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