How to understand lighting for your event

Learning Lighting Lingo

Here are the types of lighting commonly used at weddings and special events:

UP-LIGHTS: A light placed or designed to throw illumination upward.

LED: Short for “light-emitting diode,” LED lights use much less electricity than (and don’t get as hot as) regular incandescent light bulbs. They can also be wireless, which makes them even more discreet. LEDs are great for color changes and vibrant hues.
Pin spot: A focused beam of light that shines directly onto an object, like a centerpiece or wedding cake, as a highlight effect.

Gobos: Circular stencils that are put over a light to project a design or pattern onto a wall, ceiling or floor. Monograms, dates and wedding motifs are popular gobo designs.
String lighting: A strand of lights that can create a magical effect (think Christmas or market lights). An installation can be labor-intensive, but the lighting itself is fairly budget-friendly.
Color wash: Basically a blanket of colored light covering an entire area to create a mood or change the look of built-in decor.
When decorating for your special event, it’s easy to break out Christmas lights and wrap a few around some tables or windows to accentuate the room. Yet, in order to take your event to the next level, there needs to be more finesse.

The most popular of all the options are up-lights. Set the light on the ground up against the wall, aim it towards the ceiling, and you get a very nice, widespread luminescence all the way up to the top, making it more festive and aesthetically pleasing. Up-lights are very popular for weddings and special events. I have personally experienced weddings with no up-lights and in my opinion, the dimly lit room seemed to be missing something. Every wedding hall will dim the lights once the reception starts. They do that to manipulate the mood into a calm, relaxing atmosphere.

Now of course, like everything, it’s all about preference. Not everyone is going to like the idea of super-bright colored LEDs glaring up a wall while they are trying to eat. If not applied properly, they can be a distraction. That’s why it’s important to talk with your DJ and be upfront about what you would like. Do not let your DJ try to sell you up-lights if that’s not something you want.

The most important thing to remember when decorating for your event is to have fun. Don’t allow small decorating details to get in the way of your happiness. Keep your line of communication open with your fiancé and make sure to bounce ideas off of each other.

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By Eben Young