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How to Select Your Wedding Lighting to Make the Decor Look Spectacular

One thing that has the power to tremendously amp your decor is the wedding lighting. Learn how to make the most of it by understanding the details first and discover how can save some bucks too.

With LED technology becoming more affordable and more widely available, companies are able to offer lighting services which greatly improve the overall look of a wedding or reception. We compiled this list to help brides and grooms avoid common mistakes, and become more aware of what is available to take their weddings to the next level.

1. What is a gobo?

The Pllazio Hotel

A gobo is a template — made of glass or steel — that is inserted into a lighting fixture to obtain a projected image. Steel gobos are typically more cost-effective, while glass gobos yield a higher quality image. Some common applications of gobos include:

  • Monogram names of bride and groom projected on the dancefloor at the wedding
  • Sponsor company logos projected at an event
  • Logo/Brand projected in retail shop/gallery
  • Logo projected at the entrance of hotel/restaurant
  • Pattern gobos used on walls, floor, ceiling to create the textured look (as pictured above)
  • Today, a monogram gobo at a wedding is practically required and is usually most recommended by photographers, who love having shots of the bride and groom with the monogram in the back.

2. Be careful using businesses that offer wedding lighting as a secondary service

The Pllazio Hotel

Many mobile DJs and tenting companies also offer services such as uplighting, but it’s usually best to avoid such companies for lighting services. You wouldn’t want your DJ bringing in your catering, and in much the same way, you probably don’t want them doing your lighting either. While a tenting company may be able to offer you a great price on LED uplights that they purchased at Guitar Center, professional lighting companies are more likely to have the best, most powerful, (and most reliable) equipment on the market. Professional wedding lighting companies will also have a lot more knowledge about lighting, colour theory, power consumption, and are going to be able to do far more than just uplighting.

3. Wired vs. Wireless LEDs and how they impact your wedding lighting.

Gautam Tents

We often find that brides and grooms are misled by companies into thinking wireless solutions are the only way to go. Be wary of companies that claim to only use battery powered LEDs and use phrases such as “no messy wires.” The truth is, any professional production company should be able to offer both solutions. Many times, wireless LEDs are required for areas that it’s impossible to get power to, but wireless LEDs run on batteries with lives of 4 – 8 hours, and this number decreases over time as the battery wears out. Wired LEDs are far more powerful, i.e. all of the ambient lights don’t have to be off in order to see the beam and colour. Wireless LEDs are great time-savers and can be extremely useful, but good lighting companies know how to hide all wires out of sight anyway, so make sure you go wireless for the right reasons!

4. Wash vs. Beam: What’s the difference?

New Variety Decorators

If you’ve been in the market for wedding lighting for a bit, you might have heard these terms tossed around. The difference is pretty simple: a beam light will be more like a straight column of light, while a wash will have more spread. The important thing to note is that LED lights come in all shapes and sizes, and the thing that distinguishes the width of the beam is the beam angle on each particular fixture. There is no rule as to what looks best, but you should be asking your vendor questions about the options they have available for you.

Make sure that you have options to choose from, and don’t corner yourself into using a look that you’re not in love with.

5. Is Bistro Lighting for bistros?

Narayani Heights

Also known as festoon lighting, bistro lighting is strings of evenly spaced miniature light bulbs. Bistro has become incredibly popular as wedding lighting, and is great in conjunction with uplighting; with both, there is a nice colour wash, but also a classy incandescent ambient look. The important thing to know about bistro lights is that they can be a safety hazard if installed by the wrong company. Make sure your lighting vendor is using properly rigged aircraft cable (very strong, thin, cable) for runs over 20 feet. Anything more than a 20-foot run begins to get very heavy, and all of the weight is held up by the thin electrical cable that is powering the lights. The last thing you want on your special day is string lights falling onto your guests from improperly rigged lighting.

If it looks unsafe, it probably is, and safety should always be the primary concern.

6. Waterproof Lighting

Enjay Events & Entertainment

If you’re expecting to have lighting outside, don’t hire any company that can’t provide you with waterproof lighting. The technical term for equipment rated for outdoor use is “IP 65.” Nobody wants it to rain on their wedding day, but sometimes, bad weather cannot be avoided. Make sure your event isn’t left in the dark while your lighting vendor scrambles to collect all their equipment to avoid damage.

7. RGB vs. RGBW (got hue?)

Show Makers India

We’ve been throwing a lot of acronyms around, but this is one that you may be familiar with. RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue. LEDs use these three colours of light in order to mix to millions of different colours. Until recently, we were limited to using Red, Green, and Blue, but with newer technology comes more versatility. RGB LEDs work fine to mix to many colours but doesn’t have a lot of control over hue.

Color Spectrum RGB

Achievable colour spectrum with RGB LEDs.

The addition of white LEDs gives far more colour control and makes achieving brilliant pastels a viable option. The white LEDs also help to bridge the spectrum gap between colours, making a far larger variety of colours possible.

Color Spectrum RGBW

White LEDs make a wider selection of colour options possible.

That’s a brief primer on the world of wedding lighting. The results you achieve by knowing these details can be astonishing. You would also know exactly what you're getting charged for and use the decoration smartly.

Ready to start planning lighting for your wedding? Book a wedding decorator today.