Everything you didn't know you needed to know about uplights
April 13, 2014
Uplights are becoming the next big trend at weddings, and if done correctly, they can look great. Keep in mind, that this can end up costing a pretty penny, but it will add a nice touch to your special event. ALL OF OUR UPLIGHTS ARE LED. That means they do not get hot to the touch in case someone does come in contact with them.
The question I get asked the most about uplighting is, "How many uplights do I need for my venue/room?" There are several factors that play into determining this answer:
1. Do you want accent colors or a complete wash?
Depending on what look and feel you're going for, you can then begin to gauge how many uplights you need. Wash lights (where all wall surfaces and some ceiling areas are covered) will often require more lights than accents (although this will depend on how large the room is). A good starting point for wash lights in your average ballroom is about 20. If you're going to do uplighting, don't skimp on it or it will likely be not worth it at all.
Your venue will often be able to tell you the amount of square feet for their room. If not, let us know and we can help figure it out!
2. What color(s) do you want?
If you're going to have uplights, don't do subtle colors entirely, like soft pink or white, since they will either go unnoticed or blend in with the venue's existing color palette. (Most venues have neutral paint colors). That's not to say that some white lighting is a bad thing; in order to avoid a "circus tent" look, where everything (including your pictures!) are tinted with your uplight color, a few pinspots of white can counterbalance that effect. Nonetheless, it is a fact that colors can change a person's mood and the feel of an event, so use uplighting to your advantage! Most brides match the uplights to their wedding colors. You can have uplights in one color throughout the room, or alternating colors.
3. Are there any "obstacles" in your room?
The effectiveness of uplighting can depend on any "obstacles" in the room, including: chair rails, windows, if your event is in a tent (and the canvas is wavy), etc. These facets may factor the impact of uplighting and their number/placement.
4. Should my lights be static or DMX-controlled?
Static lights stay the same color from the time they're turned on until the time they're shut off. If you want your lights to alternate in color throughout the night, they are operated with a DMX controller from the DJ booth. Again, this depends on the feel you're looking for with your event. DMX-controlled lights often gives more of a "clubby" atmosphere to an event. See the video below (courtesy of Red Hot Chameleon Entertainment) for an example of DMX-controlled lights.
Static lights stay the same color from the time they're turned on until the time they're shut off. If you want your lights to alternate in color throughout the night, they are operated with a DMX controller from the DJ booth. Again, this depends on the feel you're looking for with your event. DMX-controlled lights often gives more of a "clubby" atmosphere to an event.
5. Chair/table placement
Uplights are placed along the floor, and are usually about half a foot to a foot away from the wall (further sometimes if there are chair rails to factor in). Unless the uplights are wireless, there will also be cords that will be trailed along the walls too, connecting all of them. We put shields in front of all of lights to not only protect them from being stepped on, but to channel their direction. However, you should keep at least a foot or two between the lights and the chairs/tables to be on the safe side.
6. Other room features to consider
Some rooms will have unique features that may require additional lighting so that the balance feels right. Some are:
Columns (depending on size of column, and if all sides are exposed to guests, you might need more than one light per column)
Alcoves or other cutouts
If the room is more than one level
If you want lighting for exits, under-table lighting, or other focal areas
On the other hand, you don't have to illuminate everything in the room either. Remember, if the room is washed with lights, your pictures may have that color tint to them. Some people balance this off with a couple white lights, which helps avoid the "circus tent" look.
Look at your event space with an objective eye, noting what you'd like covered and what you don't need to have uplighting on.