Decor Uplighting for your Wedding Reception

August 15, 2014

What is this Uplighting?

Quite simply, it's a series of lights, set up around a room (or outside a building), placed on or near the floor, shining up toward the walls. The lights could be any color, from a white to a red to green (or whatever else). When they're implemented, the house lights at the venue can be dimmed. When used properly, uplighting can greatly enhance the ambiance of the room in a very elegant way.


I should also note that there are two different "school of thought" regarding uplighting. The first is to focus on subtlety. In this way of applying up lighting, the focus is on having the lighting complement the venue/event, but not allowing it to distract. One of the characteristics of this is that there will just be one color at a time. Although, potentially someone may decide that they periodically want the color of the uplighting changed (for example, red uplights during dinner, and blue uplights during dancing). Personally, when I provide uplighting, I fall into this first way of approaching uplighting, by putting my focus on applying it tastefully and in a subtle way.


While most A/V professionals share a similar philosophy, others shun subtlety and prefer to use up lighting in a way that that is completely opposite. Those that fall into this second uplighting "school of thought" will apply uplighting in a more flamboyant manor, programming the up lights to constantly change colors, and sometimes even using them to act like a strobe light. I'm not saying that one way is wrong and the other is right-but it's something to keep in mind, as the results between these methods will vary dramatically.


At this point, I'm going to post some pictures and videos for you to look at. After you view them, you can scroll down and I will further discuss uplighting.


Is Uplighting Right for Me?

To uplight or not to uplight, that is the question.

At best it can greatly enhance your event, helping to make it more lively, elegant, and visually stunning. At worse, it can potentially look tacky and essentially cheapen your event.


First off, no matter what any one says, uplighting is never absolutely necessary. It's a personal decision to make, as to whether or not you want it.


If you're in the decision making process, the first thing you'll probably end up considering, is whether or not you can fit uplighting into your budget. If you don't have it in your budget, well, it's not the end of the world.


Like many people, though, maybe you're a perfectionist and you want every aspect of your event to be wonderful on your special day. So in that case, my first recommendation is to consider what the character of the room is-does the room have character to it or is it a plain room. If its a plain room, than almost definitely up lighting would be an improvement. If you room already looks excellent as is-uplighting could potentially make it even more stunning (but at the same time might not be a big improvement, or might be a bad thing, especially if the color of the up lights clashed with the natural color balance of the room).


Should you trust your intuition? Yes, I don't see why not. If you have a gut feeling one way or another, it might not be a bad idea to go with it. Otherwise it's probably a good idea to consult with the venue manager (they'll surely have an opinion and also will be able to provide you with some perspective about whether or not their clients usually opt for uplighting). Of course you can get some good (but potentially biased) advice/perspective from a DJ, Audio Visual, or up lighting company too.


Regardless, don't rush into make a decision. Think it over and figure out whats feels right to you.


What Equipment is Used for Uplighting?

Previously, traditional lamp Par Cans were used for up lighting. Traditional par cans are known for getting very hot, taking up alot of electricity and being a mild fire hazard. To change the color, its necessary to manually place a colored piece of plastic, known as a "gel" of the lamp.


In recent years, LED par cans have become much more widely used. These LED cans consume a very low amount of power, do not pose a fire risk, and do not become hot. They are also much more flexible, as their color (and strength) can be controlled digitally, without having to use gels.


Most professionals who use LED uplighting will also use a special digital controller in conjunction with the lights.


How to Hire a Professional for Uplighting

First off, if you were curious as to whether you might be able to do the uplighting yourself, rather than hiring a professional-this would be somewhat problematic, since the cost of investing in uplighting equipment is quite high, as well as the fact that, the difference between a professional and amateur uplighting set-up can be quite significant.


As far as how to seek out a professional to provide uplighting...

Most DJ companies provide their expertise at applying uplighting at a reasonable rate-so that's almost always the best starting point. Alternately you can seek out an event management company, a theatrical company, or (in some cities) an uplighting company (yes, there are some companies that entirely base their business on providing uplighting).


You'll probably find that there are many possible venders to choose from in your area. So you're now in a position to try to judge which one will provide the most quality (and value) to you. It's a subjective judgement for you to make-but the best place to start is to ask to see the uplighting portfolios of the venders you're considering. Most companies that provide uplighting have photos (and possibly videos) to show prospective clients. Also its important to chat with them to get a sense of whether they'll be able to communicate well with you and set up the lighting in accordance with your preferences.


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