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  • Writer's pictureDavid Weisberg

Here are things you NEED to know about wedding lighting

It’s time to pick the vendors for you wedding. Your vendors should know best, but you need to know enough to pick them. Here are some things you need to know about wedding lighting. The choices are nearly endless, but we’ll help you narrow things down a little bit to help discover the best vendors for you.

Wedding decor & entertainment businesses are constantly in competition with each other. While couples are searching hard for the best vendors for their budgets, wedding services vendors are searching for them. It’s easy for vendors to get into the habit of offering add-on services they may not be qualified to perform. If you’re looking for a short answer about what you need to be looking for, the answer is simple. Businesses with an extended history of good reviews are normally going to be a safe bet. As always, be sure to read the 2, 3 and 4 star reviews to get a better idea of what a business really offers.

We put together this extensive list to hopefully help brides & grooms make their vendor choices.

Wedding lighting gobo ballroom

Custom wedding gobos are a great way to personalize your wedding lighting look.

1. What in the world is a Wedding Gobo?

When setting out to make this article, we wanted to nail the most asked stuff first. That way you can get a top down view of what you need to know about wedding lighting. A gobo (GO Between Optics) 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:

  1. Monogram names of bride and groom projected on dancefloor at wedding. There can also use a custom logo or design provided by the couple. Single color logos and designs work best, as the design needs to be cut out of a steel stencil.

  2. Sponsor company logos projected at event

  3. Logo/Brand projected in retail shop / gallery

  4. Logo projected at entrance of hotel / restaurant

  5. Pattern gobos used on walls, floor, ceiling to create textured look (as pictured above)

While many weddings use gobos to customize their events, using textures instead of names has become more popular recently.

2. Vendors don’t need to know each other to work well together.

Preferred vendors are a big part of what makes the industry go ’round. Venues will list preferred vendors that they enjoy working with. The upside of this is you know the vendor has worked in that space before. The downside is that you have less selection on your vendors. Don’t worry though! Most venues will pressure you to use their list as it’s the easiest way to maintain the status quo. But it’s rarely required. You should feel free to pick your own vendors.

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

We’re talking uplighting. We get so many questions about uplighting, these days this one matters less and less. Wireless (battery powered) and wired uplighting. Since most high-end professional wireless uplights will last as long as 8 hours, wireless lighting has become standard to weddings. The two drawbacks of wireless lights are they have slightly less power and eventually their charge will run out. If your wedding is in the evening, as most are, these aren’t things you’ll need to worry about. Over time, the charge on batteries will deplete and the lights won’t last as long. This is less of a problem with high end lights. Cheap DJ lights can often start to fail in the middle of your event. Ensure this doesn’t happen by hiring a professional lighting vendor.

bride and groom at sweetheart table with uplighting

Uplighting can be a great way to bring focus to your sweetheart table.

4. “Have you worked there before?”

Here’s a big question. We get this all the time, and it makes sense. You want to ensure the success of your event, and it helps to see it your services, from your vendor, in your venue, before you sign off. If a lighting vendor has worked in a venue before, great! If not, it’s not really a big deal. It takes about 5 minutes for most vendors to become familiar enough with your venue to successfully work there. Most of these businesses work in and out of different venues each and every week. So the location of you venue isn’t as important to your vendors. They should be able to work pretty much anywhere.

Vendors also work together in the background. Chain emails and group chats are created, and any new logistics are always worked out.

5. Is Bistro Lighting for bistros?

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 uplighting and bistro, there is a nice color 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 incorrectly. 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 begin 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.

Bistro lighting in tents: While many tenting companies offer lighting services for the tent plan, if your tent is for a rain plan you may want to hire a lighting company. Tenting companies often don’t offer lighting as a standalone service, so having a lighting company ensures you’ll have lighting whether or not you have a tent.

Bride and here father dance under a sparkling canopy of bistro lighting

A bride and here father dance under a bistro light canopy on a warm summer evening

6. Waterproof Lighting

Here’s another thing you really need to know about wedding lighting. 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, it happens. Waterproof lights can ensure that the outdoor portions of your event are not left in the dark.

IP65 LEDs are rugged, sealed, and can stand up to most any type of weather. 

Everything you need to know about wedding lighting in one place.

There’s your brief lesson in wedding lighting.  If you have any questions related to  lighting, feel free to give us a call! Ready to start planning lighting for your wedding? Have more questions about wedding lighting? The Wedding Lighting Company is located in Richmond, Virginia, and provides lighting support all over the east coast.

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