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Here are things you NEED to know about wedding lighting

Updated: 4 hours ago

It’s time to pick the vendors for your wedding. Your vendors should know best, but you must know enough to choose 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. The answer is simple if you’re looking for a short answer about what you need to be looking for. Businesses with an extended history of good reviews are typically 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 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 first wanted to nail the most asked stuff. 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 glass or steel template 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 typical applications of gobos include:

  1. The monogram names of the bride and groom will be projected on the dancefloor at the wedding. The couple can also provide a custom logo or design. 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 the event

  3. Logo/Brand projected in retail shop/gallery

  4. Logo projected at the entrance of a hotel/restaurant

  5. Pattern gobos used on walls, floor, and ceiling to create a 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 is that you know the vendor has worked in that space before. The downside is that you have fewer vendors to select from. 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 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 for 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 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 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 work there successfully.

Most of these businesses work in and out of different venues each week, so the location of your 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 lighting has become incredibly popular for wedding lighting and is great in conjunction with uplighting.  With both uplighting and bistro lighting, there is a nice color wash but also a classy incandescent ambient look.  The critical thing to know about bistro lights is that they can be a safety hazard if installed incorrectly. Ensure your lighting vendor properly uses rigged aircraft (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.

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 expect to have lighting outside, don’t hire a company that can’t provide 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 in almost any type of weather. 

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

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

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