Wedding Planning

Everything You Never Knew to Ask About Wedding Day Lighting with Renowned Event Designs

April 1, 2024

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Today, we are talking about wedding day lighting with our friends, Brandy and Sarah of renowned event designs and they're going to spill all the secrets from twinkly lights to jaw-dropping uplights that are going to make your venue pop. Whether you're going for a rustic chic, full glam, or garden party vibes, we've got the scoop for you to make your wedding shine like no other. 

So who are our guests for today? Brandy and Sarah are co-founders of Renowned Event Designs, a lighting, draping, and custom-build production company that emerged from Nashville, Tennessee, and has since expanded its footprint nationwide. We are so excited to share their brilliance on the podcast today!

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wedding day lighting with chandeliers

 

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EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS: WEDDING DAY LIGHTING

  • Why is wedding day lighting so important [6:16]
  • Breaking down the different kinds of wedding day lighting [7:40]
  • Popular Lighting Trends in 2024 [10:10]
  • How can lighting be used on your wedding day [13:17]
  • What should couples be thinking about during their venue walkthrough [16:45]
  • How much to budget for lighting [20:55]
  • What mistakes do couples make when it comes to their lighting [27:03]
  • Should you DIY your lighting [33:00]
  • How far in advance should you reach out to a lighting company [36:14]
  • This or That with Renowned Event Designs [42:54]
  • Never Have I Ever with Renowned Event Designs [44:40]
  • Wedding Lighting Terminology You Need to Know [47:07]

 

Wedding Day Lighting Terminology

We use a lot of technical terms in today's episode and I wanted to go over some of them with you today to help your conversations with your production or lighting team or even just to help you verbalize a little bit better to your planner or your lighting vendor, what you have in mind or what you're seeing.

Uplighting

Uplighting is probably the lighting technique most people are familiar with. It's where you place lighting fixtures on the floor and point them upwards. Typically, they point up a column or a wall. They start out focused closer to the ground and fade as you get further away. These can be all sorts of colors, and this is where we were talking about in the episode using amber shades or pinks because they're flattering on most people, so not like you're lighting the people, but when you are in a room that uses the ambers and pinks, it typically casts a flattering light on your guests. Typically, you don't want a very, very white light on your guests because it's just going to look very stark and have shadows on them.

Gobos

Next term, we have gobos. A lot of people are also probably familiar with the term. It got its name from what it does, which is it usually is a metal or glass disc that goes between (hence the term gobo) the light and a wall. A lot of times these are associated with a couple's monogram but you can also use gobos to create patterns that are subtle but also provide texture to a space. They're essentially a little round disc and you put it on top of the light and depending on how complex the image is that you want to project, it will be made out of glass or steel or metal or something in between.

Pin spots and wash lighting

Next, we have pin spots and washes. Pin spots are sharper-focused pools of light that are used to highlight specific areas. It's kind of like a spotlight, but not cheesy. Spotlight's are really, really bright. Pin spots, on the other hand, are often used to enhance decorative areas like centerpieces, your cake table, et cetera. If you think about it, you spend all this money on your tables and flowers, but once you lower the lights for dinner, they kind of disappear and fade away, which is kind of sad, so a pin spot will still help you see them, but in a subtle way, you're not spotlighting all of the tables, but you're highlighting the different accents, if that makes sense.

Lastly, on the opposite side of the spectrum, we have what you call a wash. Wash lighting is used to bathe an area with light and have soft edges on the beam. Washes are great for evenly lighting up large areas like stages, architecture, dance floors, et cetera. Washes can also be different colors, so they're not all one color.

Hopefully this is helpful as you scroll through the episode!

 

What is the importance of lighting in a venue for an event and how does it contribute to the ambiance? 

I think that lighting sets the tone for everything and it should be near the top of every couple's wedding list. My production manager once told me that when people say they’re going to a show, they say they are going to see a show not hear a show. So, I think that mentality is something couples should take into their wedding day.

You are creating a moment for yourself and your guests, people are going to go to see what you have to offer. I think lighting is one of the first steps of creating that atmosphere. You can do so much with lighting, right down to dancing. People aren’t going to get up and dance if the tone and mood isn’t set. That is where lighting comes in to enhance the experience overall. 

 

Can you talk more about what couples should expect about the different kinds of lighting that are available to them?

It’s very couple based, but when you bring in a lighting company, they are going to offer you a vast array of different options that fits your style. That could be crystal chandeliers to more modern geometric chandeliers. It could be pendants, string or twinkle lighting, uplighting washes, pin spots and even disco balls (which we are seeing a lot recently and we don’t think is going anywhere). The list goes on and on. 

 

Can you talk more about some popular lighting techniques or trends that couples are incorporating into their weddings?

We have a wedding in Dallas, having their wedding during the eclipse happening on April 8th. We have other couples doing the eclipse theme as well. For example, we specifically created a glass gobo with some moving stars in it for a backdrop for a recent wedding. Basically, we are seeing couples playing into the different happenings going on in the world right now which is really neat to see.

It feels like couples are taking a unique approach and adapting to their personalities, which is something that I think is new this year and will be a new trend going forward. We have a couple that are hunters, so they are embracing deer antlers, and I built a 24-foot-long wooden structure that’s going to drop Edison bulbs and deer antlers and greenery. It feels like people are saying, “this is who we are, let’s tie it into our wedding”.

 

Can you talk about how lighting can be used to highlight specific elements of the wedding venue or architecture?

Your photographers and videographers love when you bring in lighting. The more lights the better for them and then there will be less time to wait for your photos because there is less editing. Oftentimes there’s areas that are forgotten about, but when you bring in a lighting company, we’re not going to forget about that.

When you do the walkthrough of your space, always bring your lighting person with you. They're going to notice a really dark area, and maybe on the layout, you want your buffet table there. They’ll suggest to maybe put some wash lighting there so your guests can see everything properly. We do get blank canvas venues and we can do anything with that. But other spaces might be more industrial and you’ll want to go cohesive with your lighting of what is in that space. Something drew you to that space to begin with, so the last thing you want to do is add elements that will change the overall look of the space.

 

If couples aren’t working with a lighting company, what should they look at when doing their walkthrough?

I think the number one thing people tend to forget is power needs. There’s a reason you hire a professional and don’t cut corners, because the last thing you want to do is blow circuits on the day of your wedding. Your lighting company, caterer, DJ, or band all need it, so it is full circle. Make sure your lighting vendor is thinking through those things and bringing either adequate power or it’s being brought in addition to because it is not fun to be in the total dark because it wasn’t thought through. 

Also, finding out what overhead lighting is already provided and what can be cut from the very beginning. We recently had an event where we weren’t brought in on the front end and the overhead lighting wasn’t accounted for. So part of the way through the event people finally realized how to cut off the overhead lighting, which completely changed everything. 

Then also, if there are any room flips that need to be done, if you’re using one large space, does it need to be divided up into anything and how much time needs to be allotted for that. If you’re going to change your lighting during a room flip that takes quite a bit of time so that needs to be considered and staffed accordingly.  

 

What are your recommendations for couples thinking about their lighting and budget?

We both have different takes on this. One, is very black and white. I always appreciate a couple giving me their lighting budget upfront because I am not going to waste your time. I'm going to say with your budget, I can offer you this within your style. 

The other take on this is Brandy works more with some couples who don’t necessarily have a planner and they don’t know what they want or even understand the magnitude of what we cover. So education from professionals is important so we can have a candid conversation starting with what they are okay with spending. From there, we will tell them the things they need to have no matter what.

For example, you can’t eat in the dark and dance with overhead lighting.

We have to hit these major moments and milestones throughout your event to make sure that the lighting is appropriate for those things. And then getting them to understand where we can kind of tweak things. Maybe it isn't necessarily a need, it's a want. And if they’re working a specific budget, how can we give you a cost-effective alternative to still give you your dream? We will do our best to help you figure it out.

 

Are there any mistakes, pitfalls, or assumptions couples make about wedding day lighting that you want to correct them on?

We’ve kind of touched on a couple of these, but again a walkthrough with your vendors is imperative. We are looking at everything and I am probably not even saying it all out loud. As the lighting company, when we come in, I'm looking for things you're not looking for. Like power consumption, dark spots, rigging points. Walkthroughs are imperative for new spaces or private residences. 

Also, what we hit on previously as well, making sure your vendors are good at what they do. We’ve had instances where maybe we provided the draping and another vendor provided the uplighting. We did a really beautiful draping job but the vendor who did the uplighting had uplights there and the colors didn’t mix well. It’s okay to ask to see the colors before your wedding day to make sure it matches. 

Also, another misconception is the tone and temperature of a light. A lot of couples want white, and I tell them you want some kind of warmth in there. Your pictures, videos, and everything else are going to look so much better with some warmth. 

 

Do you have any strategies for lighting outdoor areas, for ceremony, tenting, or any other things we should be considering? 

We have several solutions for this. As a company, we have built a couple different stands so we can still have chandeliers. We love having the tent company come out and set up the tent but don’t use the covering and just leave the frame. Then we will come out and cover the entire top in say fairy lights and give the top this beautiful open air look. We do bring different rigging points to you. If a couple says they want to use this 1500 pount chandelier but I don’t want to rent a tent, can you figure it out? Yes, we can. So just talk to the company and see what they can do. We can certainly bring in different structures for it, but it does come down to the price tag too, unfortunately.

 

Can you talk about the importance of having a professional handle hanging all the lights?

We carry a $2 million insurance policy and most venues will not allow you in there without having this insurance policy. So I'll just start with that. It is great to want to save money, however, never save money at the expense of safety. The money you may have saved, you will undoubtedly spend on hospital bills. I have been in this industry now for 18 years and I am very confident and safe in what I do. I tell my crew all the time if it is not safe, don’t do it.

As professionals, we think about everything. Is this open air string lighting weatherproofed? Is there a storm coming? What’s the wind going to be like today? We are taking all the extra steps, to ensure you and your guests are safe as well. I can guarantee you there will be things that you are not thinking that you need to consider. Like, if you have power connections overhead, did you zip tie it together so it can’t come apart on someone's head? Safety is so important. 

 

How far in advance should couples and planners book their lighting vendor? And what type of information and questions should they be anticipating?

The sooner the better. If you can get us in right at that front end, that would be great. Realistically, nine months to a year before. This way we can offer creative solutions if we’re doing walkthroughs. If you book closer to the wedding, then you run the risk of being turned down due to time constraints and previously booked weddings. The more time you can give vendors is going to work out better for you because then you’re going to get higher quality results. And for people worried about booking too far in advance thinking they’re going to change their mind on items. It is not a problem. Chances are we probably have the item in inventory already so we can adjust after the fact. 

 

Are there any fun, memorable, or creative lighting setups that you’ve done in the past that you are excited about and what to share to inspire couples and planners?

We had a really big job as Country Music Hall of Fame, where we built a 20 by 20 custom three tiered chandelier in the middle of this massive room, then we hang draping from it to all corners of the room and minutes before the room reveal, as people were finishing lighting candles and dimming lights I remember catching my breath and thinking wow, this really is what we’re capable of. I get it now. There is no limitation for what can be done in a space. We took a completely blank canvas and we did so much work for that job and in that moment I truly understood why we all sacrifice sleep to give people these dreams they envisioned and more. It was a really good moment that will probably always be with me. 

 

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QUESTIONS?

If you have any questions, DM me on Instagram at @asktheplannerpodcast, call the wedding planning hotline at 585-210-3467, or drop it in your review on Apple Podcasts.

Plus, don’t forget to check out the Wedding Planning template shop, including my new Wedding Day Master Organizer which includes the same spreadsheets we use in our day-of production books.

And for all my planners out there, check out my new wedding planner coaching service! Whether you’re in the first 1-2 years of your business and you don’t know how to increase your prices, build a team, attract your ideal clients, find your brand’s voice, or you’re a little further in your career and you want to take it to the next level with a digital product, start a podcast, or something else, I would love to help you build the dream wedding business you deserve!

Learn more and schedule a call with me to see if this is what your business needs at verveeventco.com/coach.

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podcast episode about wedding day lighting with renowned event designs