You’re planning your wedding, putting all your time, energy, and money into it; so, of course, you want it to be a great event! But once you delve into the details, you begin to realize that there are just so…many…options! You want a special event, but you don’t have an unlimited budget. So what do you really need?
Most couples book a DJ as the main entertainment to set the mood, but if you forget to think about lighting to complete it, it might fall flat. And a good DJ should provide for and help guide you through the options. Read on to find out the most common lighting options you should find from your DJ company and what might be the right choice for you for your wedding reception.
“You want a special event, but you don’t have an unlimited budget.”
As the name implies, uplights are usually LED lights that shine up a wall and create a nice ambiance when placed around a room once it gets dark. There is a reason why uplights are the most common type of lighting you will find at a wedding reception—they are simple and effective at transforming a space. They don’t demand attention, but can really enhance the look of a room once it gets a little darker.
Uplights can also look very cool on stone or brick walls due to the 3D nature of the wall. Also, if there are plants around your reception hall, uplights can create striking shadows.
Your uplights can be one (or maybe two) of your wedding colors or they can just be something that is best suited for your venue. For example, amber uplights look great in a rustic venue.
DJs sometimes make their uplights active during dance time, so they will bounce to the beat of the music and add energy!
“Uplights are simple and effective at transforming a space.”
Some venues have begun adding uplights to their reception halls and including them for free. If so, score! If your venue charges for uplights, it may be cheaper than the DJ’s, since they don’t have to transport them there. If your venue offers uplights and they are a priority for you, you can preview them or see them in a photo to see if they look nice. If they are not LED lights, they are probably old and outdated. The other disadvantage of getting lights from the venue is that they will be ‘set it and forgot it’ lights, so they won’t change colors or bounce to the beat near the dancefloor at dance time.
You might not want uplights if you have a daytime wedding reception because they won’t show up as much, unless you have a window-less reception space and the lights are dimmed for dancing. You also may not want them if your reception is under a tent with open sides since there is less for the lights to bounce off of.
Dance lights are used—you guessed it—mostly during dance time and can really enhance the energy at the dancefloor! There are so many kinds of dance lights, but here are some of the most common you’ll see.
One thing that helps enhance the energy on the dancefloor is when the DJ “washes” the dancefloor with light at opportune times. Imagine a song building up and at its peak, bright light illuminates the dancing people! Wash lights can also be a nice as a sort of spotlight for the courple for their first dance.
Most wash lights should be placed up high, perhaps on a bar or totem. Note that wash lights are great unless they are placed too low as this may have the effect of blinding you and your guests more than washing the dancefloor with energetic light.
The Gig Bar is the most basic form of wash lights because they are not too expensive and easy for the DJ to set up and use. While they do the job of washing the dance floor, I personally think that they look kind of ugly just sitting there before the dancing starts.
Tube lights have become more popular in recent years. Even though they look a little like fluorescent tube ceiling lights when they are off, they are much different and a great option for weddings! These powerful tubes are the same ones you’ll see in music videos and at concerts.
“These powerful tubes are the same you’ll see in music videos and concerts.”
They can usually be programmed to a variety of colors and often also have various patterns. A more subtle, slow pattern can be appropriate for earlier in a reception, like at dinnertime. And while tube lights are not wash lights, they can brighten the dancefloor at the right times without blinding everyone. If your DJ has Astera tube lights, these are the top-of-the-line brand.
When these lights are set to white they can help with add light for the photographer or videographer for events like first dance or parent dances.
Moving heads aka movers are a nice option as well. They look a little like small spotlights and they shine down on your crowd and around your reception hall, providing an exhilarating effect, especially during introductions. Some movers can also shine cool patterns on the walls or floor.
Movers can be very good if someone is controlling them; however, if a DJ just puts them into their automatic mode for a lot of time, they can seem too random and even annoying. Think Mad-Eye Moody’s eye.
Like wash lights, moving heads should be placed up high. If they are eye-level or lower, they can be more blinding than fun.
Dance Lights You Probably Don’t Want…
The most common problem I see DJs make is they use more club-style lights for wedding receptions. Lights that flash too much or have too many different colors or patterns can be too much for a wedding in my opinion. The lights that put little green dots on the bride’s face are a sure way to drive your photographer crazy with how many photos they will ruin.
“Green dots on the bride’s face are a sure way to drive your photographer crazy.”
Also, if you know that any of your guests have epilepsy, be sure you tell your DJ if they will have any kind of lighting. Many types of lighting have the option to do a strobe effect. This quick on-and-off effect can be nice in small portions, but increases the chance of a seizure for someone with epilepsy, which would definitely put a damper on your reception festivities.
So, do you need DJ lighting at your wedding reception?
The short answer is no—you just need a bride and a groom and maybe some cake. But if you want something to help set the right mood, uplights and/or dance lights can be a nice enhancement to consider for your once-in-a-lifetime event, especially if you can make them work within your budget.
Synapse Entertainment offers uplights and Astera tube lights. If you are looking for a DJ for your Cleveland-area wedding, we hope you’ll consider our services and would love to help you select the perfect lighting for your reception.
By Ivan Moore, Owner/DJ at Synapse Entertainment.