Uplighting for Weddings

Uplighting at a kiana lodge wedding

Uplighting can go a long way to creating the romantic ambiance you want for your wedding. Up lighting done right can completely change the feel of a venue. When up lighting is done wrong it cheapens the atmosphere and can ruin your wedding decor. Here are some tips for getting the effect you want that will wow your guests and create a jaw-dropping effect. 

It is important to understand that up lighting is like anything in life, you get what you pay for. Good up lighting isn’t cheap and cheap up lighting isn’t good.

When I have clients ask me about up lighting, I explain this to them. Because uplighting has gained so much popularity lately, lots of people have jumped into the business to try and add an up sell to their list of services. Trust me, you want to hire a pro.

Here’s an example of the amazing effect you can get when this is done right:

Lighting and photo by Crimson Haze Event Lighting -- http://crimson-haze.com

Gorgeous, right? This effect, designed by the great team at Crimson Haze Event Lighting is up lighting done RIGHT! Notice how the color  completely fills the room.

Here’s another example of their incredible work at one of my favorite Seattle venues, The Arctic Club.

Wedding, Arctic Club, September 2016

Ok, so there’s the good. Now for the painful part, the bad.

Here are some examples from a quick Google search for “bad uplighting” that will show you the gross underbelly of uplighting gone wrong:

Let’s look at the picture above. This large room only has 5 visible lights. Notice how the light doesn’t fill the room leaving the room feeling dark and depressed? This is why you need so many lights.

In this picture, the lights just aren’t powerful enough. To top that off, the overhead lights are still on. This winning combination results in the fact that you can barely tell the lights are there.

Lastly, we have the Bunsen burner effect. This isn’t chemistry class, people! This look is the result of tilting the uplight too sharply towards the wall. Instead of getting a clean line of color up the wall, you get a flame shape.

Ok, so there’s the good and the bad. So, how do you get this thing right?

First, hire the right person. The two recent bad experiences I’ve had with up lighting have been couples who rented lights themselves. In the first case, the couple had their planner rent the lights and set them up. What actually ended up happening is that the planner didn’t know how to program the light color and I ended up setting them up for her.

In the other case, the couple used an online rental service and their lights arrived the day after the wedding. The worst part of this case was that the light were intended to light the outdoor tent and the steps to the building next door. The end result: a pitch black wedding.

Next, make sure you have enough lights. As a general principle, when up lighting a space, you need a light at least every 10 feet. Many venues where I work have at least a 300 foot perimeter, meaning that you need a minimum of 30 lights to effectively light an entire wedding venue.

For setup, avoid features in the room that will keep the light from hitting the entire wall up to the ceiling. Large glass windows, chair rails, bulky curtains, all of these can cause problems if not taken into account.

Remember that thing about good uplighting not being cheap? Let’s consider how much it costs to have enough lights.

The minimum cost for a good up light is $300, making the equipment cost for this setup at least $9,000! Remember, that’s just the minimum price for the lights. There’s also controllers, cases, chargers and, of course, lighting expertise. Going cheap on the lights isn’t going to give you the effect you want.

So, what do we offer in the world of uplighting? Check out our services page!

Uplighting at a kiana lodge wedding

This picture is from Kiana Lodge. We placed 8 battery-powered uplights along the columns that line the dance floor. With its tall ceiling and opaque skylights, Kiana is a great spot for this look!

Now you know all the secrets, so go out there and create the look you’ve dreamed of!