Do It Yourself Wedding Uplighting
Uplighting is a great way to create depth, interest, and drama for your event by literally painting your event space with light. You can turn an ordinary boxy event space into a truly unique and vibrant entertaining space.
Uplighting is one of the most cost effective ways to decorate for your special event.
Often it makes sense to hire a company to do this for you, but if you have a do-it-yourself streak, here is a basic guide, list of materials, and places to buy the lights required to create do it yourself uplighting.
DIY is Great For...
If you have a smaller event, know the specific effect you are going for, have a lot of friends to help, and don't mind buying and storing bulky equipment, doing it yourself might be a great option. The biggest costs associated with most jobs are equipment, labor, and insurance. Doing it yourself can cut down on those costs.
DIY is Not a Good Idea For...
If you have a large room (greater than 30x30), don't have a place to store all the equipment, don't have the time or patience to learn about lighting, or need any more variables on a very hectic day of your life where everything needs to be perfect:) While it may seem easy enough, the unknown, things breaking and not functioning correctly is almost a given for any event. If you aren't ok dealing with that, it might make sense to hire a special event lighting company.
Rent DIY Uplighting
The best way to do DIY uplighting is to rent. Rent uplighting and make sure you get wireless uplights. Wirleless is the easiest way to setup up uplighting for an event. You have access to professionals who can help you get the best look with equipment that is easy to use. Most venues give you 2 hours or less for setup, renting wireless uplights is the fastest way to go. We like GoboProjectorRental.com. Great pricing, amazing support, really bright lights that last a long time.
Types of Lights
There are basically two types of uplights, PAR cans and LED lights. This article we'll focus on traditional PAR cans.
"PAR Cans" have been the standard to create uplighting. PAR stands for Parabolic Aluminized Reflector, each light has a high powered light bulb in front of a reflector or mirror that concentrates the light. They are sold in various sizes indicated by their opening size. Par 64, Par 56, Par 48, Par 36 are common sizes. If you take the number of the light divided by 8, you get the light diameter.
These are bright white lights. To give them color you need a "gel' or colored plastic film placed over the light, held in a frame.
Traditional PAR Can lighting Pros:
- Easy setup
- Basic knowledge required to setup and use, just plug in
- Easy to find, almost always in stock
Traditional PAR Can lighting Cons:
- Very hot, a burning smell generally occurs the first time you use them. If new, leave them on for a couple of hours before your event so they won't smell day of (in a well ventilated room)
- Colors limited to the gels used
- Can't control brightness dynamically without dimmer controllers (extra cost)
- Bulbs burnout, break, pop, fizzle
- Need adequate space to setup
- Need outlets nearby each fixture
- Need multiple circuits to run many lights
PAR Can Packages
We've put together a few PAR can packages for options, we've included links where you can buy each package they include just about everything you need to get started. They are listed strongest to weakest in for light output.
PAR 64 Package - The second best uplighting light. Everything you need to get started, this is suited for large rooms or where you need a lot of light. The black PAR 64 Package includes a PAR 64 can, reflector kit, gel frame, socket, A/C cord, wiring kit, high-temperature cord, and 600 watt DYS lamp. ~$40 per light
Total cost per light <$50.00 - Buy Now
PAR 56 Package - This is the best uplighting light. A great uplighting package, good amount of light, not too overpowering, and a good size. The black PAR 56 Package includes a PAR 56 can, reflector kit, gel frame, high temperature cord, and 300 watt DYS lamp in the package. ~$40.00
Total cost per light <$50.00 - Buy Now
PAR 36 Package - Good for targeted, focused lighting, does not provide large washes but is very compact. Think of a high powered flashlight; a narrow, intense beam of light (not a general wash of color or light). Produces a good amount of light, appropriate for small parties or highlighting parts of the room (cake, plants, ice sculpture lighting.) The black PAR 36 Package includes a PAR 36 can, high temperature cord, and 30 watt lamp in the package. ~$15.00
|Red 4-pack||Pink 4-pack|
|Blue 4-pack||Violet 4-pack|
|Green 4-pack||Mauve 4-pack|
|Yellow 4-pack||Amber 4-pack|
Total cost per light <$25.00 - Buy Now
Buy Uplighting Bases
Uplighting bases hold the light upright and keep them from tipping over. You need to have these to do any kind of uplighting, otherwise your very hot light will tip over and not stand up.
These bases can be hard to find, we've found you can buy uplighting basses through Amazon. You screw the bottom of the par can into the base using the arm that is included with PAR can light and the bases stabilize the light so it can stay adequately cooled and upright.
Another option is to make your own out of plywood, screws and bolts. It can be time consuming so it may make sense to buy these instead of creating them yourself. Depends on the amount of time you would want to put in.
This tape goes down like duct tape but does not leave a sticky residue like duct tape. This is a must for just about any application because it keeps your wires tapped to the floor, keeps your guests safe, and allows you the peace of mind that all the cords are hidden and tucked away. It can seem expensive but one roll will do the trick in most cases and is well worth it.
Gaffers Tape Black 4 Inch - $35.00
Uplighting Pictures and Effects
Understanding what is possible with uplighting is helpful. Here are some basic effects that are achievable.
Washes of Color
The most popular effect is to provide washes of color or colors around the room. Use the colors of your wedding or have complementary colors to the event colors to add drama and interest to the room. This effect can be achieved with PAR lighting.
(Picture right is using PAR 56 lights)
Beams of Light
A focused beam of color or light on certain aspects of the room may be requested. Having beams of light to add more focus to the cake or drama to columns or aspects of the room may be a good fit. Focused beams of light to the exits and entrances of the room may be a nice touch are also nice effects.
(Best achieved with Par 36 lights)
Lighting up the exit of the room or venue can be a nice effect for the photos at night time. If you hare having a sparkler exit, have a really unique hotel, or otherwise would like to set the mood on the outside of the venue as well as the inside, placing PAR lighting outside can be a very dramatic effect.
(Photo right using PAR 64 lights)
Lighting: The Big Picture
When coming up with a budget for your event think about lighting. For a fraction of the cost of extra flowers, favors, or other types of decorations, you can add the elegance and impact of light to your event. Lighting not only works well during the entire event but it allows your flowers and other decorations to shine later on in the evening. Your guests will not stop talking about the beautiful lighting later after the event.
We offer this guide for folks who continually ask us about lighting their events and if they could do it on their own. We offer this guide to help you on your lighting journey. Your best bet (seriously) is to hire a lighting company or professional to do it for you. Price ranges will be around double what it costs to do it yourself or more but can be well worth it.
Show us your creations! We want to see if you've found this article helpful. We'll post your examples and pictures if you have them.
- Pictures of DIY Lighting Bases - Towards the bottom of the article.
Book Your Wedding Uplighting Today!
We work with you to come up with one- of-a-kind lighting options for your wedding that will truly set your wedding apart and make it truly personal and unique. We can work within your budget to create the biggest impact, or check out Blisslight rentals. We have worked at many of the best venues in the Virginia, Maryland and DC area and can offer our personal insight as to what the best lighting options will be for each venue. This type of expertise and integration into your entertainment is what makes us one of the best entertainment companies in the DC area.
All of the above is provided for informational purposes only, try and implement at your own risk.