Up Lighting 101
Everything You Need To Know

Here's The Scoop On Up Lighting

Wedding entertainment is an intensely competitive marketplace. Not only are brides and grooms shopping for the best bang for their buck, but vendors are under cutting one another and providing crossover services just to get in the game. Up-Lighting is a relatively new service to weddings, really only becoming popular in the early 2000’s. With the mainstream availability of inexpensive LED’s (light emitting diodes) in the early 2010’s, the market quickly became saturated with a range of products (and people providing them) to brides and grooms looking to enhance their weddings. So what’s the difference? That’s a pretty loaded question actually. Lets try and break it down into several different categories to make it as simple as possible.

Wires VS. Wireless

At TSG Weddings, all of our lights are 100% wireless. The lights actually have batteries inside them. This means no messy cords and nothing taped to the floor/carpet. We’ve got the freedom to place lights anywhere we want. When a couple asks me if she can have lights underneath a table, in a unused fireplace, on a mantel, or even on a window sill, the answer is always yes. Recently, we’ve found that function managers at high end venues actually require vendors use wireless lights in their facilities. They, just like most couples, don’t want to see wires running all over the room. It’s ugly, and a safety hazard!

LED VS. Incandescent

If you’re looking or shopping for uplighting, this is important. Old school style lights (typically known as Par-Cans) were wired incandescent fixtures, that had white bulbs. In order to make colors, the lights were covered with translucent cellophane colored sheets (gels). Once you turned the light on that’s the color it was, period. Add to that, the fact they were wired lights, used a ton of electricity, and got very hot to the touch, and you can see why they’ve gone out of style. LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. LED’s are low energy, high output lights. They last for thousands of hours before burning out, and generate almost no heat. LED is the future, and it’s already here.

The ABC’s Of RGBA

Let’s break it down and make it easy. RGB stands for “Red, Green, Blue”. So an RGBA LED light is made up of Red, Green, Blue, & Amber LED’s. This however, does not mean it can only make these 4 colors. Modern LED lights are complex, and can mix colors inside the fixture. A little bit of red, and a little bit of blue, and now you’ve got purple! That internal mixing of color, allows the lights to produce a wide variety of output colors, just from those 4 base colors.

RGBA, RGBW, RGBAW

More letters, yup. It’s not confusing though, we promise. You already know RGB! “A” stands for “amber” and “W” stands for “white”. These are the latest and the greatest! Most companies, including TSG Weddings transitioned into LED lighting and bought RGB fixtures. Amber and white LED’s were expensive, and uncommon at the time. We could make MOST colors that my brides asked for with an RGB fixture, but it was definitely lacking something. The addition of white, and amber LED’s into an RGB fixture changed the game. With just an RGB LED, there’s really no good way to make a brilliant white, or a deep rich amber color. Having those LED’s built into the fixture not only allows us to create those two colors properly, but the range of other colors we can create now by having 5 base colors instead of 3, is almost limitless.

DMX (Not The Rapper)

Last acronym, we swear! DMX stands for Digital Multiplex. We bet if you asked around, almost no one would know that! It’s an industry standard protocol for controlling lighting and effects. Lights get “DMX Addresses”, so the lighting controller (a piece of hardware or software) can talk to them and tell them what to do. You might be thinking: “Why are we telling you this, I don’t care.” Here’s why it matters: When a DJ or lighting company runs uplighting, each fixture gets a DMX Address. From the lighting controller, the operator tells the lights what to do. Now, if every light has the same DMX address, they’re all going to do the same thing at the same time. However, if each light has its own unique DMX address, each can be controlled individually, yet simultaneously. This gives the operator the freedom and control to create an infinite amount of possibilities with how the lights can be used. In over 10 years, we have never once come across another DJ company besides TSG Weddings, to individually DMX address their uplighting fixtures.

Keeping Control

On occasion, we do events where other companies are contracted to provide lighting. We’re fine with this. We 100% believe in free enterprise. If your venue has their own free uplighting, but you want to hire your own and they say no, you should be wary as to why. More often than not, having multiple vendors isn’t an issue. That customization, allows you to more precisely achieve your wedding vision. What we don’t like, is when we’re working with another vendor, and they show up, setup their lights, and leave. What if something happens? What if one or more stops working? These are risks we’re just not willing to take. Anytime we book uplighting, it includes a lighting technician. This is a dedicated staff member from our team who sets up the lights, and remains on site throughout the event. Not only will we make sure everything remains perfect, but we’re happy to custom control the lights throughout the evening per your requests at no extra charge. You might be surprised how changing the lights after dinner, can re-energize guests after a wonderful meal, and make for a high energy dance floor.

Waterproof

Yup, ours are. TSG Weddings is frequently asked to provide outdoor lighting at venues, or in tents, pathways, and places where our fixtures are exposed to the elements. This has never been an issue for us. We don’t ever want to have to tell a bride “no”, or “I’m sorry”. If it’s raining out, chances are she’s already less happy than she would be if it’s sunny right? There’s no way we’re going to make it worse! You want those lights outside in the rain, you got it! We’ve been fortunate enough to have done some spectacular outdoor lighting, all with the comfort and confidence that not only will we exceed our customers expectations, but we won’t risk damage to any of our equipment.

How Many Lights Do I Need

If you’ve got a large number guests, or a big venue, or a variety of areas or items you want to highlight (several different rooms for example, or indoor and outdoor areas), we always recommend more fixtures. It’s better to have too many then not enough. They don’t go to waste. There’s always a place to put an extra light, whether it be under a sweetheart table, or behind the cake table. Generally speaking, if you have a room diagram, or room blueprint from you venue, we can give you a pretty accurate estimate on how many we recommend. Chances are, we’ve been there before and already know though. Sometimes, we can determine from looking at images online, or photos you’ve taken. If necessary, we’re happy to make a site visit.

Size Matters When It Comes To Output

One thing most companies are likely not to tell you is the size, and/or power output of their fixtures. You might hear terms like watts, lumens, or beam angles when they talk about output. You might also hear things like “pucks”, “cans”, or “light-drops” when they talk about the style of fixture. You might even hear terms like “par” versus “bar”, when talking about the shape of the fixture. In our experience, what you really need to know is 10 watts of light output, is good for about 10 feet of height. 20 for 20, and so on. There is a direct relationship between the output of the fixture being used, and the height of the walls/ceilings that you’re trying to light. Nothing looks more silly than a beam of light shining half way up the wall. Don’t misunderstand, we’re not saying small lights are bad. Small lights actually serve a great purpose on mantels, underneath tables, on ledges, window sills, and all sorts of unique places bigger lights won’t fit. Know what to ask, and what to expect!

Show Me The Money

Uplighting is an investment in your wedding. Is it going to make/break your wedding? No, of course not. Is it going to have a drastic and dramatic impact on your entire event? Absolutely. Uplighting can create WOW from the moment guests arrive, and enhance a dance floor later in the evening. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen several function halls including up-lighting in their packages as an incentive to book. We’ve also seen photographers offering uplighting too. Uplighting makes the venue look better. It makes photos look better. Be cautious when these opportunities present themselves. Discounted, or “included free” uplighting is cheaper for a reason. TSG Weddings aims to competitively price our uplighting packages. We’re constantly upgrading our services, and adjusting our prices accordingly. We truly believe that our product, and level of service, is second to none.