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Creating cool lighting design for events

On the Job, Trend Watch | April 1, 2008 | By:

Well-designed lighting can set the mood for a tented event—from whimsical to romantic to dramatic. “People are realizing what an impact or component lighting can bring to an event to establish the overall ambience,” says Doc Waldrop of Infinite Designs LLC, Atlanta, Ga. “Say you have a seated dinner for 200 people with 20 tables and you’re spending $125 per table on the florals. If you don’t light it, you’ve wasted your money.”

Technical advances are making LED fixtures a popular choice. “There used to be a slight problem with them on intensity, but now they are working out intensity issues so that you can effectively light portable structures with them,” Waldrop says. “I think its main drawback is it’s not as subtle as I would like it to light up tables and that sort of thing, but as far as lighting up the interior of a tent, it’s a great way to go.”

LED fixtures consume low amounts of energy, which has a positive effect on an event’s bottom line for multiple reasons.

“You don’t need near as large a generator,” Waldrop says. “Your power distribution is a lot simpler. You’re talking about running one cable vs. six. And the labor component goes drastically down.”

Most tent rental businesses will want to form strategic alliances with event lighting companies because the cost of putting specialized fixtures into inventory may not be returned in rental use.

“The [LED] units themselves are about $1,600 apiece, and to light up even a reasonably sized tent, you are looking at 12 of them. So that’s a significant amount of money that really only the specialized people would feel comfortable getting into,” he says.

Also, a lighting expert can help clients envision how different lighting options can create a unique event.

“You need someone who can … paint those pretty pictures,” Waldrop says.

Jill C. Lafferty is a freelance writer based in Burnsville, Minn.

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