The Different Types of Lighting

When determining which types of lighting are needed to enhance your event décor and design, you must first identify which lighting options are available. Having an overall understanding of the different types of lights can clarify what will work best for your event space. Of course, lighting is not simply a few spotlights shone upon selected areas of a venue – it is an overall design that brightens, lightens, and showcases each piece. Lighting has the ability to add texture, shape, movement, design, and of course, light, to a room. Take a look at the various types of lighting for events and consider how they can factor in to your own event style and be used to exceed your guests expectations!


Up Lighting

One of the most common types of lighting are ‘up lights’. These are most often seen at events shining from the floor ‘upwards’ for the purpose of lighting up walls, fabric, or highlighting important signs.Up Light - Types of Lighting


Up lights are an extremely popular lighting option due to their ease of set-up and inexpensive cost. Because these lights are so simple to use and are affordable for most budgets, up lights are primarily used at weddings and corporate events. The advantages to these lights, besides their affordability, is that they provide a way to draw attention and showcase particular parts of the room or displays where action will be taking place.


Although ‘up lights’ may be the easiest form of lighting to use at events, there are some drawbacks to consider before investing solely in this type of lighting. The first being that, ‘up lights’ highlight what already exists. This means that if an ‘up light’ is used on a wall or curtain with cracks, blemishes, rips, or other defects, it will emphasize those flaws even more. Another factor that is often forgotten is the need for cables and cords to reach an outlet. If an outlet is not accessible near the desired lighting location, this can become a tripping hazard. The other drawback is that some events and DJ services rely too heavily on ‘up lights’ in place of any variety or higher-end lighting, detracting from any chance at a ‘luxury’ look that may have been originally intended. ‘Up lights’ are a good example of ‘you get what you pay for.’


Room Wash Lighting

If you are looking for a light that will create ambiance, then ‘room wash’ lights are just what your event needs. Most event spaces will have harsh bright florescent lights that are required to light the entire room (usually for set-up/tear-down). This lighting is not intended for hosting a gala or other extravagant event, and when they are flipped off there needs to be something to flip on. Room wash lighting brings theatricality to the space while providing visibility. Room wash lights are a powerful way to highlight areas of interest, such as the head table, buffet table, guest table, etc. Room Wash - Types of LightingThere are three different styles of room wash lighting:

  1. Colour Wash
  2. White Wash
  3. Texture Wash

Each of these types of room wash lights can be used separately, or, for a more dramatic and full effect, all 3 can be used together. Room wash lights also offer plenty of flexibility such as to allow for dimming capabilities to the room.


(TIP: It is important to be aware that these lights require more power from the venue and will take longer to install. Most professionals prefer to have the lights installed before all of the tables and décor are set up and put into place. Speak to your lighting professional beforehand to plan and prepare for the set-up of these lights).


Stage Lighting

Stage Lights - Types of LightingIf your event features a performance of any kind, you want your guests to be able to see it on stage clearly. The primary purpose of stage lighting is to light up the presenter/speaker/DJ/performer. However, stage lighting is for so much than visibility and actually plays a huge part in the ‘show’ itself. Think of any concert you have attended – aside from the performance itself, it is likely the ‘light show’ that you remember most when picturing the stage.


When cameras are capturing on-stage performances, a different style of lighting is also required to avoid glares or over-exposure. Different lighting colours can be used to avoid these problems, but the colour temperature and white balance of the stage needs to be taken into account, as well as the skin tone of the person. When stage lighting is not done properly, images may look over exposed causing a blinding white image, or they are incorrectly colour matched leaving the presenter and stage looking blue.


(It is important to note that bands and musical presentations have a number of different requirements and lighting opportunities. Musical productions often will include moving light, changing colours, textured lighting, smoke machines, and other engaging light-design strategies. To avoid exposure mistakes and to guarantee a good show, find a lighting professional who is knowledgeable in theatrical design techniques and equipment.)




Pinspot Lighting


Just as it sounds, pinspot lighting is a small beam of light that is projected down upon a singular featured item, like a spotlight. This lighting option highlight specific areas in a larger space, like guest tables at events. The reason pinspot lighting is used so frequently is because of its fast installation, precision focus, and low cost. Pinspot lights are perfect for drawing attention to even small and otherwise overlooked items such as a bouquet, cake, table centerpieces, etc.

PinSpot Lights - Types of Lighting

Depending on the location and venue, it is common for there to be an extra service charge to incorporate pinspot lighting for your event. Many venues will sell this option as a way to light the entire room, however pinspot lights are not made for this purpose. When pinspot lighting is the only lighting option used to light an entire room, it will result in a small highlighted point on a table (such as the centerpiece), while the rest of the table and venue area are left in darkness. When organizing your event, ensure that other room lighting is available so that guests can interact safely and enjoy the evening without feeling as though they are lost in the dark.


(TIP: Keep in mind that if too many pinspot lights are used (often grouped in a bundle of 8 lights), when one bulb goes out, all the others will go out as well!)



Dance Floor Lighting

In order for your guests to have a good time on the dance floor, there needs to be light. Every event will prioritize their dance lighting differently and, depending upon the budget, some may prefer to hire a DJ who will bring a few lights and DJ effects to brighten up the dance floor area. This is an easy and cost effecting solution, but the sacrifice made is that the lights look cheap and are usually set on an auto-setting. This means that lighting will not match the music in speed or tone, taking away from the mood of important moments (ex. wedding slow dances need soft or flowing lights, not flashing or strobe effects).Dance Lights - Types of Lighting


On the other hand, if a professional is hired to design dance floor lighting, then measures can be taken to synchronize the lights with the music. This small detail can drastically enhance the cohesion of your room and the dance floor area, and guests will become more immersed in the visual experience.


(TIP: If you are getting married and have a ‘first dance’ on the dance floor, ask the DJ or lighting professional to provide you with a wash light. This will create a softer look that shows better in photos, and offers a dreamy, romantic style often sought out after.)



Lighting can be tricky – it needs to be set up properly to properly showcase all of the décor, character, and features of your event, and also be done in a way that wow’s and excites. It is for this reason that hiring a professional lighting designer is recommended to ensure that the best types of lighting are used to accentuate and highlight your particular space.


Let Orange Frog Productions take your ideas and turn your event dreams it into a masterpiece of light!