Vario banner containing Vario's name and colored logo

Lighting Design Ideas: Bring Your Event to the Next Level

Share This

Related Posts

Sign Up

Join nearly 5,000 meeting planners and receive more tips, resources and event happenings in your inbox. Don’t worry, you will be able to unsubscribe at any time.


Women with skull makeup and a hula hoop LED light enjoying the festive activities of an outdoor event

Lighting Design Ideas: Bring Your Event to the Next Level

Walking into an event one of the first things most guests will notice is the ambiance of the space as a whole. Is it cold and drab? Bold and dramatic? Or maybe it is elegant and chic? As a host, you create the feeling of your environment through a number of elements including decor, furniture and textiles, music, and lighting. The lighting and design can make or break an event so it is important to get it right. However, it is much more than shining a spotlight on your speaker or projecting some moving lights over the dance floor.

If lights are too bright during special events, it creates a bland and cold atmosphere. But too dark and you risk your guests missing out on all the carefully thought out details of your event design. Well placed event lighting can create ambiance and impact other elements of your decor, including centerpieces or floral arrangements. You can even use it to direct your guests through various parts of your event. But if you aren’t sure where to start, check out these lighting design ideas that will bring your event or party to the next level.

Upgrade with Uplighting

Uplighting is an easy way to transform an otherwise unimpressive room, like a standard hotel ballroom or convention center, into a space with beautiful stage lighting. This technique helps to create a more vibrant atmosphere by placing colored, or white, lights on the floor around the perimeter of the room. The result is brightly lit walls with a wow factor that will catch the attention of your guests when they walk in the room. Add some uplighting is a simple upgrade that looks great at events like awards shows or dinners, galas, charity balls, sporting events, weddings, and cocktail functions. But depending on the type of event you are hosting, you may want to limit your color scheme to just one or two color choices to avoid creating an overly stimulating environment. Using a lighting control board, the colors can change dynamically throughout the evening, adding an even more dramatic effect.

Employ Gobos

As funny as it sounds, gobos can be an exciting way to elevate the lighting at your next event. In its basic form, a gobo is a light with a metal or glass stencil placed over it in order to project a pattern. These lights are extremely versatile and can produce nearly any design or pattern including abstract shapes, pictures, and company logos. Plus, you can project the light onto ceilings, floors, and walls making it a great way to add depth and visual interest to your event.

Not only do gobos create a more dynamic atmosphere, they can also be functional. If used to project a company logo, a gobo helps display branding at a corporate event, or you may choose to incorporate a gobo at a wedding to display the newlyweds’ initials. Regardless of what you decide, gobos are a flexible lighting option and could be an excellent addition to most events including branding at sales events or product launches and wall designs at galas or social events. Using a lighting control board, gobo patterns can be manipulated to change size, shape, and track across the room, adding depth and texture to the space.

Entertain with a Light Show

What better way to grab the attention of your guests than by creating a custom light show? Working with a lighting engineer, we can design a show completely unique to your event and provide your guests with a memorable experience. This show will often incorporate both uplighting and gobos as well as a number of other lighting methods. However, unlike using those elements on their own, a coordinated light show will keep the various lights involved moving and flashing throughout.

This type of lighting event has been successfully implemented at corporate events, awards shows, and other speeches to help quiet the crowd and build excitement prior to the main event. But it can also be a great technique to keep energy high at concerts and other dance or active events.

Highlight Design Elements

Another creative way to direct the attention of your guests with lighting is to highlight the elements of your design or decor with pin lighting. These concentrated beams of light can create a dramatic effect which transforms otherwise ordinary centerpieces and table settings into artful displays. Similar to uplighting, pin lights give your event a more dynamic appearance. As an added bonus, pin lights can be used at nearly any type of event from award shows to weddings; the lights will add elegance to your designs and decor.

Pin lights have been around for some time and modern lights offer a new aesthetic to set the mood. Traditional lights, using tungsten or fluorescent bulbs, project a softer edge when used as a pin light. In contrast, modern LED (light emitting diode) lights display a very sharp and defined edge when projected as a pin light. This seemingly small difference can have a huge impact on the ambiance of the light and is something to consider when choosing what type of light to employ.

Get Moving with Kinetic Lighting

If you really want to impress your guests, using kinetic lighting is sure to do the trick. As the name suggests, these lights merge with movement to create a unique effect and experience. Typically utilizing LED lights, kinetic lighting structures are motorized and controlled by a remote computer giving the illusion that they are floating and moving on their own. The computer program which controls the movement also allows you to input different settings giving you complete control over how the lights move, what color they are, and even coordinate their movements to music.

However, this element comes at a cost both in time and money. In order to get the full effect, many cables and winches must be installed to hold the lights and allow them to move. This takes a significant amount of time and should be factored into your event timeline for the setup and breakdown times. It also could be a substantial monetary investment.

Consider Novelty Lights

Depending on the event, you may also want to consider incorporating novelty lighting that will give the effect a more relaxed and rustic feel. Twinkle lights and bistro light strings have become increasingly popular to use for corporate receptions, weddings and other s

Social gatherings over the years. And while they are a simple touch to add, they are seemingly able to absorb the ambiance of the other design elements

and create a very distinct atmosphere at the same time.

Novelty lights can also help to create or even be a centerpiece within the venue space. Chandeliers and other unique lighting fixtures can be installed at an event almost like an art piece, providing more design over functionality. If there is room in your budget, these types of lights can definitely make a statement at your next event.

Final Thoughts

As you plan your event, there is a lot to consider and planning lighting is only one element. But don’t overlook the importance or impact of lighting as it can completely transform your next event. So as you begin to create a vision and an event plan and talk to lighting vendors, here are some things you should think about and ask yourself.

  • What type of function are you hosting – corporate convention, awards ceremony, gala, wedding?
  • What atmosphere or ambiance do you want to create for your audience?
  • Where are you hosting the event  – hotel ballroom, convention center, church, tent?
  • How many guests will be in attendance?
  • Will you have centerpieces or displays that you would like to highlight?
  • Does your venue have any permanent light fixtures present such as chandeliers you will need to work around or incorporate?
  • What is your theme or color scheme?
  • Will there be dancing, event entertainment or speakers?
  • How much time will you have to setup and breakdown?
  • What is your budget for the lighting alone?

All of these questions can help inform your lighting design and plan. Specifically, if cost is a concern, you have options to help keep lighting within a budget and still create a fantastic display experience. For example, LED lighting is often more versatile than more traditional lighting like tungsten. Plus, LEDs last longer and are utilize less energy.

Perhaps the biggest consideration of all though is to think about balance when creating your lighting plan. While all of the lighting suggestions we have just listed are phenomenal ways to impress your guests, using all of them at once would overwhelm them and ruin the ambiance of your event. Instead, think critically about what you want to create and work closely with your event planner or lighting engineer, leaning on their expertise to design a lighting plan that is sure to amaze anyone who walks into the room.

Stay COnnected:

Sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest event industry news.

Partner With Vario

From ideation to execution, we’re with you every step of the way. Consider us an extension of your team and let’s explore all that we can accomplish together.

We would love to answer your questions through email, phone, or a scheduled discovery consultation.