DesignLight in the Media

Photo-sharing sites drive trends in event lighting design—and complications

There’s no debate that social media sites such as Pinterest and Instagram have changed the way lighting is done for tented events. Meetings with potential clients often start with the client pointing to a photo on the website and saying, “There—that’s what I want.” Yes, Pinterest and Instagram offer a wealth of creative ideas on how to stage an event. But photo-sharing sites have the potential to cause as many problems as they solve. “Many times, people are not thinking about lighting when they select their venue,” says Sandy Mulrey, director of sales and marketing at DesignLight, a Boston, Mass.-based design lighting company. “A lot of the installations they’re seeing just aren’t possible for their venue. “So it’s an educational process for us,” she continues. “We explain to the client what’s possible and what’s really not possible. It’s up to us to offer alternatives that will work for their venue.”

Adds Bryan Loane, owner of Loane Bros. Inc., a party tent and event rental company based Towson, Md.: “A potential client might show me a picture from Pinterest of a delicate, whimsical bridal ceremony canopy that looks great but couldn’t possibly stand on its own as it appears to. All those rose petals at the base are probably covering the concrete footers that would be required keep such a structure stable.” “One very effective way to light a tent is with pin lighting highlighting floral arrangements. It is a narrow beam of light that you aim at the flowers. It makes the flowers ‘pop’ all night. But you do need to adjust them once the tables and flowers are set and make sure they are not shining in the guests’ eyes. And keep in mind that they do add to the ambient light in a room, so if the other lighting isn’t dimmable, they could be too bright.” On the other hand, social media networks have helped show that lighting can be one of the most important parts of a tented event, Loane says. “There’s obviously more of a sophistication now,” he says, “and I think it will continue to be that way… a lot of smaller lights instead of one or two large ones, more indirect light, more subtlety.”