Lighting is one of the most impactful elements of any event because it defines your environment, enhances venue features such as pillars, and helps create a warm and welcoming ambiance. Beyond the aesthetic value of lighting, it is also an important logistical consideration to ensure guest safety while moving through the event space. But even the most basic lighting packages can be expensive. Whether you’re creating an intimate outdoor gathering or an elaborate ballroom affair, there are great products available to the budget savvy planner. Here are some of our favourite DIY event lighting ideas:
State-of-the-Art: Hue Lighting
By combining brilliant LED light with innovative technology, the team at Phillips is changing the way people traditionally think about using light, opening us up to the possibility of unveiling any coloured lighting scheme at an event without the use of floodlights, coloured gels or control consoles. The Hue system is a 3 part system consisting of lightbulbs, a “bridge”, and an app. Their wireless lightbulbs simply screw into existing light fittings and can be programmed to any colour in the spectrum and also set to pulse or dim automatically. They also have an array of freestanding light products perfect for events like the Hue Go, Hue Bloom and Hue Light strips, which are all portable and wireless making them the ultimate, “Light any moment, anywhere.” products. Hue Bloom can even be synced with music to create stunning light shows. The “bridge” is the control system at the heart of this technology. It links to any WiFi router to control up to 50 lightbulbs at a time through an easy-to-use app called the MyHue portal which can be downloaded to any iOS or android device. The app allows you to trigger certain affects, change colours, and modify brightness with the click of a button. It also has the capability of selecting specific colours from a photo and recreating it in your room. Remember that amazing sunset photo from your corporate picnic last year? With Hue Lighting you can select that exact colour and create a room literally draped in that experience. One thing is clear, the Phillips team understand the power of lighting to control mood, set a tone, create a different environment and define an ambiance in an instant. Do you plan a recurring event where investment in this type of technology could create cost efficiencies over multiple events? Great! All you would need to get started is the equipment, a basic power outlet, and access to a nearby wireless router (and perhaps an IT tech who can help you find the router).
Shown here: Hue Bridge and Lightbulbs
Shown here: Hue Go
Shown here: Hue Bloom
Shown here: Hue Light Strips
More Basic But Equally Fun: String Lighting
If you’ve been on planet earth for the past couple years, then you’ve seen the rise of string lighting at events. Everything from globe lights to coconut shell lights to decorative strings of lights have made their way into the spotlight. Budget conscious planners use these lights in all kinds of creative ways to light an event on without sacrificing style. There are tons of different quirky options available for purchase on etsy and at your local crafting store or dollar store (allow me to introduce you to the mini red solo cup string lights sold at Dollarama chains across Canada). Let’s be clear. We’re not talking about coloured rope lighting which is better left in the 90’s or for highlighting the perimeter of a pool. We’re talking about the christmas light’s cool, new, hip cousin. When planning for string lighting, make sure you measure, measure, measure! Sage tip: hang rope or string where you want to put the lights and then measure the rope to determine the number of feet required. Here is a great resource for planning string lighting at your next event. Another Sage tip: some string lights don’t plug in end to end like christmas lights so you may need a separate outlet for each run of lights. If your string lighting set-up would require far too many outlets, consider renting a small generator to supply power that all strings can feed into. Fear not the generator. They have become quieter and much more cost effective to rent in recent years.
Sources: greenbridgeguide.com and Rebecca Flugrad on Pinterest
Sources: instructables.com and zecotton.com
Make It Crafty: Paper Bag Luminaries
One of my favourite ways to highlight a walkway, path or stairs is so easy you won’t even believe me when I tell you how to make them. Step # 1: purchase brown paper lunch bags or any other colour you can find from your local dollar store. Step # 2: purchase some cheap 6-8 hour burning tea lights from Amazon, Superstore or any other value retailer (unless you have a shorter event then you can opt for tea lights from IKEA which last only a couple hours). Step # 3: place a single tea light into each paper bag and place in locations you want to spruce up or illuminate for safety reasons. Optional Step # 4: Get really creative by cutting out shapes or letters in the bags before you put the tea light candles into them. Final step: Light the candles and voila! You’ve got some cute ambient lighting created on a dime. If wind is an issue at your event, collect rocks and place them in the bottom of the bags to weigh them down. When I first made these, I was worried the bag would light on fire. But they don’t.
Sources: vanillacupcake.co.nz and projectwedding.com and richterology.com
Make It Crafty: Mason Jar Lighting
If you aren’t yet tired of the mason jar trend (we can’t decide if we are or not) then here are some ideas for creating your own mason jar lights. Use candles, paint, sand, beans, shells, decals, stickers, tissue paper mache, or a string of christmas lights to create a unique effect your guests will definitely appreciate. I was recently at a wedding where the mason jars were wrapped with black and white photo transfers of the couple over the years. The photo transfers can be coloured or black and white and are created by simply printing on transparent labels with an at-home printing system. In the evening, the glow of the candles inside the jar made the black and white photos came to life showcasing all the special moments the bride and groom had shared over the years. Talk about walking guests through special moments in an ultra-creative fashion. If you’re going the route of integrating christmas lights, then please don’t forget to scout out power locations to determine what extension cords will be needed to run the lights to various positions. Make sure the extension cords don’t become tripping hazards by covering them with electrical tape, cable covers or even area rugs. An indoor/outdoor theme has never been more relevant than it is today.
While it’s a great goal to DIY as much of your event as possible to save money, things like string lights can add up quickly if you need a lot of them. Be sure to check your DIY event lighting costs against a quote from a lighting supplier. If you have a repeat event every year where you can reuse items from the previous year, it is likely that you will find some savings purchasing and creating on your own. However, if your event is a one-off event, it may well be cheaper to just rent from a reputable lighting partner. If you share your budget in advance, they may be able to provide solutions that work within your budget parameters. Use Eventsage.com to connect with a community of suppliers who will happily partner with you for your next event if a DIY solution is out of the question.