Blog, Ideas & Inspiration

Lighting ideas for your marquee

June 2, 2016

If you’re theming your event, the obvious plan is to come up with a colour scheme and choose furniture, floral displays, tableware and so on that works with that scheme and combines together to produce the desired effect. The way in which lighting can contribute to your theme is probably more easy to overlook, but it can have a huge impact.

lighting effectsImagine a theatre stage, the way it’s brought to life during a performance through the lighting. A marquee is very similar – one week used for a wedding, the next a corporate awards dinner, each looking quite different from the other because of how the space is dressed. Lighting changes a marquee even more. In years gone by, marquee lighting was often restricted to a chandelier hung from the centre and perhaps strings of fairy lights around the perimeter. Today, developments in technology mean that the options are far more extensive and exciting – as we found out when we visited our friends at MGN Events.

Production Director Neil Walker originally trained in lighting designEvent lighting and production at one of the UK’s leading drama universities. So when he talks about lighting for dramatic effect and creating theatre within a specific environment he knows all the tricks! Neil said: “Whether you’re using a marquee to celebrate a wedding or an 18th birthday party, it’s important to create the right atmosphere for the occasion. And, surprisingly enough, lighting is a really affordable way of doing just that – from the subtle and sophisticated feel for a wedding to something fun, funky and upbeat that will help ensure a marquee packed with 18-year-olds is a lively and vibrant environment.”

One highly effective way of adding impact is to ‘wash’ the walls of the marquee with colour using uplighters. It’s a really simple technique and the units are small and flexible, so can be placed wherever needed without being obvious or unsightly.

lighting effectsThen there are moving lights, which are controlled and operated by a technician at a lighting desk. This is a great idea if you want to change the atmosphere throughout the event. For instance, you might want to create a very big wow factor for your guests as they arrive and enter the marquee for the first time. Lighting can then be used to focus attention on a specific area within the marquee, perhaps to light a live band or illuminate the wedding top table when it’s time for all the speeches. Clever use of light means that the environment can subtly change as the event progresses – Neil considers that it’s a job well done when guests almost don’t notice what’s actually happening around them.

Themed lightingAt the fun and funky end of the lighting spectrum are moving spotlights that can combine colour with patterns and graphic shapes – gobos, as they’re called in the lighting industry, projected onto the floor or walls. MGN has a vast array from which to choose, and they can also produce bespoke designs for clients. And then for a really special effect, forget the smoke machine and order a haze machine. More subtle than a smoke machine, that can result in guests trying to locate each other in the fog, a haze machine produces a very fine and translucent mist, which looks fantastic when beams of light are shone through.

Of course, the obvious question to ask is: what about all the cables?! Again, technology is such that trying to hide unsightly cables or minimise trip hazards is a thing of the past. Many lighting units are wireless and run instead on battery power that will last up to 15 hours, more than enough time for most events. And LED lights are used extensively, which utilise less power and can often remove the need for hiring a generator – if you’re hosting a marquee party in your garden, the lighting is not going to overload a standard domestic electricity circuit.

Don’t forget the lighting when you book your marquee! Talk to us and we’ll put you in touch with trusted lighting companies who will turn one of our marquees into an amazing space for your event.

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