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WEDDING TRENDS: Do-It-Yourself Uplighting and Gobo Monograms

One of the hottest new trends is the use of wedding lighting for receptions, such as uplighting and gobos. Sound like we’re speaking a foreign language? This page discusses the latest wedding lighting trends, and also explains how you can easily get these luxe looks for less with do-it-yourself uplighting and do-it-yourself gobos.

DIY Uplighting
Before and after uplighting
Gobo Monogram Projectors
DIY Weddings

Myths About DIY Wedding Lighting
Before and After Photos


What is uplighting?
Uplighting is the hottest trend for weddings and special events to set the mood or transform a venue.  "Uplights" are small lighting units that are placed on the floor around the perimeter of your venue.  The lights will illuminate the walls from floor to ceiling with colored light. Thanks to modern technology, there are uplights available that are extremely user-friendly, allowing anyone to set them up -- quick and easy DIY uplighting!

• Traditional Par Can Uplights
Originally, wedding lighting involved the use of heavy par cans with halogen light bulbs.  A single color gel was placed over the top of the light bulbs for color.  These par cans took up a lot of space, are heavy, and the lights get extremely hot.  You also have to put a color gel over each light, and purchase different gels for different colors.  These types of uplights are rarely used anymore due to fire safety and power consumption concerns. 

LED Uplights
Light Emitting Diode (LED) uplights are the latest and greatest in wedding lighting.  These uplights are very lightweight, usually around 3 pounds each.  You can set the uplights to almost any shade of any color with the push of a button (no need to apply color gels). Although the LED uplights are powerful and will illuminate a wall from floor to ceiling, the uplight is very compact, measuring just 6” wide and 3” thick.  LED uplights typically have additional capabilities such as color changing based on a timer, or color changing to the beat of music.  One of the biggest benefits of LED uplights is that they are extremely low energy, so there is no need to worry about blowing fuses.  In fact, about 75 LED uplights together use about as much power as a typical hair dryer!  Because of the low energy consumption, LED uplights can be linked together with power cords, and approximately 50 uplights can be plugged in to a single outlet. DIY uplighting has never been easier!

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What is a Gobo?
A gobo projector – also referred to as monogram lighting – is one of the latest trends for weddings and special events.  In general terms, a gobo is an image that is projected onto a wall or dance floor, usually displaying the names of a bridal couple, wedding date, or monogram.  Technically speaking, a gobo is a disc that light shines through to prRent gobooject an image onto any surface.  The word “gobo” stands for “Goes Before Optics.” A special gobo projector is used to project the gobo image.  The gobo projector has lenses that focus and shape the light after it hits the gobo image.  LED gobo projectors use – as the name suggests – LED lights, which produce an optimal image while using less energy than a standard light.  Gobos can be made of a variety of materials, including transparency (plastic), steel, and glass.  The quality of the projected image varies based upon the type of material used for the gobo.   

Thanks to new technogy, DIY gobos and DIY monogram lighting is now possible. The latest monogram / gobo projectors are extremely easy to set up. It just requires plugging in and pointing at a wall or dance floor!

Transparency Gobo
Transparency gobos are a relatively new type of gobo.  A transparency gobo is made out of a thin plastic disc.  Images are printed with a special ink on a high resolution printer.  The plastic disc is printed in black ink with clear graphics/text.  This allows the projector light to shine through the transparency, creating the gobo design.  The transparency gobo is best suited for a one-time use.  Transparency gobos are mainly used by do-it-yourselfers, although many DJs and other wedding/event professionals are starting to use transparency gobos.

The benefits of transparency gobos are that they are the most affordable option, they allow more intricate design options, and quicker turnaround time is possible.  The negatives are that the image may not be as clear, there cRent goboan be brightness issues depending on the projection surface, and there can be some “fuzzyness” around the gobo design.  The image quality will also depend on the surface on which it is being projected.  For example, a gobo projected on a white wall will appear extremely bright, while a gobo projected on a dark wood dance floor will not appear quite as bright.  There are three tricks to making the fuzzyness imperfections less noticeable: projecting the gobo onto a patterned or textured surface (such as a dance floor), pairing the gobo with uplighting, and applying a color filter.  A color filter is simply a thin disc made of colored plastic.  The color filter disc is placed over the gobo disc, and the two discs are then inserted into the gobo projector.  If you rent a gobo projector, you don’t really need to worry about all these technical details.  The projector will arrive pre-loaded with your gobo design, and all you need to do is plug in the projector and point it at a wall. A great option for do-it-yourself monogram lighting!

Steel Gobo
Steel has long been the material of choice for producing professional-looking gobos.  Steel gobos have a design cut into a thin steel disc.  The light shines through the cut out portions of the gobo.  The benefits are that the steel gobo will give you a perfectly clear image with absolutely no imperfections.  This is considered a professional-grade gobo.  Steel gobos can also be used over and over.  The negatives are that the price is higher to produce a custom steel gobo, and there are some limitations in the designs available.  For example, certain letters need to include a connecting piece of metal to form the letters correction, such as A, O, R, P, Q, and B. 

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Why go for a do-it-yourself wedding? The biggest reason is to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars! Uplighting and personalized monogram projectors are the latest trends in weddings.  This type of lighting has always been done by professionals, at a significant cost.  Rent My Wedding was started by a bride to help other brides on budgets. While planning her own wedding, a Maryland bride figured out how to set up professional-grade lighting herself, and purchased the equipment for her wedding.  That sparked the idea for the business, and now others can rent uplighting and gobo projectors at low rates. Since the business was started by a bride, she knows how important it is that the rental process is affordable, flawless, and stress-free.  For that reason, Rent My Wedding has the lowest prices online, provides easy, user-friendly products, and has a perfect track record with customers.  (Winner of the 2013 WeddingWire Bride’s Choice Award, and has all 5-star reviews!).  Here’s how easy it is to setup your own do-it-yourself uplighting and gobo!

Lighting professionals charge hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars for uplighting at your reception.  Thanks to modern technology, you can now use DIY uplighting for an affordable price.  Rent My Wedding provides professional grade LED uplights that are extremely user-friendly for a rate of just $19/uplight.  It takes just 30 seconds to set up each uplight: (1) Plug it in; (2) pick a color by pushing a button; and (3) position the uplight on the floor.  You’re done!  The uplights can be linked together, so you need just one outlet for the entire room.  You can choose virtually any shade of any color using a button on the back of the uplight.  Many couples set up the uplights the day before their wedding, or you can ask a friend or family member to spend a half hour on the morning of your wedding to set up. Try do-it-yourself uplighting today!

Although monogram lighting was typically done only by lighting professionals, Rent My Wedding has found a unique product that is both user-friendly and budget-friendly.  You can save hundreds of dollars by setting up your own gobo projector, which can be rented from Rent My Wedding for just $99 (including a custom design and free shipping both ways).  You tell us what text / fonts/ graphics you would like for the gobo, we take care of the rest.  The gobo projector will be delivered to your door, and all you need to do is plug it in.  Most people will place the gobo projector on a tall cocktail table and point it at a wall behind the head table or behind the cake table.  You can also ask your DJ to clamp the gobo projector to their speaker stand, so that it shines down onto the dance floor. Try do-it-yourself monogram lighting today!

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There are a lot of myths floating around about DIY uplighting. Some of these myths are based on how things used to be done with non-LED uplights, which are vastly different from the LED uplights that are used today. Other misconceptions stem from lighting professionals who -- let's be honest -- want to protect their jobs! Don't get us wrong -- hiring a lighting professional is definitely nice for those who have the budget. Just like it is nice to hire a wedding planner so that you don't have to worry about all the little details and coordination for your big day. But, not all of us have the budget for full-service wedding professionals. For brides on budgets, it's nice to know that you can still achieve a fabulous look for your reception by simply setting up your own uplighting or gobo monogram projectors.

Myth #1: Lighting is complicated and should only be done by a professional.
Thanks to modern technology, LED uplights are extremely user friendly. DIY uplighting set up is quick and easy in just 30 seconds per light!
   1. Plug into outlet
   2. Press button to choose color
   3. Put uplight on floor and point towards wall

You're done! Uplights can be linked together with the power cords provided, so you need just one outlet

Myth #2: Uplights can get hot and start fires. You don't want to be liable for that.
Modern uplights use LED technology. This means that they use very little energy and stay completely cool all night. There is no risk of fire or burns with DIY uplighting. (Older style par cans, however, do get hot).

Myth #3: Wedding lighting can blow the fuses at your reception.
Modern uplights use LED technology, which means they use very little energy. 75 uplights = 1 blow dryer!

Myth #4: You have to get extra supplies like color gels in order to do the lighting.
No color gels are needed for LED uplights. With the push of a button, you can create almost any shade of any color!

Myth #5: You won't know where to put the uplights or how to position them correctly.
The uplights simply get placed on the floor around the perimeter of your room. Space the lights evenly around the room for an overall glow -- 10' apart for maximum coverage, 20' apart for moderate coverage.

Myth #6: You will be stuck with basic colors.
With LED uplights, you can create almost any shade of any color with the push of a button.

Myth #7: Lighting is bulky and heavy, you don't want the hassle of picking that up and dropping it off from a vendor.
Modern LED uplights weigh just 3 pounds each. They are also small and compact - about 3" thick and 6" in diameter. If you rent uplighting with Rent My Wedding, FedEx will deliver the box to your door (or reception venue). Afterwards, put the uplights back in the same box, and just call FedEx to come pick it up. DIY uplighting doesn't get any easier than that!

Myth #8: Only a professional can determine the quanitity of lights needed for a room.
You can easily figure out the quantity of lights that you need based upon the size of your room. Check out our uplighting quantity estimator HERE. We give you all the tools and info you need to easily take advantage of do-it-yourself uplighting.

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The following are before and after photos submitted by Rent My Wedding customers. Do-it-yourself uplighting and do-it-yourself monograms set up by the couples themselves!

DIY uplighting

Do-it-yourself uplighting   do-it-yourself uplighting

DIY gobo  

DIY monogram

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