DIY Up Lighting Truths

  • By Justin Pitts
  • 03 Aug, 2016

What you should know if your DIY Up lighting your wedding.

So before we dive into this article I must disclose that I own a professional DJ company and therefore, the opinions and statements made in this article are upon my own observations and point of views from experience of lighting design and entertainment.  With that being said I'm going to try to be as unbiased as possible, however, I will say that your results may vary from my experience of working with DIY up lighting.  For best results and cost effectiveness, go with a professional to up light your event.  It will save you time, money and the knowledge base for design lighting is priceless.

1. Is DIY Cost Effective?
 There are several factors to consider when DIY up lighting.  First, safety.  Many "Cheap" up lights are made of poor quality and you the product may arrive faulty which can short out, start fires and or just plain out not work.  So, if you are going to purchase lighting for your event, make sure you buy decent quality lighting. It is HIGHLY recommended that if you are going to do it your self, consider renting the light fixtures from a local wedding rental company. The lights may be a bit out dated, but at least you will receive lighting that is up to par, maintained and tested before it is used for your event.  However, you may still pay between $15.00 to $60.00 per a light fixture plus an additional $100.00 for delivery and set up.  So you may not save as much as you believe you will. If you think buying oversees for professional lighting, you will be responsible for import taxes and could face possible fines when purchasing items directly from china.  
 Another factor you need to consider is lighting specifications.  Think of a light bulb wattage.  A 100 watt light bulb is much brighter than a 20 watt bulb.  However, lighting being LED cannot be measured for brightness based upon the wattage of a LED.  It is based upon lumens.  For a professional look, you would need a light that produces a minimum of 2,500 lumens.  That will shine through soft light and still look amazing in photo's.  When the light's go out for the dance, it will still create that true ambiance of colors though out the venue.  So if you do decide to buy some cheap LED lights on ebay or amazon, keep the lumens in mind.  Most professional's use between 2,500 lumens to 10,000 lumens depending on the fixture and criteria of the event.

2. DIY Up Lighting Saftey
  Safety is a absolute must when doing any lighting design project.  Stay away from halogen lighting.  Reason being is that halogen up lighting create A LOT of heat.  A standardized 300 watt halogen bulb reaches a surface temperature of482 °F  on the surface of the bulb.  That is hot enough to cook a 12" pizza in 10 minutes. This can cause several issues when it comes to placement if you choose to use halogen lighting and with kids running around, I can guarantee that some one will get burned or the light will get knocked over and will melt the carpet, or worse start a fire.  So choose LED lighting.  The other down side with halogen lighting is that in order to get certain colors, you must actually use color filters or Color Gel's to get the correct color and you are limited to those colors only.  
 Power cords are also a messy en devour.  Many venues prohibit the use of duck tape to tape down cords because it leaves a sticky residue on carpet and wood floors.  So professional's use a special staging tape called Gaff Tape. This is another huge expense as it can cost as much as $19.00/roll.  Cords not being taped down can cause another huge liability for you with possible injury to the venue staff and your guests.  Many professionals have done away entirely with wires and have gone "wireless" which means the lighting is battery powered and won't have cords exposed and create a tacky look to the venue.
3.  DIY Up Lighting Programming
  ´╗┐After you finally select a type of light fixture you may of bought on craigslist, ebay or amazon.  You think your all set, right?  WRONG!  If you purchased a LED light fixture, you now have to program the light to emit the correct type of color your looking for.  Of course there are some with a nice remote control, but those are just set to certain colors and if you are after that one unique color to match all your decor, your going to need to know how to program the light.  For DMX programming, this is where a professional lighting design specialist or a professional disc jockey service comes in handy.  On average, when you know what your doing, it takes about 2-3 minutes to program lights to specific color. Professionals usually already have the lights programmed into a compute system which then all the lights can be programmed to a different color instantaneously.   This software is not cheap and unless you know what your doing, you could be spending 10 to 20 minutes just trying to learn how to set the color to each individual light.  For a full room of 30 lights, you could be spending as much as 10 hours in lighting programming if you don't know exactly how to do it.
4.  DIY Up Lighting Making your own light fixture,
 So, while cruising pintrest, you so a "Cheap" way of creating a up light.  Ok... nice. so, you go to the harware store, buy some party bulbs and started to go all crazy with lighting.   Ok, so it looks like a good ideal, but I'll tell you to stop right there.  First off, unless you have a degree in electrical, buying raw hardware for electrical projects is just not safe for you or your wedding.  Also, remember that all light create heat, and buying colored flood bulbs not only will make your venue too bright, but also create a lot of heat. As explained earlier, this can cause burns and even fires. Also, if you buy those cheap party lights for $4.00/piece, your not going to get a lot of light unless the venue lights are completely off. Again, your limited to the colors that the bulb was manufactured so be mindful.  Now, yes you can purchase large colored LED "Flood Lights" however, it would be a dispersed wash and would not give the desired look you are looking for plus those light bulbs are around $30-$50.00 which would be the same cost as if you went through 

In summary, there are more hassle for DIY up lighting vs just hiring a professional lighting company or DJ/entertainment company to handle your decorative lighting.  But if you must insist on doing it yourself, I recommend contacting a local rental company to rent the lights from or there are also online companies that you can rent your lighting from as well.  It may very well save you hundreds, but it is also a bit of work.  Regardless how or what direction you decide to go, up lighting will transform your room into a beautiful and elegant scene of your truly perfect wedding.

If you have questions about up lighting or would like a free consultation, please feel free to contact us at 605.338.2761 or visit our website at .

Sioux Falls DJ Squad News & Articles

By Justin Pitts 22 Aug, 2016
Brides & Grooms To Be... Its mid swing 2016 and the wedding season has been busy as ever.  Many of you have probably been to a few friends and or family weddings already and quickly gathering ideals to make your wedding absolutely perfect and unique.  Well, now your in luck.  After several discussions with our past and current customers, we asked what they would of chosen if they could do their wedding all over again.  After several suggestions, we have devised several new add on and all NEW inclusive ALL IN ONE Package.

 So with out further delay... Allow us to introduce to you our NEW, IMPROVED, AND COMPLETELY AFFORDABLE Packages for 2016!!
By Justin Pitts 04 Aug, 2016
Decorations are set and the day is here, everything is perfect.  At this very moment, you don't think that anything could be more perfect... till you get you photo's back from your special night.   Yes, you looked stunning in your dress, and your now husband was very dashing in that tux, but every picture of you and your husband standing at the head table had that "Drab" and dull wall behind you.  If only you knew to have that back drop would make all the difference when it came to your pictures.  It a little but amazing how a simple a bit of lighting and cloth can make so much of a difference.

Many clients don't even think of the back drop behind the head table till it is a lot closer to the wedding date.  Which is fine, however, with the popularity of having this elegant addition to the head table, or the entire room, availability can be scarce as your date quickly approaches.  It is recommended to reserve your back drop 4 to 6 months in advance prior to your event.

DIY  vs Professional Back Drops.
As the DIY phase is high in the bridal industry, many people don't realize that it cost just as much as building your own back drop as it is to rent one from a professional decorating company or wedding vendor.  For example, a popular concept is to use PVC piping and cloth.  Now, PVC piping is a type of pipe used typically for plumbing.  It is a very cheap typically about $3.00 for a 10 foot pipe.  The cloth can be anywhere between $2.00/sq ft to $10.00/ sq ft depending on the quality of fabric you use.  Now, PVC pipe is very cheap, however, if not constructed correctly, it can be flimsy and fall over.  I have seen some brides use this and have used it very efficiently.  I've also seen some instances where it is nothing but an epic failure and it looks just so cheap.  It just depends on how much money your willing to spend on making your back drop.  The back drop cloth can be purchased at any local fabric store and with a little seamstress work you can have a nice back drop.  If you do go the DIY route, make sure that you use fire retardant cloth.  It may cost a bit more, but if some one knocks over a candle, that back drop can burn up very fast and your dream wedding will turn into your worst nightmare.  On a final note, make sure you use some sort of weight to hold down the ends of the back drop.  This is so then it won't tip over on you or your guest.  PVC piping is VERY light and flimsy, so make sure your using hard points and weights to secure it.  This may take a little bit of structuring engineering on your part, but with the right construction method, your back drop can be secure and will last through the night.  The only down side with DIY is that after the night is over, you now have to decide what your going to do with your back drop.  Also, you will want to ensure that when you set up your back drop or pipe n drapes, that your not violating any fire codes by blocking emergency exits or other codes that may be enforced in your governing jurisdiction.

Professional back drops use a high quality system of aluminum piping , weight bases for the pipes with a fire retardant cloth.  Some vendors will even set it up for you as well, but may charge a delivery or set up fee.  Many vendors include up lighting with their pipe and draping as well.  Yes, it may be a bit more expensive vs the DIY, but you won't have to worry about set up, tear down, and have the ease of mind that it would be set up properly.  You also will have a better quality of cloth to ensure a very elegant and professional look for each picture.  So let's talk money, Just to rent a pipe and drape system, your looking at a minimum of $4-$6 a linear foot depending on color and fabric type. Generally  10 foot back drop would cost approximately about $60-$80.00.  Delivery and set up fee's can charge between $50-$150.00.  So unless you have a way to deliver it and set it up to and from your event, you may consider the additional fee.  It will also give you the peace of mind that it will be set up properly and not violate any fire codes or other governing jurisdiction codes.
By Justin Pitts 03 Aug, 2016
So before we dive into this article I must disclose that I own a professional DJ company and therefore, the opinions and statements made in this article are upon my own observations and point of views from experience of lighting design and entertainment.  With that being said I'm going to try to be as unbiased as possible, however, I will say that your results may vary from my experience of working with DIY up lighting.  For best results and cost effectiveness, go with a professional to up light your event.  It will save you time, money and the knowledge base for design lighting is priceless.
By Justin Pitts 26 Feb, 2016
So recently, I had a client ask me about my thoughts of fake flowers over real flowers for wedding reception.  Now, being a DJ and professional Emcee (not to mention a man), I know very little on flowers.  So this young bride to be (We will call her Ashley) and I decided to take a trip down to a few floral shops in Sioux Falls and to the hobby shops.  After 3 hours of looking and pricing flowers, we started a list of pro's and cons of real and fake flowers.  I will say, it was a bit fun and reminded me of the days when my wife and I would go to hobby shops just to play with floral arrangements when we were planning our wedding day.
By Justin Pitts 19 Feb, 2016
 To begin with, I am by no means nor claim to be a marriage expert.  In fact I'm far from it.  My marriage has struggled through much of the subjects that I'm about to talk about in this article.  However, I am going off my experience as a husband who is trying all he can to keep a hold of his marriage.  The suggestions I am about to give is of my personal opinions and are suggestions from books I have read about marriage and also from counselors who specialize in repairing damaged marriages. Therefore, take my words of experience and put them to use in your own marriage so you won't have the same experience that many marriages have.
By Justin Pitts 08 Feb, 2016
He asked and you said yes.  Next you got the dress, then the big planning starts.  From floral to catering and of course, the venue.  There are several factors to choosing what venue is the best choice for you.  This article is just a few things to ask yourself and the venue to ensure it is the best choice for your wedding celebration.
By Justin Pitts 04 Feb, 2016
This is a very fun project that many of my colleagues like to talk about.  What will we see as the top trends for 2016.  Some trends are actually revived trends of weddings pasts, and others are completely new trends that have never been seen before.  Either way it is a exciting venture to see what brides are coming up with to make their huge day one that is unique and will forever be remembered.
By Justin Pitts 28 Jan, 2016
Today, I just wanted to give a heads up about 2016.  As of right now, we only have 12 dates open for 2016.  So if you haven't booked a affordable, reliable and professional DJ, today I wouldn't wait to much longer.   Most highly requested DJ companies get booked between 6 months to a year in advance.  So, if you are getting married in 2016 and have not reserved your DJ yet.  Then you better get a move on! So if you haven't booked a DJ here are a few questions to ask the DJ you are considering to book before you actually book them.
Now, also keep in mind that no one goes into business to intentionally make your wedding a huge disaster.  The questions to ask are for your safety to ensure that you are getting a true professional to make your dream wedding become a reality.
By Justin Pitts 22 Jan, 2016
Let's face it, music can make or break any event.  It's the life force, the energy, the pulse of your event.  Your performer, whither be a band or a DJ is a VERY important factor of your event.  Music set's the mood, and the tone of your event.  So, choosing the right entertainment for you is indeed the most crucial aspect of your event.  So do your research, and literally interview each performer to ensure their personality won't clash with yours.

How to choose what is right for you. Band or DJ?

There is never a truly correct answer on what is right for you.  It is more on what YOU like.  You need to know the difference of hiring a DJ or a band.  Things to consider is space, style, experience and expertise. 

So what is the difference?
Typically a DJ is in most cases more flexible than a band when it comes to music selection.  A band usually  will cost more because there are more people involved.  Now, that being said, in some cases the same is true with DJ's depending on their skill or entertainment.  In some cases you end up just paying for an over inflated ego but we will just stick to the facts and touch base on ego's in a different article.

With Band's, there are several musicians which in return can cost a bit more than an actual DJ.  Now, in many cases, having a band to set the mood is great and let's face it.  Live music has a unique and unparalleled sound and feel and if the band is energetic and interactive, your guest will have the time of their life. The down side, is that the band may only know a handful of songs and would be limited to requests.  Usually they have a "set" play lists which they practice together over and over again.  However, that doesn't make the night any less of a value, but just limited on what can play.  If you have a band that plays mostly 80's cover songs, then it may be a bit difficult for them to play something in the top 40 lists because they simply may not know it.  The skill for multiple individuals playing different instruments to make the whole of the band requires a lot of practice.  So, when you choose a band, make sure you have heard of them or read reviews.

DJ's are also in a league of their own now.  The skill of mixing, scratching, beat and key matching is now a art and skill more than just selecting songs and pushing play.  There is also the ability to host the event to ensure the flow of the night works in your favor.  Now days, a DJ is more than a over expensive i pod.  They can do so much more to make your night flawless.  Music selection is more variable compared to bands.  Many DJ's have on hand (at least they should) have a minimum of 50,000 song selections with a wide variety of different genre's. Also, if space is an issue, a DJ would be friendlier to the venue space requirements vs a band.  In most cases a DJ only needs about a 10-12 foot x 8 foot area to set up their audio and lighting system.  A Band on the other hand would need MUCH more space and even possibly require an actual stage.  Now for the ugly truth about DJ's.  Being a DJ myself, it pains me to say this, but it is true.  There are individuals out there who simply think that being a DJ means to just be playing the music.  They are usually younger DJ's who are out there for the mere fact of being a DJ.  When they perform at a wedding, they see it more as a "frat" party vs a actual wedding.  Songs that are inappropriate for family events are played, and may possibly say a few ill taste things on the microphone.  All in all though, no one is in business to make your wedding a disaster.  Every person that DJ's weddings have the true intentions of making your night one to remember.  Its if they truly have the experience or even the know how to do just that.  Make sure you look at reviews of the DJ.  Many DJ's have a review system that they cannot alter.  We have one on our website, and we also have reviews on wedding wire, social media and also other wedding related websites.  Also, meet with the DJ in person.  Not just the manager or booking manager.  Also, know who your going to have.  In many cases, there are companies that use a multitude of Sub-Contractors.  Now, i'm not saying that sub contractors are bad, but it causes the company to have less control of the quality of equipment and performance style and there is usually no training when training is needed.

These are just some of a few examples of differences between DJ's and Bands.  I hope this has been helpful for you to decide what is best for you and your event.  

As always, if you have any questions about how to make your event a success, please feel free to call us at 605-338-2761 or just visit our website at
By Justin Pitts 20 Jan, 2016
Your event is set, the date, the decorations, the caterer, rings, dresses... even your entertainment.  But have you considered a secondary form of entertainment? Why need a secondary form of entertainment?  Well, its simple.  There is only so much your DJ or band can do.  Yes, we provide a planning service and we help with making the night go smoothly and above all else, we entertain your guests during the dance.  However, what if you can do more to make your night enjoyable and memorable?  Well, you can and it is quite affordable.  
More Posts
Share by: