PRACTICAL MAGIC 102: Tips on Lighting Your Own Events from Expert Bentley Meeker

PRACTICAL MAGIC 102: Tips on Lighting Your Own Events from Expert Bentley Meeker

I sometimes think it's my mission in life to go around dimming lights, a habit I (thankfully) inherited from my mother.  As it turns out, my mom and lighting expert Bentley Meeker have a lot in common.  As you'll see in Meeker's tips for lighting your own events (the conclusion to our series on lighting), dimmers are a girl's--and an event's--best friend.

Low-key lighting and lanterns enhance the feel of a Tuscan farmhouse at Billy Joel & Katie Lee's wedding.

Low-key lighting and lanterns enhance the feel of a Tuscan farmhouse at Billy Joel & Katie Lee's wedding.

STYLE MANIAC:  When you and your company produce a lighting design for an event, what is the single most important thing you want to achieve?

BENTLEY MEEKER: The greatest compliment I've had in a long time was when the esteemed event designer Susan Holland walked into a space we lit and said, "It 'feels' amazing in here ...." That's what I try to achieve every time.

Dimmers+candlelight= magic at a party for P. Diddy

Dimmers+candlelight= magic at a party for P. Diddy

What is the most important thing to keep in mind when lighting an event?

Dimming. Hands down, bar none, dimming.

What's the most flattering light for an event and how can we achieve it with a limited budget?

Candles, incandescent light and dimming. Change out switches to dimmers (should cost about $100 +/- per switch - and every venue would want that done if it isn't already) and use candles.

What is the biggest mistake people make when lighting an event?

They make it too bright, or use LED's to create bold colors but then throw unflattering light into rooms.

Imagine how different this room at the University Club in New York City would look with bright lights.

Imagine how different this room at the University Club in New York City would look with bright lights.

Can you give Style Maniac readers your three top tips to improve the lighting at any event without spending a lot of money?

  1. As evidenced by my book launch, I love candlelight. It still is the most beautiful...
  2. Color existing lights by changing bulbs or gelling high hats.
  3. Dim everything just a little darker than you initially think it should be. The eye adjusts and that becomes the "sweet spot" for ambiance.

Many thanks to Bentley for graciously sharing his secrets with all of us. For more on his work, visit Bentley Meeker Lighting & Staging Inc.

(Photos above via his website, except top photo from Light X Design: 20 Years of Lighting.)

"Use the good china for breakfast."
XOXO