Mobile DJ's - What lights do you use at weddings

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DJ Forbes

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Jul 30, 2021
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I'm just curious, for you mobile DJ's that don't have the luxury of having a regular venue... that pack, setup, and tear down at every wedding. What lights do you use regularly?
Wash, derby, moving heads, uplights, other movers?

I have a pair of Wash FX hex's currently. I have a little Kinta FX that is great for bars. I have a pair of small wired pars. I'm looking to improve my look at atmosphere at weddings and larger events. I'm slowly saving for some quality uplights (probably Freedom par hex-4's). Would you suggest anything else in the meantime? I have the ADJ pro event booth with I beam truss overhead so I have a little bit of real estate to work with (which I know doesn't mean I have to use it, but it's there if I want).

Any thoughts or suggestions?
 

Ausumm

Gold Plated Productions
Oct 21, 2008
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I think a lot of us have found that using some sort of "light bar" is a basic light show that is simple but affordable. It's a great starting point. It can be put on sound active mode all by itself. Then, you can switch over to DMX as you add other fixtures to enhance your show.
I started with the ADJ Dotz system, and have since added two small moving heads, a mirrorball effect, and a few strip lights.
The nice part for me is, when I play a small gig, I can use the Dotz all hy itself.
 

DJ Forbes

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Jul 30, 2021
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Thanks.... I will add that I have also been using ShowXpress and the Chauvet wireless DMX dangles. Slowly learning DMX for controlling the lights, not into doing productions or preset light programs yet.
 

Albatross

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Sep 7, 2016
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So I basically offer one or a combination of the following:

Uplights - I use the Chauvet Freedom Hex 4s
Dance Floor Color Wash - Chauvet Slimpar H6 USBs
Moving Heads - Chauvet Intimidator 355 IRC spots

What I bring depends on what vibe the client wants and what their budget for lighting allows. But I tend to prefer a smaller number of high quality (and flexible) fixtures over something more busy.

Dot lights... I absolutely hate. Lasers, I think are awesome at an EDM show, but looks like dog poo with a cheapey spray spot laser which most DJs incorrectly fire into peoples eyes.

Most wedding shoppers won't know the difference if you don't explain it to them, but there are lots of reasons that it's better to do no lighting at a wedding versus doing it poorly.
 

DJ Ricky B

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Mar 9, 2015
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ADJ Boom Box FX2 is my stand alone light show that I include complimentary if they want a light show. I ask this very question in my wedding planning form.

In 2022 I had an uptick in clients actually wanting the complimentary light show. About 80% of my wedding clients this year had me set it up. In the past it has historically been 60% to 70%.

The problem with moving heads and totems is 2 fold for me and my market.

#1 I work at venues that usually have fairly tight spaces for me to work with
#2 I need an assistant working with me in order to provide two totems scrimmed with two moving heads. An assistant costs me over $200 for a wedding. It is too much for me to do by myself considering I also have to do the ceremony system, speaker/stand for cocktails, and my regular set up already. I do offer the option, and I charge $475 to add this option in. NONE of my clients want it...or at least they don't want to pay that much for it.

Most of my clients will take a complimentary light show at no extra charge though.

I see myself actually moving away from lighting effects at least for weddings in the coming years, and only push Up Lights as my lighting, but that is probably a few years away. I do not plan to purchase any more light effects moving forward. I am 99% sure about that, so once my ADJ Boom Box 2 dies or critically malfunctions I don't plan to replace it or buy something else. I am certainly not as excited about light effects being in place while I perform compared to how I felt about light effects 4+ years ago.
 

djtaso

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Apr 4, 2017
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I'm just curious, for you mobile DJ's that don't have the luxury of having a regular venue... that pack, setup, and tear down at every wedding. What lights do you use regularly?
Wash, derby, moving heads, uplights, other movers?

I have a pair of Wash FX hex's currently. I have a little Kinta FX that is great for bars. I have a pair of small wired pars. I'm looking to improve my look at atmosphere at weddings and larger events. I'm slowly saving for some quality uplights (probably Freedom par hex-4's). Would you suggest anything else in the meantime? I have the ADJ pro event booth with I beam truss overhead so I have a little bit of real estate to work with (which I know doesn't mean I have to use it, but it's there if I want).

Any thoughts or suggestions?
Depends on what clientele you aim to cater to... do you have an assistant... and how much do you want to be making/spending?

If you're serving a more entry level-mid tier clientele without over the top expectations, the WASH FX lights you have are more then adequate. To clean up your presentation, I would place them on 6 ft towers, just like in the picture below (invest in a white and/or black facade if you haven't yet). Get the collapsible trusses to save space. The low cost of attaining these items is appealing, however it'll be hard to charge extra for this, as they are a bit limited... perhaps just raise your base price and include it. DMX is helpful to know in this case (slower, softer fades for less intense music or crowds... faster, pulsing, strobing patterns for higher energy moments), but isn't required.

If seeking to attract a more mid-high tier clientele and to be able to charge more for lighting, the key to this will then be moving heads... on towers preferably. It's not so much the look that you're selling here (they don't look much different than the wash fx on trusses), it's the capabilities. Moving heads offer multiple layers of control and if showcased well can really take the visual energy in the room to another level. DMX knowledge IS A MUST for this. Companies around here charge between $300-$600 for just 2 heads, so I'm sure elsewhere $250-$500 isn't out of the ordinary. Idk why ricky says this is a two man operation, but trusses are lightweight, and if 2 heads in a case is too heavy... just get 1 small road case per head. They also don't take long to set up, especially if the truss is prewired and you use wireless dmx sticks. These do have a higher cost of entry, as a good moving head (must have spot/wash/beam capabilities), can go for around $2000 each. I offer up to 6 moving heads for my events... but 80% do 2, and the remainder all do 4 with exception of 3 teen events that get 6. Maybe 2 events this year had zero dancefloor lighting. At 58 events this year that added them, with say a conservative avg of $400 per event for lighting... I make just shy of $25,000 JUST for moving heads. I showcased a photo of my 2 & 4 moving head setup. The only reason I would say an assistant is absolutely needed for this enhancement, is moreso for capturing it on video. This is a hard option to showcase through photos, as evidenced below where the photo with the chauvet wash fx doesn't look that much different visually than my moving heads. To sell this, videos will be a must.

Uplighting is where you really start to make money and differentiating yourself, as uplighting is easier to showcase since you can do it with just photos. This breaks down into two parts... quantity and dmx control. Dj's that offer anything under 20 uplights are not gonna provide much WOW factor, unless the room is relatively small. And as such... your photos for uplighting are not gonna make the strongest impression, or get them added on as much as you had hoped. I bring 30-40 uplights at all my events, to ensure every inch of the room is immersed in lighting. That's what's going to give the wow factor, especially in larger rooms, where the dj's with 12 uplights act only as accents, not an immersion of light that creates a clean backdrop of color in all photos. I attached a photo of a venue with another dj's lighting versus mine. DMX control again is another differentiating factor. Being able to create a dinner vs dancing look... maybe a custom look for the first dance... and adjust accordingly to the atmosphere makes a big difference. Random patterns that are "beat" activated don't really match the actual atmosphere. This does require another assistant when you use road cases, and large quantities... it can take us 10-15 minutes just to pack these up at the end of the night, and to lift them into the van is a 2 man job. As far as revenue goes... I charge $650 for uplighting (say $500 on avg after discounts). in 2022, out of 60 events, 45 have added uplighting. At an avg of $500 per event for uplighting, I make $22,500 for uplighting. I just bought 40 new uplights (lighter and less space in a van), and the cost was just under $5000 from china (I opted for shipping by sea since I'm in no rush). At minimum, make sure you have the RGBW ones for weddings, as the WHITE led helps with pastels like a blush pink or ivory tone (I attached an ivory tone below to show you something elegant that appeals to alot of weddings)

On a side note... I LOVE the Astera Tube lights... yes they're expensive for what they are and do ($5000 for 8 tubes... if you can find them in stock), but they really help transform your appearance if you're looking for that next level concept. They get noticed a lot at my events and I've already recouped my costs for them with the upcoming events their booked on. Chauvet has a slightly more affordable option that just came out... but in my opinion the color tones and built in patterns do not match the quality of the asteras. I've added a picture of those as well.

PS.... get rid of the overhead truss for weddings.

PSS... I know a few (maybe more) say people don't ask for lighting. NO ONE actually asks me about lighting... they see my pictures and videos, and they themselves make the decision to add it on. I don't sell it on them. In fact if you were to listen in to any of my calls, I don't do ANY selling of any enhancements. I just let the photos and videos do the talking for me and during the consultations answer any specific questions about how something works. When someone says that "many don't add it on" or "no one asks for something", my first question is how are you showcasing it.

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Last edited:

DJ Forbes

DJ Extraordinaire
Jul 30, 2021
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@djtaso, Thank you again, as always for the detail.

Here is the boat I am in. I just broke away from a small DJ company and decided to go at it myself (due to life/different goals/etc). They had 20+ uplights at their disposal, several quality moving heads, and several different types of "fun lights" for bars/parties (swarms, helicopters, lasers, etc).

I'm starting out on my own, and my budget isn't huge. I have definitely been looking into the totems. Rockville seems to be the way to go, and I have some experience with them. They seem pretty solid. I have no problems moving my Wash FX's to those and ditching the truss. I like that look actually. I really think my next purchase will be uplights. Like you said, I think that can make a room and give that "wow" factor when folks walk in.
 
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Jeff Romard

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Look at what others are doing in your market and do better. Around here many don't use lights most use spin and pukes I use a gig bar
 
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djtaso

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@djtaso, Thank you again, as always for the detail.

Here is the boat I am in. I just broke away from a small DJ company and decided to go at it myself (due to life/different goals/etc). They had 20+ uplights at their disposal, several quality moving heads, and several different types of "fun lights" for bars/parties (swarms, helicopters, lasers, etc).

I'm starting out on my own, and my budget isn't huge. I have definitely been looking into the totems. Rockville seems to be the way to go, and I have some experience with them. They seem pretty solid. I have no problems moving my Wash FX's to those and ditching the truss. I like that look actually. I really think my next purchase will be uplights. Like you said, I think that can make a room and give that "wow" factor when folks walk in.
Where are you based out of?
 
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anzyxx

DJ Extraordinaire
Jul 22, 2007
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Like Taso said.
And my comment. If you still offering free lights you won't last. Alexa will take over.
 
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azdeejay

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Apr 1, 2015
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I see "spin and pukes" a lot.... an you elaborate? Is this just any moving light?
Like effect style lighting, Derby type were the lighting element inside the light moves in various motions, like the Chauvet Kinta for example. I have a pair of the Inno Pocket Scans and Rollers, which are simply a moving mirror on the outside that reflects the light.
 

DJ Forbes

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Jul 30, 2021
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Gotcha.... that's what I assumed it meant.

So my two Wash FX Hex's and some uplights wouldn't be too "underwhelming"?
 
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azdeejay

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Apr 1, 2015
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Well that's one of those it "depends" types of question, it comes down the mood and or atmosphere you are trying to create, if you are trying to create a club style atmosphere, then yes, it will be underwhelming, on the other side of that if are going to for a general party type atmosphere then probably not.

IMO of course , YMMV
 
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Albatross

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Gotcha.... that's what I assumed it meant.

So my two Wash FX Hex's and some uplights wouldn't be too "underwhelming"?

I definitely don't think it's too underwhelming.

The thing about lighting is... you can really only control for 4 elements:

- Intensity
- Color
- Pattern
- Movement

Every light on the planet is manipulating those elements in some form or another. But you don't need all of them to create energy, and for a wedding especially, they aren't all required.

You get plenty of light from those Wash FX fixtures, they're super bright. You have the ability to manipulate the color at the individual panel level, so you can create the color palette you want from them. Changing color or intensity faster or slower will let you change the energy to what you want.

Not having control over pattern (like a gobo) or movement (moving head) isn't going to stop you from being able to build good energy. It honestly comes down more to programming and getting the most out of the fixtures you have. You're better served mastering a simple fixture than having a complicated one that you can't use to it's potential.