Undoubtedly, bringing a client’s vision to life for an event is one of the most rewarding things about working in our industry. Seeing the final product come together is an amazing feeling, but getting there--working out the logistics of a lighting or decor installation with a lot of moving parts--can involve some trial and error.
Set-up essential: Effective communications
Setting up for an event on-site requires a lot of communication, specifically with your other creative partners who are also working on the event (including the venue itself). You need to figure out everyone’s electrical needs, as lighting takes up a considerable amount of electricity. Consider spacing as well, especially if your lighting is going to be on stands. It’s also important to ensure that the client has created a cohesive look and design that will translate well!
Keeping an open line of communication helps everyone to coordinate their various set-up requirements for the event. This way, you aren’t stepping on anyone’s toes, and there’s no tension on the day-of. Plus, you’ll want to iron out any logistical issues ahead of time, keeping in mind that your creative partners may need an outlet or access to equipment adjacent to your installation.
Set-up essential: Knowing the regulations
Each venue and event is different in terms of regulations and logistic constraints, so you want to make sure that you follow the ground rules to the letter.
Load-in procedures specifically are huge. You need to be aware of the room you’re going in and the size of the doors. For example, some of our chandeliers’ boxes are too big to enter in some venues, so we can’t install them. This is where site visits come into play, and oftentimes, we’ll need to come up with a Plan B.
You also need to coordinate your arrival times with other vendors to ensure it’s not a madhouse! Setting up prior to the event day can resolve this issue, but you need to check with the venue that there are no other events, and that your installation will be untouched leading up to the event. For our business, we don’t have any say in the event timeline (typically the planner dictates that), but we do have to work to install in the time frame given to us.
Set-up essential: Knowing what not to do
It’s hard to say what issues can arise from the time that a client books you to the actual day of the event, but there are some things to avoid in order to pull off a successful event.
For example, you always have to put safety first. Don’t put lighting stands in high-traffic areas, always tape down the cords to be as non-obtrusive and out of the way as possible, and don’t overextend the limitations of weight when hanging chandeliers.
Understand that while you’re expected to work by the timeline given to you, you must be aware that there are consequences to falling behind. Say that you go into set up for an event and the dance floors have already been installed. If you have an installation that requires a scissor lift, you can no longer complete the job, as you’d be putting the floor at risk by driving over it. Rental pieces can provide obstacles, and there’s potential property damage to think about!
Knowing the ins and outs of setting up for your client’s event will make for a smooth execution and even better experience to add to your portfolio!
Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, Calif. He is the past president for Silicon Valley NAC, and the current national president for WIPA.