Wedding Lighting with Daryl Bennett – E120

wedding lighting with DJ Daryl Bennett of ADM Productions

Matthew Campbell of My Wedding Songs and DJ Daryl Bennett of ADM Productions chat about wedding lighting.

Daryl is a DJ and Owner of the Utah-based DJ company, ADM Productions. He is a DJ content creator, educator and keynote speaker. He is passionate about how lighting impacts live events.



Show Notes:

  • Memorable Wedding Moment
  • About Daryl and ADM Productions
  • Influence of DJ Lighting
  • Changes with DJ Lighting
  • Mood Setting First Dance
  • DJ Party Lighting
  • Ambiance Lighting
  • No Wedding Lighting
  • Programming Lighting
  • Monograms
  • Glow Sticks
  • Great Party Music
  • First Dance Music
  • Matching Lighting to the Room
  • Check DJ Social Platforms
  • Lighting by Guest Count
  • Connect and Follow Daryl

Welcome everybody to the wedding songs podcast. I am Matt Campbell. And today we’re going to be talking about lighting at weddings.

I have the benefit of getting Daryl Bennett from Utah on the show from ADM Productions. Welcome to the show, Daryl. Thank you for having me. It’s such a pleasure to be here. I love it. I saw you talk at MEX this year and did a fantastic job explaining everything.

Memorable Wedding Moment

Can you just tell me a little bit before we get started, what a memorable wedding moment that you had! Yeah, for sure. And when I was thinking about this, I was like, man, I probably should just choose my own wedding because that was a wedding I was at and that’s supposed to be memorable. But last year, or was it the year before? My sister got married and I thought to myself it would be the dream to be able to hire my own company to DJ my family’s wedding so I can just be present and I can be there with the family.

And that’s exactly what happened. I hired my own company. I hired Braxton one of my top guys and the wedding was awesome. Everyone had a great time and I’m like, this is how you know you made it as a multi-opp when You’re able to delegate those responsibilities to someone else and have everything run smoothly I’m sure the bride appreciated that as well to know that everything’s gonna go off without a hitch. And we have two young kids my wife was really happy that I was able to be there and help with them because they are wild.

About Daryl and ADM Productions

That’s great can you just tell everybody a little bit about you and your company? My company’s name is ADM Productions. And I think you asked me where does ADM come from? Well, when I was in a band, the drummer was part of a multi-op in Idaho called A and B Productions.

Tyler, the guy who created that company chose that because it would be listed high in the phone book. And that was a while ago because phone books really aren’t that relevant today. But we just thought, ADM is kind of like A and B, but his name was Aaron. So Aaron, Daryl music productions. So that’s where it came from.

Influence of DJ Lighting

As far as weddings go, lighting’s changed throughout the years. What would you say has been an influence for you for lighting? a huge part of it is I just like looking at lights. I think the lights are. Really visually appealing they’re fun to look at I am a huge part is concerts because I grew up playing music.

I grew up going to concerts My first concert was Rush and it was called the Delta Center at the time. That’s the stadium we have here in Utah It’s changed names several times. It’s back to the Delta Center Just saw the lasers and the lighting and just saw how it kind of added a lot to the show Where it made it more of a spectacle than just Standing around listening to music. So that’s definitely been a huge impact on writing for me.

Well, I bet, back in the day I never got to see Pink Floyd, but yeah, I would imagine Rush would have been phenomenal to see.

Changes with DJ Lighting

So how do you think lighting has changed through the years then from where it was a few years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago to what’s being offered right now?

 I think that there weren’t as many choices back then. There are so many different lighting fixtures and it’s also affordable and accessible. And there are so many different ways to control them. Not even 10 years ago, I think a lot of people would get these big, lighting trees, these multifaceted T-bar stands.

And they would put on as many lights as they could. Have a rat’s nest of cables running down the back. And then just having them go in sound active mode in this kind of chaotic manner, but now modern lighting is just so easy to control and so convenient because so many things are wireless and battery operated.

DJs are able to execute really deliberate light shows without too much effort and it’s all pretty affordable too. Well, you bring back memories. I had one of the largest light shows in Montana in the nineties. And I can’t tell you how many millions of miles of extension cords we had back in the day.

That is awesome. Just to go wireless. I would have been ecstatic for that. Yeah, for sure. I think back then, I think a lot of, the styles like maximalism like more is more, but I think today people can see that, sometimes less is more, Too many fixtures can kind of make the ambiance of the whole event a little bit cluttered.

So just having minimalism and having enough lights that are effective, but not overwhelming. I love that tip.

Mood Setting First Dance

So speaking of that, then how are you setting the mood for the first dance? That is a great question. I think the most important thing to do is.

Of course, your couple, but the photographer, most of the time, doesn’t really care. they’re like, you do whatever you want and I’ll figure it out. But lots of times, if nobody really has a preference, I like to have my lights kind of be a chill, a static scene. So mix warm white, and cool white, depending on the natural lighting or venue lighting around.

And if I have spotlights, I like to shine them on the couple. Sometimes I’ll dim the spotlights or just turn them off. Cause a lot of photographers, mess with their shot and their ISO. They have the light shining on them. I’ve even had some ask to turn off the up lights, which I’m happy to comply with because Yeah, those first dance shots are really important.

I’d be very sad if the first dance went away like the bouquet toss because it’s such a highlight moment of the reception for sure. Agreed. So you have the cool chill of the first dance.

DJ Party Lighting

How are you changing the lighting then for party Well, I use a software called SoundSwitch. And one of the huge appeals of SoundSwitch is the plug-and-play workflow.

So I have it set to a static scene for the formality dances and pretty much the entire reception. Then when it’s time to dance, the lights automatically sync to the BPM and a lot of different lighting software are able to do that nowadays. But. Yeah, I pretty much cycle through chases at random, like dancing to the music.

And I think the one thing that has changed over the years, I think you would agree that a lot of couples don’t want the light shining in their eyes. It’s really transformed into the ambience of, what I would call, for the general public, stick light, and then you can change those lights that could flash to the beat of the music.

Ambiance Lighting

And then you have your uplighting setting the mood so it’s a lot of what I would call mood lighting versus the dance lighting where you’re in the club shining down on you, shooting you in the face. Right. I think that saturating the dance floor with a thick glow is kind of out. it’s just that when you have kind of ambient lighting, it’s able to add the vibes.

But it’s also able to still look good in photos. Like these stick lights, you are talking about the tube lights, the one I have right here, it’s not too harsh. It doesn’t blind anybody, but it’s able to off-put enough flights that get people in the party spirit. Yeah, for sure. Oh man, if we had those back in the day, just for cocktail hour dinner, man, that would have just set the mood.

It would have been, I’m sure it raised the party feel for sure. Right. It makes it so that you can have a party feel, but have it feel elegant too. Yeah, exactly.

No Wedding Lighting

Do you have any recommendations then for couples who don’t want lighting at their wedding? I think that’s okay too. I think you need to assess whether you want the lighting and what kind of mood you’re wanting.

And I think it’s perfectly valid to want just kind of a romantic string-light vibe. Especially the dinner or cocktail hour. I’d reconsider not having any lighting during the dancing portion because that is something I hear a lot. And if a couple is really insistent on that, then we’re happy to work with that.

But as a DJ, we have different tools to help people get on the dance floor. Lighting is just one of those tools that just gets people in the party spirit, gets them loosening up, and makes them feel all right. And I think, going off what you’re saying depends on the room. If you’re in the white house building with this huge chandelier, yeah.

Leading up to the party time. I want to. Enjoy the room, not your lighting. But when it’s time for the party, I 100 percent think at the White House, you should bring out the club-style lights. Cause if you want a club-style dance, some club-style lights will help. for sure. You are a pro at lighting.

We’re going to say that because now you’ve talked at a DJ conference about lighting. So we’re going to say you’re a lighting pro.

Programming Lighting

How important do you think it is to program the lighting instead of just having them dance to the beat of the music? I think it’s just about being intentional and about knowing what you want to do at the right moment.

Earlier in our conversation just now, we talked about setting the ambiance for cocktail hour for the first dance. And while you can set those moods with lighting without controlling it through DMX, It’s just the easiest way to do it because I happen to have a controller right here so I can just push one button to do what I want at any given moment.

Like I want it to be a static scene for the first dance. I push one button when I’m ready to start dancing, then I can just push another button and it’s just a lot easier to operate at the event. I think sound active mode is okay. I’m probably one of the only. Lighting YouTubers that will say that I think sound active mode is okay during the dancing portion, but it will loop through all of those cases, but then it will start to feel stale and repetitive.

So if you have your own DMX lighting show, then you have more flexibility to do custom stuff. And for the non-DJ listener, what do you mean when you say DMX? So DMX is just the language that lights all talk to each other.


As a side note, then let’s talk a little bit about specific lighting. I want to talk about the gobos. Are you seeing couples want to have their name up in lights on the dance floor, or the wall? And is that something that you offer? Yeah, I think that gobos, or sometimes called monograms, even animated monograms, have become very popular.

I personally like them. I think it’s a nice way to add branding and a nice elegant personalized touch to a room. It’s almost like a signature on a room. I haven’t been seeing it that much. we’ve been doing it for about three years now, and I’d say about one out of five weddings do it. Our company happens to use projectors.

That’s kind of the new way of doing it because you have more flexibility and more customization. You can change the size because every room is different. And you can’t place your projector in the same spot all the time. Yeah, I love them. And I think the couples that do book that option, they love it too.

I think you made a great point too. It’s not just stationary with the projectors you can have them move, have them spin, whatever, the couple wants, or whatever that situation hits. So I think that’s more enhancing than it just used to be with just your name on the lights or You can do some cool stuff at the MEX conference that you were just mentioning. I saw one where I’m going to have a custom Mario monogram for their wedding. So I have Mario holding the couple’s name and he was going through some pipes and doing some fun stuff and I thought it was perfect for the couple that loves Mario.

That’s awesome. I’ve seen some with fireworks in the background with the couple’s name it has an animated intro and outro and you can do some really cool stuff and that is definitely a showstopper and something guests will be talking about for years to come. I love it.

Glow Sticks

Speaking of lighting, let’s talk about glow sticks. Are glow sticks still really popular that you’re seeing with couples? And would you consider them being utilized as a good thing at weddings? I’m seeing a lot of DJs bringing the glow sticks. And I think that a lot of couples are starting to see it on social media.

They had glow sticks or party favors. Some people call them. are awesome because if you ever see some of those viral Wedding videos where there’s a dance floor people have them people can have fun with them. They can sword fight with them and Yeah, I think that they are definitely a hit for all ages old people love them little kids love them and That’s good to have people hold it and jump up and down to the music I highly recommend them.

So if your DJ does not offer them or does not give them, I highly recommend getting some, and they’re really easy to find. You can find them on eBay and Amazon. That’s cool. So do you have packages with them then? Or do you just include them in your packages? we just include them in our packages and we have it all in the cart as well.

Great Party Music

Because we’re on the Wedding Songs Podcast. I have to talk about music. What hits are you finding couples in your area that people are going crazy over? I’m finding couples are going crazy over a lot of the classics. A lot of the songs that have been played at weddings, Year after year, and something that was talked about at MEX, which I think I’ll bring up here Is that a lot of times as wedding DJs?

we’re trying to break the norm break the mold from some of these traditional wedding songs like Yeah by Usher and especially line dances, but I think line dances are still very popular at a lot of weddings So I try to consult with the couples and see what they want because some people don’t want them but line dances People know what they are people know how to do them and people like them.

Like Cha Cha Slide I don’t see it going away anytime soon. Are people dancing to the new song Texas Hold Em That’s the tricky thing with new songs. Sometimes they hit and they’re really good And then sometimes they’re not just very danceable. And so people might recognize it, but, I think it just depends on the crowd.

Some are like, I know this song. And then some are just kind of like, what are you playing? So the beginning of the night, just to test them out. Yeah, exactly. Very cool.

First Dance Music

So what are you finding that couples are selecting for their first dance songs? Are they picking songs that have been played like Ed Sheeran?

Are they going off the rails to something that you’ve never really heard before? I’d say about 50-50, I’d say about 50 percent they’re playing songs that are very common and very well known, which I think there’s nothing wrong with that. My first dance song with my wife was the Twilight song and it was very beautiful and very romantic. a lot of the time though, they’re choosing songs from artists that I’ve never heard of, which I still think is really great because it’s something special to them and that’s a great time to incorporate some of those slower songs that aren’t really very danceable. very good. When you are selecting lighting, is there a particular light, I think that the mom and dads have to get away from the siren lights and the police lights and it’s just not that way anymore.

Matching Lighting to the Room

Are you matching the lighting to the room? So I know an all-white room, you would have a lot of. leeway to do whatever you want, but I’m just picturing of rooms that have purple walls or blue walls. Are you having to change your lighting based on what the wall colors are?

That is a great question and a really common option for DJs these days is uplighting and these up lights that kind of shine against the wall and they put them all around the perimeter of the room and it just gives a nice ambiance. So for me, I try to have them be a specific color, just a really neutral color during the formalities and during the cocktail hour.

So white or Amber or somewhere in between like a warm white. And I feel like that works well on any type of wall because a lot of venues too, also have natural lighting come in and I don’t want to clash with that. A lot of DJs like to have a Barney purple. or like a really bright blue and those colors are more noticeable when there are still lights coming in from the windows sometimes they clash with the vibe of the overall event so if the couple’s having their color be green I tend to not try to have my lights be green because I feel like a green tablecloth might add to the vibes of the event but All your walls being green might be too much.

Cause I think lighting should accentuate the event and not draw too much attention at that moment. But when it’s time to dance, I just try to use as many colors to make it as vibrant as possible and energetic. And so using all the colors definitely helps add to the ambiance. That’s a great tip

I’m thinking, the most popular was teal and purple. And if you have . purple linens, then do you really want teal to clash with it? And then if you have that color, are the linens going to remain looking purple because of the color that you’re adding to the room? That’s interesting.

That’s a great tip of, of just going with the off white or the ambers, just to keep the colors of the wedding theme in the room.

Check DJ Social Platforms

So is there anything else that, we didn’t talk about lighting that you think should be covered today?

Yeah. I think that DJ lighting can add a lot of value, especially for a dance party. I think that it’s sometimes misunderstood and sometimes the DJs themselves aren’t quite sure why they’re using certain lights that they’re using. So I think it’s important to. Talk with your DJ, see some of their options and look at their social media, look at their reels, see what types of lighting they’re using and see if you like it because you may not like it or you might feel like it’s not enough.

And I think that definitely should be a deciding factor. That’s a great tip because I tell everybody that you should be looking at their social media, not only their lighting, but their MC skills. how they command the room, you can get all of that, or you should be able to get all of that from your social media, besides having a connection with your DJ.

But yeah, I think it’s a great idea that, a lot of couples allow DJs to record their weddings. And so you’re able to at least do those snippets where you can share on social media. To get an idea of what lighting you have and that you offer, make sure it fits that vibe and fits the room.

Lighting by Guest Count

My final question then would be, as far as lighting goes, what about the number of people that are in the room? Do you think you would do the same for a room of 50 people versus a room of 300 people? No, that is a great question. So a lot of the time when you’re trying to decide with lights, sometimes it has to do with packages or the couple’s budget, but.

You definitely want to have more lighting for more people so that it’s more effective just like you want to bring a bigger sound system for more people. So I definitely think having more lighting and different styles of lighting is good. So like this light that you see here, which a lot of DJs will call pixel tubes.

That’s something considered like eye candy. Having some more eye candy across the room is really good. The number of uplights really depends on the size of a room, not so much like the number of guests. but yeah, shining lights over the crowd with some lights called moving heads or gobos is also a really great way of doing it.

And if you have a very big crowd, then having more gobos is really nice. Awesome. Some great tips on lighting. Thanks, Daryl. I really appreciate that.

Connect and Follow Daryl

So if people want to follow you or contact you, how can they do so? You can follow my company at ADM Productions DJ Or you can follow me at DJ Daryl Bennett.

 Just to close out I know you’re in the Salt Lake City area But how far do you travel out we travel worldwide you have an event anywhere in the world We’re happy to come but generally, we do Utah and surrounding states thanks again, Daryl, for being on the show. Thanks for listening, everybody.

Stay tuned for next week with another interview with another wedding pro. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

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