Purple Lighting for Banquets - Regional?
February 22, 2021 11:56 AM   Subscribe

After going to three different banquet venues for weddings in NYC area (Long Island, NJ) and stopping by some hotels that are very wedding-focused, I've seen something that is common to all them: purple mood lighting. Is this a NY/NJ thing? A Northeastern US Thing? or something else? I've been to 40 weddings in the South and Midwest and have never seen this color (though mind you, most of these have not been at banquet venues) If it is, why??
posted by sandmanwv to Society & Culture (10 answers total)
It's not something I've given a lot of thought to, but I have seen lights of this color at weddings and events in the south and pacific northwest.
posted by primethyme at 12:11 PM on February 22

Hi so pre-pandemic I did a lot of events in hotels and wedding venues. Over the last 10 years they've nearly all added LED lighting, and it's programmable. You can choose whatever colour or colours you want from the 256 RGB options. It also adds a lot of ambiance and you can save a fortune on décor if that's a goal.

Having said that, purple (or pink) and off white are the most popular because they are the most flattering if you are going for colour. Red looks like a blood bath, green makes food look like vomit, and blue makes everyone Caucasian look like they're on a morgue table.

This is my experience in venues in Cork, Ireland which is not exactly at the thrusting forefront of venue innovation, so this can't be that regional.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:25 PM on February 22 [41 favorites]

Are you sure these are traditional lights and not color-changing LEDs? Because those are extremely popular now and the best way to advertise "we've got hundreds of colors!" is to set it to a color, but the problem is 90% of the lighting spectrum available are weird colors that either seem like the reactor is melting down or being inside an aquarium. Purple and pinky purples are the least weird options AND popular wedding/awards colors, and so most appealing.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:26 PM on February 22 [8 favorites]

This is interesting. When I open the photo, I immediately think to myself "yeah, that looks like a normal wedding". But... I can't actually place it with any weddings I've been to. I've never been to a wedding east of my own in Buffalo (which is still the midwest), but yeah, I don't think any of them had purple lighting. I don't think any of the places we looked in Buffalo promoted any sort of lighting either. The caveat is that many of the weddings I've been to aren't banquet-y reception hall type places (but rather places like country clubs), and so they're probably less likely to do lighting stuff like this.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:32 PM on February 22

In addition to what's already been said, I'll conjecture that it could partially be because the early generations of low cost LED professional lighting couldn't do a lot of colors very well but could do a pretty pleasing purple. So people might have started using it just because it was the best effect they could get at the time, and once it became what people came to expect.

I've got a friend that (up until recently) made about 50% of his living doing visual designs for wedding receptions - I poked him to see if he has more insight.

green makes food look like vomit

Also people like zombies or at least seriously ill. Literally one of the first things I was taught while learning concert lighting was not to use green with limited exceptions (St. Patrick's day, reggae bands that wanted the Ethiopian flag color scheme, etc.).

To add to the list of not-great colors, too much yellow/orange can leave people looking jaundiced and also is non-complimentary to the fairy light trend.
posted by Candleman at 12:57 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]

Nthing all of the above, speaking as someone who has very occasionally provided lighting for weddings - it's all about everyone getting color-changing LED fixtures (because they've gotten super cheap over the last few years, and even the cheap portable ones can come with rechargeable batteries and wireless color control) and purple is a good color to demonstrate "WE CAN DO DIFFERENT COLORS!!" without being overwhelming or having odd effects.

Blue's not bad for this either but too much blue makes the venue look like an ice palace. I've done a ton of corporate/business event uplighting that's a combination of purple and blue. A yellow/orange aka "amber" is actually often a nice color but looks like regular old incandescent lighting, and if the LED fixtures don't have amber or white LED's in them then the white you get from mixing red, green, and blue LED is like the nastiest fluorescent bulb ever (see Candleman's point about early LED fixtures - also they don't do "pink" very well.)

ETA: Northern Ohio, FWIW.
posted by soundguy99 at 1:47 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]

Red looks like a blood bath

OMG, I saw an ad for those night lights you put inside the toilet bowl, where they had set it to red. If my parents had done that I would have been potty trained at about age eighteen from fear of the Toilet Devil.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:02 PM on February 22 [8 favorites]

I got married in 2013 in New England and it was a pretty common option (“uplighting”). Some venues had it, some DJs offered it as part of a package. We weren’t considering it to start with, but added it as a last minute rental and I’m glad we did - it added something to the decorations and made the reception pictures much more flattering.
posted by songs about trains at 3:39 PM on February 22

Our venue in New England did blue uplighting without asking, because our bridesmaids were in blue. It was horrible, but luckily they had us come and see the dance room after the ceremony before the guests came in. Turned off the unasked for blue and just had lovely soft white fairy lights, it was great.

I hear that venue is less automatic with their "decorative lighting" now. Nothing like a bride shrieking "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!!!" to really relax the staff.
posted by The Librarian at 4:58 PM on February 22 [4 favorites]

Purple tends to be a more "upscale" or "royal" color, so it lends itself well to formal-ish events such as wedding receptions. Additionally, it tends to be a relaxing color. It also doesn't carry nearly as many negative associations as many other colors do.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:49 AM on February 23

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