Lighting Designer Karen Shoop Knows How to Set the Mood at Any Wedding
The Frost Productions pro transforms ceremony and reception spaces with the flick of a switch (or two).
Howard Jones just may be responsible for igniting Karen Shoop’s passion for lighting design. She saw the British musician in concert as a tween and “was absolutely amazed by the performance aspect of [the show],” she says. Although Shoop quickly realized that she’d never be a pop star (thanks to her self-professed inability to play an instrument or sing), she still wanted to be involved in the audio/visual side of special events. “I was really attracted to creating something beautiful,” she says.
Today, as the Boston director of sales for Frost Productions, an event-production company with locations in the Bay State and New York, Shoop brings celebrations to life with spotlights, chandeliers, custom pieces, and more. The only thing more gratifying than the stunning spaces she and her team create? Their clients’ reactions. “[When] you see the family walk into a room and their jaws drop or a mother cries because it’s exactly what she wanted,” Shoop says, “that’s the best feeling.”
Why is lighting important?
It helps create atmosphere and ambiance. Ambers and soft pinks, for example, are calming and relaxing. [Lights] highlight special moments such as the first dance or the speeches, too. We make sure that those people are illuminated to create focal points. Plus, we work with [other vendors] to help enhance everything else in the room, including the flowers and the linens.
What types of lights does Frost offer?
Oh, we have so much! There are cool LEDs, which give a bluer effect, and then there are warm LEDs, which have a more incandescent glow. We also have intelligent lighting, which are fixtures that can be remotely controlled to change their direction, pattern, and color. This allows us to convey [different] moods throughout the evening. As the formal parts of the evening are over, we kick those lights up a notch to create a party atmosphere and get guests on the dance floor, [which we can accent] with chandeliers, pendant lights, and custom things.
What’s an example of a custom piece that your team has created?
One bride and groom had their wedding in a barn. They wanted bistro lights, but they also wanted a chandelier over the dance floor. So, we created a bistro-light chandelier: Instead of hanging the strands of lights horizontally, we hung [short strands] vertically from a platform to create a chandelier that was 4 feet wide by 6 feet long. It created a beautiful, romantic feel, but the lights could pulse and flash on and off for dancing.
What’s one common lighting mistake?
Functional lighting for bars and food stations is really important, [but it’s] usually one of the first things that clients cut if they need to reduce their budget. Your bartender needs to be able to see. And if there’s any kind of food station or buffet, the chef’s gone through so much effort to create this beautiful display. If it’s in the dark, nobody can appreciate it.
Does an outdoor venue affect your lighting choices?
Absolutely. [During the ceremony], you definitely need shadow chasers, which give just enough light to get rid of any shadows [and make sure] photographs are not too stark. If it’s overcast, you might want to pump the lighting up. And then there’s civil twilight, which is when the sun is setting and it’s starting to get dark—that’s when you need light the most. We always leave technicians on site because as the sun sets, the light levels of the environment need to be monitored so that it’s not too bright or too dim.
Overall, what does the day of the wedding look like for you?
We are the first ones there and the last ones to leave. We’ll be in the ballroom or tent with ladders and lifts, so we want to make sure that we’re not in the way of staff setting tables or the florist putting the centerpieces down. We have a crew of people, including truck drivers and stagehands, that bring everything to the site for setup. Then, everybody leaves except for the technician, and they all come back at midnight to take everything down, put it back in the truck, and off we go.
175 Tosca Dr., Stoughton, 617-544-7555, frostproductions.biz.
The spotlight is on you, but don’t let your venue go unappreciated. Illuminate your space with four types of lighting, broken down by Karen Shoop.
Hang short strands vertically from a tree or other overhead elements for a festive look. Don’t forget to place each strand on a dimmer so you can control the level of brightness.
You can accentuate a venue’s architecture with uplighting. If you’re using these lights to illuminate the perimeter of a room, avoid placing them under fire alarms, signs, or electrical outlets. Otherwise, you’ll be highlighting these elements instead of the architectural details.
Bring attention to escort-card tables, cake tables, or statement pieces with pin spots. When using them to light floral centerpieces, it’s important to place the pin spots on all sides of the flowers so they’re evenly lit. That way, they’ll look great in photos.
Candles help create a romantic vibe. Make sure not to use scented ones, though: Guests may dislike the smell. You can also place flameless LED candles down an aisle, within flower gardens, or along walkways. They’re safer than real candles and can be used for years. Don’t skimp; more is better!
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