Solus Lighting: Enhancing weddings, one light at a time
Solus Lighting LTD, a Cleveland-based special events lighting company, tells the stories of local couples through awe-inspiring illumination.
“To create the perfect wedding lighting design, it’s all about open communication with the couple,” says Maureen Patterson, Solus Lighting owner and lead designer. “It’s important to learn about their personalities and what type of wedding they have in mind. Once I have a general direction, I can start brainstorming ideas to bring that vision to life.”
An artist with lights
With a passion for lighting design at a young age, Patterson created her own major at Baldwin Wallace College and earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Theater Design with Emphasis on Technology and Design. After college, she packed up her car and moved to Las Vegas to work as a lighting technician at the MGM Grand Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. Whether it was the opening of a new restaurant or trendy nightclub, Patterson gained extensive experience in event lighting.
“On the Las Vegas Strip, each show and nightclub has more lighting gear than many rental houses have in their entire inventory. It was an incredible place to hone my craft,” Patterson says. “I realized I could take my theatre lighting skills and apply them to special events.”
Returning to her theatre lighting roots, Patterson came back to Cleveland to work as resident lighting designer of the Cleveland Play House and Case Western Reserve University’s Master of Fine Arts program. After five years, she took an administrative position with a local vendor where she gained more experience in special events.
With extensive lighting design experience under her belt, Patterson launched Solus Lighting in 2011. The exclusive lighting provider of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Solus Lighting creates award-winning designs for a variety of special events, notably weddings, at venues across Northeast Ohio.
Custom gobos to café lights
To create a specific mood at a wedding reception, Patterson uses a variety of lighting techniques, such as ceiling washes, uplighting and custom gobos. “There are so many different elements to wedding lighting and they can be combined in a variety of ways,” she says.
The most popular type of wedding lighting, uplighting adds color and character to any space. One option is to uplight all the walls in a venue, such as a ballroom. For other venues, uplighting only the architectural details is best to make them stand out.
Pattern washes project any color or pattern onto the ceiling, walls or dance floor. Patterson used a ceiling wash to project tree branches in a soft amber color at a rustic-themed wedding. For another wedding, a unique pattern used on the couple’s save-the-dates and invitations was projected onto the dance floor. “Since pattern washes can be any shape or color, we can do something decorative like a ribbon or lace,” Patterson notes. “It’s a dramatic effect to completely transform a space.”
Custom gobos, which project an image or words onto virtually any surface, are a great option to add a personal touch. Examples include the bride and groom’s names, monograms or the wedding date. Solus Lighting’s experts can help design the artwork for your custom gobo, if desired.
With the popularity of barn and rustic-themed weddings, café lights are perfect for creating an outdoorsy atmosphere inside. Often referred to as string lights, a canopy of café lights creates a soft glow and intimate setting to tent receptions. To add dimension to a tent or ballroom, paper lanterns are another stylish option and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Solus Lighting’s team of experts works with the couple to create a lighting design that aligns with the wedding theme, budget and their unique personality. One example is a bride who envisioned a snow globe feeling at her wedding reception.
“We had a million ideas on how to create a snow globe effect, and ultimately decided on an ice palace theme,” Patterson says. “We projected ice blue, bare branch patterns on the walls and an image of an ice castle behind the head table. It was a magical atmosphere, and the bride was absolutely thrilled with the end result.”
For some venues, certain lighting elements are not recommended. For example, café lights work best in tent receptions but may require extensive hardware (and labor expenses) to hang from the ceiling of other venues. Other times, a bride may have her heart set on a specific color that may impact wedding photography.
“Many brides love the color green, but green lighting is not flattering on skin tones and can interfere with wedding photos,” Patterson says. “When I work with a bride, I’m honest about what will work, what won’t and what we can do to compromise.”
Patterson says she is passionate about creating weddings with a personalized touch. From ceiling washes that reflect the wedding theme to custom gobos that match the invitation font, Solus Lighting is up to any challenge.
“Every wedding offers an interesting and challenging experience for my team,” Patterson says. “I have the opportunity to meet the most interesting folks from all walks of life and be a part of their celebration. How many people get to say, ‘I make parties better for a living?’ I can’t think of a better gig.”
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