Have you ever been to a wedding that was so beautifully lit, that you stood in awe and wondered how it all came to be? That was the work of a lighting design team, and today, we’re introducing you to hands down one of the very best! Greenlight Creative specializes in creative lighting design for weddings and special events. We chatted with the owner (and lighting genius), Dwayne Thomas, about his company and why you should think about hiring a lighting designer for your wedding day. Read on to learn more about Greenlight Creative!
I’m from Southern California originally, and spent about half my childhood in Eugene, Oregon. I’ve been a Portlander for (gasp!) 42 years now.
What is your favorite thing about Portland?
It’s Green. It’s beautiful. Seriously, in the summer, there’s no more magnificent city.
What is your favorite spot or thing to do in Portland?
At the risk of revealing way too much, let’s just say that I love this one karaoke club. I also love to barbeque, take walks, go to concerts and theater, shop for mid-century modern house-stuff, and try new restaurants.
How long have you been working as a professional wedding lighting designer?
I’ve been lighting live events for 40 years, starting in the theater and concert industry, moving to corporate meetings and parties in the late 80’s. Soon thereafter someone said, “Can you do some lighting for our wedding?” That was in the early 90’s, and we lit at least 4 or 5 weddings a year for the next 15 years or so. In the late 2000’s, it suddenly became a much more high-demand type of event for us, and when we started Greenlight Creative in 2009, we were very much in full swing with weddings. We light 80 to 100 of them per year now.
How would you describe the importance of your role & why do you feel a couple should hire a professional lighting designer for their wedding day?
Nothing paints with a bigger brush than lighting. It really delivers the most bang-for-the-buck in terms of setting the tone of the event. We can decorate a pretty big blank space with just a few well-placed light fixtures. Then there’s the practical considerations: For starters, you need to see! Once we all agree on that necessity, I would stress that your guests deserve to be in a comfortable environment that isn’t harshly lit. Next, think about all of the importance placed on things like cakes and flowers, your beautiful ceremony arch, your dancefloor – don’t they deserve to be seen? Should they really just blend into the architecture? And speaking of architecture: you usually choose your venue because it’s a beautiful space. Why not accent and highlight it?
What is the best part of your job?
I love meeting new people and hearing their dreams for their event, and then making it happen.
What do you find most challenging about your specific line of work or weddings in general?
Short timelines can be a pest, especially on the setup side of things.
Do you work solo or do you have a studio and/or team?
We have 5 full time staff and another 5 to 10 part time, depending on the season. We have a suite of offices and a warehouse for our equipment on Swan Island in Portland.
What do you attribute to your success as a wedding lighting designer? What do you think makes you stand apart from others in your field?
We never think of events only in terms of “What can we do with these lights?” We don’t sell you a package because every event is different. Instead, we look at the entire event organically, bottom to top. What goes where, and why? What are the themes? What should it feel like? We respect the architecture and the surroundings by not clashing with them, but instead highlighting them and helping our clients create a sumptuous space for their event, indoor or out. We understand composition and color and the way both can help you tell your story and provide an indelible memory for yourselves and your guests. We know how to get that “Ahh” when the guest walks through the door.
At what point in the wedding planning process should clients hire you?
After they have a solid event date, have chosen their venue, have a sense of guest count, and know how they’d like their event to feel. Practically thinking: The busiest months for us are May-September, as well as December. If your event is during these months, consider contracting us at least 6-12 months out so that you are sure we’ll still be available for your date.
Where do you draw inspiration? Are there any current trends you are excited about?
I’m a theatre guy, so that figures in somewhere. I’m also an architecture fanatic – modern, classical, urban, rustic. Most of all, I want to hear what YOUR ideas are and how you want your space to look and feel!
What is the most important thing that couples should ask someone in your profession before hiring them?
For relevant photos of past work, for references, and for creative ideas.
What is your best advice for wedding clients?
Don’t forget to have fun with this! If you put yourself in the hands of proven professionals, you can relax and enjoy.
Anything else you’d like couples to know about you?
Don’t be afraid to ask for your dream lighting. We are constantly surprised at the new lighting tricks we invent because we were presented by one of our client’s “crazy” dreams. Similarly, don’t be afraid to say, “I know I want lighting, but I have no idea what kind. What do you suggest?”
All images in this post courtesy of Greenlight Creative.
This Vendor Shout-Out was curated by Dana Barbar, a trusted writer and local wedding professional.