You’re looking to achieve sufficient lighting that, at the same time, is soft enough for a formal evening event. The secret is to eliminate harsh task lighting and put in lots of charming smaller lights and/or indirect lighting instead. Here are a few tips and products to help you get there.
Deal with fluorescent lighting. Many party venues – even some that are not school gymnasiums – contain large fluorescent light fixtures that are great for task lighting but for prom ambience, not so much. Do you need the flourescents for sufficient light? If so, think about covering them to diffuse the light. For really tall ceilings (e.g. gymnasium) the answer might be to build a false, lower ceiling with swaths of gossamer, which would also help bring a more intimate feel to the space. For lower ceilings, think about adding a balloon ceiling, which is just what it sounds like: you blow up enough balloons with helium to cover the fixtures.
Incorporate lighting into the theme. String twinkle lights as stars behind fabric drapes, and around large decorations such as arches, columns and artificial trees. Add streetlamps to streetscapes. A small spotlight might be used to highlight a large decoration. Put lighting on tables in the form of candle lamps and votives. There are also many newer LED lighting options available such as ball lights, cube lights and candles in several shapes and sizes. Party planners are particularly getting excited about the LED light curtain. Be sure to check Event Lights to find out more about these event lighting products.
Reflect lighting. Use mirrors and metallic decorating items to reflect ambient light as much as possible. Mirrors make good reflectors under candlelit centerpieces and chandeliers do the job from above. Incorporate metallic streamers, floral sheeting, cut-outs and decorating curtains wherever the theme calls for glitter or glitz.