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Creating the right ambiance for any event

You have to engage your guests’ senses to create the perfect ambiance. Ambiance is hard to put your finger on, but it’s a feeling. And at the end of the day, the lasting impression your guests will have of your event is how it made them feel. Lighting, sounds and temperature all heighten the ambiance. Here are four tips to remember when creating the right ambiance for your event:

Music to our ears

Heavy metal doesn’t quite fit a sophisticated cocktail party. Just as smooth jazz doesn’t quite work for a children’s party (unless you have a particularly discerning toddler).

Selecting the right music is essential for setting the tone for any event. It can take your event from hero to zero in seconds, so give it more thought than just leaving it up to a DJ you found on the internet.

Beyond the right genre of music, it’s just as important to have the music at the appropriate volume for the event. If there are going to be a lot of conversations, make sure people can easily hear each other. When working with live performers, where you position them is key for getting the right volume.

If you’re wanting people to let loose on the dancefloor, you’ll need to make sure your music creates an immersive experience – there’s nothing more awkward than trying to dance when you can hardly make out which song is playing.

Expert tip: For ambient music, choose something light and instrumental with a mid-tempo beat. To really up the ante when it comes to ambiance, hire a live band or string quartet – just make sure you hear them play before the event to ensure you like their sound.

Get the light right

Lighting is critical when it comes to creating the first impression for an event. No one feels relaxed when walking into a room with stark florescent lighting. On the other hand, when you dim the lights and add some candles or fairy lights, the mood can immediately be set.

For evening events, you want to choose warm lights. Coloured bulbs can also help to add to the specific theme you’re going for – be it whimsical or exotic. Different lights can be used to complement draping or greenery. A simple marquee can also be brought to life with carefully placed lighting angled upwards, creating a halo effect.

Expert tip: Use lighting to add a statement with hanging chandeliers – traditional or modern – to draw the eyes upwards. If you’re having a daytime event outdoors, it’s important to consider the right shading and umbrellas to provide a reprieve from the sun for your guests (and your refreshments) – there is such a thing as too much light.

Blowing hot or cold

Being shivering cold or sweating are both not good looks (or feelings) for guests. Make sure you include all-weather planning at the top of your priorities. When you’ve set the date for your event, you’ll have a good idea of the usual weather to expect for that time of year and location. If it’s likely to be wet or cold, make sure you plan for heaters, blankets and umbrellas.

The strategic placement of mushroom heaters inside a marquee and outside in areas where guests may congregate, is very important. At the same time, make sure you haven’t placed any tables directly under heaters where they might get too hot.

If you’re planning an event for the height of summer, fans are an absolute must – but you may even want to consider air-conditioning to be sure your guests will be comfortable and not melting into their seats.

Expert tip: If you’re planning for guests to be spending a lot of time on the dancefloor, make sure there are fans on standby – no matter the season.

Style it right

Event styling can enhance or undermine the event ambiance. The way the room, marquee or outdoor area looks creates the first impression – and a major part of that comes down to your choice of décor and presentation.

Stick to a clear theme and colour palette when selecting tables, chairs and table settings. Go for complimentary colours and textures to create a cohesive look. Unless you know what you’re doing, steer clear of too many contrasting colours.

Expert tip: Start with a neutral base and keep it simple and add a pop or two of colour. Check out our mock table set ups for some inspiration here


Need help getting the ambiance right for your next event? MPR Hiring has been in the eventing business for over 46 years. Our team of experts can help conceptualise and bring your dream event to life. Get in touch to start the conversation