The Guest Experience: 5 ways to wow your wedding guests

Wedding planning is ultimately one of the most stressful jobs, because there are so many intricate details involved that can make or break this special day for the couple. That’s when it’s helpful to have the right planner/designer in your corner that understands all of the nuances and intricacies of the entire planning and design process; without losing you (the couple) in the process.  Honestly, we are nothing more than master story tellers, carefully and meticulously visually articulating our clients love stories.  Copiously implementing their (the couples) style, charm, sophistication and discerning tastes in every detail. 

Let’s be honest, most couples are more concerned about the guest experience – from food, entertainment, and decor, over that of their own desires/wants/needs.   However, if planned and executed properly, not only does one have a happy couple (that has been 100% represented throughout the festivities) at the end of the night, but guests leave the celebration feeling as if they have just experienced the best party of their lives! The experience created, will ultimately stay with your guests forever.  Constantly using your wedding as the standard for which they measure other weddings/receptions by for years to come.   

With that in mind, here are some 5 tips for creating the best guest experience: 

First Impression:

Think of the first thing your guests will experience. You can NEVER go wrong with a breathtaking entrance.  It’s really your opportunity to make that initial first impression on your guests.  It sets the tone, and when executed properly, it begins to stir up feelings of excitement and anticipation for what is to come. From childhood, through adulthood – we have always been taught that you never have a second chance to make a first impression; I take that literally when creating a grand entrance for my clients.  From candles lining the flowing steps that leads guests down a hallway with walls adorned in thousands meticulously placed flowers – the perfect “WOW Factor” Grand Entrance can easily be created with a well thought out design, blooms, soft fabrics and ambient lighting.  And, what better way is there to give a quick preview the wedding flowers.

Decor

This is often the most commonly overlooked component in the wedding planning/design process.  When money is running low, it’s commonly the first area that begins to experience scale-backs or cuts.  This should never be the case, your décor is the basis for which sets the tone, mood and vibe for your entire wedding.  With flowers, pipe-and-draping, candles and other carefully placed décor elements and personal touches, a space can be transformed into the wedding that you have been dreaming of since you were a little girl.  \

For a curated experience, consider creating a different mood on each space being utilized for your festivities.  For the ceremony, you may want to use soft, warmly lit amber lighting and soft classical music to create a very romantic, soft and ethereal environment for the ceremony space.  While for cocktail hour – more decor elements, soft jazz and signature libation can be used to create more of a lounge or relaxed feel. Keep in mind, it’s during this time that you can also introduce more interactive entertainment options for your guests to enjoy, such as a flower wall, live entertainment, custom lounge seating, and bars - or another statement piece like a baby grand piano with flowers billowing from it and puddling to the floor to get the guests talking. Depending on the space, draping and lighting effects can also add to the overall ambiance of this space as well. For the reception portion of your wedding, this should be “GO BIG, OR GO HOME” time.  This should be the most grandiose display of them all.  Featuring the most opulent, extravagant and visually stimulating floral centerpieces and candelabras, the most luxuriously textured linens,  extravagant creative lighting, couture and meticulously created stationary, a fabulous dance floor, and decedent food that leaves your guests clamoring for more.   and so much. When I design a room, I like to think of it from top to bottom.

When designing a reception, it is important to engage all five sensory systems of your guests:  touch, smell, sound, taste and sight.  This includes flowers and the beauty and scent they present, Linens for the tables and napkins, menu cards, Chair options, lighting and more. By successfully engaging these systems, you are subconsciously insuring that your guests leave fulfilled and wanting nothing.  In fact, they may not want the party to stop.    

  • Florals: Guests will always enjoy being surrounded by beautiful floral arrangements. From the entrance to the ceremony and reception, flowers speak romance and are welcoming. At the reception, Guests are going to sit at their dinning tables for hours. Make a statement with a centerpiece that perfectly sets the tone for your reception. Don’t be afraid to mic things up. I like to play with a mix of long, square and round tables and design a unique centerpiece for each type of table. Candles always add the perfect finishing touch. 

  • Creative Lighting: Lighting is one of the best ways to transform a room. I like to utilize patterns, pin-spots, room washes and more to my room designs. It takes the space to whole new level. The options are endless. Bad lighting can ruin the experience for you and your guests.

  • Lounge Seating: At some point in the evening, you guests may want to take a break to relax, have a cocktail and some late night snacks. Lounge sets inside the ballroom is one of my favorite ways to incorporate comfy seating into the reception. Placing them strategically around the perimeter of the dance-floor and bar areas are great ways to make sure your guests won’t have to leave the room and miss all the fun. 

Entertainment

Wedding Entertainment is a crucial factor.  If you are looking to wow your guest, think of customizing the entertainment to fit your (the couples) personal style.  I love the idea of a live performance as the guests walk into the room, live harpists and violinists are great ways to start a party on the right note.  Live wedding bands and singers are another way to customize your overall guests experience, nothing gets your guests to the dance floor and makes sure it stays packed more than the live performances of some of their favorite songs l

Dinning

We all love good food, so it goes without saying – one of the main things your guests will remember is their dining experience at your wedding. From cocktail hour to dinner and even the after party, food is one of the most talked about elements of any wedding.  In today’s wedding market, couples are spending a good amount of money and time crafting creative menu option from lobster and steak stations to meal courses perfectly paired with various wines.  Don’t let your guests down when it comes to their meal quality.  Think about how many times you have been to a wedding and talked about it later … the conversation may have gone like this – “The wedding was nice, but that food at the reception was nasty” or “My soup was cold”. Don’t let this be said about your wedding.

Creative Seating arrangement

Beautiful stationery is always a hit with your guests. Get creative with your escort cards and make that an enjoyable experience. Consider a fun way to display the cards like hanging them from a tree with ribbon and crystals, or in front of a flower wall or backdrop.

If you choose, to display the escort cards on a table, place a statement piece on the table. A round table calls for a large floral arrangements and some candles. Use this table as a preview of whats to come. Get your guests gushing and talking.