Updated: Feb 7
Your wedding day is a day to celebrate the union between you and your fiancé, it's true. But it can be so much more than that if you have a specific purpose underlying all your main decisions. In my last post we talked about how to find, or create purpose behind this gathering of your friends and family. Today I will share with you three action items that will help you instill your purpose into all of the main decisions you make while creating the wedding of your dreams.
Tip # 1: Set the stage with your Venue
"What many host don't realize is that the choice of venue is one of your most powerful levers over your guests' behavior. A deft gatherer picks a place that elicits the behaviors she/he wants and plays down the behaviors she/he doesn't." - Priya Parker
Every time we step into a building we receive small cues on how to behave based on the decor, architecture, and density of the people in attendance of the building we enter. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, think about the atmosphere of a Texas Roadhouse vs a Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. They both serve steak, but the music, decor, (peanuts) and plus spacing help determine the atmosphere of the restaurant, and how each guest acts when in attendance. Both spaces are specifically designed to give you a specific feeling when you walk in (casual vs elegant; loud vs soft-spoken; affordable vs expensive, etc). The way you design your reception experience will determine how others feel when they attend.
So think about how you want your guests to feel as they enter the room. If you want your family and friends to cut back and let loose, then you should look at a venue that is more in tune with that (i.e. A farm, barn, or backyard). However, if you want everyone to behave a little more proper you may have your wedding at a country club, museum, or hotel.
Other mood indicators to your guests will be decor and the spacing of your venue.
Colors evoke emotion - you can subtly sway the mood of the room by simply choosing Wedding colors that will evoke the emotions you want your guests to feel. This website on using colored lights (also called uplighting) and this website on color theory can help you to find the right colors for you.
Spacing matters - According to Billy Mac, an event planning specialist, you can use the following guide to help you design how you want your party to feel:
Square Feet Per Guest | Sophisticated | Lively | Hot
Sit-Down Dinner party | 20 sq. ft. | 15 sq. ft. | N/ A
Standing Cocktail party | 12 sq. ft. | 10 sq. ft. | 8 sq. ft.
Into the night/ dance party | 8 sq. ft. | 6 sq. ft. | 5 sq. ft.
Tip # 2: Narrow down the Guest List The next step to designing a good party is to pay special attention to the guests you invite. Has there ever been a time when you didn’t want to invite someone to a gathering you were organizing — a meeting or a wedding — but felt that you had no choice?
How did having that person at the gathering affect it?
Generous exclusion may feel a little uncomfortable, but the more is not always the merrier. If there are people in your life who you know that won't fit with the purpose of your event - DON'T INVITE THEM. For example, if your purpose in throwing the wedding reception is to honor your parents, but you only have 1 more space left you may opt to invite your Uncle over your boss because the Uncle would be more inline with the purpose of your event.
The idea of excluding people may be easier said than done, especially if you are worried about injuring their feelings but I would encourage you to think instead of how many guests you will be doing a disservice to by trying to include everyone. If you include everyone from EVERY aspect of your life without a clear purpose for the event the experience will become muddled, and your guests might not be able to have as deep of a connection with one another.
One way to avoid injuring any of your loved ones' feelings by not inviting them to the wedding would be to:
Blame the size of the gathering space (you won't be lying - everyone event space has a certain # of guests that can be allowed without breaking firecode, and if you want lively conversations a smaller group-size will facilitate that better than a large gathering)
Offer to get together on another day/time to share this exciting change with them - this way they can still be involved without you sacrificing the purpose of your event.
Tip # 3: Use your Purpose as your Bouncer
It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that just because others do x,y,z at their wedding and reception you should too.
For example, at a lot of weddings there is dancing, but if the purpose of your wedding is to connect with and thank your parents, teachers and mentors for the sacrifices they've made for you then dancing might not be the best option. Instead you can choose to spend your time walking around and coversing with each person in attendance.
Even the music played (in the background, or for the dancefloor) can either build connection or take away from it. Thinking back to your purpose will loud music with a good dance be more in line with the purpose of your event, or do you need something a little more chill to encourage light chatter?
As you can see, you will experience higher levels of connection and inclusion between your guests when you ensure that all of your decisions are based on whether they will help you achieve the underlying purpose of your wedding.
Priya says, "Let (your purpose) decide what goes into your gathering and what stays out. When in doubt about any element, even the smallest detail, hark back to that purpose and decide in accordance with it."
This simple, yet relevant advice will help you to avoid anything feeling disharmonious. It will also help transfer your guests to a greater, more fulfilling experience, as well as making all of your other decisions much easier for the big day.
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on how to make your Wedding & Reception better on your big day! In my next blog post I will give you talk about the people who can help you make decisions and help relieve some of the work of putting a wedding together for you. That's right! We're going to talk all about Wedding Planners!