Planning a wedding is not easy. Unless you work in events, this is more than likely going to be the biggest party you have ever organised.
When you start planning, of course, you're focusing on the big things; the venue, the band, the food etc, to ensure both you and your guests have the best day ever. But how do you actually create an atmosphere? One that has everyone feeling relaxed, happy and content?
Disclaimer - These are just my opinions, based on my own experiences as both a bride and a wedding service provider. I'm by no means a wedding-planner but I see a LOT of weddings and I practically have a degree in Pinterest, so here we go...
over-thoughts on atmosphere
1) LIGHTING IS EVERYTHING
Images via Pinterest
There's no getting away from it. Lighting is EVERYTHING. Good lighting can totally transform a venue. Soft candlelight on the table is a great start (there are some brilliant flickering electric candles available if you're not allowed bare flames) but adding fairy lights or festoon lights can really give your wedding the wow-factor.
Soft-lighting makes people feel relaxed and uninhibited and therefore much more likely to enjoy themselves. Go for warm-white bulbs if you are purchasing/hiring fairy lights, white is too harsh and too cold.
This is why I love our Light Up "Love" and "Mr & Mrs" so much, we chose soft warm-white bulbs that give off just enough light and add so much twinkly, romantic atmosphere. I'm not a fan of the cold white-lit letters that are too bright, these achieve the exact opposite of what you want them to do, by creating too much harsh, cold, bright light.
Uplighters are also an amazing way of adding atmosphere and masquerading a multitude of venue-sins, such as swirly carpets and textured wallpaper. The number of uplighters you will need depends on the size of your venue, or the area you wish to colour wash, and these can be hired usually through your band or DJ. They are not expensive, but they have a huge impact.
You can normally choose the colour so, for weddings, pinky, amber-y, purple colours are perfect. Icy blue is actually great for Winter Weddings, creating that winter-wonderland feel. Do not choose green, everyone looks like the hulk in photos.
These before and afters from Pinterest are incredible.
2) PLAN THE PLAYLIST!
So, you've probably thought about the song you will walk down the aisle to, you've carefully chosen the band for the reception and maybe you've even booked an acoustic guitarist for cocktail hour, but have you considered what you'll be listening to during the meal?
The tone you are setting throughout the meal is really the key to the evening's success. For our own wedding we spent a lot of time working on a "meal playlist" that would get everyone in the party mood before it had even begun. And it paid off, I can remember people dancing straight after we cut the cake, just to the iPod playlist, before the band had even set up.
Lots of venues have their own built in sound systems - so you should just be able to hand over the iPod with the ready-made playlist. You can find lots of great playlists on Spotify and Youtube.
3) How much does a polar bear weigh?
The best way to get people to enjoy themselves is to break the ice and get rid of any awkwardness as soon as possible. People feel weird at the start of a wedding; it's formal, they might not know people, they are sober, they're not sure where are they supposed to sit, or if they are dressed appropriately etc, etc, etc.
Firstly, a warm welcome is needed. The friendliest of ushers should be given this job, enthusiastically greeting people and telling them where they need to be. Once the ceremony is over and cocktail hour begins, garden games can be a great way of getting guests mixing. Then, on to the evening and an open-air photo booth is a great way of getting people to let their hair down, with stupid props and hilarious snaps. Alcohol also works a treat, of course.
One of my other obsessions while planning my own wedding was Flower Crowns and Lace Ears, I bought loads (like, looooaadddsss) and put them in a box in the girl's loos that said "Wear Me". I don't really have an explanation for this, other than I just thought it would be fun for people and a big talking point. Everyone seemed to love it and it was another ice breaker for women who didn't know each other.
4) Smells like a wedding
This makes me sound like a crazy person. I know, this is my overthinking at it's absolute worst, but I think the smell of a wedding is something I could really obsess over now. We had a candelabra in the ceremony barn with 5 Kenneth Turner Nature Nurture Candle Sticks burning and I got asked so many times about them!
A wedding or big event is really a feast for the senses - with so much food and drink and all the visuals, decor, flowers etc, it makes sense to me now that smell is something you might consider when thinking about atmosphere. This may be choosing flowers especially for their scents but I think having scented tea light candles on the tables rather than just the unscented ones would be such a nice touch!
Part two coming soon....