One of our favorite things about the hall is the fact that it can work for any size wedding. We’ve had weddings with 50 people, weddings with 500 people, and weddings with everything in between. When designing it, we put a lot of thought into how to make the space work so it could feel intimate yet spacious regardless of how many people were invited to celebrate our couples. We like to think we did a pretty good job of it and the space speaks for itself, but if you are having a larger wedding there are things that you can do to make it feel even more intimate for your guests.
We’ve both thrown and attended a lot of large weddings, and in so many ways we like to say the more the merrier. Big weddings are fun because you have so many people surrounding you with love. As a guest though, it can sometimes feel overwhelming and seem as if you’re just another check mark on the RSVP list. No matter what size your wedding is, you want your guests to feel included so they have a good time. From our experience, the more they are enjoying themselves, the more you will enjoy your big day. Happiness is contagious.
So, how can you make sure that your guests don’t get lost in the crowd?
Make it Welcoming
Right off the bat, you want your guests to know that you want them to be there. The oak tree canopied drive and walkway up the chapel is on your side for making your guests feel welcome, but things like having a welcome sign, music playing in the chapel before the ceremony starts, programs that let them get to know who’s in the bridal party, or greeting them with drinks before you say I Do are all ways to bring them into the party from the very start. If you want to take things up a notch with your cocktail hour, check out our post about crafting unique touches for it here.
Utilize the Columns, Drapery, and Suspended Florals
This is where our design of the hall naturally comes in to play, but you can really emphasize it. Instead of having one big room full of round tables, we have the farmhouse tables to break things up for the head table and have the room divided out with the columns. You can soften up the space even more with added drapery or create focal points with our new suspended floral boxes. This will all shrink the space (while still giving you plenty of room) to make it feel even more inviting. As an added bonus, using the suspended floral boxes as statement pieces often means you can use smaller centerpieces on the tables, which promotes your guests being able to talk more without being blocked by your gorgeous flowers.
Create Comfortable Spaces
You want your guests to feel like they can enjoy themselves throughout the wedding day. Creating comfortable spaces – whether it’s the addition of a lounge area, the chairs around the fireplace, or props for the dance floor – makes the space yours. Since we have two outdoor patio areas directly connected to the hall, it’s the perfect place for your guests to escape and chat before they go back to boogie’ing on the dance floor. As another note on comfort, you might consider having 2 or more bars depending on your guest count. No one particularly likes standing in lines and it’s an easy way to spread guests out throughout the space.
Serve Dinner Differently
Buffet dinners are super popular at weddings, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with them, but you can serve dinners differently to create more intimacy and promote conversation amongst your guests. Three options are plated dinners, family style, and stations. Plated dinners provide your guests with an experience. They’re encouraged to sit back, relax, and enjoy being served. They’re also really conducive to having speeches and toasts during the dinner because everyone is sitting and not moving around – this is perfect if you want to tell longer stories about you as a couple or maybe even share a video montage. Family style dinners also keep your guests sitting in one place, but it’s all about the conversation at each individual table. As they’re passing the plate around, they’re encouraged to get to know one another, talk about the food, and enjoy the company. Finally, stations are something a lot of guests haven’t experienced at a wedding before so it’s really unique. Instead of a full meal, small stations spread throughout the venue encourage your guests to get up, move around, and mingle. Think of it as a super hearty cocktail hour.
Add Personal Touches
Creating personal touches to build intimacy can be done in two ways. First and foremost, your guests are coming to your wedding because it is your wedding. Having a grooms cake that is designed around your new hubby’s passion, a welcome table with photos from your relationship, a display of the wedding dresses worn by your family throughout the generations, or small details on the tables that give a glimpse into who you are all things for your guests to look at and enjoy. On the flip side, you can also personalize things for your guests. Escort cards with their names on them so they can take them home, fun little party favors, or a note to each guest are a great way to personalize their individual experience so they know how much you thought of them and how much you appreciate them coming.
Incorporate Interactive Experiences
There’s no better way to make your guests feel like they are a part of the wedding (rather than just in attendance) than by providing them with interactive experiences. We’ve all been to – or heard of – the weddings that you go to, eat dinner at, maybe participate in a line dance, and question if it’s late enough to be acceptable to leave. You’ve put too much time and effort into planning your day for that to be the case. Creating interactive experiences give guests something to do. Dessert bars, games on the patio, photo booths, dance floor props, flower crown stations, pictures with donkeys, champagne walls, cigar rollers – the list goes on and on. There are so many fun ideas you can include to make sure your guests feel like there’s something there just for them.
Give Yourself Opportunities
If you’re having a big wedding, this is the time to take a big dose of reality. It is nearly impossible to talk to every single guests and still enjoy yourself at your wedding reception without being exhausted. If you’re worried about trying to pull it off, our biggest suggestion is to give yourself more opportunities to talk to guests. Part of making a wedding feel intimate is making the time to show your guests how much you love them and getting to talk to them. Instead of rushing through 30 second hellos, adding a welcome party, extending your rehearsal dinner, planning weekend activities, or having a post-wedding brunch are all ways to give you more opportunities to talk to your guests so you don’t feel like you have to squeeze in hugs and conversations with all of them on the actual wedding day.
Remember above when we said that your guests were at your wedding because it’s your wedding? Thank them for coming, let them know you’re excited they’re there, invite them to spend the evening on the dance floor with you and tell them to eat a slice of cake because it’s delicious. They love to hear from you. It’s pretty common for the bride and groom to be toasted at a wedding, but it’s not as often that a couple gives the toast. If you want to be able to talk to everyone but don’t want to go table by table or host additional events, getting up and talking to your guests on the microphone is the simplest way to let them know how much you love them and that you are thinking of them.
We wrote this post with big weddings in mind, but as soon as the words were written out we realized that all of these tips can apply to smaller weddings too. While they are specifically utilized to make bigger weddings seem more intimate, for smaller weddings things like taking advantage of the columns and drapery can section off different areas for your guests to enjoy and planning more wedding weekend events lets your guests feel like you customized an entire weekend just for them. When it comes to making your wedding more intimate, it really comes down to ensuring that the wedding is personal and revolves around you as a couple. You don’t have to have a face to face conversation with every single guest for them to feel recognized and important – though more power to you if you can pull it off. When your guests see personal touches and details thought out just for them, they will feel more involved and like they are a part of the wedding, not just another person attending it.
The Brucks Vendor Spotlight:
Coordinator/ Decorator/ Florist: Barbie Foerster
Caterer: Werner’s Catering
Photographer: Brooke Taelor
Bar: Bartenders 4 You
Photo Booth: Remember The Times