When you imagine your dream luxury wedding wedding, what comes to mind? How do you want your pictures to look? While the visuals and personalization are naturally very important, the goal is to have the ultimate experience for you and your guests. Afterall, a happy couple and delighted guests will be reflected in the documentation. Let’s talk about how you can achieve the best experience (and thus the ultimate pictures).
Make Your Luxury Wedding Experience Memorable
This will be a day you both will remember for the rest of your lives. When you flip through your album, or rewatch the video, what moments will make you laugh, smile, and feel all the feels?
At the heart of a memorable luxury wedding are the vendors you trust to make your vision a reality. Collaborative conversations with these trusted professionals are an essential component to the planning process.
You may find inspiration from your favorite celebrity wedding (no shame!) or the Pinterest board you’ve been collecting well before you were engaged. Discuss what resonates with you with your planner, designer, and wedding photographer. Show them inspirations that will spark their individual creativity (nobody likes to copy).
Communicating your vision in multiple ways will go a long way towards making sure your day is the wedding of your dreams. I know top wedding planners, like Tara Guerard, who start the process of designing by looking at the client’s home decor and the clothes in their closet. What a great jumping off point, don’t you think?
Wedding Ideas That Make a Unique Experience
Personalized touches will ultimately make your wedding one of a kind. And that singularity represents luxury to me.
Let’s run down a list of wedding ideas to curate a unique wedding experience, from the tactile to the ephemeral.
Creating an Experience For Your Guests
The most memorable weddings prioritize guests comfort and experience. Start your planning process by asking yourself simply, what do we want our guests to remember about our event?
Hosting a destination wedding is a great way to curate a total experience for your nearest and dearest. The weekend will be so much more than just the wedding day. New friendships, memorable travel experiences (such as tasting local cuisine or taking in the sights) will enrich the memories of your favorite people.
Museums and historic landmarks are great venues for a unique luxury wedding. For example, Washington National Cathedral is an incredible architectural treasure that will wow your guests. Or the stunning historic home of Hildene in Manchester with it’s views of both the Green Mountain and Taconic Mountain range is a location your guests will always remember. The Biltmore in North Carolina is another stunning historic home with incredible views. And all three of these examples need very little additional embellishment to wow your guests.
While designing the reception at any venue, think “how can this particular part of the day surprise and delight?” On a simple level, charming details that incorporate something personal to the bride and groom is guaranteed to bring a smile. Or more elaborately, consider hiring performers to amp up the dramatic effect. Maybe have costumed performers greet the guests with trays of drinks. Or, instead of a normal transition from a ceremony to the reception, transport the guests on unique transportation. More than once, I have shot weddings that had boats instead of busses – fabulous! Or, have the musicians play and walk together with the guests from cocktails to dinner. These are just a few examples. The pointis, don’t settle for boring – let your creativity shine.
Don’t Copy – Make the Ceremony and Reception One of a Kind
To me, luxury means creating something utterly custom to you. For example, creating a focal point for your ceremony is a great way to personalize the visual experience with flowers, or textures, or structure. Remember, the backdrop you are creating will be in nearly every photo of your ceremony.
The reception can also be a place where you surprise and delight your guests with something custom. Have your stationery motif adapted into an embroidered napkin that your guests can use on the wedding day and you can later have in your home forever after.
I’m a big fan of lighting a reception to create a mood throughout the room. This doesn’t mean making the room bright but instead creating pockets of light for depth and atmosphere. I always think that an experienced lighting expert is money well spent. Videomapping is an option to take dramatic lighting to a whole new level. The Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams show at the Brooklyn Museum incorporated videomapping on the walls in which the seasons changed. It was an incredible effect! I’d love to see it adapted for a reception.
Your Music Matters: Select a Top Band or DJ
Compile a list of your favorite songs and pick a band that will do all those songs justice, or a DJ that’ll string them all together in a well curated playlist. This is a perfect example of how doing a little bit of “homework” will pay off at your reception.
If your reception is all about the party, you need music to bring the energy. I also believe it’s a good idea to make sure the music never stops. Having been to hundreds of receptions I can say that a band “break” is an energy killer.
Hire the Right Photographer
Naturally, as a photographer, I believe one of the most important things to consider when planning your wedding is hiring a great photographer. Make sure you meet them in person or over Zoom to ensure you have the right chemistry. Afterall, you will probably spend more time in the vicinity of your photographer than any other person on the wedding day.
Hire a photographer who has a portfolio that already resembles how you want your pictures to look. Don’t rely on trying to “coach” a photographer into the look or approach you want. Look at the samples on their website and social media and ask yourself if you can visualize yourself in these photos.
My work is very much rooted in a photojournalistic style, one that is very candid and natural. I cultivate an atmosphere where my couples can relax and be themselves. The pictures will artfully tell the story of their day. But if you like photos to be more conceptual, seek out a visual storyteller who makes images that are more stylized. It’s all about the fit.
Make Your Video “Cinematic”
Video coverage has really elevated over the past ten years to something much closer to cinematography. Telling the story of your day in video has never looked more artful. I highly recommend hiring the best videographer you can afford and make sure they collaborate well with the still photographer. Often I can recommend talented people who work well with the photo team so that we can create great work together.
Food is a Creative Opportunity
Over the years I’ve heard people say that “no one will remember the food” but I disagree. If done properly the food can be one of the most memorable elements of the day. Food literally reflects your refined tastes. It’s a tangible expression of the care you put into planning the best party of your life. I remember so clearly the care that went into the preparation and presentation of the farm-to-table food at Blackberry Farm. But also, late night snacks like hot dogs or cereal and milk can leave an impression.
Seek a Wedding Planner Who is a Good Fit
I know, I know, you throw GREAT parties! All the time! That may be so, but hiring a planner is an absolute must. Your wedding planner will be the vital source of experience, problem-solving, and creativity for the wedding of your dreams. Of all your vendors, this is the most important hire of all. Like choosing a photographer, you should make sure that you click on a personal level as well since you will spend many hours collaborating with this person.
With many options, I believe it’s important to seek out personal recommendations for a planner. Not just from friends and family, if you already know your venue and or photographer, ask them for recommendations and honest reviews on the person / company you are considering hiring. I’m always happy to recommend my favorites.
Also be aware that some planners only offer planning services while others are a combination of planning and design. When design is part of the mix, be sure you love their portfolio of existing work. As with photography, don’t expect to coach them into a different style. You want someone who implicitly understands your level of taste and sophistication.
On your wedding day I hope you are surrounded by vendors who make the process effortless. Nothing should take away from the awesome experience of hosting a wedding. I hope it’s the best day of your life! Cheers!