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Party of the Year

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Your wedding is the biggest party you'll ever throw, but for family and friends, it might be just one of several weddings they're attending this year. Make yours stand out from the crowd with these memorable tips from wedding experts.

1. Ceremonial touches

If you have a flexible venue, try a different configuration for your ceremony than the traditional bride's side, groom's side and a center aisle. Positioning your ceremony in the round can make it more intimate, says Erin Sprinkel, co-owner of Sterling Social event planning in Los Angeles.

Instead of having designated speakers come to the front for their reading, have them stand up from their seat and read from the audience.

“It creates an impromptu-like feeling and allows you to involve a handful of people to be involved in your marital exchange,” says Sprinkel.

2. Dazzling design

When you and your groom have a definitive design and know how you want the day to look, pay close attention to details like napkins, chairs, flowers and vases to really set the scene.

“When you have a bride and groom who pay attention to those details and are cohesive in their design, that's when you make a venue really shine beyond its capabilities,” says Derrick Valenti, wedding planner at Chicago's Warwick Allerton Hotel.

Don't limit yourselves to one big guest area. Valenti suggests creating your own personal nightclub with a lounge area, couches and tables that's separate and distinct from the main dining room.

3. Customize the menu

“Food is so important. It's the way to everyone's mind,” says Valenti. While many venues have packaged menus, skilled chefs can do custom menus. If you want to recreate a favorite meal, consult with your chef to see if it’s doable.

“Don't be afraid to steer away from typical wedding entrees, such as filet mignon,” says Sprinkel. “Consider serving something like gourmet cheeseburgers and sweet potato fries for your main course. These are unexpected comfort foods that will make everyone talk and definitely satisfy your crowd.”

The menu itself can literally stand out if you use a material other than traditional paper. Sprinkel suggests thinking about interesting textiles and materials like wood, metal or acrylic.

4. Next-level décor

Take your centerpieces up a notch by incorporating creative materials that invoke your theme. For example, summertime-themed centerpieces can include water beads and sand, as opposed to the played-out trend of burlap-wrapped mason jars suggests Valenti.

5. Kick up the beat

You don’t have to wait until after the meal to start jamming. “Get your band or DJ to play dance music in between courses to build the energy at your reception. Once dinner service is complete, everyone will then be that much more excited to continue the party on the dance floor,” says Sprinkel.

Include all types of music during the night, not just what you and your friends like, says Valenti. Make sure your DJ plays tunes all generations will enjoy and dance to; otherwise they might remember that the DJ wouldn't play anything they wanted to hear.

5. Farewell surprise

Send your guests off with an unexpected treat. When they leave, at shuttle boarding or the valet stand, have offer fun favors like cookies and mini milk jars. “This sweet surprise will make for a great end to the evening!” says Sprinkel.

She also suggests giving out $5 to $10 gift cards to places such as Starbucks or a burger joint so guests can use them as they travel home. “It's a nice gesture to send your guests on their way and say thank you for attending your wedding.”

© Brides 365

Tags: wedding planning