How to Turn Your Event Into an Experience

Learn expert tips on how to make your celebration memorable.

Everyone has a story to tell. There’s no better way to share the tale of your courtship, your distinct personalities, and the things you cherish most than by creating experiences that reflect what is unique about you. Step out of the box when it comes to planning the celebration of a lifetime – avoid ordinary and think extraordinary – by adding breathtaking details, awe-inspiring entertainment, and more. Here are a few suggestions that will elevate your wedding so that it’s not only an event, but also an encounter your guests will remember forever.

Start with a wedding weekend kickoff.

- After – or in lieu of – a rehearsal dinner, think about hosting a casual cocktail reception for your entire guest list. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but your attendees will feel welcomed; this will also give them a chance to meet someone new before the festivities begin.

- Host a moonlight activity the evening before the big day. An engaging guided tour will share all sorts of secrets and facts about your location while your friends and relatives enjoy local beverages and bites of cuisine.

- The rehearsal dinner usually includes family, the wedding party, and out-of-town guests. Personally, we love having revelers pick a number out of a hat to tell them at which table they will be sitting. It’s a great way for your favorite people to get to know each other better, meet new friends, and kick off the weekend with an element of surprise.

EVOKE Washington DC wedding planner table number on reception table
Photo by Amy Raab Photography; Planning & Design by EVOKE

Differentiate your ceremony. 

- Try arranging your ceremony seating in the round. You will be surprised by how intimate the layout can make the ambience of the vow exchange, as guests will feel closer to you and your beloved, as well as more deeply involved during this special moment. One of our recent couples even asked groups of people who have influenced and supported their lives and relationship to rise and be recognized during the service as a special way to honor and include them.

- Another bride we worked with had each of her brothers walk her down a section of the aisle, leading one to the other until she met her groom. It was so important to her to have her brothers play a role in the procession, and it was the perfect way to unite them on this special day.

- Give a nod to your heritage. Have a bagpiper play as you proceed down the aisle or have your dad perform your most beloved family song on the piano during the ceremony. It’s a way to acknowledge your family roots that will make your nupitals feel special and personal.

Set the tone.

- You want to encourage mingling throughout the celebration, including during dinner. Don’t leave guests sitting for too long between each course. Consider organizing a dance set between servings to get your guests up and moving around.

- End the night with a personalized note for each attendee. It illustrates gratitude, adds a customized touch, and provides a special way to say thank you for being a part of your big day.

- Bring in local elements to give your family and friends a true taste of the area. It helps to bring the celebration full circle. Immerse your guests in the culture, for example, by treating them to a wine tasting and tour at a local vineyard. Bottles of wine from the visited property can also be the perfect gift for your guests to take home to remember the festivities. 


EVOKE Washington DC wedding planner bottle of wine wedding gift ideas
Photo by Branco Prata; Planning & Design by EVOKE

Showcase your personalities with experiential elements. 

- If you love music, incorporate a vinyl record station into the cocktail hour where your guests can select the next song: jukebox style.

- Think about the flow of the day – you don’t want to leave your guests with any dull periods. Be attentive to their needs, but also incorporate unexpected treats. For example, at the end of the evening, hire a string quartet to entertain loved ones at the valet station while they wait for their cars.

- Surprise them in the most unlikely places. Place a hair-and-makeup touch-up area, complete with professional hairstylists and makeup artists, in the ladies’ room.

EVOKE Washington DC wedding planner colorful wedding reception design
Photo by Geoff Chesman; Planning & Design by EVOKE

As you begin to plan, think about the progression of the event and how your guests will feel throughout each part of the day as they transition from one portion of the fête to the next. Make it personal and find unique ways to include custom touches that will allow your guests to connect with you and with one another. Including these inspired components will be sure to turn your event into an unmatched experience and create lasting memories.

Authored by: Kaitlyn Hostetler for EVOKE Event & Design

Professional Circle

The professionals related with this article