Today’s weddings have evolved into unique and personalized experiences, as millennials continue to push the envelope with the plans for their big day. With guest experience as a major factor in wedding plans, it is no surprise that couples want their guests to feel engaged and involved in their wedding activities.
As such, we are seeing the rise of experiential weddings–weddings that include and engage their guests rather than simply having them watch the proceedings as a spectator. For example, some couples choose to have all of their guests join them as they walk down the aisle, while other pass their wedding bands around so everyone has a chance to touch them and be a part of the special moment. Not only is it meaningful for the guests to be a part of the celebration, but also couples are able to look back and remember all of the love and support they had from their guests.
Another way couples are turning their weddings into an experience is by hosting a full week of activities leading up to the wedding, rather than just celebrating on one day. This could include local sightseeing tours, group dinners or other "tourist attractions" in the area–this is great for out-of-town guests to take in the area, but it is also fun for locals to fall back in love with their city!
Themed weddings are also a popular choice for boosting the guest experience. Anything from the Roaring '20s to a masquerade party can bring guests together to participate in the festivities and feel as though they are a part of the celebration.
Why the rise in experiential celebrations? Younger couples are not quite as interested in opting for tradition when tying the knot, so they are increasingly looking for ways to express the unique aspects of their personalities and their relationship. Millennials want to be seen as individuals, so the traditional cookie-cutter wedding is not suitable for their preferences. As a result, to-be-weds are constantly experimenting and looking to create a fully customized wedding day.
Of course, every couple will prefer different experiences, so it is essential to truly get to know your couples before planning out their experiential wedding. It’s not just about their wedding vision, but about who they are as a couple beyond the big day. I actually have a 17-page intake form filled with all sorts of questions, from what their wedding colors are to their idea of a perfect New Year’s Eve. This will tell you whether a wedding hashtag printer or an interactive whiskey bar is more of a fit for them.
As the trend of experiential weddings continues to rise, we look forward to seeing what other creative ideas are in store for couples and event professionals alike!
Kim Sayatovic is the founder and chief creative officer of Belladeux Event Design, a full service wedding and event design firm based in New Orleans.