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How To Create An Intimate Atmosphere In A Large Wedding Venue

  |  By David Connolly

Celebrity wedding planner David Connolly from Rich Bride, Poor Bride has joined Weddingbells as a guest blogger answering all of your burning wedding-related questions. Need some help with the planning process? Have a question about etiquette, organization or budgeting? Post your question in the comment field below and we’ll forward it directly to David.

Here is this week’s reader question:

Q: We have a large space for our wedding (we are using it for both the ceremony and the reception). Do you have any suggestions for making the transition from ceremony to reception easy and what is a good way to make a large space feel intimate? - Candace Getten via Facebook

A: Hi Candace! Congrats on your engagement and thanks for your questions.

First, here's a tried and true way to create a seamless transition between a ceremony and reception being held in the same place: During the signing portion of the ceremony, have wait staff pass champagne/sparkling wine and sparkling water to your guests. Traditionally, only minutes remain before the officiant can conclude by inviting everyone to join in the first toast to Mr & Mrs...then, the happy couple physically lead their guests to wherever they wish them to be next. With a drink in hand and the right musical segue at the next space your cocktail party will seem to have started effortlessly.

Here are some bubbly cocktail recipes that you'll have to keep taste-testing until they're perfect (these are the sacrifices we make for our guests!)

Gigi 1 sugar cube 1 dash bitters 1/2 cup chilled champagne Lemon peel Stir sugar and bitters in pre-chilled champagne glass. Add champagne. Twist lemon peel over and drop into glass.

Lily 2 parts champagne 1 part orange liqueur

Dahlia 2 parts champagne 1 part peach juice or peach puree

Stephanie 6 ounces champagne 1.5 teaspoons of lavender syrup Served with lavender sprig (or try ginger syrup)

As for your second question, I think the most effective (and cost-effective!) way to make a large space (or any space for that matter) feel more intimate is with lighting. Candlelight only in the space you are using is a great first step. Whether it is produced by actual candles or a manufactured lighting design, go for "just bright enough to see your food and safely navigate the room."

Check to see if the existing ceiling lights are controlled in sections and if so, check if they are on dimmers, or just controlled by on/off switches. Consider this when creating your floor plan, seating the head table under the brightest lights. If all of your lights are all on one circuit and 'off' is too dark, consider fabric swags on the ceiling to diffuse the light, lighting gels, or removing the bulbs from some of the fixtures.

Choosing table linens and draping in deep, warm tones and rich textures will absorb light and can make a room feel smaller (deep, warm and rich doesn't neccessarily mean depressing and gothic... what about burnt orange, honey and merlot? charcoal, chocolate, teal and cherry?) If picking a pattern, be bold and pick the biggest scale available. The same is true with your centrepieces: big-scale basics over small and fussy, which will make the ceiling seem even higher. Cover or obscure any existing mirrors if possible and finally, ask the venue if they have any plants, shrubs, folding screens, fencing, planters or projection screens that can help delineate your space.

Find David on Facebook at

This article was originally published on Apr 10, 2012

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