Spark Intrigue With Wedding Surprises

This wedding took place at the Rimrock Hotel in Banff. (On a side note, the service, food and hotel staff were AMAZING. I can’t say enough great things about them.) When we sat down to design this wedding I wanted to keep the guests guessing and the surprises coming all night. So we took each element, the ceremony, the cocktail hour, the dinner and the party and treated it as its own event, and each event was revealed to the guests as the night progressed. This kept the element of surprise to a maximum and it kept them guessing what would happen next.

The Ceremony

The ceremony was held in one of the longest rooms I have ever stood in. I mean it must have been a good 65 feet or more. It was funny listening to the bridesmaids comment on how long their aisle walk was. The room had full windows behind the couple with a full view of the mountains. I had the hotel remove the curtains and sheers so the view was totally unobstructed. We also didn’t use too much décor in this room because with views like that, you really don’t need to. We did add some candles and flower arrangements to the aisle. We brought in a faux fireplace, which we filled with candles (battery operated) we also placed close to 200 additional candles on the fireplace, the window sills and some on the frames. These were all real and gave the room a fantastic glow. It was simple, romantic and classically elegant.

The Cocktail Hour

The cocktail hour was held in the room between the ceremony and the dinner area. We had to transport the chairs from the ceremony to the dinner and I didn’t want to interrupt the cocktail hour while doing so, we also had brought in winter trees that had glass ornaments on them that were the place cards but we didn’t want those unveiled until later. We set up pipe and drape curtains as a fake wall to hide the chair movement and we placed the trees behind the drape as well.        

Half an hour before dinner, we took down the draping , revealed the trees and asked everyone to find their place cards and please take their seats for dinner. The place cards were attached to the glass ornaments and strung alphabetically.

We also rented a vintage photo booth to put a spin on the guest book tradition. Guests popped into the booth, took the 4 pictures, then they could drop them off in a vase for the couple or keep them, it didn’t matter, they were free so you could take as many as you wanted. It was the highlight of the cocktail hour along with the beautiful ice martini luge which had snowflakes etched into it.

The Dinner

We took the dinner space and utilized the dividing walls of the ballroom. In short, we kept one area closed. The guests were seated and dinner and speeches ensued. There was a great window view of the mountains, and the hotel had lit the trees outside as well. So we brought in our own trees (which I built onsite) to bring the outside in.

We also changed up the head table a little so it was easy for the wedding party and the guests to talk to each other. I am so bored with the long head table…another tradition I feel needs to go away, so we made it an open rectangle.

For the lighting we used a purple gel to compliment the wedding color and create a wonderfully romantic atmosphere. The centerpieces also used branches to continue the outside theme and we lit them with miniature LED lights for a wonderful glow at each table.

It’s Party Time

When the speeches were completed and dessert had been served, we had the MC announce that the Bride & Groom would now be leaving. With no explanation to the crowd, the Bride & Groom got up and left the room. This really got the room buzzing. There was no DJ or band set up in the dining area, there wasn’t even a dance floor.

So what now?

Well, as the wall divider was pulled back, the 13 piece band started up and the couple was already out on the dance floor. Everyone turned to see the ultra lounge we had created and kept hidden until now. It was party time and this was the place to party. The band was set up on the stage, there was an additional bar with tall cocktail tables, a huge dance floor, and across the dance floor was my lounge. We brought in modern, white leather furniture and created a lounge area to relax and chat when the guests weren’t dancing. We also had glass top coffee tables and white leather benches to increase the conversation area. This was also lit in the purple hue so it remained in step with the color theme of the wedding.

Simon’s Wedding Design Advice

Take your wedding day and break it into mini events. You want your guests to be talking about your wedding for years to come and to compare every other wedding they go to, to yours. You want to keep them guessing and you want them to be surprised. So treat each part of the day as if it were its own event. Weddings can become boring and predictable, I hate those weddings, and I see no reason why you should settle for one of “those” weddings.

Make sure you have a theme that carries throughout the entire day. This can be a color palette or in our case, bringing the outside in as we did by highlighting the outside view, placing winter trees in the cocktail area, and strategically placing trees in the dining area and the lounge. Make sure you have something to tie your mini events together or it can get really messy and the atmosphere and ambiance can get lost…and you don’t want that.                    

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