Unlike cooking or auto mechanics or painting by numbers, there are no templates for creating a party.
There are so many not-so-obvious elements that make an event either crackle with electricity or die a slow death. One of these is the usage of space. I take a perverse and rebellious pleasure in attempting to re-envision venues in new ways, particularly when the catering director patiently explains how “it’s always done” with the ceremony here and 8, 60-inch rounds there, blah, blah, blah….When we work at homes or spaces that have never been used before, it’s my equivalent of tight rope walking (and I am pretty afraid of heights) – a mixture of sheer delight and horrendous nausea.
It’s not about inventing something just for the thrill of it – like any cliche, there’s a reason that venues have been set up the way they have since Fred and Wilma Flintstone’s wedding – it works. But, does it work in the very best way possible for this event, this client?
The caveat is, if you want to try something new, you had better be very vigilant in using the tools available to make sure it’s gonna fly: CAD or SketchUp or any number of possible programs, and that’s just the first step. An anecdote to illustrate (you know I love these):
Recently, while designing a wedding ceremony on a rooftop, we were undecided as to what would work best. The bride wanted it facing one way, we had some other ideas and the hotel had always set the chairs in another. We had walked it through enough times to make me sick of the setting, and measured and CAD planned it down to the millismidgens. BUT it was only when I sat there two days before the wedding at the precise time the ceremony would be taking place, that I realized none of this mattered, because the angle of the sun at that hour with the placement we were considering would have crisply roasted the bride, groom and all the guests in the first ten rows – obviously, we reconfigured it.
Having done this as long as I have, I’ve gotten pretty good at imagining what could work and how many people might fit comfortably in a space, or if a ceremony in the round would be clever and simpatico or if we could get some good drama by hanging the bandstand off of a cliff with the ocean underneath. However, I don’t take anything for granted, even with very sophisticated computer layouts.
So – if you see me crawling along in a silk skirt on a grungy floor with a tape measure in one hand and duct tape and chalk in another, be nice – I’m just double checking.
I’d love to hear about any of your inventive uses of space, of course I WILL “borrow” them, but what are friends for?