Lucie Sterns Wedding

9 Creative Ways to Add Intimacy to a Large Wedding

This is a guest post by Wendy Dessler for Lauren Lindley Photography.  Read more about Wendy at the bottom of the post.

Adding Intimacy to large weddings

Large weddings can seem overwhelming and impersonal, unless you make specific efforts to combat those impressions. From staffing up to help ease crowding to enlisting the help of attendants recognizable in their bridesmaid dresses, here are nine creative ways to add intimacy to a large wedding:

1. Treat every arriving guest like a valued VIP. Have servers tray-pass non-alcoholic refreshments before the ceremony (and collect the containers – please!), and have many greeters and ushers who can help find seats and pass programs.

Fresh Coconut water

Fresh coconut water passed out as guests arrive to a island beach wedding hits the spot!

2.  Spread out services so guests don’t feel like cattle waiting in long lines. Have many smaller bars for beverage service, stations throughout the room that repeat so there is always somewhere to go to get quick service. You will never regret going overboard on the number of servers you have, and you may have to make a special request to increase the staffing, but be firm. The least intimate feeling originates when your guests feel like their needs are not being managed well. Long lines lead to wasted time and isolation. Demand the service you need to make every guest feel special and loved.

Taco Bar

3.  Create vignettes – these small scenes will allow you to celebrate many different things about your relationship, whether they gel well into a theme or not. In a large venue, you can create smaller rooms and scenes. Incorporate some aspect of your personalities – his love of baseball or her love of the ballet – and theme the food, music and décor in that area on that aspect.

4.  Seat guests at tables of six to eight. Tables of ten can be overwhelming and don’t create a sense of camaraderie. There is always someone at some end of the table who doesn’t know what is going on at the other. It will cost you more in linens and centerpieces, but it will create a feeling that the wedding is smaller and more intimate.

Wedding reception

5.  Don’t choose enormous centerpieces that block conversation. Intimacy is created through interactions and relationships. Choose low centerpieces that allow visibility across tables.

Wedding Table Decor
6.  Enlist the help of your attendants to make guests feel at home. Your guests will recognize their role from their matching grey bridesmaid dresses and will naturally be more inclined to talk to them.

Greeting wedding guests

7.  Schedule a five-hour reception instead of four, and plan to spend a significant amount of that time greeting guests. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat – if your meal is seated, you could use a bit of extra time at the cocktail hour to have a small private meal, just the two of you, then circulate while your guests eat. Or, follow a stations model of food service instead of seated, then between small, freshly-prepared portions you can roam the room.

8.  Stay organized! It’s difficult to keep track of all of the details of a large wedding, but if you make the extra effort to keep your seating chart, guest meal preferences, escort card list and other such details organized, your guests will never suffer while your staff tries to “sort things out” at the last minute. Be conscientious and know that the more detail you can provide your servers about special dietary requests and guest needs, the better they can perform their jobs.

Wedding Favors

10.  Personalize the details throughout your wedding so every guest feels like they are part of your love story. Take the time before the wedding to handwrite tiny personal thank you notes on each guest favor, for example. You’ll have to start early, but your guests will surely appreciate your efforts.

 

Author Spotlight: Wendy Dessler is a super-connector with Outreachmama.com and Toweringseo.com who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition.

Sugar Bowl Wedding

Sugar Bowl Wedding | Truckee, CA | Kristin + Alan

Kristin and Alan both spend their summers working for a summer camp for kids and they warned me ahead of time that their camp friends get a little rowdy, like to dance party, and that rubber animal masks often make an appearance.  What they did not warn me about: that there would be a ninja turtle at the dance party.  Best reception surprise ever!

Their Sugar Bowl wedding featured the highs and lows that you would expect from any ski resort wedding – literally.  They were wed on the grass at the base of the resort, sent their friends and family up the lift for cocktail hour at the top of the mountain and then returned to the base for a beautiful dinner and reception on the deck of the lodge.

Because their summer camp roots are so important to them, the reception was camp themed and the centerpieces featured appropriate items like lanterns.  Take away gifts were custom ceramic mugs and table assignments were according to cabin names. It was a gorgeous day, an adorably themed DIY wedding and an incredible dance party.

Venue: Sugar Bowl Ski Resort | Officiant: Rev Channing Smith | Florist: Sugar Bowl Ski Resort | Bakery: Ikeda’s California Country Market | Musician: Megan Bigelow | DJ: Ashlee Sleek | Bride’s Attire: Trudy’s Bridal | Bridesmaids’ Attire: Dessy | Groom’s Attire: The Celtic Shoppe | Hair and Make-up: Daymaker Brides | Second Shooter: Annie Robillard

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Ehrman Mansion Wedding

Sugar Pine Point Wedding | Lake Tahoe, CA | Stefani + Sean

Stefani and Sean found me in a bit of a panic: their wedding photographer had cancelled on them mere months out from the big day.  It’s the stuff your wedding planning nightmares are made of.  I was happy to photograph this true Tahoe couple’s big day, especially since Sean is from Texas and Stef is from Tahoe and they met through mutual friends over a love of skiing!  They promised me an epic dance party (check), fun people (check), cookies (check), a raging afterparty (check), and a downright awesome time (check).  I was thankful to have one of my best friends, Nicky, of Nemus Photography, along to second shoot that day.  Their Sugar Pine Point wedding was the perfect gorgeous lakeside Tahoe beach affair.

Ceremony Venue: Sugar Pine Point State Park | Reception Venue: Tahoe Beach Retreat | Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas | Officiant: David Caputo | Coordinator: Tricia Boyle | Florist: The Petal Pusher | DJ: Big Sound DJ and Audio | Bride’s Attire: Casablanca Bridal | Bridesmaid Attire: Lulus | Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse | Rentals: Event Masters | Videographer: Katie McNally | Second Photographer: Nemus Photography

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Smokey Glen Farm Wedding

Smokey Glen Farm Wedding | Gaithersburg, MD | Jane + Robbie

There were so many things I didn’t know about Jane and Robbie before their wedding day.

Such as, Robbie’s family spends an extraordinary amount of time in caves.

They wouldn’t have met if it hadn’t been for Robbie’s clear disregard that smoothies should not be made at 4 AM.

Jane’s wit can best anyone’s.

Also, Jane is apparently extra crafty – she made gorgeous paper decor for the entire event which she now sells in her own etsy shop.  If you are interested in high quality wedding printables and incredible paper flowers, go to Paper Jane Design Co!

I loved everything about Jane and Robbie’s wedding.  It was my ideal in every way: a laid back gathering, outdoors, with little fuss, on a farm in the hills of Maryland.  There was BBQ, lawn games, and the giant love balls made a reappearance.

I feel so thankful that I was connected to this rad couple thanks to Thumbtack.  Their wedding weekend was simply amazing!

Venue: Smokey Glen Farm | Invitations: Cards & Pockets | Bride’s Attire: Allure Bridals | Veil: ieie | Groom’s Attire: Black Lapel

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Lucie Sterns Wedding

Lucie Stern Center Wedding | Palo Alto, CA | Caitlin + Marcus

Caitlin met me when she was a bridesmaid in a Lake Tahoe Golf Course wedding that I photographed for two of my most favorite clients to date!  Caitlin, Marcus, Christina and Jose all share a similar friend group and based on Christina and Jose’s wedding, I knew that their Lucie Stern Center wedding was guaranteed to be a raucous wild dance party.    They did not disappoint!

Their wedding was filled with wonderful surprises: a farm-to-table caterer with fun small plate food stations, a crying flower girl (who doesn’t love that?), and instead of the standard religious or literary reading, a friend read the lyrics of a rap song during the ceremony, a nod to Caitlin and Marcus’ shared love of both rap and their sense of humor.  They had lawn games in the community center plaza, a photo booth (of course!) on the prints of which I managed to spell both a name wrong and get the date wrong (if you don’t know, it’s 2016, not 2017) (they forgave me), and overall, a wild booze-filled party of the best kind.  The dance floor was packed from the moment they kicked it off.

Venue: Lucie Stern Community Center | Invitations: Wood & Water Paper | Florist: White Oak Flower Shoppe | Catering: The Green Grocer | DJ: Terry Cole of The Spinheads | Bride’s Attire: Trudy’s Bridal | Hair and Makeup: The Blushing Bombshell | Bridesmaid Attire: Weddington Way | Groom’s Attire: Nordstrom | Rentals: The Green Grocer

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Miner's Foundry Wedding

Nevada City Wedding Photographer | Alysha + Jackson | Sneak Peek

Alysha said that she knew I was the photographer for her the minute she saw me on Skype with a huge glass of wine in my hand.  Alysha and Jackson were visibly relaxed during their wedding day at the Miner’s Foundry Cultural Center.  Surrounded by friends and family and the rustic weathered building that was originally a machine shop, they wed in a quiet ceremony and celebrated with a reception that offered some of the best mac’n’cheese I’ve had lately (and you know I love mac’n’cheese).

Here’s a few sneak peeks from my day as their Nevada City Wedding Photographer.  There’s more to come from this awesome couple!

Nevada City Wedding PhotographerMiner's Foundry Wedding PhotographyNevada City Wedding Portraits

Anytime Light

2015 Wedding Photography Workshops | California | Education

I am a huge proponent of continued education, no matter what your field of work is.  The most amazing part of my job is that the only person I’m in competition with is myself.  I know that I can always be better and one of my goals this year was to attend at least two photography workshops, one that was wedding focused and one that was not.  I’m excited that I’m certainly going to go above and beyond this goal by attending numerous 2015 wedding photography workshops.

Learning in Action at the Anytime Light Workshop in January. Photo by Josh Baker, AzulOx

This past January, I traveled to Austin, TX to attend the Anytime Light Workshop from Azul Ox Visuals.  Azul Ox’s team creates dramatically different images than I normally do: bold cinematic photography with exceptional use of OCF.  It’s extremely important to be able to modify light to your needs: I would never want to turn down a portrait session simply because their only available time slot was noon.  At this small, intensive, hands on workshop we learned how to photograph at high noon in the Texas Sun while mitigating strong overhead light with all the tools available at our disposal.  From there, we worked on interior head shot lighting, sunset lighting with speedlights for dramatic evening portraits and finally, portraits in the dark after nightfall.

Austin Portrait Photographer

Turning day into night with strobes: anytime light! Photo by Lauren Lindley.

I was so impressed by the entire experience, I’m bringing Anytime Light to Tahoe for an extended three day workshop.  This workshop will give hands on experience, provide portfolio building images, and extensive learning for the small batch of students in one of the most gorgeous locations California has to offer.

Anytime Light Lake Tahoe still has spots available.  I honestly cannot impress upon you how amazing this workshop was in reiterating, reinforcing, and reminding me of all the tools I have at my disposal during a wedding or portrait session.  If you attend Anytime Light Lake Tahoe, you’ll learn everything you need to know about OCF (off camera flash) including how your flash power and distance and camera decisions work together.  You’ll learn about all the light modifiers you have to choose from and why and when to use them.  You’ll learn what type of OCF to use.  Speedlight? Strobe?  During all of this, you’ll be able to build your portfolio using real models at styled shoots in one of the most gorgeous locations on the planet!  I can’t imaging a better way to experience an OCF Workshop this year.  In addition, model Jennifer Lynn Larson is going to do a session on communicating with models per my request because I actually found that communicating with professional models and my lack of knowledge on this topic hindered my ability to get the types of images I wanted at the workshop in January.

Whether you are new to wedding photography or an established professional, this 2015 OCF workshop will help reinforce the knowledge you need to have to create the best images possible for your clients, despite the light conditions you experience.

Sunset and Speedlights. Photo by Josh Baker, AzulOx

In February, I attended Imaging USA 2015 put on by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) in Nashville, TN.  I specifically needed to source out new vendors for my business at the massive photography expo offered at the event.  I was searching for a new high end fine art album maker and found exactly what I was looking for in Finao.  I struggled, however, with the rest of the conference, which I took very little away from.  Many teachers or speakers tried to cram the same amount of information that I learned in a hands on all day session at Anytime Light in Austin into a one hour presentation.  The massive lecture halls filled with hundreds walked away more confused than they entered.  I think huge conferences are great for certain things: networking and vendor sourcing specifically.  While I met some amazing photographers whom I still keep in touch with (shout out to Michael Faga and Jennifer Oates), I can’t say that I walked away with any specific educational knowledge at all, despite sitting in three days worth of one hour lectures.

This June, I’m looking forward to attending FOSTER 2015 led by Ben Sasso and Katch Silva.  FOSTER is a hands on workshop of education and discussion.  They will lead us in live shoots using natural light, posing, directing and then finally, leading discussions about the most important aspects of the wedding photography business including editing, workflow, social media, style and branding, client interaction and more.  It takes place in Joshua Tree and I’m ashamed to admit: I’ve never been there!

LGBT San Diego Wedding

Utilizing OCF for wedding photographers. Photo by Lauren Lindley, Lauren Lindley Photography.

What I’m most excited about this year, other than hosting my own wedding photography workshop here in Lake Tahoe, is that I was recently notified of my early acceptance into the prestigious and highly competitive Missouri Photo Workshop.  This year will be the 67th anniversary of the workshop, which moves to a different small town in Missouri every year documenting small town life.  For over six decades now, photographers from around the world have worked to visually tell the stories of the people and institutions that come together to make the community chosen for the year.  They are directed by David Rees and Jim Curley with the help of dozen talented faculty members and a team of University of Missouri students.  It will teach me the fundamentals of researching, shooting and editing while emphasizing ethical practices.  I am overwhelmed, honored and unbelievably ecstatic to be offered this experience!

Tahoe Budget Wedding Photographer

Tahoe Wedding Photographer | Cathedral Meadow | Michelle + Nathan Sneak Peek

Michelle and Nathan wanted to get married.

So they got all dressed up, went out into the woods, marched into a field, and by golly, they got married.

It was AWESOME.

Michelle and Nathan, thanks for searching high and low for a photographer you loved and then paying me the highest compliment of hiring me as your Tahoe wedding photographer.  Rogue weddings are wonderful and I love them.  What a treat it is to be invited to participate in something so intimate, special and unique.  Thank you. 

Kathleen and Charlie

Tahoe Wedding Photographer Sneak Peek | Kathleen plus Charlie

I scream with excitement when brides and grooms dance down the aisle after the ceremony.

I mean really: if you are’t dancing down the aisle, as they would say in Texas, you ain’t right.

Thank you to Kathleen and Charlie for choosing me as their Tahoe wedding photographer.  I can’t wait to share more images form their amazing event at my favorite local venue, the Tahoe Beach Retreat.