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Elevate Your Day

Experiential weddings are growing in popularity

Food trucks personnel serve hungry partygoers. Guests laugh as they pop out of a photo booth and grab their newly printed mementos. Attendees keep a bounce house rocking. Others line up for a turn with the live portraitist. And a fireworks show lights up the sky as glasses clink with cheers.

All of that may seem appropriate to a Gatsby-esque party or a city festival in the streets. But for many, it’s the ideal vision for wedding-day festivities.

Experiential weddings were a trend even before the pandemic,  but COVID-19 caused them to become even more popular. The approach offers couples and their guests interactive ways to celebrate, beyond boogying on the dance floor.

“Following lockdown, there was an overall heightened appreciation for meaningful and memorable interaction,” said John Gandy, owner and creative director at John Gandy Events.

Photo courtesy of Black and Hue Photography

As wedding planners and designers, Gandy and his team help couples create novel experiences for their big day. Some of his favorites include processions from the ceremony to cocktail hour and taking guests on a cruise.

Sky Nobles, owner of Fizz & Foam mobile bar in Tallahassee, began her business in 2020. She has seen an influx of business in the years since, as couples return to the drawing board for their once-postponed wedding.

“Experiences make a wedding unique to that couple,” Nobles said.

Nobles’ mobile bar can be merged with any setting. Her signature Truckster serves guests pint-sized keg cocktails, specifically curated and named as the couple’s signature drink. Her champagne-lined Cheers Wall makes for a unique beverage presentation and photo backdrop. The company also offers a frozen drink cart, a flower truck and balloon service.

Photo courtesy of Alicia Osborne Photography

Various food and activity options can turn your wedding into a festival-like affair. A lineup of food trucks could include tacos, sweet treats, street food or a cotton candy cart. Mobile cigar bars, bourbon tastings, wine tastings and coffee bars are increasingly in demand, too. And campers, vintage buses and horse trailers can be converted into styled photo booths complete with decor and props.

Entertainers and artists can craft memorable experiences at the reception. Live painters or caricaturists offer entertainment to guests as well as a take-home memento. Florists can be incorporated beyond the bouquet, offering on-site crafting of flower crowns for guests to flaunt at the event and take home. Poets can craft romantic verse as favors. And tarot readers can provide guests with insights to their future.

To awe and amaze, hire a string quartet, a live band, fire dancers, belly dancers, ballerinas, a magician, a mariachi band or aerialists.

Photo courtesy of Sarah and Paul Photography

If you want to get attendees on their feet and interacting, consider lawn games, a wedding-themed scavenger hunt or karaoke. Bounce houses or carnival rides are not only fun but make for whimsical photo ops.

For an intimate wedding, elopement, bridal shower, engagement or bachelorette/bachelor party, picnics are a popular way to dine in a creative and aesthetic setting. Melissa Gross, owner of Serenity Picnic Company in Destin, creates custom beachfront picnics for small to large groups.

“We provide unique decorative touches and make a beach dining experience with what you would normally have at a nice restaurant,” Gross said. “We use real dishes and linens, beach-friendly drinkware that looks real and put it in a cozy and beautiful environment.”

Photo courtesy of Courtney Wahl Photography LLC

Weddings offer a rare occasion for family and friends to gather as a whole. So, seize the opportunity to create a once-in-a-lifetime event you’ll all be reminiscing about for years to come.

Experiences await.

Feature photo by Black and Hue Photography

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