Saturday I crashed a wedding. Well......Kind of. I had permission, so it wasn't as scandalous as I just made it sound. I was doing my homework. I have a very large and intricate wedding this fall at the coolest venue in Los Angeles, Vibiana, and so Saturday I went and viewed a wedding that had a similar number of guests and room turn over that I will have. 'Room turn over' meaning the ceremony and reception are to be held in the same place with the switch happening during the cocktail hour. It's definitely challenging, but done all of the time.
My contact at Vibiana had let me know about this wedding and told me it would be a good one to watch. It really was. It was great to go be a fly on the wall at someone else's wedding! Along with observing all of the usual vendor set up stuff, I had the time to watch the guests and see how they were behaving. If guests are comfortable, they will happily stay where they "should" and enjoy the party. If there is anything make them uncomfortable (long bar lines, too hot/too cold, not enough food, not enough places to sit, etc.) they will get restless, antsy, and start disrupting the flow of whatever is going on which in turn throws off the flow of the event. Trust me, you want to keep your guests happy!
When you have chosen your venue, talk to your on site coordinator and ask permission to come discreetly peek at a wedding. You will be surprised at how many things will be brought to your attention that you would never have thought about! How is the parking situation? The signs directing you where to go? The traffic flow of how people are being directed? The lighting? The acoustics? The staff? Just make sure to dress appropriately, have permission, and stay in the shadows. You'll learn a lot doing this homework!
Below are some pictures I took while observing from up in the mezzanine. The 34 uplights on the columns were gorgeous, as were the patterns projected on the altar and ceiling.