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Make It Look Effortless
When it comes to attention to details, don't let them see you sweat. With all the over-the-top details Colin has created -- from hand-embroidering 1,500 napkins with a family crest to flying in 13 color-stained woods to the Middle East for a patterned dance floor -- he says the key is making it seem as if it were no work at all. "People think these things happen so easily, but I like to make sure that my work always appears effortless and elegant; it should never look contrived," he says. "The guests don't have to understand how many thousands of hours we spent making something," just that it was done right.
Believe in the Power of the Tent
If you're looking to create an entirely new atmosphere, you can't go wrong with incorporating a tent into your venue. As a blank canvas, Colin says tents "really give you the ability to bring in whatever architectural elements you want to create a very authentic statement." He says he once even built a stone church around a tent: "When you saw the façade of it, you would have thought it had been there since the 19th century."
Let Lighting Carry Your Party
To change the tone throughout your wedding, Colin suggests using lighting as an indicator of the evening's events. Start with one kind of lighting during the cocktail hour, shift it to indicate movement to dinner (and even course-by-course), and transition into dancing. "As the candles burn down, the wine takes effect, and the volume goes up," he says, "use lighting to keep the excitement going, so that your night is never static."
Keep Time to a T
"There is an art to throwing a wedding, and it's all in the timing," Colin advises. "A well-produced wedding has a distinctive beginning, middle, and end -- everything smoothly orchestrated without downtime." Work with your planner to ensure that each element of the evening is impeccably timed. Colin says you should walk down the aisle no more than 15 minutes after the printed start time. Cocktails should last 45 minutes, and guests should move to their tables before the hour. Dinner should be served within an hour and a half. Guests should never wonder when the next event is going to occur. "In the end, everyone should leave saying they can't believe it's already over -- because it moved along so elegantly," he says.
Recognize Your Guests
It's easy to get wrapped up in personalizing a wedding for yourself, but Colin suggests recognizing your guests where you can. "I love the idea of personalizing a menu for them," he says. "People like to see their name in print. It makes them feel welcome. It makes them feel special." Of course the extravagances matter, but he says it's the little things that will be the most memorable. "True style has nothing to do with how much money you spend," Colin says. "It doesn't matter how many flowers you use or what kind of caviar you serve; it's about how you treat your guests."