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Focus on the Big Picture First
Before you even think of napkin rings and cupcake flavors, sit down and visualize the grand scheme of the event as a whole. "I always approach weddings with a visual cue," Todd says. "What do you want the feel to be? The look? What do you want the weekend to say? How do you want your guests to feel in the space?" It's easy to get bogged down in the details as you're planning a wedding, so take the time to think big in advance. "I like the emotions of the party; I think that's what creates energy," he says. "I don't like saying ‘theme,' but in a sense, it is. Select what you want the experience to be, and then go from there."
Embrace the Over-the-Top…in Good Taste
When it comes to the event design, don't be afraid of a little glamour and even some visual drama. Think of your wedding like a production: Everything should be bigger, larger and brighter than you think it should be. "We once installed 15,000 strands of crystal from the ceiling of a room with white butterflies everywhere," Todd says. "It was amazing -- crazy-looking but amazing!" Even if you consider your style to be more down-to-earth and you're using, say, vintage frames as decor, display more than you think you need to add richness to the space. But one note of caution: There's a fine line between over-the-top and tacky. Work with a professional planner who knows proper production design to ensure everything is executed elegantly.
Never Let the Party Stop
"My favorite way to wow guests is to keep the party active and ever-changing," Todd says. Map out the flow of the evening in advance so you can time the party just right; there should never be a lull in the momentum. Even subtle changes in the lighting or the food will spark your guests' attention. "It's about managing the bubble, keeping everything inside the experience of the event and hitting those emotional highs," he explains. Fun surprises throughout the evening are always a great way to drop some jaws. Todd's favorite recommendation: "A confetti cannon at the perfect time." The cocktails are flowing, the music is pumping and boom! Trust us -- surprises make the party.
Take Your (Entire) Budget Into Account
Speaking of surprises, wedding costs can sneak up on you. It's best to work out your budget first before signing on any dotted lines. The big checks -- like the reception venue, the catering and the photographer -- are easy to map out, but Todd also recommends keeping wiggle room in your budget for incidentals and small upgrades. "Large-scale events have several different cost categories (like upgraded champagne or guest transportation) that can add up fast," he says. Another way to keep your budget in check is to take the other events into account (like welcome receptions, after-parties and morning-after brunches). "When setting a budget in advance, decide if that's for the entire weekend or just the Saturday budget," Todd says. It will help you stay organized throughout the process and know exactly what you're spending in the end.