magazine | Weddings | Tips + Advice

5 Ways to Plan Your Next Event With Guests in Mind, According to This Event Designer

Event designer, Reagan Barnes is sharing her top tips for designing an event focused on guest experience to ensure each guest has a wonderful time and every event goes smoothly.

When planning an event of any scale, I like to focus on the overall guest experience. While design and decor are very important, experience takes top priority for me. Here are a few tips to ensure a great guest experience for any size fête!

Reporter: Reagan Barnes 

Photography: Marni Pictures | Venue: The Vault | Linens: The Social Spool | Floral Design: Juniper and Jasmine | Event Design: Events by Reagan | Rentals: Snyder Events | Catering: CRU Catering
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Have Drinks Upon Arrival!

Nothing makes a guest happier and more comfortable than being offered a drink right away. For Kristin's party, we kept it classic by offering champagne in fluted champagne glasses at the gallery entrance. The cocktail hour was held in the main lobby of the old bank venue which currently serves as an art gallery. We kept the champagne flowing as guests got acquainted and the anticipation built for Kristin's unveiling of the dinner room.
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Introduce an Element of Surprise!

It can be as simple as inviting guests to wear all one color (Kristin asked hers to wear white) or keeping one element of the evening a surprise for guests to look forward to. In Kristin's case, the surprise was the unveiling of an intimate dinner table tucked away in the venue's old bank vault! Guests could see the floral adorned vault door as they sipped their pre-dinner champagne however the true magic of the interior draping and plethora of flowers wasn't revealed until they stepped inside.
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Pick a Theme

Whether it's a true theme or just a design element, choose something and carry it throughout the event from invitations to table top decor. Kristin chose to focus on the color green and floral elements. From green paper goods, floral napkins and custom table runner, colored glassware, tapered candles, and sage drapery the theme was carried out in a bold and tailored way. The entire design was very feminine and flirty (like the birthday girl herself)!
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Invite the Chef to the Table!

Nothing says service more than a chef presenting his dish table-side, which is what we decided to do for Kristin's dinner. Rather than set each place setting with a dinner menu that may clutter the table top once guests are seated, we decided to elevate the guest experience a touch by having the chef describe each dish as they were served. So simple yet very impressive!
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Pre-Plan Toasts

Guests always appreciate a little order, especially on a special occasion where guests may feel inclined to toast the guest of honor. Grab the bull by the horns and designate someone in advance to begin the dinner with a welcome to thank guests for being there. Also designate someone to conclude the dinner with a toast to the guest of honor. This toast may invite others who would like to also say a few words. If no one else speaks, it will serve as the perfect conclusion to the evening. For Kristin's party, Kristin welcomed her guests and thanked them for traveling from all over the country to celebrate her 30th. Her husband concluded the evening with a heartfelt toast and invitation for all guests to join them for drinks at the afterparty down the road!

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