Ask the Expert: How Can We Make One Room Feel Like Many?

Décor expert Kendall Brown tells you how to get creative with your space

Question: Our ceremony, cocktail hour and reception are all taking place in one gigantic room. How do we make it so our guests don’t feel like they’re trapped in the same space all day and night?

Answer: The trick when your wedding is in one big room, says Kendall Brown of Northern Liberties’ Éclatante Event Design & Boutique, is to give guests the impression that they are being transported from one layer of the celebration to another with the strategic use of draping, lighting, colors and furniture.

Use drapes (in décor-coordinating colors, of course!) and seating areas, says Brown, to separate the different areas of your celebration — the ceremony, cocktail hour, and dining and dancing — and change up the lighting each time. She gives us this example: After a formal ceremony incorporating greens and white and lots of candlelight, open up the drapes to reveal a chic cocktail area with little seating groups — still with the green and white, but this time, with pops of orange, and a hip blend of artificial lights. While your guests mix and mingle, have the staff discreetly rearrange the ceremony seating to create more little areas for your guests to spread out during the cocktail hour.

To announce dinner, another set of drapes should open up to reveal a dining and dancing area with white, greens, oranges and now, blues, and add in another lighting change. For this type of reception, Brown recommends incorporating each room into the next, as opposed to leaving it behind — and not having a sit-down dinner, so guests can continue to use each informal seating group you’ve had arranged. Add in changes of food and music from one part of the celebration to the next, and your party will be a series of stunning reveals.