Practical, stylish, and accommodating — what more could you want from your wedding reception? A lounge area offers exactly this trio of perfection. Not only does it look great and extends your wedding décor, it offers guests a comfortable space to mix and mingle or relax their feet when they’re not hitting up — or when they’re avoiding — the dance floor. Besides adding style, a good lounge area offers an effective way to break up the space, thereby enhancing its flow.
Follow these tips to create fabulous lounge area at your wedding reception.
Location is Key
In a nutshell, guests should be in a prime spot from which they can easily opt in or out of activities. “Guests like to be where they can see the action,” says Emily Murphy of Manette Gracie Weddings and Events in Seattle, Washington. “For reception wedding lounge spaces, we like to place them a bit off the dance floor, so it's not too noisy for a conversation, but not too far away to miss the fun or remove them from the action. Often times guests want a rest, but still want to be able to rejoin the dance floor should their favorite song come on, or be able to see if a guest decides to make an impromptu toast or any special dances happen, etc.”
“Make sure the lounge space is still within arms reach of the reception,” adds Troy Francis of Troyal Events in Washington D.C. “While the purpose of a wedding lounge space is to take a break from being in the middle of the action, it should still feel connected to the rest of the wedding. Not only via proximity, but also service — make sure late night snacks, desserts, and passed beverages are making their way to the lounge area as well.”
Joann Woodward of Schwartz and Woodward in Houston, Texas, suggests creating a diagram of where you’re placing your guest tables, DJ or band, dance floor, food stations and buffets, bars, and any other areas that need space to be allocated. This will help you determine the best fit and flow for your wedding lounge area.
Design it Well
Once you have location down, you need to think about the more specific layout for the wedding lounge design itself, and rent furniture and other items accordingly. "Design your lounges to have enough seating for a group to sit and converse. Usually we plan for a sofa, two slipper chairs, a coffee table, two end tables and two to three poufs,” says Kristin Banta of Kristin Banta Events in Los Angeles.
One way Woodward designs a wedding lounge area is by creating a space of two love seats with a cocktail table and across two chairs to encourage people to sit and chat. She often tries to mirror this same area on the other side of the room if space allows.
“No matter where a lounge is set, or what purpose it is intended for, it's all about the details,” maintains Nora Sheils of Bridal Bliss in Portland, Oregon. “A lounge should be inviting and cozy.” She recommends including side tables and/or a coffee table for guests to set their cocktail or cake as they chat as well as styling it with pillows and elements that coordinate with the weddings (books, florals, lighting, etc).
Murphy points out that with so many outdoor weddings, there are often outdoor lounge spaces. Depending on sunset time, she says, you need to make sure these spaces have light so they can be used through the night, whether it’s bistro lights, wireless up lights, or battery operated lamps.
“We often tuck a little something fun on the coffee table, or on the side tables — a deck of cards, a little snack, or some other fun item for guests to discover while they lounge,” she adds. “It's a little extra token that can be customized to the couple, and make the guests feel taken care of.”
Francis is of a like mindset, who suggests considering a unique feature to the lounge space that will make it an attractive or unique spot for guests during the wedding; think group games, beverage tasting, specialty cocktails, etc.
Don’t Sacrifice Comfort
However, style and aesthetics shouldn’t come at the expense of comfort. After all, the lounge area is first and foremost designed as a place for guests to relax — they should be comfortable doing so!
As Francis puts it, “What's the point in wasting money on a Pinterest-worthy lounge space that doesn't get used enough? There are many ways to create a visually stunning lounge area, while also keeping guests cozy and wanting to hang out there.”
Sheils suggests stocking it with warm pashminas if the air is cool at night, or a fun bar cart for after-dinner drinks. “Ideally, have multiple pieces of furniture in different locations, so all can enjoy,” she says.
“Whatever the couple selects, you want to think about the comfort of your guests,” advises Woodward. “Seating is important because whether you have bar highs, cocktail rounds, or couches and chairs with tables, everyone needs to feel welcomed. Many times we hear complaints that there is no room for the guests and they end up departing… and this is not what the couple planned.”