Q: We want to get married and have the reception all in one place. How can we stage the ceremony and the party so that our guests don't feel as if they're trapped in the same room for a whole day?
Fear not: Since many weddings are held in hotels with limited large spaces, most guests fully expect to feel trapped. Still, there are plenty of creative ways to give the feeling of freedom. The key is the cocktail hour, which can be held outdoors or in a small anteroom. That provides a change of scenery for the guests, as well as an opportunity for the venue's staff to transform the room, whisking away the chairs from the ceremony and placing them around tables. "When the guests return, the room has a completely different look, so it seems like a different space," says Fleur Pang, owner of A Warm Reception in Duxbury. Another claustrophobia reducer is to set up a separate hang-out area within the space, says Pang, where guests can take a break from dancing the Macarena and have a quiet conversation.