For storytellers, weddings have it all: family drama, high stakes, wildcard guests, well-laid plans, opportunity for mishaps, and, of course, love. The world of high-end weddings adds the layers of massive expense and elaborate, fantastic details. It’s an opportunity to transport readers.
We wrote about planning extravagant events at a moment when most of our loved ones’ celebrations were postponed. But now, there will be an estimated 2.5 million weddings in 2022—the most in the U.S. since 1984. For context, that’s up nearly a half a million from pre-pandemic levels and more than double the number in 2020.
So, weddings will very much be in the atmosphere. Given all this, we curated a few tips from our own experiences in both literature and in event planning for crafting fictional luxury weddings.
5 Things Writers Should Know About High-End Weddings
Find humor in the mistakes.
No matter the budget, there is always something that goes wrong at a wedding. Mine for the comedy in these moments, because it will captivate readers and there's nothing quite as relatable as trying to fix something before anyone finds out.
Right off the bat in Without a Hitch, we describe a beautiful getaway boat that becomes unmoored, and our protagonist, Lottie, has to tug it back to shore in time for the couple's big farewell. The whole sequence of events is a comedy of errors, and draws the reader into this world of over-the-top, wacky opulence which might otherwise be a bit unrelatable without that element of humor.
Remember that luxury weddings are multi-day affairs.
It's so much more than just the "big day!" There's a welcome party, daytime activities, a night-before gathering, the wedding itself, an afterparty, and farewell events on Sunday. A realistic portrayal will reference most of these events.
Remember that there is always a “through line,” or some semblance of continuity, from the first event to the last. The design and the details will be unified on some level to make the whole weekend cohesive; this is important to keep in mind when you're setting the scene.
And in a post-pandemic world, this will be especially true—more weddings are moving to having multiple events, whether that’s over several days or across varied locations around the country.
Populate the world top to bottom.
Weddings, especially massive ones, provide a host of characters to mine for a story. Our book is about a junior wedding planner, but an event doesn’t happen without everyone from the waitstaff to the florist, the officiant to the maid of honor.
That wide range provides infinite possibilities for characters to interact, especially ones from different backgrounds. Depending on the context, there’s a bit of an upstairs-downstairs element to play with as well—social class, economic status, surprising poignancy, all of it.
Highlight the culture.
While our story takes place in the American South, luxury weddings are, of course, found in every culture around the country and the world. No matter the budget, most ceremonies incorporate elements from the bride and groom’s religious, ethnic, or cultural backgrounds. The melding of differing cultures is also a great opportunity for description, character development, backstory and drama—and in a high-end wedding these moments can be multiplied and heightened.
Do your image research.
Do a deep dive into the archives of Town & Country and Vogue. Peruse OverTheMoon.com (co-Founder Alexandra Macon used to write about weddings for Vogue). Luxury weddings are so rich in the visuals—embroidery on a dress, layers of decor on a dinner table, the jewels, the floral design—that it's very valuable to immerse yourself in the right imagery for inspiration. Instagram is a fabulous tool for this, as well.
Follow some of the top planners—Mindy Weiss (who loved our book and wrote a glowing review!), Colin Cowie (Colin Cowie Lifestyle), Todd Fiscus (Todd Events), Bryan Rafanelli (Rafanelli Events), Preston Bailey—along with luxury venues and florists.
All of this will give you a great starting point to create your own luxury event, fictitious though it may be!