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Ask A Wedding Expert: Engaging Your Guests

Luxury event planner David Monn reveals his top five secrets to creating an unforgettable wedding

David Monn, famous in the events world for his extensive experience in ultra-luxury entertaining, has organized extravagant parties inside legendary venues like The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The New York Public Library and the Guggenheim Museum. His clients have included LVMH, The Plaza Hotel and the Metropolitan Opera–among countless other iconic institutions. The author of David Monn: The Art of Celebrating even put together a White House State Dinner for former President Barack Obama. 

For this week’s “Ask A Wedding Expert,” Monn divulges one of his secrets to an amazing event: engaging guests’ five senses. “When our senses are all engaged, we–our entire body–is in that experience,” Monn says. Here, Monn shares how to entertain every sense during your wedding day to create an unforgettable experience for you and your guests.

What are the best ways to incorporate the five senses into your wedding?

If it’s a garden wedding, you first smell the aroma of a rose garden. If it’s an evening wedding you may hear the water of a fountain or tree frogs chirping. You then see the moonlit rose garden and later dine under the moonlight and taste the freshness of organic produce. Heightening the senses works for any event, but especially a wedding. 

Sight: Our eyes absorb the scene, but for this to occur there must be strict attention paid to proper lighting. I believe it is essential for light to come from an incandescent or natural source. As smell and sound have preceded sight, what we now observe becomes richer and more memorable. As the experience progresses, we ourselves become more intrigued, and we have a desire to touch and to taste.

Hearing: From the silence of a church to the beautiful sound of a string quartet in a wedding ceremony, each aspect adds to the experience of enriching any event, particularly in a wedding.

Touch: I love the idea of guests being able to interact with centerpieces. Whether it’s a straight line of single tulips rising from the table, or a large bowl of fruit, letting your guests touch their surroundings allows for a more engaging experience. It’s almost important to focus on the small sense of touch, such as starched table linens, bisque porcelain, fine glassware, and the weight of quality flatware.

Smell: No matter where you find yourself, the first sense that is triggered is smell. Smell evokes memories and helps create new ones. Perfume, rain, a flower, salt spray from the ocean, or mountain air—just hearing the words can evoke memories. I love using Star Jasmine as a fragrance in weddings, it’s such a romantic scent.

Taste: When planning a menu with a client, we always think through favorite dishes and then figure out which chef to bring onto the project. The menu needs to help tell the story of the wedding, whether it be related to their heritage, cultural background, or simply a meaningful dish they have shared.