Wedding Data Viz: How We Designed For Feelings by Amy Cesal, Zander Furnas
For our wedding, we created a network graph of the connections between all of our guests and designed individualized data-driven badges that highlighted each guests’ unique relationship to us, the bride and groom.
When you meet your spouse collaborating on data visualization, you have to make data viz part of your wedding. At least, that is how we (Amy Cesal and Zander Furnas) felt. Collaboration has always been a central part of our relationship as it evolved from coworkers, to friends, and ultimately life partners. It was a real joy for us to collaborate on the visualization for our wedding.
This project was an unusual design challenge. As an academic researcher and data visualization designer duo, we are used to visualizing data where accuracy is paramount. In this project, we wanted our data visualizations to inspired the specific feelings that we wanted to cultivate at our wedding. In several instances, this meant intentionally choosing impressionistic, evocative design features rather than data-mappings that might facilitate the most technically accurate interpretations.
We created a large-format banner for our guests to view as they entered our venue. Weddings are fundamentally about relationships, and a well-designed network visualization can effectively represent small-scale relational data. This social network graph showed how all of our guests knew each other.
Weddings can feel socially overwhelming, so we designed the welcome banner to make our guests feel connected to the community we brought together to celebrate. The banner allowed our guests to immediately see who else they knew at the wedding, how everyone knew each other, and get an overall sense of the communities that were important to us.
The name badges we designed served double duty by having table assignments on the back with stickers. We made the badges the same size as the circles representing each guest’s node on network (2.5" diameter), and affixed the badges to the banner. The network map served as the display for badges/table assignments, and the badges served as the labels on the network diagram.
Each badge had a heart visual on it, in which each lobe represented the guests relationship to one of us. The size of each lobe indicates the length of the relationship and the color of the lobe indicates the type of relationship (e.g., family friend, family, childhood friend, coworker etc.). However, we were more interested in creating a feeling, than in facilitating minute comparisons of “who has known us longer.” We had to be careful in how we represented comparatively new relationships, because we didn’t want any of our guests to feel minimized by their badges. As a result, some level of obscurity in the design was desirable for our purposes. We set a minimum size for the heart lobes, and applied a non-linear transformation to the length of the relationship to make sure that the badges of guests who we had only recently met still looked fun and welcoming.
The entrant has supplied multiple files for this work: