Reception Ideas

Because the reception is usually the single largest expensive in any wedding, lots has been written about it. Much of the lore of receptions represents historical or traditional flavor. But times have changed. The economy is different. The bride and groom are different and the focus on the reception as the celebratory segment of a wedding event has changed somewhat

One assumes that the commitment to another person inherent in the engagement process, is binding. However, like the Crystal Harris plan to marry Hugh Hefner, it is always subject to change. Crystal canceled her wedding plans two days before the event. One can only assume that there were sufficient funds available to cover lost deposits and to issue guest list wide notes of cancellation. But assuming that the wedding and reception went on as planned, these modern notes of advice would have been well received.

Leave the reception before your guests. It used to be the “rule”. The wedding couple changed into their “traveling clothes” and left the reception to begin their honeymoon. Today’s couples have challenged that tradition and are frequently the last to leave their reception. In some cases, it becomes a waiting game. No one is sure who should leave when, so no one does. One can speculate about the reason for this need to be the last to leave the party, but it can prove awkward. Be gracious and leave before your guests begin to nod off at their tables. It was a super party, but someone has to leave at some point.

Whatever you budget for the reception, DO IT WELL!

If you don’t have the money for a sit down dinner, switch to a buffet. Don’t skimp. Do what you can afford to do beautifully. Switch days, switch times, switch venues–do whatever gives you the most beautiful ceremony and reception with your budget. Don’t try to reach a level that you cannot afford. Skimping always shows.

Let your focus at the reception be on your guests. This is a huge party/celebration you are hosting. And hosting means that the focus is on the guests. The first rule of entertaining guests is to consider their time and attention. That means: cut down the time between the ceremony and the reception. Don’t make them wait several hours between events.  If the lag time is two hours, that is too much. Also, work hard to have the venue for the reception and the ceremony close together. Be considerate of your guests and don’t make them drive an hour or more to get from one event to another.

Cut down the guest list. You don’t need to have the area’s largest reception. Invite only those people who matter to you both. Surveys have shown that after several years, couples look at their wedding photos and are amazed by the numbers of guests they cannot name. To a person, those couples regret having invited people who really don’t matter to their important event.

If you have changed your mind and don’t want to go through with the wedding, cancel it earlier rather than later. Don’t pull a Crystal Harris and cancel the wedding to Hugh Hefner two days before the event. Remember the focus on others. The bride isn’t the only star of the day. The groom is a significant player as well. If you two have doubts, work them out or agree to disagree and be gracious hosts.


More Hints from Planners

From: Mi Mi Design,

  • It sounds like a no brainer, but one of the most important elements of your day is the timeline. You do not want to even up paying for overtime for vendors because things ran behind, and you certainly do not want to keep your guests waiting because transportation is late. Staying as close to the timeline as possible is the key to throwing a successful event.
  • Instead of decking your space out in crazy centerpieces and crystal, focus your energy and money on things like creative entertainment elements. One couple we worked with brought in an artist to paint the party scene. Another hired a caricaturist and guests took home some custom portraits at the end of then night. These kinds of activities really make the experience special for everyone.
  • While edible and charitable favors are popular, every now and then we see a very specific favor that works great with a fun story or background. For instance, we once had a couple with the last name Duncan give away Duncan yo-yos. Another couple who met on an airplane gave out luggage tags. If they are relevant, small keepsakes can be charming favors.

Hints From Planners

The  professional wedding planners exchange ideas and are an excellent resource to tap. Here are some of their key pieces of advice

From: Sarah Trotter,

  • Keep your vendors close. There are always elements you have no control over on your wedding day. That’s why you need great vendors. Make sure you establish good communications with them early in the process. You want to make sure that you find people with whom you “click” and who are willing to help make your vision come together.
  • You can really customize your wedding when it comes to food. Just recently one of my couples set up a whole room filled with State Fair food like donuts, corn dogs, and cotton candy. As much as I love planning over-the-top luxe weddings, it’s really the food that is going to get people buzzing about the night.
  • A lot of my brides get really stressed out about whether they’re supposed to be doing one thing or another. Don’t get so caught up in the “rules”. Instead, make sure you don’t have any regrets and that you’ve done everything the way you want as a couple. Enjoy the process of planning and don’t worry so much about what you think you have to do.

Invitation Tips

Because the invitations reflect the tone of your wedding they should be considered early on in your planning activities. Once you have developed your guest list, selected your ceremony and reception venues, and decided on the degree of formality you wish to express your wedding, you can comfortably begin to search for your invitations and other printed materials. Do not be overwhelmed by the myriad of choices that are available for you. At one time, there were few options in paper and print styles. Today’s bride has a wide rage of both from which to select.

Consider these points as you shop for your paper trousseau.

  • Take your business to a store that specializes in wedding papers. The staff there will have the expertise and experience to help you with paper selections and correct wordings. Their advice can end up saving you time and often money as well.
  • You will likely be ordering more than just invitations, so consider these other items as well: Save the date cards, insert cards (directions or other information) RSVP cards, place cards and table assignment charts, menus, thank you cards, programs and of course the invitations. Figure in all of the options as you look at pricing.
  • When you place your order, be sure to order extras of every item. Make sure that you send one of everything to yourself when the rest go out so you can monitor the delivery dates.
  • Be sure that you allow enough time to order, address, and send the invitation packages.  Double check with your print specialist on the tie frame required for satisfactory order completion. Most experts agree that invitations should go out 6-8 weeks prior to the ceremony.
  • Consider purchasing special issue postage stamps rather than just ordinary stamps. Check with your local postal service for the options that may work for you. Be sure to check on delivery times if you select a personalized stamp pattern. Always take a sample of your fully “loaded” invitation package to the post office to verify the amount of postage to put on each. How embarrassing to have it arrive at your guest’s home with “postage due”.
  • Always, always double check the proofs of the invitation copy. Have someone else double check as well. IT is easy to skip over and not notice errors in copy with which you are so familiar. A misspelled name can cause unnecessary delays and expense.
  • If children are being invited to the wedding and reception, their names are usually included on the envelope, clearly letting the parents know that the children are invited. If children are not to be included, just the invited guest’s names are on the invitation. This lets the parents know exactly to whom the invitation is intended. If children are not being invited to attend–for whatever reason, plan how you will handle requests from guests who wish to bring their children. Have alternative plans in place in case this becomes an issue.

Glossary of Men’s Formalwear

While dress criteria have relaxed in some areas, even ignored in others,w e feel that a wedding is a time for suitable dress codes for the men involved. Here are some of the most common terms with updated explanations.

  • Black Tie- Considered to be the standard for almost any evening affair, a black tie event requires a tuxedo for men. While many designers have versions of this classic, choose a black jacket with satin or grosgrain lapels, black trousers (usually with a stripe down the side), a bow tie, and a cummerbund. (Think James Bond).
  • White Tie- Refers to full evening dress. Traditionally it is a tux with tails, a top hat, an overcoat, a cane, and of course a white bow tie. (This Fred Astair) If the wedding party is in full formal attire, it is usual to suggest that male guests appear in tuxedos or at least dark suits.
  • Black Tie Optional (Or Preferred)- This specific dress code extends the option of wearing either a suit or a tuxedo. If this is extended to guests, then it needs to apply to the groom as well. Generally, the groom and members of the wedding party will choose a tuxedo (with your encouragement) but classic suits in dark shades like black, deep navy or brown are also considered appropriate.
  • Daytime Wedding (in warm weather)- This dress code implies a level of informality (this Sunday brunch) and allow for linen or twill suits. If the wedding is at a beach or informal outdoor site, men can skip a tie and wear a simple blazer with dress pants.
  • Daytime Wedding(in cold weather)- This dress code usually suggests men go with either a cotton or wool suit in the fall and winter seasons. Preferred colors are dark-navy or black. Ties are preferred.

The Center of Attention

Brides frequently ask us about centerpieces for their wedding reception. The list of options is long and varied but these are some of the most often used by brides.

If your florist is providing centerpieces for your reception, work closely with him/her to be sure that the theme or color thread you have chosen for your wedding continue to the reception area. We have seen weddings where one theme dominates the ceremony and another is chose for the reception. If the two are complimentary, it is soothing. If the choices are worlds apart, it can be jarring to move from one to another. Complimentary themes are comfortable.

If you are handling reception centerpieces on your own, here are some ideas to keep in mind.

  • A centerpiece should never block a guest’s view.
  • If color has been a theme for you wedding celebration–introduced in the invitation and save the date cards–it should continue through the reception and any next day celebrations you plan.
  • For informal centerpieces arrange flowers to have a “just picked” look. Use wild flowers or branches of season flowers for an unusual impact.
  • Formal centerpieces are usually symmetrical in either a triangular, circular or rectangular shape.
  • Flowers may be used as a centerpiece and/or casually placed at each place setting.
  • Create a still life with fruits, flowers, and vines arranged on a lovely tray.
  • Pitchers–used singly on in groups, make attractive containers.
  • Pretty baskets filled with blooming plants and tucked in with moss work well.
  • Arrange several crystal candlesticks on a mirror as a centerpiece. Insert candles in your color theme or use creamy white. Just remember that they should be tall enough to be above eye level or low enough so that the flame will not be annoying.
  • Also grouped on a mirror, consider using wine glasses each with a flower afloat.
  • If the facility can handle it, some centerpieces can be hung above table in special baskets.


Remember that the size and shape of a centerpiece should be in proportion to the table and flowers should never be so fragrant that they overpower the food served.

Beautiful Brides

And we mean beautiful inside as well as outside. The ideal bride-to-be is a charming, glowing, happy individual who sees the world through the traditional rose-colored glasses. Unfortunately, the actions of some of her “sisters”, who may have earned the 21st century media title of “Bridezilla”, tarnish that view of a bride. There is even a TV show of the same name that features brides at their worst.

We want our brides to be happy, plan the wedding of their dreams, but e also want them to be the focus of warm thoughts from relatives and guests who see her at her very best–gracious and focused on others. The best bride is one who does not focus on herself only but who shares her happiness with family and friends. We have to believe that no one wants to be referred to as “Bridezilla”. How embarrassing is that?

Here are some areas and behaviors for you- the bride to be- to avoid if you don’t want to wear the reptilian title.

  • Stop talking about the wedding non-stop. It is good that you have enthusiasm for the upcoming nuptials, but not everyone on the planet is focused on your big day. Get some perspective and realize as one guest stated “The world is still turning outside of the bride’s realm.” Your wedding is our focus, but not everyone shares that focus.
  • Realize that a “me first” attitude is unbecoming. People wish you well and want you to be happy, but it is unrealistic to expect everyone within your circle of family and friends will drop everything to focus on your wedding. That is why you have us. We will provide that focus. We help our brides to avoid being a diva and remind them to treat friends and family with care and concern.
  • Avoid going well over your budget. Experts say that “spending excessively to achieve what is perceived as perfection is bridezilla behavior.” Let our experienced consultants help you manage your budget and produce a glorious wedding within those constraints.
  • Don’t expect preferential treatment. One cannot be rude to vendors and expect the best service. If you have hired a professional to provide a service at your wedding, respect their skill and expertise and treat them as the professional they are.
  • Don’t ignore family, friends, and fiancee. No plans or details are worth ignoring the most important people in your life. That’s why you have us. Let us worry about the details. You spend time with the ones you love.

Bridal Registry Tips

Newly married couples have been given gifts for centuries. At one time, after the the couple furnished their home, they were expected to return any practical gifts they received but did not use. Today’s couples are congratulated by gifts from friends and family and the gifts they receive help the couple stock up on items needed to make a house a home.

To truly value the gifts that a couple will receive, we suggest they make excellent use of bridal registries.

  • Don’t hesitate to register. Your guests really want to buy you something you want and will enjoy. Registering saves your guests time and keeps you from having to return duplicates. Don’t feel like you are “begging” for gifts. Rather, you are in fact, providing a welcome service to your guests.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute to register. Many of your guests will want to buy gifts well before the actual event. Some buy engagement and shower gifts from the registries as well.
  • Include your partner in the selection process so that the registry list include things that you will both enjoy.
  • Register at two or three places. This gives your guests a range of options without overwhelming them. Pick at least one specialty store, a mid price supplier and an inexpensive retailer. It is recommended that your lists include an equal number of mid price items and lower cost items and a smaller list of big-ticket items.
  • Our experience has shown that brides who are planning large weddings should register for a lot of items which those who have smaller guest lists might consider registering few items.
  • You may wish to list your registry locations on your web site. But never, never, never, include this information in your paper invitations.

    For more answers to more questions, stop in and talk with out experienced consultants. We can guide you through the process and make very helpful suggestions.

Accessorizing for Prom 2016

You found the perfect dress to wear to prom. Finally, the stress of finding the dress has gone away. But now, comes the accessorizing to finalize your look.  Here are some tips on how to accessorize for prom 2016.

  1. Set a budget for yourself.
    The very first thing you should do when purchasing anything for prom is set a budget. Decide how much you feel comfortable paying for your dress, and then use any money that’s left over to purchase the perfect accessories to wear with it.
  2. Decide which areas need accessorizing.
    If you’re wearing a dress with a high neckline, you don’t need to worry about buying a necklace to wear with it, or if your dress has long sleeves you may not need to wear bracelets. Buy your dress first, and then decide which accessories to buy based on where the dress covers (and where it doesn’t).
  3. Keep your personal style and comfort in mind.
    If your style is usually pretty plain, you don’t want to wear a heavy statement necklace or a pair of gaudy earrings, because you’ll only end up feeling uncomfortable. Instead, opt for accessories that are one or two levels fancier than what you wear on a daily basis.
  4. Don’t clash colors/styles.
    If your dress has silver embellishments, you don’t choose a gold necklace that will clash with it. Instead, match any jewelry with the details that you already have on your dress.
  5. Pick just one statement piece of jewelry.
    If you’re still unsure about how much jewelry to wear, start by choosing one statement piece, such as a great pair of chandelier earrings or a bib-style necklace. Then, match the rest of your jewelry to that larger item.
  6. Don’t forget the perfect bag.
    Your handbag is just as important as the rest of your accessories, so be sure invest in a sequined clutch or a chain shoulder bag to keep things classy.
  7. Have fun with accessories!–This is YOUR night.
    While it pays to follow the rules when accessorizing, you should also have fun with your prom ensemble. If you really love a piece of jewelry but you’re unsure if it matches, wear it anyway—it will likely be the most memorable part of your outfit.

Mens Wedding Attire

We know that many if not most men prefer casual clothing styles. An amazing number of men for whom we provide tuxedos for weddings and other formal events spend some time “grousing” about getting “dressed up”. But once in their tuxedos, they seem to relax and not notice how good they really look.

While traditional rules are used as guidelines, we feel there are many options to accommodate personal preference in the area of men’s formal wear. One of the most noticeable influences is the increase in color as an accent. Today’s couples are getting married in a classic, yet contemporary style. Choosing colored cummerbunds, ties, and pocket squares to complement bridesmaids provides a unique flair to the entire wedding party. Designers continue to show updated silhouettes for men in the party that offer both style and comfort.

As a guideline, remember that medium or darker colors are fine anytime, but are more appropriate during the evening or in winter months. Tails are proper anytime, but are most commonly worn by the groom only rather than they entire wedding party.

As for guests who appear at your lovely weddings in casual clothes or worse, jeans, there is a way to spread the message about your expectations. Never on the wedding invitation but on the reception card, just add the line “Black Tie Invited”. This offers your guests a guideline as to what dress code is expected. Some guests may indeed wear a tux, but this three word addition is bound to generate more suits and less casual attire.