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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wedding Receptions

This may be a scary thought for some couples who are in the wedding planning stage...but nearly 40% of your entire wedding budget is going to be spent on your reception.  But that is definitely something you will want to keep in mind as you are setting the budget for your entire wedding and deciding what you can afford. 

Now it's time to talk about how you are going to spend that big chunk of money to throw
a fabulous reception that your guests will not forget!!

Today's weddings are about personality and creativity.  Put some thought in this when planning your wedding reception.  The theme and style you wish to reflect will help dictate the type of wedding venue you choose.  Remember that your options are numerous; hotel ballrooms, banquet halls, country clubs, historic sites, museums, or parks. 

You should start out determining the theme and style of your reception.  Different types of wedding venues set the stage for specific styles of receptions.  So before you chose a location, decide the style of reception you would like to host.

Another important decision to make is  deciding on the location of your wedding and reception.  Do not be afraid to consider something different or unexpected.  Perhaps your style or theme will dictate the location; in a friend's backyard,  a rustic farmhouse or barn, a local attraction, a country club, a dock...the sky's the limit.

Locations for Wedding Receptions

Private Property

The backyard of a friend or family member will contribute to making your reception a very personal affair.  By setting up a tent, dance floor, chairs and tables, you can transform a backyard space into a beautiful event venue.  It can also be a financially beneficial option.  Of course, weather will be a serious consideration when planning an outdoor reception of any kind.  So will need a backup plan if your wedding reception is outdoors.

Rustic Setting

 An old barn can make a beautiful rustic wedding reception location.  The open floor plan of a barn allows an extensive variety of layout options.  Barns are usually quite large, making a barn reception a wonderful option for couples with large number of wedding guests.  Many barns that are used for events have been fully restored and are equipped with modern amenities and can offer many possibilities for a great reception.

Local Attraction

Hosting your wedding reception at a local landmark, such as a historical town spot, an area museum, or a large aquarium, can make your wedding festivities unique and unforgettable.  Choose a location that carries a special meaning for you and your fiance or select an interesting place that celebrates the town were you are hosting your reception.

Country Club

A more traditional wedding reception option is a country club setting.  You can make it a very elegant reception venue.  Many clubs allow couples to rent space for their reception, regardless of the couples' membership status with the club.  One of the benefits of hosting a country club reception is that most cities have very good restaurants on premises, which will eliminate the problem of finding an outside catering company.

Beachfront or Lakefront

If your wedding will be during a warmer month, why not have your reception on the water? Your guests will enjoy the cool sea air without getting sand in their shoes. A beautiful sunset over the water will add to the overall romance of the evening. You could also consider having a lakefront wedding reception.  You would still be able to enjoy the water and the beautiful sunset over the lake.

So now you have decided the type of venue you would like to use.  But before you get in your car to start touring wedding venues, there is one more thing to consider - capacity. No matter how beautiful a place may be, if you anticipate 250 guests, cramming them into a facility that holds 150 will quickly turn an beautiful affair into a mob of angry guests!  Most reception sites make seating capacity information readily available.  Make sure to find out the capacities for the type of wedding reception you are envisioning (seated dinner, buffet, cocktail reception, etc.).  There may also be different capacities based on the setting with or without a dance. floor.

Find as many venues as meet your initial criteria.  You may want to search wedding venues and services at and to find sites in your area. If you are in the upstate of South Carolina, you may want to check out for wedding reception venues and other wedding services. The more possibilities you check out the greater your chances to find something that meets your vision and your price.  Then when you have narrowed your choices schedule appointments to tour each venue and meet with the manager.

Things to consider while touring different venues.

1.  Make sure the decor of the venue is accommodating to the theme and style of your wedding. 

If it is not, can it be altered with decorations?

2. Check to see if the reception site has their own catering service.  If they do, dine on a test menu to see how the food tastes. Also, you may decide for some reason their catering services does not meet your needs.

Will they allow another catering service in their venue?

3.  Ask if they have a liquor license.  If they do, ask if you can supply your own alcohol or if they must supply it.  It is usually cheaper to supply your own, if possible.

4.  Find out their deposit, cancellation and refund policies.

5.  Check to see if there is a limit to the decorations you can use and also the cleanup policy.  Many sites will have their own staff available for cleanup for an additional fee.
6.  Drive around the venue to make sure there is adequate parking for all your guests.
7.  Check to see if there is adequate space and the proper equipment if you are
planning on using a band or DJ at your venue.

Time for negotiations

The most successful negotiations take place when you are armed with all the facts.  Make sure you have gotten quotes from a venue's competitors before attempting a negotiation.  A wedding venue is far more likely to want to work with you on the price if you remain firm but pleasant throughout the negotiating process.  Remember the phrase..."you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar?"  It applies when negotiating, also.

If you are flexible on the date of your wedding, venues may offer deep discounts to you if you are willing to hold your wedding on a holiday weekend or a Friday night.  Ask the venue management if they can suggest a

particular date which will off a discounted price.

Be sure to ask what is included with the quoted price.  Get the venue to itemize the quoted price so you know exactly what you are getting for your money.  Often, a venue may be offering items that you are just not interested in or that you need.  If that is the case, ask the management if you can exclude those items in the

package details until you reach a price that meets your budget.

Look for hidden fees.  Many venues may try to charge you for cake plating, unused alcohol, additional gratuities and other add-ons that you shouldn't have to pay.  Have them explain each and every part of the quoted price.  Then ask if they can subtract any fees that seem extraneous.

Be sure you are speaking to the person who can help you best.  If the venue representative doesn't seem to want to help you in reaching your budget, call back or visit on a different day and ask for the manager.'s decision making time!

I hope you found this information helpful on choosing the perfect reception venue for your dream wedding.  Please share any comments or experiences that you have had in finding a wedding venue.


Types of Wedding Receptions

Do you envision your wedding reception in the early morning light or
as an all night, all-out party?

Breakfast or Brunch Reception
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If you are getting married bright and early in the morning, then you will want to have a breakfast or brunch reception.  Traditionally, the menu would include breakfast classics like quiche, frittata, and eggs benedict.  It's great to have stations set up where guests can get food like omelets and French toast made to order.  For a touch of elegance, consider adding smoked salmon, caviar, or a carving station with ham, turkey or roast beef.  Spice things up with Bloody Mary's, Bellinis and Mimosas.  
And don't forget the coffee!

This type of reception is inexpensive; people will drink considerably less alcohol, and the types of food served are typically cheaper as well.  If you want to get a jump start on your honeymoon, a bunch reception fits in perfectly 
for you to leave the same day.

But consider your guests, especially those who live two hours away.  They'll have to get up very early to make it to your wedding.  Also, you will not have as long to get ready in the morning.

A different take on the breakfast/brunch reception may be to consider a cocktail-style brunch.  Have your caterer reinvent breakfast classics into hors d'ouevres such as mini-eggs benedict, bite sized French toast, and scrambled egg bites topped with caviar.  Keep those Mimosas and Bellini's flowing!

Lunch Reception
The Reception Decor
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If you want an early wedding, but need a little time to get ready than a breakfast reception would allow, consider a lunch reception.  Luncheon receptions are typically held in the late morning or early afternoon, between noon and 2 pm.  They can be either sit-down or buffet style as well.  Lunch menus can include pasta, fruit and potato salads,
skewers of chicken or shrimp, vegetables with dip, smoked salmon and crackers,
and a variety of sandwiches, cold cuts and cheeses.

The lunch reception allows you to serve some of the same favorite dishes that you would at a dinner reception, for a cheaper price.  You still may be able to leave for your honeymoon the same day.

But a lunch reception might be more sedate than it would be later in the evening.

A new idea to the lunch buffet is have a picnic style reception.  Have your caterer package favorite individual meals in disposable cardboard picnic boxes.  Spread out big pieces of colorful cloth and offer pitchers of lemonade and raspberry iced tea.  Be sure to have some tables and chairs or picnic tables available for those who prefer not to sit on the ground.

Picnic Reception

Buffet Reception

Cocktail receptions can be elegant and stylish.  They allow your guests to really mingle with each other.  They are a bit more relaxed than a sit-down meal and often feel like a great party.  The cocktail reception is a fairly formal affair. It is the perfect type of reception to be held in an art gallery, a studio loft, an outdoor terrace, or a landscaped garden.  Hot and cold hors d'oeuvres may be served to your guests by waitstaff or set out on buffet tables.  The wedding cake is cute immediately after the wedding ceremony to allow your guests the opportunity to enjoy along with their champagne and other food.  

The cocktail reception is a nice choice if your venue is small. It will allow you to have more people.  They are also typically shorter than a sit-down meal.  They will allow you and your groom time to really circulate and enjoy the party.  They are also perfect for the couple who is looking to have an elegant affair without going over their budget.  

You may expect a cocktail reception to be less expensive but that is not always the case.  Your guests will likely drink more than at a dinner reception.  Also, since it will not be seated, some guests may have trouble seeing events like the first dance and cake cutting.

Dinner Wedding Reception
view source

The most formal type of wedding reception is a sit-down buffet dinner.  It allows you time to really celebrate your wedding, treat your guests, and still have everyone up on the dance floor.  It will begin with a cocktail hour, then proceed to an adjoining room for dinner, and followed by dancing, cake cutting, and more.  More planning comes into play for a dinner reception because it consists of many courses. 

The dinner reception allows your guests to feel like you really went all out for your reception.  It will not feel rushed or hurried.

But typically this is the most expensive type of wedding reception.On average, 40% of your entire wedding budget will be spent on catering your wedding reception.  So a lot of thought needs to go into the type of reception, venue, and choice of menu.  The time of day and location of your wedding will narrow some of your choices on what type of reception and the venue that best fits with your wedding plans.

Saving on Your Reception without Sacrificing

Some money saving tips to keep in mind when planning your wedding reception.

  •  Keep the guest list small and intimate.
  • Get married on a Friday or Sunday.  Many venues can be booked for half the price.
  • Pay for only one venue.  Have the ceremony and reception at the same location.
  • Supply your own alcohol from a liquor wholesaler.  You will need to check with the venue to be sure this is allowed.
  • Order one small decorated wedding cake for display and a large sheet cake to cut and serve.
  • Serve your wedding cake as the dessert.

What type of reception are you planning for your big day? 

Share any comments or ideas that you have about planning the perfect wedding reception.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Wedding Invitations

There are many decisions that go into planning your wedding to make it YOUR special day.  One of the decisions is the type and style of invitations to use. 

After you have decided on your invitation, you need to decide how it needs to be worded.

There is no one specific way to word or design invitations these days.  Even though the rules of etiquette concerning wording is not quite as strict, there are still certain rules that you may wish to follow.

I have included invitation styles and rules that I hope is of some assistance to you.

Start with the names of those hosting the wedding, traditionally the bride's parents. If the groom's parents are co-hosting the wedding, add them after the bride's parents' names.

Watercolor Invitations

Vintage Lacy Tree Wedding Invitation ...

If the couple is hosting on their own wedding, omit the first line...

Together with their families.

Monogrammed Invitations

Thermography Wedding Invitations Royal Monogram - Front : TH Gold
Wedding Paper DIVAS

Generally speaking, a basic stationery suite includes an invitation, a reply card, and envelopes for both. Any helpful extras like reception cards, directions, itineraries, and maps are considered “add-ons,” and typically cost more.


click to enlarge

The request line indicates whether the guests are being invited to a wedding ceremony or the  reception only. 


Martha Stewart Weddings

Martha Stewart Weddings

Location:  It's traditional not to include street addresses of houses of worship or well-known locations.  Commas are not used at the ends of lines, and the state is always spelled out.  The more contemporary option if you are using a street address, numerals are acceptable but no zip code is needed in the invitation wording. 


The reception line can be on a single invitations if the ceremony and reception are in the same place. If the reception is held elsewhere, a separate card might be helpful. It is no longer considered acceptable to invite some people only to the ceremony. 

Remember that the bride and groom are the stars of the invitation so their names are set off, on separate lines.


Signature White Textured Wedding Invitations Paisley Detail - Front : Midori
Signature White Textured Wedding Invitations Perfect Paisley - Front : Goldenrod

Your wedding invitations express to your guests the general tone of the wedding whether it is formal, intimate, fun, grand, or low-key. 

Wedding etiquette can vary from generation to generation, but some etiquette for wedding invitations and bridal shower invitations rarely change.

What style of wedding are you planning?  Have you found the perfect invitation to set the tone for your special day?

Please visit the blog on our website and find out about other aspects of wedding invitations.