As a Wedding Planner it's my job to always recommend that couples use professionals when it comes to their wedding day. This is the ONE day you have been planning for months, (maybe years), and it should be done right!
Using professionals such as DJs, caterers, photographers and other service providers will eliminate risk and reduce overall worry and stress knowing you are in good hands and working with people who are experts in their field!
DJs are no exception! They are the backbone of the wedding helping to keep things on track. DJs and Wedding Planners work together to make sure that what needs to happen happens on time! In addition to that, they also provide an endless amount of music selections and are masteres at bringing the fun! The energy they bring to the wedding is infectious and gets people excited.
Whenever I hear from a bride or groom that they want to use a friend to play music at their wedding, I think, why? Why would you do that? This is not a birthday or random party. This is YOUR WEDDING! This is not the time to put that kind of trust in your friend. Let them enjoy the wedding as a guest and let the professionals do the work!
Here are a few of the reasons I always recommend professional DJs over your friend.
1. DJs can provide music and sound systems in multiple locations. This is esepcially important if you are using more than one space at your wedding venue with your guests traveling from one area to another. DJs have all the necessary sound equipment needed to make sure you have music playing for the ceremony, cocktail area and the reception.
2. DJs do more than play music. They make announcements during the wedding and let people know when and where things are happening. They announce the wedding party for the grand entrance, they let guests know when dinner is being served, when the first dance is going to take place, when the cake will be cut and any other announcements that need to be made. Timing is so important at weddings and DJs are great at making sure things are staying on track and moving along.
3. In addition to their vast assortment of music they also provide endless amounts of energy to your party! They are great at reading a room and making adjustments as needed. They love to enertain and see people having fun. That is their job and why they are so good at what they do! A professional DJ will make sure people are dancing, enjoying the music and having a great time. You and your guests will appreciate the lively atmosphere and the experience only a DJ can create.
4. Many DJs now offer other services such as lighting for the dance floor, disco balls, glow sticks and photo booths to add that something extra to your event. These add-ons will enhance the overall wedding experience and keep the crowd entertained all night long! Be sure to ask your DJ about other services or extras they can provide. As an added bonus, some DJs will offer discounts when booking multiple services.
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At some point while you are planning your wedding the question of having a family friendly event that includes young children vs an adult only affair will come up and can be a very tricky topic to navigate.
If the thought of having children at your wedding presents a lot of challenges you may prefer to limit the number of children or exclude them completely. Either way, you will need to find ways to explain your decision to your guests without upsetting or offending them if possible.
Here are some tips to help you make a decision that works for you without ruffling too many feathers.
Discuss and Decide - Early
You and your fiance need to have an honest discussion about this topic and how you feel about having children at your wedding so that you can make a decision early on in the planning stages. When making your guest list, make a note of how many children each family member or friend has as well as their ages. The number of children in attendance can significantly add to your wedding budget and overall headcount. Ask yourselves if you are comfortable including children and the additional costs you may incur by doing so.
Children are Unpredictable
Not only can adding children to your wedding have an impact on your budget, children are are also quite unpredictable in their behavior. Consider the type of venue where your wedding is taking place. Is this venue family friendly? Is there enough space for children to play or run around? Will the parents be responsible enough to monitor them and keep watch on what they're doing so they aren't being disruptive during important moments? These are some questions to consider and to discuss with your partner and possibly your families if you have concerns.
Tell Your Guests
Once you have decided it is important to let your guests know your expectations and make it clear what the plan is for having children at the wedding or not. If you are not inviting children, explain your reasons either in person, over the phone, in an email or on your wedding website.
If you decided to only have a few children present (if they are part of the wedding ceremony for example) explain that to your guests. Tell your guests that are not able to bring their children that you have a limit on your headcount and are unfortunately unable to accommodate every family member. Offer your apologies and a possible solution such as a babysitting service if they need to hire someone for the evening. Some guests may not understand your reasoning, but this is your wedding and you don't have to explain yourself too much. You get the final say.
Having a Family Affair
If you do decide a family friendly affair is what you want, make some arrangements to help entertain the children who will be attending such as a fun craft table with games, coloring books, puzzles and other fun activities to keep them occupied.
Have a children's menu that is different from your "adult" menu. Very small children and infants won't each much or their parents may bring them special meals and snacks to eat. For older children it may be a good idea to offer a few choices such as pizza, hamburgers, chicken nuggets, french fries, fruit and a special dessert that is less formal and smaller portions.
Hire a children's entertainer such as a face painter, balloonist or magician to provide a fun element for a short time during the wedding reception. Adding and interactive and engaging element to the wedding that they don't get to experience often is not only fun but also memorable for everyone.
Consider enlisting help through a local babysitting service. There are many babysitting or nanny services available for just this sort of thing. They arrive at your venue and set up a special area for children such as a separate room and create a safe and fun space for them to gather and play together during times that you agree to. They often bring age appropriate games, activities and toys to entertain children which is included in their fees, giving you one less thing to worry about! If your wedding is quite formal they can also serve dinner away from where the adults are seated. This works well if you plan to have toasts and speeches during dinner and don't want any disruptions.
Remember, It's Your Day!
Remember, this is your day so you get to decide what is best for you. Just know that not everyone will agree with your choices and that's ok. You will never be able to please everyone and it's not your job to do so. As long as you and your partner make the decision together and stick to it you'll be fine in the end.
Grace Tyler Photography by Jamie Fredrickson
Brooke Borough Photography
Many couples I consult with seem to want to have the quickest ceremony possible and then move on to the reception. They say things like "we just want it to be fun!" or "we just want to have a party!" That's all great.
But there is also something to say about a wedding ceremony and the reason FOR the party. People are there to have fun of course, but they're also there to witness the two people who are joining their lives together. The couple who is getting MARRIED and making a HUGE commitment to each other. That is the reason the wedding is even taking place.
So please put some thought into it and don't rush! You'll get to enjoy the party soon enough. Take time to write your vows and make it meaningful. Get creative. Include loved ones. Play your favorite music. Set the tone for the day and the mood you want everyone to feel. This is your moment. The one you've been planning for months (or years)! You will have plenty of other reasons to party and celebrate for the rest of your life. But your wedding... that is different. You only get one of those (if you're lucky).
IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A PARTY, HAVE A PARTY.
IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A WEDDING, THEN PLAN AN ACTUAL WEDDING.
THERE'S A DIFFERENCE.
What makes a wedding different than other events is tradition. And I guarantee your guests who are flying across country or driving across state lines to get to the wedding want to see some of those traditions. There are certain expectations that people have when it comes to weddings. Maybe you're not the traditional type and you want to do things your way. I get that. But a wedding needs to feel like a wedding and not just a dinner party or some random event.
What are some of the most common wedding traditions?
1. A ring exchange
2. Wedding vows
3. A bridal bouquet
4. Bride being escorted down the aisle
5. Bridesmaids and Groomsmen
6. Serving wedding cake
7. The first dance
8. Dances with parents
9. Toasts and speeches
10. A bouquet and/or garter toss
You don't have to incorporate all of these and you can certaintly put your own spin on some of them. There are ways to get creative when it comes to weddings and making them feel personal and unique. It doesn't need to feel like your grandma's wedding day but a little bit of those old school values and tried and true traditions will go a long way in making your wedding day a memorable one for all.
Elise Nicole Photo
Moody Color Palettes
Darker edgier color palettes are a big trend this year and we couldn't be happier about it. In recent years we have seen a lot of soft colors including bright white, yellow, soft blue, lavender and the ever popular blush and light pinks. Now couples are going to the darker side opting for deep rich berry reds, burgundy, rust, mahogany, and garnet mixed with a variety of filler greens like Dusty Miller, Eucalyptus, Italian Ruscus and Myrtle to compliment the look. These colors have typically been reserved for fall and winter weddings however they can work year round! Don't be afraid to be adventurous and play with colors that typically wouldn't go together.
Images via Unsplash
Clean lines and well placed minimal decor is the way to pull off a minimalistic look for your wedding. Minimalism doesn't mean boring. It can be beautifully refreshing when done right. By incorporating wood tones, structured centerpieces and other natural elements you can create a elegant look just by choosing a simple color palette and 2 or 3 accent colors to tie it all together. It can be tempting at times to over do table decor creating a very cluttered and busy space. If that is not your style, a minimalistic approach might be a better choice for you. The overall look is delicate and very pleasing to the eye.
Images via Willhouse Photography
Not everyone is a fan of a traditional wedding cake, however statement wedding cakes are trending this year and for good reason. They're beautiful, they make for amazing photos and they can be customized and as unique as you are. No two weddings are alike and not all wedding cakes are made the same way. If you're looking to add something that will make your wedding day stand out consider a beautiful statement cake.
Images via Unsplash
No, we're not talking about a new cleanser for your face or hip new fitness studio. We're talking about on-site beauty bars or "glam bars" that are set up at your wedding venue in restrooms, bridal ready rooms or even out in the open. Hair and makeup pros are hired to give your guests a quick touch up whenever they need it so they are picture perfect at any given moment.
A simple lipstick refresh, some powder on the nose or a swipe of blush or mascara can help your gals feel glam all night long. Pros can also keep extra bobby pins, hairspray and curling irons on hand to help keep your do sleek and stylish so you can dance the night away looking your best well into the after party.
Lighting gets a boost this year from what we have typically seen in past weddings like uplighting which many people use to add color and ambiance to a large room to make it feel more intimate, or string lights that are strung from tree to tree at outdoor weddings. Playing with lighting can be both fun and functional and is highly recommended to enhance your overall wedding aesthetic. Whether you want to highlight one area or an entire room choosing the right type of lighting will be key to your success.
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It's the biggest day of your life!
You've dreamed of this day since you were a little girl. By some miracle you've found the person you want to spend your life with. The day he proposed was amazing and took you completely by surprise! You had no idea he could be so sneaky and clever! You scheduled your engagement shoot with the amazing photographer your friends can't stop talking about, you invited your closest friends and family to celebrate at your engagement party at the newest, swankiest hotel, your besties are planning a fabulous out of town bachelorette weekend (cue poolside cocktails with mini umbrellas), you've found THE perfect dress to walk down the aisle in (no one is looking better than you on your wedding day), you've spent countless hours researching and visting all the possible wedding venues on your list and have finally narrowed down your options and think you have finally found the ONE! So exciting!
All these months of planning are totally going to be worth it when the day is finally here! All that hard work is going to pay off. You're going to have a great time! You've been saving your money and being very careful how you spend it.. splurging a little here, saving a little there.. it's all working out. Sure the photographer cost a little more than expected but that's totally reasonable because you'll always have those photos and they have to be beyond AMAZING! Everyone will see them on social media and you'll have those canvas images from Shutterfly hanging on your wall for years to enjoy.
Oh, the venue - that was a stretch. You didn't expect it to cost that much but c'mon - it's like the most important part right? Where you get married is EVERYTHING! So you'll just have to be careful from now on with the rest of the budget, no biggie. But hang on.... there's still food and drinks. Yep, that's a big one. You have 150 people to feed and they'll definitely want some alcohol and a good meal. They're traveling all that way to see you on your BIG day! Serving a good meal and drinks is the least you can do. Turns out catering is costing a lot more than you expected after looking over the menu. Damn! For this crowd you'll need around 3-5 types of appetizers, two types of beer, red and white wine, hard liquor (definitely), several bottles of champagne for the toast, and some non-alcoholic beverages for kids or those who don't drink. After all that there's still service and labor charges, set up fees, taxes.. WOW! This one stings a bit. Maybe you have a buffet instead of a plated meal. Doesn't seem to cut the cost down all that much but it's something. How about only serving beer and wine instead of a full bar? Sure... let's go with that.
Ok so, let's figure out how many tables and chairs you need. How about what color linens you want and if you need any cocktail tables, umbrellas or lounge furniture? What about dinner service? Is the caterer providing everything or do you need to rent all the plates, glassware and silverware? Not only that but this venue doesn't have outdoor lighting (it's a bit remote) and the reception will be going on late so you may need to hang some string lights, maybe put a few lanterns around and possibly rent heaters. And then there's the transportation. You want to arrive in style, safely and on time right? Maybe a shuttle or limo service would be a good idea to get people to and from the venue because let's face it, a lot of people are from out of town, don't know where they're going and they'll be drinking so... ya, you better hire a shuttle service and make sure all your guests are taken care of!
Oh wait! We can't forget the flowers! You'll need centerpieces, bouquets, boutonnieres for the guys, corsages to pin on the mothers, and maybe some extra flowers to decorate the ceremony aisle or arch or to place around the venue along with some other personal decorations that you still need to purchase like candles, signage, framed family photos, a guest book, a card basket to name a few. That also leads us to paper good and miscellaneous items like your wedding invitations, escort cards, table numbers, favors... I could go on and on. The point is, these little things are all adding up!
Wait a second.. you've hired a really good photographer and this is your wedding day so you definitely want to look your best! You'll need a excellent glam team for you and your gals to get all dolled up with hair and makeup! Whatever it takes. You cannot skimp on beauty! You want to feel and look like a million bucks. You might even need to splurge on a spray tan or a pre-wedding facial for the ultimate glow. Might as well add in some eyebrow shaping too cause you know - good brows! And you definitely need some accessories to complete the ensemble. Veil, earrings, bracelets, necklace, sparkly headband... and shoes! Don't forget shoes!
I still think there's some vendors missing however.. oh yes! The DJ! You'll definitely need some music at the wedding and someone who can make some announcements and keep the momentum going. Whew! That was close. Ok, now we've got it all, right? Oooops! Wait! Someone needs to marry you! That's a pretty important detail not to forget! Let's get the Officiant on board and make it all official! Someone has to sign the license right and.... ohmygosh! You totally forgot to get your wedding cake! Literally EVERYONE expects cake at a wedding. Peole wait around for cake! People don't want to leave until.....CAKE! Let's definitely get a cake and avoid a catastrophy!
Ok let's recap! We've got the venue, the dress and accessories, the catering and bartending team, the rentals, the DJ, the Officiant, the flowers, the CAKE, the glam squad, shuttle transportation, paper products, decorations, and the pricey (but TOTALLY worth) it photographer. I think that covers it all. Yep, look at that! You've done it! You've planned the entire wedding and it's going to be EPIC! Everyone is going to be so impressed and have so much fun! You can't wait to get married and party the night away... what could go wrong?
You've spent months, maybe even a year or more planning your wedding day. There is no other day like it. This is it. This is your moment. It will be unforgettable! All the phone calls to vendors, emails back and forth, reviewing quotes and contracts, menu tastings, gown fittings, and the hours spent making decisions on details like where Aunt Margie should sit and what song you and your father should dance to.. all those thoughts and meticulous details you put into it are now in the past. You are looking ahead to the future - the moment you and your fiance say "I Do" in front of all your loved ones. You cannot wait to be married and to be celebrating into the late night hours, drinking, dancing, laughing and enjoying every moment of your new life together. It all goes by so fast!
That is the ideal scenario. The one we all strive for. We want that to be the outcome. We want all your hard work and beautifully crafted day to be noticed and to go off without a hitch. But that can only happen if you have someone there to ensure that it does. That person cannot be you.. you're the bride! You cannot possibly execute all those details that you've set in motion. You need help. You don't want to burden family or friends with tasks and "to dos" on your wedding day - a day that everyone should enjoy without worrying about how things are getting done. That's not their job. Who's job is it?
THE WEDDING COORDINATOR!
The Wedding Coordinator is your best friend from the time you start working together. The one who will have your back. The one who gives it to you straight. The one who you can lean on for support and advice. The one who will listen to the issues you're faced with and offer solutions. The one who understands how many decisions you have to make and will pick you up when you feel like you're failing or can't do it anymore. The one that is on the phone when the florist is 5 minutes late to the venue and you need your bouquet for photos. The one who makes sure the DJ brings a microphone for the Officiant and one for the toasts, that the decorations are set up exactly as you want them, that there are exactly the right amount of chairs at each dinner tables, that the linens you rented are the right size and color upon arrival. The one who fixes your dress before you walk down the aisle. The one who makes sure someone has the rings! You get the picure?
We are the ones. The ones managing the flow of the day. The ones who see it all. We make sure things happen when they are supposed to and that all the pieces of the puzzle come together. We are not there to take over your day and make you do things you don't want to do. We just want your day to be the best it can be. We are there to eliminate risk and the chance for something will go wrong. We are there to resolve any unforseen issue that could arise quickly and as discreetly as possible so you and your guests are none the wiser. It all happens so seemlessly behind the scenes when you have a Wedding Coordinator taking care of all those details for you so you can breathe a sigh of relief and focus on nothing else but getting married!
You may have thought about hiring a Wedding Coordinator and decided against it for some reason. Maybe you didn't plan for it in your budget and after you spent all your money on other things there was little to none left for a Coordinator. But let me tell you - you really cannot afford NOT to hire a Coordinator. And let me clarify. I don't mean hire someone strictly to manage the wedding day. That is a myth. Yes, you read that correctly! There is no such thing as a "Day of Coordinator." Any experienced and professional Wedding Coordinator is going to charge you for their time on the wedding day plus any time they spend leading up to the wedding in the final few weeks.
What will a professional Wedding Coordinator do in those last few weeks you ask? At a minimum 4-6 weeks before the wedding is the timeframe needed to finalize your details, review your vendor contracts, fix any last minute issues or make changes, help you make final decisions, create a timeline, conduct a site visit at the venue, schedule a final planning meeting with you to go over the wedding day schedule and coordinate and manage the ceremony rehearsal the day before. If you think your friend, relative or person you met that offered to "help" can handle all that plus work 10+ hours on the wedding day (with little to no breaks) you are very misguided.
So brides, please do yourself a favor and budget for a professional Wedding Coordinator. Hire one from the beginning or as soon as possible so you can get the most benefit by relying on their knowledge and expertise. Very often they can save you time and money! It truly is an invaluable service and one you will not regret. Don't spend weeks, months or years planning your perfect day to have it all go downhill because you made the mistake of not hiring a professional Wedding Coordinator. It's just not worth it.
Ready to take the next step? Read Which Wedding Planning Package is Right for You?
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As a Wedding Planner I bring most of these items with me on the wedding day but if you are packing your own wedding emergency kit, here are some items you'll want to include!
What are some other items you would add to this list? Let us know!
Going into a planning meeting with a wedding vendor can be a little overwhelming and confusing if you don't know some of the lingo! If you're pondering over the difference between an "Arch and an "Arbor or have no clue what a "First Look" is, don't worry! We're here to help you figure it all out! Here are a few terms you will most likely hear during the wedding planning process!
Aisle Marker - Decorations used to "mark" or define the aisle the wedding party walks down. Hanging floral baskets or herbs from each chair, floral chair ties, wood or iron lanterns, paper cones filled with confetti, beautiful greenery, soft fabric, mason jars and pedestal flower arrangements are all common types of aisle markers that add beauty and style to your ceremony space. They can be simple or elaborate depending on your taste and budget.
Arbor - A structure that serves as a shelter for the wedding couple to stand under during an outdoor ceremony. Arbors can come in different shapes and sizes. They are typically made up of a variety of materials such as twigs, branches, vines and/or flowers and is where the couple exchanges their wedding vows.
Arch - Typically arches are rounded structures used in outdoor wedding ceremonies that serve as a focal point. Most commonly arches are made of wood, plastic or wrought iron and are often decorated with fabric and/or flowers. The couple can choose to stand underneath or directly in front of an arch during their ceremony.
BEO - A BEO or Banquet Event Order, is a document created by the wedding caterer or venue outlining the details of your wedding including your menu, guest count, time of your event and room set up that staff members follow in order to execute all logistics correctly.
Corkage Fee - The amount charged by a restaurant or venue to open each bottle of wine or liquor brought in and bought elsewhere to serve at your event.
First Look - An intimate moment arranged by a photographer before a wedding ceremony for the two spouses to see each other. Typically a location is determined and agreed upon beforehand. The couple is brought to the location separately where their surprised and authentic reactions to seeing each other for the first time are captured in photos.
Passed - Referring to food or beverages that are tray "passed" during the cocktail hour portion of a wedding reception.
Pin Spot - Pertaining to lighting, it is a focused beam of light that shines directly onto an object such as a centerpiece or cake to draw attention.
Prelude - Referring to music that is played before the wedding ceremony by live musicians or a DJ as guests arrive and take their seats. Prelude music is the first thing they hear upon arriving at the venue and sets the tone for the wedding ceremony.
Processional - The music that is played to signal the start of the wedding ceremony to which the wedding party, family members and bride and/or groom walk to.
Recessional - The music that is played at the end of the wedding ceremony that the couple exits to after the pronouncement of marriage.
Room Flip - Changing the ceremony space into the reception space. This is often done at a venue where you are using one space for the entire day. The venue staff typically will re-set or "flip" the room once the ceremony is complete during the cocktail hour while guests are away. When they return, the space has been transformed for the reception to take place.
Seating Chart - A way to display to your guests which table they are assigned to. This is often used in lieu of escort cards. Seating charts are best placed in the front entrance of the reception venue for guests to view upon arriving and can be an additional part of your wedding decor.
Tablescape - The artistic style, design and arrangement of table top items and how they work together cohesively to enhance a space such as your dinner tables, cake or dessert tables, gift table, and head table for a wedding reception.
Venue Coordinator - An employee at a wedding venue that assists the couple with details pertaining to securing the venue for their wedding date, contract negotiations and all services provided by the venue. They are responsible for delivering their contracted services when it comes to the use of the venue and ensuring the couple follows the venue's rules and guidelines. In some cases food, beverages and rental items can be arranged through the Venue Coordinator depending on the venue and what they offer.
A Venue Coordinator is different from a Wedding Coordinator. A Venue Coordinator typically is not involved in any of the planning details other than what comes with the use of their facility. A Wedding Coordinator handles all of the couple's planning needs from the start which can include wedding design, layout creation coordinating rental needs, vendor procurement, wedding day timeline creation, rehearsal coordination as well as provide the couple with invaluable expertise, guidance and support throughout the planning process and on the wedding day.
No matter where you are in your wedding planning stages, Gatherings for Good can help! Visit our weddings page and email us today and see all the ways we can help you create the wedding you always dreamed of!
All photos provided by www.pexels.com
Image: Ryanne Bee Photography
Weddings are a beautiful occasion where friends and family gather to celebrate the marriage between two people in love. For destinations weddings guests may travel long distances to attend spending money on flights, hotels, transportation, meals and activities both before and after the wedding. As "hosts" of your wedding, one way to ensure the guests are happy and taken care of is to feed them well.
As a Wedding Coordinator, I have seen couples make choices questionable choices when it comes to what to serve at their wedding. They may only think about what they themselves like to eat and not always keeping their guests likes or dislikes in mind. This is a big No-No! This may be your wedding day but your choices should reflect the type of experience you want your guests to have and how you want them to remember this day.
We know catering for weddings can be expensive especially if you are planning a large wedding. But if you want the guests to leave happy and enjoy themselves you really need to be realistic about your food budget and either increase it (and cut back in other areas if necessary), or decrease your headcount. That may sound harsh but it's a realistic way to approach it in my opinion. Your guests, no matter how far they traveled, expect to be fed and it is one of the things they will remember about your wedding day. Food leaves an impression on people, either good or bad.
Here are 5 tips to make sure you are keeping your guests the entire guest experience in mind when planning what food to serve at your wedding.
1. Feed Them Quickly and A Lot!
Wedding days in general are very looooong days. From the time you get up in the morning to the last song of the night, you are going non-stop and your guests are too. Parents, grandparents, siblings, your BFF, the wedding party - whoever you have invited to the wedding is going to need to eat in order to keep going to the end. By the time the ceremony comes around, your guests are probably already hungry so plan to serve food as soon as possible.
Tip #1 Do not make your guests wait too long to eat after your ceremony. This will only make them impatient, cranky and if you're serving alcohol, chances are they'll get a little too drunk a little too fast. I recommend having a cocktail hour and serving drinks AND appetizers between the ceremony and reception. Keep it light and simple but serve something! It might be a while before dinner begins.
Tip #2 If you're doing your grand entrance with your entire wedding party, immedately sit down at your tables once the wedding party has all walked in. Save your first dance, speeches and other formalities until the middle of dinner or at the end. This will allow food to be served right away and avoid guests getting "hangry."
2. A Better Buffet.
Buffets... (sigh). Many guests will cringe when you mention you are having a buffet at your wedding because in general, it means they will have to wait longer to get their food. Let's be real. Nobody wants to wait in line for their food at a wedding. People want to sit down and immediately eat. When it comes time for the buffet, guests will sit at their table anxiously waiting for their turn while people around them get up to go through the line. No table wants to go last. I've seen guests walk out in the middle of dinner because the buffet was taking too long.
Tip #1: If you choose to have a buffet you can make things easier by asking your caterer or wedding venue to create two buffet lines. Having two buffet lines going at the same time will speed up the dinner service giving your guests the opportunity to get their food much faster. This is particularly helpful for large weddings with over 100 guests. By doing this you are also helping to keep all the other formalities on time such as getting to your first dance or toasts and speeches. A long buffet service can cause major delays in the entire evening which you definitely don't want!
Tip #2: Keep the buffet options to a minimum. A lot of people think a buffet is cheaper than a plated meal. Not always the case. Especially if you have multiple options. To keep costs down and the line moving, limit choices. For a typical American buffet, I recommend serving 2 types of meat, a choice of fish or pasta, 1 vegetable dish and 1 salad. You could also have fresh baked bread at the buffet or served at the tables. That is more than enough food especially if you're serving dessert and/or late night snacks!
3. Keep Kids and Special Dietary Needs in Mind.
If you are planning to have children at your wedding be sure to have a few kid friendly options on the menu for children who will need a meal. Determine how many children will be attending the wedding and give them 2 or 3 options to choose from such as chicken strips, cheeseburger and fries and pizza. If there are very small children or babies attending the wedding, their parents will most likely bring food and snacks for them if they are not old enough to eat at the dinner table.
You should also keep in mind any special dietary needs such as allergies to certain foods like shellfish, nuts, dairy, etc. Nowdays many caterers offer gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan options. If you're not sure if any of your guests have allergies ask them! Or ask other family members to help you find out. You just want to be on the safe side and make sure all your guests have a meal and there are no last minute, on the spot meal requests that the chef now has to magically create.
4. Offer multiple dessert options. Not everyone is a fan of traditional weddings or wedding cake, I get it. Thankfully there are so many options when it comes to desserts! You no longer have to have a wedding cake (although, it is still nice for pictures). You can choose to have a dessert buffet with lots of "mini" desserts which are both cute and delicious! You can serve fresh baked pies, doughnuts, mini cupcakes, cake pops, ice cream sundaes, a cookie bar.. the list is endless. The point is, people want dessert - sugar is not the enemy. It keeps people happy and energized for dancing and in a good mood in general. And serving coffee and/or tea with dessert ... bonus!
Image: James & Jess Photography
Include late night snacks. If you're one of those couples who wants to throw an all night party ('till the break of dawn), for goodness sake have some late night snack food! Think about it.. dinner at 7pm followed by dessert and then dancing for 2-3 hours.. your guests will be getting hungry by 10 or 11pm. If you're planning to party until midnight or later plan to take the party to a bar where you can get late night food served until 2am, hire a food truck to serve up some delicious meals on wheels or order in a few pizzas. Either way you go you can't go wrong. More is better than not enough!
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Are you planning a wedding? Contact us for a free quote on Wedding Planning and Coordination services!
Image: James & Jess Photography
Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life and one you will remember and cherish for years to come! Most people have never planned a wedding and don't know what it takes to turn their vision into reality. Hiring a Professional Wedding Planner is often the best way to get started. But with so many options out there, how do you know what type of planner or services you need?
Below are some questions to ask yourself.
What is my overall wedding budget?
A Professional Wedding Planner can help you in many ways and often times will have a few packages to choose in different price ranges to suit various financial needs. Choosing the right package is not only determined by your budget but also how involved you want the planner to be in helping with the details, event design and logistics. Look at what each package costs and what is included to get a better understanding of the value that the Professional Wedding Planner will provide. Think of how beneficial these services will be to you leading up to and on the wedding day.
Keep in mind that the Professional Wedding Planner is not only there to give you guidance and support, they are also the liaison between you and other service providers, often communicating and negotiating on your behalf, reviewing contracts and making sure all the details are in place with each and every one of the vendors you hire, as well as act as the go to person on the wedding day for questions and to resolve any issues that may arise without getting you or your guests involved.
This is a day where you can't afford to make mistakes and where you want everything to flow seamlessly. How much value do you place on that and what would it mean to you to have someone to go to for advice and questions and to manage the details so you don't need to?
How much time do I have or want to spend planning my wedding?
If you are working full time, going to school to earn a degree, taking care of children or elderly parents or just have an overall busy life then a Professional Wedding Planner can be invaluable to you during this time. Planning a wedding takes months, often up to a year or longer. It takes time and patience to research and select service providers and venues, negotiate contracts, decide on a wedding theme or design, send invitations, manage the guest list, and much more. How involved you want the Professional Wedding Planner to be will be up to you. You'll need to decide how much time you have each day or week to plan the wedding and what is realistic for your lifestyle.
For some couples, doing the research and spending time planning the details is a fun, shared experience that they enjoy doing together. If you are a creative type of person and have time to spend looking at Pinterest and doing DIY projects that's great! Making the wedding unique and personal to you is an important part of the planning process. But that is just one part of it. There are many other details that need to be figured out that you might not have thought of. A Professional Wedding Planner can give you the guidance you need and keep you on track to make sure all the important areas of the wedding are coming together within the necessary timeframe.
Image: I Heart My Groom
Packages and Services
For the couple who needs a Professional Wedding Planner from the beginning who are not sure where to start the Full Service Planning and Design package is a great option. This package gives the couple ample time to plan their wedding with the planner 8-12 months ore longer in some cases before the wedding. This package includes giving the couple direction on wedding design, theme, colors, style, assist with location and venue options, vendor recommendations, assist with contract negotiations, work with the couple to ensure they are staying within their budget, keep them on track with checklists with due dates, provide advice on wedding etiquette as well as manage the wedding day timeline, rehearsal coordination and all details and logistics surrounding the day itself.
A Full Service Planning and Design package is great for couples who need a lot of guidance and those who are planning a destination wedding and need a local planner who knows the area. Professional Wedding Planners are able to streamline the planning process by narrowing down your options for venues, give you a list of recommended vendors in your budget and set up meetings with you a few times before the wedding based around your schedule to check in and make sure things are on track. To see our Full Service Planning and Design package, click here.
The next option is Partial Planning and Coordination services. This type of package is the "middle of the road" option, giving you an adequate amount of support and guidance but not as involved as in the Full Service Planning package. Most often the Professional Wedding Planners begin working with the couple 6-8 months before the wedding, giving them more time to plan on their own and get started with some of the details before getting involved. The services are similar to the Full Service Planning package but a few areas may not be included such as wedding design or they may offer less in terms of time spent having in person meetings, site visits or less hours of service on the wedding day. To see our Partial Planning and Coordination package, click here.
Image: James & Jess Photography
A Note on "Day of Coordination"
Many couples hear the term Day of Coordinator and think that they can save money by hiring someone who will show up to the wedding and manage the details for them the day of. This is very unrealistic and can be detrimental to the wedding causing more chaos and stress for the couple, their guests as well as the other vendors who have been hired to provide their specialized service. A real Professional Wedding Planner with integrity and years of experience will not offer such a service because they know that no one will benefit from them showing up to the wedding unprepared.
To really offer value to a couple, a Professional Wedding Planner will need to have knowledge of what is involved in the wedding prior to the wedding day by spending time getting to know the couple and understanding their vision, becoming familiar with the family and bridal party, asking questions about certain key wedding events such as ceremony order, special dances, toasts and speeches, cake cutting, timing of photographs and other formal details.
They will also spend several weeks reviewing contracts and communicating with vendors and the wedding venue before the wedding day to review everyone's roles and responsibilities, create a detailed timeline that outlines the order of the wedding day events for the ceremony and reception and get a feel for the overall flow. Many couples choose to spend time planning and designing the wedding themselves, hire their own vendors and then have a Professional Wedding Planner step in a few weeks before who can help put everything together in a way that will ensure a smooth and seamless event.
The term Day of Coordinator is widely misunderstood.
Couples should not expect to receive the same quality of service from someone who shows up on the wedding day to work for a few hours compared to a Professional Wedding Planner who works with the couple at a minimum 4-6 weeks before the wedding. The cost may be less in comparison but the cost of not having a Professional Wedding Planner will be more in the long run.
Our comprehensive take on Day of Coordination is what we refer to as Last Stage Planning + Day of Coordination. This package is our most basic wedding planning package suited for those couples who are planning a smaller wedding generally under 100 people, who are doing most or all the wedding planning themselves and those who are on a tighter budget but still want a professional to take care of the final details leading up to and on the wedding day to ensure everything is executed flawlessly. To get a quote on this type of service for your wedding day, contact us here.
Image: I Heart My Groom
You Have Options!
If you don't see the right package listed but still want some help, contact us! We can talk you through the details and provide you with a custom quote based on your specific needs.
Every wedding is unique and special in its own way and we treat our clients as individuals. Not everyone will fit into one of the packages offered and we realize that so get in touch and let's get started planning your big day!
Next: Read "Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Wedding Planner"
Image: I Heart My Groom
Wedding Planners have gained in popularity when movies such as The Wedding Planner, Father of the Bride and more recently Bride Wars brought the profession into the public eye. The characters in these examples played by Jennifer Lopez, Martin Short and Candice Bergen, all had different personalities, styles and skill sets.
Although the characters in the movies came off as quirky or eccentric at times they each displayed many of the real qualities Wedding Planners possess such as their strict attention to detail, being highly organized, having a creative mind and thinking outside the box, conflict resolution and problem solving, time management skills and a true passion for what they do,
When it comes to Wedding Planners in "real life," each can offer a wide range of skills, styles, individual taste and personalities that makes them unique and that sets them apart from other Wedding Planners. When choosing a Wedding Planner, it is important to choose someone that suits your individual style and personality and that understands your vision. Choose someone you can trust and feel comfortable with. This will be your go to person who will be by your side during the planning stages which can sometimes be a few months, a year or in some cases even longer.
Image: I Heart My Groom
Wedding Planners Can Save You Time!
Let's face it - life is busy! Many of us are working full time jobs, have families and children to care for or are going to school to earn a degree. Maybe you don't have a lot of time to spare and realize you need help. After all, planning a wedding is a lot of work and having a someone with experience that can help guide you in your choices, give you advice and be there to listen when you're feeling stressed can be invaluable!
Wedding Planners save you time by using their knowledge, expertise and resources to streamline the planning process and narrow down your options. We've done the research for you so you don't have to spend countless hours online, making numerous phone calls or typing what feels like hundreds of emails just to find out the vendors you contacted are either booked or out of your price range.
Whether you need help finding a venue, booking wedding vendors or help selecting your wedding decor or rentals, a Wedding Planner can work with you to accomplish all your goals by understanding your vision, budget, style and size of your wedding to determine what options to give you and provide you with a customized experience that is unique to your wedding.
Wedding Planners Can Save You Money
Yes, you read that right! We can actually SAVE you money! Some people still think of Wedding Planners as a luxury or an unnecessary expense or something they can't possibly afford. That just simply isn't true! Gatherings for Good understands the importance of working with your budget and we strive to help as many couples as we can which is why we customize our services and packages around your needs and budget so we can help as many couples as possible and provide a truly personalized experience.
Often times, a Wedding Planner can save you money when it comes to hiring vendors by referring you to only those who are in your price range. In some cases we can also help with your budget and show you where to allocate wedding funds based on your priorities as well as keep track of deposits and invoices to stay on top of when payments are due and to make sure you are not overspending.
Wedding Planners Can Be a Voice of Reason
You love your fiance - but sometimes you won't always agree on things. You both have your own opinions and styles you want to include in the wedding but there will be times you don't see eye to eye. That is where a Wedding Planner can help! As an outsider listening to both parties, we can help you come to an agreement and learn to compromise so that both parties get what they want.
The goal is for the couple to feel as though they are contributing their ideas and that the wedding reflects the unique relationship the two people have, encompassing all the important details that matter such as family traditions, religious beliefs, cultural differences, and personal values. We can help you design the wedding the way you want so that it feels personal to you and different than other weddings. We believe no two weddings are the same and every couple is unique and your wedding day should reflect that!
Wedding Planners Can Take Care of the Details!
When it comes to wedding planning there are so many details to take care of it can be overwhelming! Many couples know what big items need to be done from the start such as finding a venue, choosing a wedding gown, creating invitations, selecting your catering menu or deciding if you want a band or DJ. But, there are many other details and decisions that need to be made and if you are not keeping a to-do list and checking them off one by one, you can quickly and easily get off track and behind schedule which can make the wedding planning process much more stressful than it should be.
Gatherings for Good provides checklists of all the important items and tasks that need to be done month leading up to the wedding day so you always know exactly what to do. We make it as easy as possible so there is no guess work involved. If you get behind a little bit because you had a busy week or just forgot, we will send you reminders to make sure are checking items off the list one by one. If you happen to get stuck at any point we are just a phone call or email away to get you back on track!
Wedding Day Management (Day of Coordination)
The biggest and most important job a Wedding Planner has is managing the details of the wedding day from start to finish. We refer to this as Wedding Day Management but is more likely you've heard of the term Day of Coordination. The term Day of Coordination is a myth and is widely misunderstood. It gives the impression that someone can just show up on the wedding day and magically know what to do. This is not the case. It takes several weeks to prepare for the wedding day and finalize all the important details so things can be executed properly.
Wedding Day Management generally includes services started 4-6 weeks before the wedding day. Depending on the size and time frame for the wedding, we generally arrive 2 hours prior to the ceremony starting to allow enough time to set up any personal items, meet with the venue staff, greet and assist the vendors as they arrive, greet and direct the wedding guests as well as be there to welcome and greet YOU!
Wedding Planners are the "go to" people, the on-site coordinators and the directors who manage every aspect of the big day! They are the ones who will be your main point of contact for the vendors, staff, guests and the wedding party to answer any questions or resolve any last minute issues that come up. We understand how important timing for the wedding day is and how crucial it is to have and follow a detailed timeline.
At Gatherings for Good we schedule a final planning meeting at 1- 2 weeks before the wedding to go over all the important details with you and design a wedding day timeline that reflects all the important details and formalities that will take place before and during the wedding. We provide copies of the final timeline to all your vendors before the wedding day to ensure everyone you have hired understands how the day will flow and have a detailed plan to follow. This eliminates the risk of things going wrong, getting off track and makes sure that everyone works together as a team to ensure you have the beautiful, stress-free day you always imagined!
Image: I Heart My Groom
Still not sure a Wedding Planner or Coordinator is right for you?
Read our blog post A Wedding Story and find out why you can't afford NOT to have one!
When you're ready, we're here!
Click here for more information on our wedding services!
Image: Danielle Honea Phototography
Brenda Cali is a professionally trained Wedding Consultant and plans a variety of social and corporate events.