Choosing your wedding locations can be a difficult decision, but one that should be made early! Are you curious why I say location(s), plural? Several locations are typically considered for a most memorable wedding weekend event! Let’s think about it from an out-of-town guest’s perspective. A portion of the guest list is likely from out of town, whether that be extended family, immediate family, or college friends. When out-of-town (OT) guests arrive, first they will need to check in to a hotel, or lodging location, for the wedding weekend, likely on a Friday night. Most hotels have a 3:30 pm or 4:00 pm check in time. These times must be considered if guests are expected to then proceed to the rehearsal and/or rehearsal dinner following their arrival. So, location #1 is the hotel / lodging location, with time and proximity to wedding events considered. Let’s continue with the flow of wedding weekend events from the OT guest perspective.
They’ve traveled a distance, located the hotel, checked in, and now need to attend the rehearsal. (Guest gift bags are a nice touch and can be given to the hotel staff in advance to distribute to these guests who reserved a room under the wedding block. The bags, or baskets, may include some water, small snacks, an itinerary, and directions, specifically to make the wedding weekend comfortable for OT guests.) The rehearsal should be held on site of the ceremony, whether that be a church, wedding facility, farm / barn, or home. 5:00 / 5:30 pm is a reasonable time for the rehearsal, allowing time for check in and transport to the location, which hopefully is strategically close in proximity. Rehearsal typically takes one hour when a coordinator is present and a detailed timeline of the weekend has been created. Location #2 is rehearsal site and now our OT guests are hungry! What’s next?!
The rehearsal dinner venue will be location #3. This venue may or may not be the same as #2. Couples may rehearse in a church and then proceed to a restaurant for the dinner. Couples may rehearse on the farm and then have a dinner catered there (getting extra use of their rented tent, tables, and chairs). Either way, the plan should be clear in the itinerary with directions included. 6:30 / 7:00 pm is a common time for the rehearsal dinner. All traditional rehearsal dinner speeches and gifts can be completed in a reasonable amount of time so that everyone can get their rest for the big day!
It’s wedding day and here’s where things can get tricky! The wedding party will have their own agenda, already communicated by the bride and groom. Typically, the groom and groomsmen will be at a designated location (#4), while the bride and bridesmaids are getting hair and makeup done at a salon or separate designated location (#5). When planning, transportation and breakfast must be considered. Prior to the ceremony, there are usually two assigned “getting ready” rooms, which are on-site, but separate, to keep the groom from seeing the bride. Speaking of the ceremony (#6), this may be the first item on the agenda for OT guests not in the wedding party. Depending on the start time of the ceremony, OT guests may need some breakfast, lunch, shopping, things-to-do options on their itinerary. For example, guests staying at The George Washington Hotel should have information about the walking mall and local near-by restaurants. Also, if OT guests are not in the wedding party, they may not come into town until wedding day! These guests may go directly to the ceremony, especially if the start time is prior to check in (another determining factor in setting the ceremony time). After tying the knot, it’s party time!
The wedding reception is only the seventh location we’ve had to consider, and this one tends to be a really big deal! If the guest list includes a large number of OT guests, one option is to have your reception at the hotel, location #1! I mentioned The George Washington Hotel as an example above and their Grand Ballroom serves as a beautiful reception venue. Planning your lodging and reception venue to be the same keeps things safe and simple for OT guests. However, outdoor / farm / barn receptions are the trend right now! If that’s your dream, no problem! Consider proximity and transportation and include specific directions with the itinerary. It is a must to coordinate how to get OT guests back to the hotel, or for some, it may be to the hotel for the first time!
And just like that, the wedding day is over in a flash. A post-wedding brunch (#8) may be considered and serves as a send-off. Sometimes the send-off takes place at the end of the reception as the bride and groom depart for their honeymoon or separate hotel at the airport. Other times, the bride and groom stay at the same hotel in a suite or “secret” room, and they attend the breakfast to thank their guests and everyone departs at the same time!
Michelle’s Main Event can help you with all of these location decisions! We specialize in planning the timeline, the itinerary, the transportation schedule, guest gift bags, and every last detail to make things go smoothly. There are so many things to personalize and so many perspectives and guest needs to consider, while unfolding the vision and the dreams of the bride and groom….and we LOVE it!
So many engagements take place in December, January, and February!!! If you are the couple of the moment, Congratulations!! Enjoy rejoicing with your parents and friends!! Make your engagement months enjoyable and enlist the help of a professional wedding coordinator!! Michelle’s Main Event can help you plan an ideal wedding that personalizes the style to reflect who you are, where you have been, and the direction you intend to go!!
Couples thank me time and time again for being their advocate, helping them understand tradition and assuring them it’s ok to forgo it sometimes, relying on tact and sensitivity, considering the needs of the elderly or challenging guests, providing roles and activities for children, and most of all, anticipating potential problems which only comes with experience!
Believe it or not, there is a method to the madness when planning your wedding. I use five letters and a little saying to guide clients on what to do in the early stages. LPBDG. (L)ove is (P)assionate, (B)lissful, (D)ynamic, and (G)reat. L stands for love and also location. Love is the reason we are here and one of the early priorities is determining the location for both the ceremony and the reception. P stands for passionate and also planning. Love is passionate and so am I, especially when it comes to planning weddings and making your day special. Secure my planning services early! I often work with clients for twelve months to plan every detail of their wedding. Even if only month of services are requested, my calendar books up quickly. B stands for blissful and also budget. There are many blissful ways to love and save money! The planner will have several tricks up her sleeve, but discussing finances and setting a realistic budget in the beginning is key. D stands for dynamic and also date. Lovers can make a dynamic team, but before vendors and locations are secured, a date must be set! Time of year, day of the week, and time of day all must be considered. G stands for great and also guest list. The size of your wedding, determined by your guest list, will go hand in hand with selecting the venue. All five of these priorities go hand in hand and are often decided depending on one another. Make these your first steps and the early planning stages will be great!
Call us today and we can help make your engagement stress free! Keep watch for a special Valentine’s promotion!
As a professional wedding planner, I feel it’s my duty to share traditional wedding customs with my clients; however, they often ask, “Is it ok if I don’t do that?” Absolutely! As wedding customs have evolved and become more elaborate, so have the expenses, and the wedding industry has become more diverse as customs change. I believe the wedding celebration, or reception, should reflect the couple and their personalities. While the wedding cake has always been a focal point of the nuptial festivity, couples may choose to follow tradition, incorporate a non-traditional dessert display to reflect their tastes, or a combination of both!! Regardless, as coordinator, I help them make their reception “sweet”, in their own way!
I’d like to share some non-traditional dessert options we’ve used in weddings coordinated by Michelle’s Main Event. Each one was incorporated differently and had meaningful reasoning behind it.
First, one of the easiest ways to include an extra sweet option is through favors! The traditional wedding cake is still the dessert focus, but the favors add an extra treat, something guests can take away, and often adds a personal touch to the table setting. I could do a whole blog on favors themselves! They are simply a special gesture from the newlyweds to guests for being part of the occasion. Favors should not drain the budget; however, if they are going to be given, they might as well be meaningful! To this day, one of my “fav favors”, was from a June wedding. The bride loved DONUTS! A well-known local business would set up a trailer, only certain days throughout the week, to sell these amazing donuts! We were able to secure over a hundred donuts delivered on her wedding day. A group of her friends and I individually packaged them, added a burlap tie, and topped them with a personalized label. One donut was set at each place…..and a few may have been eaten along the way ;). I can tell you by the end of the night, the search for extra donuts or favors left behind was quite comical, and definitely taken to the after party! I’ve also seen this same scenario done with cookies! This is also appreciated for children, young guests, and guests with special dietary needs. The baker should be informed of the needs in advance, and likely can make a cookie to meet those needs, specially packaged for the coordinator to place knowing the seating arrangement.
The next move is a little more gutsy…no cake, but a non-traditional replacement reflecting the tastes of the bride, groom, and/or their families. The best I’ve seen was a pie table from a September wedding coordinated by Michelle’s Main Event. Guests placed pies on a designated table upon arrival. The bride’s family provided pie table décor, signs, and all necessities (plates, servers, knives, napkins, to-go containers, and of course WHIPPED CREAM!). A family friend assisted with the table, arranging and cutting the pies throughout the evening. Guests could eat their pie at anytime! Some had it as an appetizer, some following dinner, some later in the evening…. side note – guests do not like to be hungry and guests like choices (don’t we all?). The pie table provided guests with the freedom tohave their sweet treat whenever they wanted it, and there were so many options, I’m certain there was something for everyone. Additionally, a special pie was set aside for the bride and groom so that they could do the traditional art of cutting the “pie”, first bites, and wedding “pie” kiss; therefore, tradition was not abandoned. This method also served as the favors! In the to-go containers provided, guests could take a slice or two of their favorite pie or pies home….and have it for breakfast ;). Another scenario I’ve seen is to do something similar with cupcakes! Cupcake displays can be very creative and quite amazing!! Another really fun option for young guests too.
Brides and grooms really can have it all!! Many want the traditional wedding cake focus while providing another dessert option as well. Maybe the bride and groom aren’t big cake eaters, but want to stick with tradition? My favorite addition is the chocolate fountain or fondue station! I have to admit, I had it at my own wedding, and it’s always a hit! This station is also great for children and non-cake eaters of all ages. Typically, I see graham crackers, pretzels, marshmallows, pineapples, and strawberries at this station, along with the chocolate of course. All of those items are great kid foods, which aren’t often found on wedding buffets. So unless a special kid meal is planned or provided, this may become a great dinner option for children. And…who doesn’t like a little chocolate? I’ve also seen what’s been called the “Pittsburgh Cookie Table”. This is along similar lines to the pie table mentioned above, as guests bring the cookies, to-go boxes are provided and can be used as favors, and cookies can be eaten before, during, or after dinner; however, the difference is it’s in addition to the cake, not a replacement. The Groom’s cake may also be a second dessert. It’s often a chocolate cake, iced in chocolate, or baked in a shape, such as a football or racecar, that reflects an interest of the groom. Having a special groom’s cake is a charming personal touch.
The final option is also an addition to the traditional wedding cake. I saved it for last because I’ve only seen it done once, in an October wedding I coordinated. This extra treat really is a TREAT and becomes a timeline event in itself during the course of the celebration. Are you ready?…. piñata breaking!!! At first, I was skeptical, but I can say with certainty all guests enjoyed this sweet addition. There were actually two piñatas; one for adults and one for kids. I suggest the adult piñata first, mainly to model for the children the entire process, such as forming a line, keeping appropriate distance, how to hit it, and what to do when it breaks! This definitely takes some organization. The adult piñata contained mini liquor bottles…..so you want to see adults scramble?? Then, of course, the children’s piñata contained candy. I’d also like to add this reception took place in a barn and the piñata was hung in advance. The setting would need to be appropriate, with planned set up, planned clean up, and assigned duties for coordination and assistance throughout the process; however, when pulled off properly, it is a BLAST! I absolutely love how my October couple included this addition!
In closing, I do not doubt that we could come up with more ways to make the wedding reception sweet and personalized! That’s what I love about working with each of my clients! Every bride and groom teaches me something new, has an interesting idea or request, and I help them bring that to life! I recently ran into the “pie lady” who helped the bride and family with the pie table I mentioned, which inspired me to write on this topic. Our lives become richer with the experiences we have and the people we meet. Always allow yourself to be open to the “new” and embrace people and their ideas….it will make your life a little “sweeter”.