Going to the Chapel
It’s almost that time of year again! Birds will be singing, flowers are almost in bloom, the scent of fresh rain will be present in the mornings, and you guessed it, the sound of wedding bells are soon to be ringing all over town.
Since spring is right around the corner, and May and June are the most popular months for weddings, The Party Makers would love to share some information on how to make the most memorable spring-time wedding during the season of love.
Most couples exchanging their vows prefer to have their ceremony outside during this time of year. After the rain is more stabilized, and before the unbearable summer heat is at its fullest, there is nothing more magical and romantic than saying those special words emerged in the elements of nature. Many popular venues have a great scenic area on their property that is perfect for an outdoor ceremony with the soothing sound of fountains or waterfalls in the background, and vibrant flowers at their fullest color surrounding the scene, and perhaps the charm of an old-fashioned gazebo, as the alter creates a lovely environment for a wedding of any size. Not only is this tranquilizing, romantic atmosphere pleasing to the guests, but it is also a picturesque scene for the newlyweds and the bridal party to snap beautiful photos afterwards.
String quartets seem to be a preferred musical choice while the bride has her moment in the sun. Either by hiring a professional quartet or getting a few talented friends to volunteer, entrance music and your favorite wedding classics can be played upon the arrival of guests, and to accompany the ceremony. If the weather is warmer than desired, paper fans or programs that are shaped like fans are a creative way to ward off unwanted heat, and also a nice souvenir for guests to remember the special occasion.
Short, flouncy cocktail dresses with matching flowers to adorn the hair seem to be the latest trend in bridesmaid attire. It is still elegant, yet not as formal, and perfect for weddings during the warmer months. Not to mention, it is not hot and uncomfortable to wear outside, and usually less expensive. For evening ceremonies, candles may be used in place of flower bouquets when the bridal party processes and recesses down the aisle.
The Cocktail Hour:
Some couples choose to have a cocktail hour outside following the ceremony but preceding the reception. Wines, mixed drinks, and heavy hors d’oeuvres are served to guests. This provides guests a chance to mix and mingle with each other, take pictures, and have a preview of the culinary delights that await them for the buffet hour. This also gives the kitchen staff, entertainment, and everyone else involved, more time inside to prepare for the reception, and more time to ensure that the reception will be unforgettable.
The main course may be served before or after the introductions. Buffets are usually the less expensive option, and most preferred by guests. You can still experience high class, gourmet cuisine, even if the way it is being served is less formal than a full wait-staff. Guests can easily go back for seconds at any time throughout the duration of the reception.
It is good to offer several menu options (no more than three), because it is difficult to satisfy everyone with just one meal. Chicken dishes are highly recommended at banquet receptions because they are inexpensive and there are many creative ways to prepare it. Secondly, it is a main course that most people can agree on eating. A red meat option would be another great choice for guests. Having a carving station of prime rib or filet mignon adds a touch of extra class to the buffet and makes the table more presentable. The third choice is usually a vegetarian dish or some form of fish. Vegetables and side dishes should of course be seasonal, and compliment the main course. Food decisions should always be made based upon the guest profile.
It is common for the bride and groom to have a sweetheart table separate from the guests in a separate room or the bridal suite. In this atmosphere, they can take a break from the hectic day and enjoy their first meal together in a tranquil atmosphere.
Receptions are the moment that every guest has been waiting for. The highly anticipated “first dance” following introductions marks the beginning of the grand celebration. The couples’ first dance should be a song that is meaningful to them, and that is also descriptive of their unique relationship. Even if the song is unfamiliar, eccentric, or silly to the guests, it is a way of defining what makes that couple special and setting them apart from any other.
One way to make a reception exceptional is to encourage guest participation once the dance floor is open to everybody. A few weddings that I have worked at have karaoke for the last hour of the reception. Guests can enjoy themselves by singing and reminiscing over their favorite tunes, and feel like a part of the celebration.
Cake and Toast:
Toasts made to the newlyweds usually take place at the same time of the cake cutting. Those giving the toast should keep it short, sweet, and simple (no more than 30-60 seconds per person). The last thing the couple wants is to bore their guests by choosing a poor speaker, or a speaker who says too much. Usually it is the father of the groom, mother of the bride, best man, or maid of honor, an honored guest, or a combination of several of the above that are responsible for preparing the toast and giving the new couple recognition.
The main cake should be displayed in a prominent spot throughout the reception so guests can view it and take pictures. No guest should have to wait in line for cake, once it is served. The staff should efficiently cut and distribute the cake at table setting in a prompt manner. Not only does waiting in line cause chaos and impatience among guests, but it takes away the attention of the bride and groom cutting the cake, one of the most important photo opportunities at a wedding.
Many couples are fond of the idea of groom’s cakes. Not only does this give the groom recognition, but it offers guests an alternative cake if they do not like the main bridal cake being served.
Favors, Flowers, and Farewell
Many people prefer non-traditional favors to take home after a reception. Mints, candy, matchbooks, and potpourri are always great traditional memoirs. But there is always room for creativity for this part of the wedding. Mesh bags of custom bath-salts that match the theme colors of the wedding are useful and fun to use. Scented votives in holders commemorating the event with festive fabric ribbon tied around it is a perfect decoration to display in any home.
Any flowers used as decoration for the wedding should be given to a responsible party who can bring them to the couple’s new home. It will beautifully suit their new living space and also symbolize a fresh start to a new chapter in their life. To-go boxes of leftover food should be carefully prepared and also brought home, if desired.
Unfortunately, the old-fashioned ways of tossing rice or bird seed at the couple as they make their grand departure is discouraged or illegal at most properties. A few romantic options that give a fairy-tale feeling as the bride and groom leave for their destination include items such as bubbles, sparklers, or rose petals.
If there are a lot of out-of-town guests or guests that want to continue the party, be sure to have a room block at a nearby hotel for their convenience. Reliable transportation such as limos, shuttles, or taxis should be arranged for those who should not drive home — for free, or at a discounted rate.
For those of you who are budget-conscious, hosting a wedding party at someone’s home has become a popular alternative. You, a relative or a friend may have a house with a spacious backyard that has fine-tuned the details of landscaping and possibly other elements such as pools, waterfalls, and patio space that can be utilized during the reception. Furniture can be moved, rearranged, or stowed away inside to allow room for a dance floor, buffet, DJ booth, or other decorative pieces to create the illusion of a banquet hall or club.
No matter what venue you choose, make sure you make your special day as memorable and stress-free as possible.
– Ingrid Priscilla Wiggberg is a successful Event Planner in metro Atlanta who specializes in dream parties and dream weddings. Hear her interview.