Timing of you reception is something you’ll want to start planning early on. You don’t have to have specifics nailed down, but most contracts will be dependent upon your reception timeline; you don’t want to book your photographer for six hours, only to learn a few weeks out your contracted time runs out halfway through dinner! It’s better to negotiate extra time early in the hiring process, so having an idea of what your timeframe is now will save you on headaches later.
Each wedding IS unique and special, but you’ll find most receptions follow the same general timeline. This isn’t because it’s the only way you can do it! It just means that over time, this timeline has proven to be the simplest and most straightforward. Your ‘standard’ reception looks like so:
• Cocktail Hour
• Bridal Party, Bride & Groom announced
• Welcome speech & blessing
• Cake Cutting
• First Dance
• Father/Daughter, Mother/Son dances
• Special dances (Anniversary dance, etc)
• Bouquet & Garter toss
• More dancing
• Bride & Groom departure
If this timeline looks good to you, use it! If you want to change it up, you should! There are many variations as having the First Dance before dinner; toasts before or during dinner; cake cutting after the bouquet and garter toss; you get the idea. Just make sure it works for you and your guests. That being said, instead of giving you the generic and typical reception timeline you ‘should’ follow, I’ll show you an idea of how long things actually take so you customize your own reception timeline! One thing to keep in mind; always allow for more time than you think it’ll take. This will allow you some breathing room if you’re running behind, and will make for a more relaxed atmosphere; and don’t forget to account for the time it takes to round up the necessary players for each event!
Cocktail Hour: Just because it’s cocktail “hour” doesn’t mean it needs to last an hour! If you’re serving cocktails before the ceremony, this should last 30-60 minutes; after the reception, 45-75 minutes. If you’re having a cocktails-only reception, plan for 1.5-2 hours.
Announcement of Bridal Party, Bride and Groom: This depends entirely on the size of your bridal party, but allow for 5-10 minutes
Welcome speech & blessing: 3-5 minutes; take into account how much your toaster/blesser likes to talk!
Dinner: This can be tricky because of the many factors involved: what style dinner you’re having, number of guests, reception hall layout, how fast your guests eat, the number of kids… talk it over a bit with your caterer or the manager of the reception venue, but here’s the general idea:
Buffet Dinner and Food Stations
20-75 people: 45-60 minutes
75-150 people: 60-75 minutes
150-250 people: 75-90 minutes
250+ people: 90 minutes
• For large groups, consider having two buffet stations. If that’s not possible, a double-sided buffet table is a must to get everyone through in a timely manner. Dismissing groups by table helps keep the line down and guests moving through quicker.
20-75 people: 60-75 minutes
75-150 people: 75-90 minutes
150-250 people: 90 minutes
250+ people: 90+ minutes (your caterer should staff enough servers to keep it around 90 minutes, but check with them just in case)
Brunch or Lunch Buffet and Food Stations:
20-75 people: 45 minutes
75-150 people: 45-60 minutes
150-250 people: 60-75 minutes
250+ people: 75+ minutes
Brunch or Lunch Plated meal:
20-75 people: 45-60 minutes
75-150 people: 60-75 minutes
150-250 people: 75-90 minutes
250+ people: 90 minutes
Slideshow: I recommend showing this during another event; during dinner, while guests are eating cake, etc. If you want it as a standalone event, plan for the length of the show plus 3 minutes (in case of technical errors, to announce it, etc.)
Toasting: About 4 minutes per person. Adjust this as needed for toasters who you know like to talk!
Cake Cutting: 5 minutes, 10 if you want it announced so guests gather around to watch.
First Dance: 3-6 minutes, more if you have a long song.
Father & Daughter / Mother & Son Dances: 3-5 minutes each, 4-6 minutes if you’re combining them into one dance (pick a longer song if you’re having one song for both dances).
Bouquet and Garter Tosses: 15 minutes for both, 5 minutes if you’re only doing one.
Special Dances (Anniversary Dance, etc): 4-6 minutes.
Hora: 5-25 minutes; completely dependent upon your crowd! Make sure your DJ is prepared with enough music to last up to 30 minutes if you have a crazy crowd that loves to dance.
Chinese Dragon or Lion Dance: 5-15 minutes. Talk to the dancers to see how long their routine is, then add 3-5 minutes on top of that.
Departure: Plan for it to ‘start’ happening 15 minutes before you want to be driving away from the reception if you’re having an organized sendoff.
Remember that it is VERY common for things to get behind at a wedding reception, so be prepared to go with the flow throughout the evening. Other than that, mix and match the events to maximize your guests’ comfort and entertainment!
How should you tackle the topic of seating at your reception? Should you assign a seat for each guests, or just a table? Or perhaps you want to give your guests the freedom to choose where in the reception they want to sit?
If you’re planning on having a plated dinner, assigned tables (and sometimes assigned seating) is a must to help the catering staff serve meals more efficiently (you’ll want to give the caterers a list of your tables and the menu choices of each guest at those tables). If you’re having a buffet or food stations, it’s completely up to you whether you want to designate seating for your guests.
If you decide to have an open-table reception, make sure you reserve tables for you, your wedding party and your families; this can anywhere from two to six tables depending on the size of your wedding party and families. I recommend you place name cards on the reserved tables as well as reserved signs; this will keep Great Aunt Margie from sitting at a spot reserved for your mom’s favorite sister.
If you do decide on designated tables and/or seats, the first thing you need to know is that it will be more difficult than you expect! Brides are always optimistic about this being a quick and easy task; in reality, we rarely hear about it taking LESS than 4 hours to complete. Yep, 4 hours; even longer if you ask moms to help out. But if it’s something you really want to do, don’t shy away too much! Grab a glass (or bottle!) of wine, curl up in front of the television or put on your favorite Pandora station, and have fun with it!
To get you started, OneWed created an easy-to-use spreadsheet to aid you in the process; download it here!
Before you jump in and start filling out names, check with your venue or caterer (whoever is providing the tables) and find out how many guests you can fit at each table. Eight people per table is pretty standard, but sometimes you can get 10 people around a table. If your venue is big enough, go with 8 people per table; tables feel less crowded that way, and smaller tables make cross-table conversations much more likely to happen. The next steps depend on your group. If your friends, family and guests tend to be more on the outgoing side, mix and match by seating four people from your groom’s list with four people from yours! Otherwise it’s always a safe bet to seat groups together based on how they know each other; collage friends at one table, work friends at another, and so on. Know that no matter how much you perfect your seating chart there is a good chance that people will switch tables, and if they do, don’t worry about it! You want your guests to have fun at your wedding, and if sitting at a different table is what it takes to accomplish that, so be it!
Now start thinking about how you want to identify your tables! Table numbers are the simplest and most straightforward approach—just make sure that the table numbers are visible. I was at a wedding recently where the table numbers were painted on small stones and placed on the tables. This was cute and fit well with their theme, but in a reception hall with 22 tables, guests spent a lot of time wandering between tables trying to find the small rock with their magic number on it. If you want to add a more personal spin than numbers on cards, you can name the tables after something meaningful to you: cities that you’ve traveled to together; places you’ve gone on dates; favorite activities to do together; dishes that you both love to cook; the possibilities are endless! You can also go for table names that fit with your theme for the day: if you’re wedding is at a winery, name the tables after different grapes (name the head table Champagne!); if you’re having a beach wedding, name the tables after beach-friendly activities, or after famous beaches around the area and/or world; if your wedding has a Parisian theme, name the tables after different famous sites around Paris…you get the idea.
The last piece you need to consider is how to let your guests know where they’ll be seated. Some couples will post a large list of names and table numbers; others use small, tented name-cards with each guests’ name and table number printed on it; I’ve seen couples print one card for an entire party (aka “Mr. and Mrs. Anderson and kids”), then print the individual’s names on cards at their table. If you really want to go all out, custom-print personal menus so each guest has a menu with their own name on it! However you decide to do it, you should have a large chart or map set up with names and table names/numbers for guests to find, or a small table set aside with the tented name cards on them; you don’t really need both, but can if you want to. Set these up during the cocktail hour so guests can find their table numbers at leisure rather than having a mad rush of everyone at the start of the reception. You can get creative with how to display these too! Word of advice: I’ve seen instances where names are hung from tree branches or something similar; while it looks cool, it can be really difficult for some guests—especially older guests—to find their card. If you want to get creative, do so with what you print the cards on, but lay them on a table in alphabetical order to make it easier on your guests.
Once you’ve arranged everyone where you want them on your Excel sheet, save it and print out a few copies: one for your wedding planner, one for the venue, and if you have an outside caterer coming in print out an extra copy or two for them. And just remember, they’re only going to be sitting there while they eat; if you’re worried about how people will get along, just make sure to get everyone out on the dance floor after dinner to party the night away!
As you probably know by now, planning the honeymoon is on your To-Do list. Each couple differs in how much the bride contributes to planning the honeymoon; some brides love to be surprised, others can’t imagine not having a say about where you go and what you do. So first things first, ask your bride how much she wants to be involved.
You’ll want to start planning early; at least four months out if you’ve got the time, longer if you’re planning for overseas. This isn’t for making plans and reservations, it’s to give you time to save up enough money to splurge. Trust me, after the stress of planning the wedding and the whirlwind of it actually happening, you’ll both be grateful for a trip to relax and spoil yourselves. Start by working out your budget. For you excel lovers, try creating a Honeymoon Budget Worksheet for you to help track your expenses—including things like vaccinations, Visas and the oh-so-important baby protection (unless you’re trying to get pregnant on your honeymoon??). Decide what things are important to you both and inflate those numbers a bit—if you’re foodies, you’ll want to budget enough money to allow for eating like royalty during your honeymoon.
Next, and this should be done regardless of how much planning she wants to do, you should sit down separately and each write a list of things you’d want to do on your honeymoon. Don’t be too specific; ask yourself if you want your honeymoon to be filled with:
• Rest and relaxation?
• Culture and sightseeing?
• Action and adventure (outside of the bedroom, that is!)?
• Lounging on the beach or poolside?
• Socialization with other newlyweds, guests and locals?
• Backpacking through a foreign country?
• Spending the entire trip in bed?
Pick all things that you’d be happy doing on your honeymoon, then compare lists; this will give you a good starting point.
Once you have an idea of what you’ll do, think about where you want to go; here’s a few examples to get your planning juices flowing:
• A warm and tropical destination full of sun, water and piña coladas.
• An area rich in culture that isn’t yours.
• In the middle of the woods car camping, in a rustic lodge, or backpacking.
• A ‘local’ destination getaway (The Four Seasons downtown, the beach town a few hours away, a family cabin).
• Atop a snowy mountain where you can ski or snowboard all day then cuddle up by a fire at night.
• Wine country (Northern California or the budget-friendly Central Washington State, dubbed the New Napa).
• A city heavy with nightlife, shows and live entertainment like Vegas or Reno.
• Tourist destinations like Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon or Yosemite.
• A big city you both love or want to visit, such as New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles or Boston.
See, this isn’t as hard as you thought it would be, is it? Let’s refine a little more; now think about where you want to stay (aka sleep). This is one area where you’ll definitely want to splurge more than scrimp; after all, you’ll spend more time in the hotel room on this vacation than any other trip you take together, so make the most of it! Options to consider:
• All-inclusive resort that takes care of everything for you—food, drink, entertainment, the works!
• A small cabin, resort or B&B off the beaten path.
• A nice hotel where you can walk out of the lobby and be in the middle of the action and excitement.
• A cruise ship cabin.
• In a top-of-the-line Black Diamond tent.
The next step is to hop online and research pricing; don’t be afraid to go to a travel agent for help; they’re a wealth of knowledge and help and can make planning a lot easier. Look for package deals and compare them to booking things separately; often it’s more affordable to book things in a package, but not always. Try for a ‘hacker fare’ too—fly one-way there on airline A, and one-way home with airline B. I’ve traveled many times using this trick and saved a fair amount of money. And maybe you can take that money saved and upgrade to first class…? Other things to consider: Mexico is less expensive in the summer, and spring and fall are the best times for Europe if you want to avoid crowds and high-season prices.
Some practical tips and advice as you’re booking and planning:
• Book your bride’s ticket and reservations under her maiden name (unless you’re honeymooning a few months after the wedding). It’s just easier.
• Don’t be shy about telling people it’s your honeymoon when making reservations and once you’re there; you’ll often get special treatment and sometimes better deals.
• Ship your luggage one week ahead of time; you’ll avoid baggage fees and you won’t have to haul your stuff through the airport—but plan wisely for your carry-ons either way. Keep your jewelry, medication, a change of clothes, camera and a toothbrush in your carry-on, that way if luggage gets lost (either delayed in shipping or lost by the airlines), you’ll have your valuables and bare necessities with you.
• Photocopy AND scan your passports. Bring one set of copies on your trip, and carry that copy with you while the original is locked in the hotel safe. Leave a set at home with your parents or a trusted friend. And email the scanned versions to yourself and your parents/friend; that way they can be accessed from any computer with internet and email access.
• Call your bank and/or credit card company and let them know you’ll be traveling to avoid a frozen account due to ‘suspicious activity.’
• Credit cards offer the best exchange rate, but check to see if they’ll charge an ‘international fee.’ If they do, consider taking money orders or pulling cash from an ATM every few days once you’re there.
• Don’t plan for an early flight the morning after the wedding. Trust me.
• Don’t dismiss the idea of doing a few activities separate from each other. It’ll give you both some room to breathe and time to take care of yourselves, and it’ll give you something to talk about over dinner other than recapping the wedding.
Can you afford to hire a planner for your wedding? In my opinion, you can’t afford NOT to hire one; it’s simply a matter of how much help you want from them, and when during the planning process you decide to secure their services.
At minimum, you’ll want someone there for the day to help orchestrate and coordinate the décor, greet and direct vendors, circle up the family and bridal party before the ceremony, pictures and the toasts, to make sure guests know when to be where, and most importantly, to help clean up at the end of the night. I’ve known many brides and grooms who have decided to forgo this expense, and almost every single one of them say that’s one of the things they definitely would have done differently if they could. DIY brides will often try to take care of this stuff on their own, or will ask family and friends to pitch in. If you can afford a profession who does this regularly it’s always best, but if your budget is too tight find a thrifty alternative! Find a local college girl who wants to be a wedding planner when she grows up (you’d be surprised how many of them are out there). Inquire with your friends, family and coworkers if they know of someone who could fit the bill and be willing to do it for you. Just remember that professionals can charge upwards towards $1000 for this service; if you aren’t hiring a professional, you shouldn’t pay professional prices, but a $100 gift card to Target for a day’s worth of work isn’t really enough unless you’re budget is really strapped.
If you’re on the other end of the spectrum, a wedding planner can be a fantastic resource for you! They can help secure some of the most talented and reputable vendors, and will also be knowledgeable on the latest trends and styles of the season. Not to mention all of the time they save and stress they alleviate for you! Many brides fear that a planner will steal the show and try to take over. On one hand, remember that the reason you’re hiring them is so they CAN run the show! But you want to make sure he or she won’t step on your toes too much, and will only step in when you really want them to. If you’re the kind of bride that likes to hold the reins as long as possible, then meet with your potential planner once or twice before signing a contract, and even spring for a consultation meeting. If they’re insistent that you just HAVE to hire such-and-such photographer because they’re FABULOUS, and they wouldn’t DREAM of having anyone other than so-and-so design your bridal bouquet…well, they probably aren’t the right match for you. Just make sure that you guys connect on a personality level as well as monetary one; when stuff hits the fan, they’re the one that you’re going to go to first to save the day, and if you’re not comfortable with who they are as a person, you’re not going to want to turn to them when you actually need them.
So how does a wedding planner benefit those that aren’t on a super-tight budget, but don’t have a ton of money to spend? One of the best things they can help you with is to find vendors and décor to keep you in your budget, and in theory he or she will save you enough money to cover their fees. Think of it this way; if you’ve budgeting $20,000 for your wedding, your planner should be able to save cut enough corners and find enough deals to save you $1,000-$1,500, which is about what the fee can be.
Regardless of your budget, wedding planners can help you in so many ways!
• Vendors are more likely to get referrals for new business from wedding planners than brides, so their incentive to do a fantastic job at your wedding is increased when there’s a wedding planner preset.
• They ensure that your family, bridal party and friends have a good time. Sure, these people love you and would do anything to help you out. But after a long day of dancing, drinking and celebrating, sticking around until midnight gathering up table numbers and pulling linens off of the table is probably not their ideal way to end the night. These people are, after all, your most important guests; make sure you take care of them and let them have as much fun as they can!
• They can help you with the wedding day timeline. Oftentimes vendors are happy to help with this, but remember this isn’t what they do professionally. A DJ may do a great job of helping time out the reception, and photographers can do a pretty good job of helping your orchestrate the day, but neither of them will be able to help with the timing of the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, nor will they be able to assist you in having your hair and makeup artist arrive at the hotel at the right time.
• Something will ALWAYS go wrong at your wedding! It could be as simple as a broken strap on a bridesmaid’s dress, or as overwhelming as a vendor that no-shows. Having a planner there means that you don’t have to deal with these problems when they arise; and if your planner is really good, chances are you won’t ever know that anything went wrong!
All in all, a wedding planner is something every couple needs for their wedding, and it really is something to factor in to your budget from day one. Trust me, it’ll be one of the best decisions you make about your wedding, aside from choosing the groom!
The topic of money and who pays for the wedding is one of the questions most commonly asked in the early stages of wedding planning. These days the division of who pays for what has evolved and changed to adapt to what fits each couple, and we think it’s about time. This article is meant to address the question of who traditionally pays for what. We’re giving you this list as a starting point, but strongly encourage you to take this list and make it work for you!
Bride’s Financial Responsibilities:
• Groom’s ring
• Gifts for your bridesmaids
• A wedding gift for your groom
• A gift for your parents
• Medical exam for herself (as required by the state, and those to procure any desired contraceptives)
• Bridesmaid luncheon, generally held the week of the wedding
• Hair, makeup and beauty treatments on the wedding day and leading up to it
• Accommodations for your out-of-town guests & attendants
• If you’re having a destination wedding, accommodations for your bridesmaids
Family of the Bride Financial Responsibilities:
• Save the Date announcements and Wedding Invitations
• Engagement party (if they host one for you)
• Wedding Planner
• A gift for you and your groom
• Wedding dress & all of your accessories
• Wedding attire for all of the bride’s family
• Lunch/brunch for you and your bridesmaids on the wedding day
• Bridesmaid’s bouquets
• Personal flowers (corsages) for all grandmothers
• Ceremony site rental and associated fees
• Other ceremony décor
• Programs for the ceremony
• Rentals for the ceremony and reception
• Floral arrangements for the ceremony and reception
• Music for the ceremony and reception
• Reception location rental fees
• Food for the reception
• Reception floral arrangements
• Other reception decor
• Wedding cake
• Transportation for the you, your wedding party and your family on the day of the wedding
• Gratuities for any vendors above (see our handy tipping guide here)
• Post-wedding brunch
Groom’s Financial Responsibilities:
• Engagement and wedding ring for the bride
• Bridal bouquet
• A wedding gift for the bride
• Medical exam for himself (as required by the state)
• Gifts for the groomsmen and ushers
• A gift for his parents
• Cost of the marriage license
• Officiant’s fees
• Personal flowers/corsages for all women (excluding bridesmaids and grandmothers)
• Boutonnieres for all men
• His formalwear & accessories
• Gloves, ties & accessories for men in the party
• Transportation for bride & groom at the end of the night
• Transportation to the honeymoon
• Accommodations for his out-of-town guests & attendants
• If you’re having a destination wedding, accommodations for his groomsmen
Family of the Groom’s Financial Responsibilities:
• Engagement party (if they host you one)
• The entire cost of the rehearsal dinner
• Their own wedding attire
• Their own travel expenses
• A wedding gift for the bride and groom
• Transportation for groom & best man to the ceremony
• Reception beverages
• Groom’s cake
• When applicable, the cost to ship all wedding gifts to the bride and groom’s home
Attendant’s Financial Responsibilities
• Bachelor & bachelorette parties
• Bridal showers
• A wedding gift for the couple
• Their attire & accessories (purchasing or renting)
• Their travel expenses
• Flower girl & ring bearer attire & accessories – their parents pay
Again, none of this is set in stone, but it gives you an idea of where to begin. Things to keep in mind when tailoring this list to fit you:
• The financial situation of each party involved; if you’re in a position to shoulder more financial responsibility to make it easier for someone else, do it.
• More contribution means more involvement: the more one party is footing of the overall bill, the more influence they should have in the decision making process
• Division of the guests: if his parents give you a guest list that makes up half of your entire guest list, it’s okay to ask them to contribute more
• Your age and position in life: if you’re getting married right out of college, it seems more practical and acceptable for your folks to pay for the majority of the wedding. However if you’re in your mid-thirties, have a career and mortgage of your own, you should foot a larger portion of the cost of the wedding
What’s the best approach to dividing up responsibilities? Talk to your honey first, then call a meeting where all contribution parties are present, and talk through it; it’s better for everyone to be clear and on the same page from the start, and it will save you on your Excedrin Migraine costs along the way!
The following are just a handful of places to create your own wedding website, for free!
and my personal favourite…
Wedding planning can seem overwhelming at first. There are so many decisions to make and details to consider that it is hard to know where to begin. Take some time to look through our inspiration pages. Check out our galleries and our blog, Delightfully Engaged, to figure out what type of styles you like and what wedding themes are most reflective of your personality.
You can sign up for an account and fww anytime you want. Some couples start their wedding website as soon as they get engaged so that they can share the happy news with all of their friends. Others wait until their date is set. Either way, free wedding websites have an abundance of tools and pages to share with your guests to make your wedding planning much easier.
After you have looked through guides in your location, as well as any nearby guides, you have some idea of what is available to you. Save your favorites and once you have narrowed them down, contact them for tours and to find out about open event dates. Don’t feel pressured to pick a date that doesn’t feel right to you. If you would rather get married sooner or later, you can find another venue to meet your desired timeline.
Inevitably, there will be questions as you start planning, whether they are about wedding details or relationships, you can find answers in planning & etiquette guides. Often these types of issues become the most stressful when planning your wedding, but they don’t need to be. Read articles to find out about each element so that you can be well-informed. For example, before you decide on your guest list and invitations, make sure you check out the best way to determine who is invited and how to properly address each invitation.
Although registering can be a little time consuming, it is a lot of fun! Who doesn’t want to create a wish list of all the things they would love to receive? When trying to decide where to register, consider the following: If the majority of your guests are local, what stores in your area are easy to shop at and register with? If a large number of your guests are long-distance make sure that the store you register with has an efficient online option available. The easier you make shopping on your guests, the more likely they are to not shop off-registry. We have several great registries on our site. Make sure to check them out to see if they are the right fit for you.
Okay, so this isn’t the most fun part of wedding planning. But the fact of the matter is that everyone has a price limit for their event. So whether you are receiving help from your parents or footing the bill completely on your own, before you start reserving vendors and placing deposits, set clear expectations and guidelines for how much you are planning to spend. Weddings are often more expensive than couples plan for, so use realistic numbers when coming up with your budget. Use budget tools to keep you on track. If you overspend in one category, you can use the budget tool to help you determine where you can save money in other areas.
Checklist tools can help you make the best to do list for what you need. Some people like thoroughly itemized lists, others prefer broad, general reminders. The nice thing about most checklists is that you can customize your own items. You can create a list that is completely reflective of the tasks you need to accomplish.
Another way to find inspiration is to attend wedding shows. There, you can find local trends and popular ideas that other couples in your area have used. Sometimes wedding shows can be overwhelming, so be prepared for each show by having a specific idea of what you are looking to find. Smaller boutique shows are often easier to navigate.
There are so many different types of save-the-dates and invitations that couples often have a difficult time deciding on which one to choose. You can match your invitations to your free wedding website on select designs or you can find invitations from vendors in your area on our local guides.
Who doesn’t look forward to the honeymoon? Find your perfect destination on a multitude of wedding planning sites.
Be it a gorgeous diamond, an antique emerald, a haribo or a hula hoop; an engagement ring signals the start of an exciting adventure, during which you will navigate inspiring venues, fabulous flowers, table plan conundrums and decadent desserts. All these will lead to a simply beautiful wedding day celebration that reflects you and your groom…piece of (wedding) cake….right?! Yes!
In a haze of engaged bliss, following these first 5 key steps will ensure that you and your groom are firmly on the right planning path
1) Wedding Budget
Although you may already be knee-deep in wedding magazines, your first stop should be ‘the wedding budget discussion’ between you partner and, if appropriate, family members who would like to contribute to your wedding fund. Once you have had the chat, you will be able to confirm your wedding budget. Next step – hop online and open a savings account; keeping your wedding fund separate from your main bank account is a smart move!
2) It’s a Date
From stately homes to rustic barns via a stunning art deco theatre, you may already have your heart set on a particular venue; if so, availability at the venue may dictate the date of your wedding day. Or are you footloose and fancy free? Then choose the date and then view a selection of venues that have availability on that day. Thinking of getting hitched in the height of summer, over a bank holiday weekend or jetting off somewhere exotic? If so, I would recommend sending your guests a ‘save the date’, it will ensure that your special day is firmly noted in their ever-hectic diaries!
3) Wedmin ~ Start A Planning Folder
Wedding Admin is the fiddly pile of papers on which your beautiful wedding will be built! Treat it wisely; purchase a folder & dividers and get things in order. Key sections will be: RSVP list, dietary requirements, supplier quotes & contacts, signed agreements and expenditure to date. Not the glamorous side of things but you will be so thankful when you quickly need to get your hands on the order number for your killer heels!
4) Guest List ~ Take 1
Practice makes perfect, sit down early on with your partner (and possibly parents) and jot down your dream guest list ~ the crème de la crème, the must haves and the maybes. Your venue and budget may limit the number of guests you can invite; therefore you might need to revise your guest list – bartering and bribery may come in handy here!
5) Be Inspired
Your wedding is the perfect opportunity for you to conjure up a day that truly reflects you both – classic, contemporary or eclectic, the list is endless! Gain inspiration from wedding blogs (including the fabulous Bridal Musings!) and by signing up for their e-newsletters and following them on Facebookor Twitter, you will have a constant supply of creativity, unique ideas and general bridal loveliness. Like to get hands on? Start a folder to hold fabric samples, gorgeous images torn from magazines, notes and much more.
If you have any extra wiggle room in your catering budget, offering a surprise “late night snack” just after last call at the bar is a great way to send off your guests and thank them for a memorable night (even if you just serve it “to go” for everyone to enjoy later on at home). Whereas the meal and wedding cake at your reception are not elements where you should really skimp, the beauty of the late night snack is that it can be as elaborate as cake pops frosted to match your wedding colors, or as simple as good old strawberry Pop-Tarts.
Wheel in an authentic street cart serving craveable junk food like corn dogs or hotdogs, soft pretzels with mustard, hot buttered popcorn, cotton candy, snowcones, frozen chocolate covered bananas, funnel cakes topped with powdered sugar or churros served with Mexican hot chocolate.
The Most Important Meal of the Day
I love breakfast so much, I eat it for lunch most days. Honestly, I really do…it’s one of my little diet secrets. So this is definitely my personal favorite “Midnight Snack” concept. You can go a little more upscale with hot espresso with biscotti and chocolate covered espresso beans with cappuccino, or go with classic old favorites like strawberry Pop-Tarts, “top-your-own” Eggo waffles, breakfast burritos or Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts and coffee.
If you want to offer your guests a late night treat, but don’t have a lot of money to spend, consider good, old fashioned fast food! There are two ways to go with this concept. 1. Place a large order of fries, burder, tacos and chicken nuggets with your local McDonald’s, In-N-Out, White Castle or Taco Bell, and ask your caterer or a member of your wedding party to pick everything up toward the end of the reception. 2. Simply request that a special midnight snack such as mini sliders, grilled cheese and tomato soup, beef taquitos or eggrolls be added to the menu for catering. Just keep in mind that your guests won’t want to sit down for a meal again at the end of the night, so limit your choices to easy (and preferably greasy) finger foods (no fork and knife required).
…And no, this doesn’t include booze. Icy cold beverages are sure to be a hit with guests at the end of a warm summer evening. Mini milkshakes are always a good choice, or set up an ice cream float bar with an assortment of ice cream flavors and sodas like root beer, cream soda, vanilla and cherry cola for guests to concoct own late night indulgences. Another cute idea is a straight up milk stand, where guests can choose between chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and maybe even almond flavored milk…served in mini milk cartons with those colorful straws? Sold.
Because homemade desserts made with love really do taste better, after all! Cheaper, too! Milk and cookies, smores, chocolate covered strawberries and cake pops have all been pretty popular at weddings lately. Some other cute ideas you may not have thought of include PB & J sandwiches, chocolate covered pretzels, mini apple pies, rice crispy treats, ice cream sandwiches and even homemade oreos!
If you’re interested, here are some fabulous recipes to help you get started on planning your homemade late night snack:
Homemade Oreo Cookies on The Cupcake Project
Mini Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches by Martha Stewart
Mini Apple Pies on Novel Eats
Rice Crispy Treats with Melted Chocolate and Sprinkles recipe on Celebrations at Home
1. House Registry
Home for the Honeymoon, an international wedding registry that allows you to register for the down payment toward the purchase of a new house. LOVE this idea.
2. Honeymoon Registry
Invite guests the opportunity to treat you and your hubby to a hotel suite upgrade, couple’s massage or fun day of ziplining on your honeymoon. Great websites to set up honeymoon registries include The Honeyfundand Traveler’s Joy.
4. Charitable Registry
Melissa Philips of Simply Perfect by Melissa suggests including a charitable registry as an option for your wedding guests, such as the I Do Foundation, which allows you to essentially register for your favorite nonprofit organization. Alternatively, Ten Thousand Villages is a fair trade retailer that offers quality, handcrafted gifts and home decor items that are produced by skilled artisans who often lack any opportunities for a stable income.
5. Little-bit-of-everything Registry
If you simply can’t agree on where to register, try a website like Newlywish, which allows you to register for items from multiple retailers within its network, such as Exhale Spa, Iron & Silk Fitness, Melangerie andImmersion Journeys. Deposit a Gift allows guests to contribute money toward an specified account, which you can then put toward any item of your choosing.