Let's be real here... wedding food is tricky. Do you provide a sit down meal and hors-d'oeuvres? Or do you save money and have small plate food stations about the reception space? Whatever you choose to do... just make sure that your guests are well aware of what they should expect in regards to the food selection. Here are a few different ways to provide food to your guests.
Sit Down Dinner
This is the most traditional service seen at weddings. Everyone gets their seat and patiently waits for your delicious food to be served to them. This is great for the guests because they don't have to worry about fighting for a good spot in line or worrying that there won't be enough of their favorite food to go around. Before you decide on a caterer... taste the food they are going to serve! Your dear uncle might be willing to do it at a cheaper price but food isn't always the best area to skimp on. Also, be mindful of the time between the ceremony and reception! Nothing is worse than waiting for hours to eat, especially if there are no appetizers at cocktail hour. If you have a big gap between your ceremony and reception... tell the guests to bring or pick up a snack so they aren't dying of hunger by the time everything is ready to be served.
This is definitely a more relaxed way of serving food. You can even cut some cost by having guests serve themselves rather than having someone standing behind the buffet serving. The great thing about buffets is that people can pick and choose what they want to eat and you can order a variety of options to adhere to all dietary needs of your guests. And often times, you can get much more food when ordering in bulk quantities! The great thing about a buffet a shorter wait. With a sit down dinner, guests could be spending two hours at the table waiting and eating. With a buffet, you can get the party started right away and let people nibble as they please.
These are becoming more and more popular as the years go on. Not only can you provide various types of food to please your guests' tastebuds, now you can give them something to do while they're waiting for your grand entrance! Millennials especially like to be entertained throughout the whole event. Add in a s'mores making station or add a fun spin on things by hiring food trucks to come after everyone has enjoyed the open bar.
Only serving appetizers or small plates is definitely less expensive than a full service meal. If you do decide on this option, make sure that your guests know and are not expecting to be fully fed at your reception. If there is any room in your budget... consider getting a food truck to come out towards the end of the reception so guests can soak up the fun that they had at your open bar with delicious grilled cheese or tacos!
1. An inconvenient date.
Sure, it's cute and romantic to get married during the most wonderful time of the year. But be cautious and courteous to your guests. There are many traditions that your guests might have holiday traditions or travel plans they prefer not to miss out on. If you're considering getting married during the holidays or another potentially awkward time of the year... check in with your closest guests! If you are going to go forth with getting married during a sticky time, just give your guests enough heads up to plan their own schedules.
2. Cash bars.
We get it... weddings are expensive. You want to save as much money as you can on your dream day. However, one thing that is high on the complaint list is guests having to pay for their own alcohol. If you absolutely have to have a cash bar at your wedding, so be it! It is your special day and you have to make sure you're staying within your budget. If you want to limit the open bar, we suggests doing a limited beer and wine selection instead. But if you can figure out how to cut costs in another area so that the open bar option stays for you guests... do it!
3. Confusing invitations.
Make sure you are clear on your invitations who you expect at your wedding and if they are allowed to have a plus one or not. There is nothing wrong with not allowing a plus one or making your wedding children free as long as you communicate that well with your guests. There's nothing more awkward than Aunt Maggie showing up with her seven children without knowing it was just her and her spouse who were invited. If you want to avoid any confusion, write out each guests name on the invite and have a checkbox of who will attend. If you are allowing a plus one, leave a line blank so they can fill in a name themselves.
Acknowledge the maximum capacity seating chart at your venue and stick to it. Some of you may want to invite everyone and their mom to your wedding to share the celebration with everyone you know. But cramming extra tables so you can fit 120 guests in a maximum 100 guests capacity can make it space uncomfortable. Guests should be able to get up and move freely about your reception throughout the night. Give them enough room so their elbows aren't touching and they aren't eating back to back with the table behind them. Also, be mindful of your centerpiece height. Allow your guests to see and talk with each other at each table.
5. Disgusting food (or lack thereof).
Carefully plan your wedding meal and go on as many food tastings as you can before you decide. No one wants to give their guests a stomachache... or worse an empty stomach to accompany the alcohol they consume at the bar. Go ahead and ask for food allergies and dietary requirements in your invitations so you have an idea of who you need to take care of individually. It is so important that you don't run out of food at the cocktail hour... especially if anyone is running behind. Keep your guests happy by making sure everyone gets a few pieces of what they want. If you are just having dessert at your reception or small plates... warn your guests! Tell them you are not providing them a full dinner so they can eat before or make a quick run between your ceremony and reception.
6. Toasts that are too long.
Let your toasters know in advance so you don't have to worry about getting novels and rambling, embarrassing life stories. Tell them to make it short and sweet. You can even have your DJ cue soft music when it is time for them to wrap up their speech just to keep your wedding day timeline on track. If you are going to give a toast, go ahead and practice it before your big day. With your nerves and emotions running wild, you don't want to be the longest or most boring speech of the night!
Having a day of coordinator can be a life saver on your wedding day. You and your wedding party will be caught up in the motions of the big day and can easily get off track. If you didn't want to hire one... appoint one of your guests to be in charge of keeping everything on track. If you are unable to have the ceremony and reception within two hours of each other... make accommodations to keep your guests busy. Serve light snacks and refreshments early and once your cocktail hour starts, bring on heartier food until dinner. Keep all guests in mind when you have a gap between parts of your wedding so that Grandma Jane isn't sitting out in the blistering sun for two hours while you newlyweds take an absurd amount of photos post-ceremony.
9. Glorified jukebox.
There is nothing more awkward than being at a wedding with a huge dance floor with no one on it. Not only does your wedding look like a drag your DJ is probably feeling bored and unappreciated. People of all ages will be at your wedding so create a playlist that can appeal to everyone. During cocktail hour, play quieter music so your guests can still talk amongst each other. Then turn up the volume once the time is right. If you have older guests, maybe don't sit them next to the speaker. Yes, dances like the Cha-Cha slide and electric slide seem like cliche wedding songs... but there is something about group led dancing that gets everyone in the party mood. Once your guests see your grandma's best rendition of Oppan Gangnam style, everyone will want to get on the dance floor!
Part of the battle in planning your dream wedding is finding the perfect location for you and your spouse. Each venue has their own set of rules and accommodations that you’ll need to ask about before putting in your deposit. Below are some of our suggested questions to ask your venue before booking!
You get to a point in your planning process where you start registering for your gifts! What an exciting time, getting to register for things that are going to go in your new home with your new spouse! But then you get to thinking and realize, well we already have everything we need, what more could we possibly register for? You have your typical registries like Bed Bath and Beyond, Macy’s and Crate and Barrel, which are great for towels, linens and dish ware. After doing a brief survey of your towels, linens and dishware you realize you couldn’t possibly shove one more thing in your linen closet or one more thing in the kitchen cabinets. So what now? Have you thought about your honeymoon? Or possibly your favorite charity?
It is becoming more common that we are seeing couples register for outings for their honeymoon such as massages, dinners, ziplining, snorkeling, and whale watching. It is becoming so popular because this is the first trip you are taking as a new married couple and you are making lasting memories with one another, so by having your guests toss in a couple of excursions they are contributing to that trip in more ways than you know.
But if you already have your honeymoon completely paid for, and have more dishware than you could possibly need, consider having your guests donate to your favorite charity. You can send them the website when you send out your invitations, and they can make the donation in your name. Not to worry this benefits them too, as it could be a tax write off!
If you are still stuck and have no idea what to register for or need more creative ideas feel free to give us a call we would love to share our opinions with you!
While tips aren’t required to give any vendor at your wedding it is definitely a nice gesture. There is a lot of backend work that vendors do, that you may not be aware of. Djs will spend hours trying to put together the perfect playlist for you, caterers are doing a test run of your menu to make sure it is perfect, and your wedding planner, well they are in a league of their own, organizing deliveries, timelines, floorplans and set ups. With this being said that is why we here at Illuminated Events are believers in tips or small gifts for the vendors that truly did an exceptional job to make your wedding extraordinary. Below you will find a list of vendors that are customary to tip, and how much you should tip each one.
Caterer: Should tip 15 to 20 percent of total bill, or $50 to $150 for each chef and $20-$40 for each server.
Band or DJ: Should tip 15-20 percent of the total bill, especially if they have a lot of equipment and are moving it from ceremony to reception. If not $15-$25 per musician in the band and $50-$100 for your DJ.
Photographers: Typically $100-$200 is customary for the main photographer, and $50-$100 for the second or third shooters. Your photographer after all does spend the most time with you on your wedding day!
Hair and Makeup Artist: 15%-20% just like you would if you were going in for your haircut.
Transportation: If it is not included in your contract you should tip 15% of your bill.
Officiant: Usually won’t accept a tip, but it is customary to donate to the church or place of worship they belong to, anywhere from $100-$500 is acceptable. If you are hiring a non-denominational officiant a $100 tip is a nice gesture.
Wedding Planner: While your wedding planner isn’t expecting a tip (most of the time their fee includes a tip for themselves) a gift is a welcomed gesture. Consider sending a thank you card with a photo of you and your new spouse. If you feel they went above and beyond anything you could have imagined a 10-15% tip of their total bill is welcomed. But the biggest thank you, you can give your wedding planner is writing a review on their Wedding Wire or Knot profile, or if they have a space on their website, write one on their website.
We hope this helps but if you still need more advice on who and when to tip feel free to give us a call!
When picking out a gift for your groom, be sure to keep in mind the personality of your groom. Buying something that gives in to his hobby is a great way to show that you pay attention to the things he likes. If hes a huge sports fanatic, think about getting him season tickets to his favorite team. If he is into music, consider concert tickets. But of course there are always the traditional gifts. Is he always running late? You may want to consider the subtle hint of giving him a watch. Not only will he be fashionable but he will be sure to always be on time.
Is he the type that gets super nervous before important events? Consider gifting him and his groomsmen a bottle of his favorite liquor. This will be something that everyone can enjoy and it will be sure to put his mind at ease right before the big I Do!
You can also think ahead to the honeymoon. Why not purchase a new pair of sunglasses or a bathing suit for a tropical location, or buy him that excursion he has been talking your ear off about for months for the exotic location.
If you are like most couples, and spend a lot of money on the wedding with not a lot left over for gifts, consider a more personalized present. The gift of a letter is something simple, yet personal. There is nothing like pouring your heart out in a letter to set the tone for the day. If you are having a formal affair consider gifting personalized cuff links. If your guy is into comics, consider the gift of a super hero t-shirt to wear underneath his formal attire.
Whatever you do decide to gift your man, remember this one thing: he is going to love anything you get him! Marrying you will be his biggest gift of the day!
Now that you have your man, and the perfect ring, you need to pick the ladies that will be by your side through the whole planning process and by your side on the day of your wedding. But, if you are like us here at Illuminated Events, you don’t just want to sit down and ask “will you be my bridesmaid” in an uncreative way. So we have found some of the cute ways that you could ask your girls to be your bridesmaids.
1. In a fortune cookie- What a perfect way to ask your girls then with a fortune cookie. You can customize each message to them, and when they open it up it is the perfect surprise!
2. Puzzle- Ask her with a puzzle, it will definitely be a surprise at the end when she reveals the hidden message!
3. Jewelry- Giving her a piece of jewelry with a cute card is a great way to your girls, the bonus to this one is that they can re wear the jewelry for your wedding day!
4. Food- Consider a custom cookie, or even a cupcake in a jar customized to what each of your girls likes.
5. Funny Card- We all know the stereotypes that come along with being a bridesmaid, ugly dresses being one of them. Why not ask with a funny card, and then on the inside promising you won’t be one of those brides.
6. Wine- But, if all else fails and you can’t think of anything ask with wine! Customized bottles make this method personal.
7. Video- You could always put together a video to ask your girls with. Check out this video this couple used to ask their bridal party!
But if all else fails you can always just go up to them and ask them. Your girls are your closest friends for a reason and no matter how you ask I am sure they will be delighted that you are even asking them!
At some point in your planning process you are going to realize “Oh no, I forgot to plan the menu.” Which then sends you into panic mode because you have no idea what you are going to feed your 150 guests. Well I am here to tell you do not worry, planning your menu is easy! Especially with all of the amazing food trends that are going on right now.
1. Are you having a late ceremony? Consider serving hors d'oeuvres only at your reception. Chances are if your ceremony is starting at 7pm or later your guests will have already eaten so you don’t need to plan a full menu. Pick out a couple of staple foods, such as sliders, grilled cheese, and even shooter glasses filled with soup. If those options don’t float your fancy consider having a meatball bar, you can serve different meatballs with a variety of sauces and cheese toppings, this will definitely be a hit! This will keep your guests bellies full but will cut down your costs on the catering.
2. Do you not want to go through the hassle of coordinating a dinner service or picking out a ton of food for your buffet? Consider serving dinner family style. This not only gets your guests at their tables talking. It also can cut down on your costs, since the caterer is not having to plate each dinner on individual plates. I promise you will not regret serving dinner family style, and your guests won’t hate you for it either.
3. If you plan on getting all of your photos done before the ceremony, consider hosting cocktail hour BEFORE the ceremony. I know it may sounds crazy, and you are thinking to yourself “What if my guests get drunk before my vows are event exchanged.” I promise you they won’t, but if it would put your mind at ease consider only offering beer and wine. Another bonus to hosting the cocktail hour before the ceremony is that if some guests are showing up a little late, they won’t miss your I Dos. This is also a great way to get straight to your reception after your I Dos, the reception is one of the biggest parts of your wedding and why not get right to it after you marry the love of your life.
4. I have good news for all you breakfast lovers out there. Serving breakfast foods for dinner is a new up and coming trend! Not only is breakfast food cheaper than serving your typical dinner plate, it is also something your guests are going to love! Think about having an omelet station, or a donut bar, and your guests will think your wedding is the wedding of the century!
5. Don’t forget about the most important thing: Dessert! We are seeing a lot of desserts being served on sticks, consider serving cake pops, mini cheesecakes, or macaroons. This is another way to get your guests up and mingling because they don’t have to worry about a plate and fork, just walk up to the dessert bar pick up a stick and continue your conversation!
Still need inspiration to make sure that your catering is the best anyone has ever had? Give us a call, we would love to share more tips and tricks!
Do you need to create a seating chart and have no idea where to start? I suggest starting by importing your guest list into a spreadsheet. Once inputted into the spreadsheet you will be able to see exactly how many guests you are going to have to seat. My suggestion is to use a software that lets you import your guest list and from there manually add tables and place your guests to each table. Wedding Wire has a great system, and all you need to be able to use it is sign up for a free account. But if you are not technologically savvy there is nothing wrong with the post it note approach. Simply get out a poster board draw all your tables on there, then proceed to write out each gust name on a post it. if you want to simplify things more color code your post its, one color for brides family, one color for grooms family, and another color for friends and co-workers.
Next you may be overwhelmed trying to figure out how many people to put at each table, where to place the tables so there there is enough room for everyone to walk around, and who exactly you are going to put at each table. A standard 60” round table is ideally set for 8, this leaves enough room in between each person for elbow room and to comfortably get up without asking the person next to you to stand up with you. But if you are in a pinch and you need to fit more people at a table a standard 60” round table can also be set for 10, your guests will just have a little less room.
When placing the tables around the room you want to leave at least 60” in between each table. You may think that is too much room but believe me, when people sit they don’t sit flat against the table they sit with their chairs pushed back a little bit, and when sitting back to back with another table that may cause problems. For this reason leaving 60” between tables will give adequate space for each guest.
Instead of assigning everyone a specific seat maybe opt for just assigning them a table. This way they can pick which seat they want to sit at. If you are opting for a sweetheart table instead of a head table, I suggest reserving the tables closest to you for your wedding party and immediate families. That way your wedding party still feels like they are involved all the way through the reception. If your wedding party is bringing a date to the wedding, don’t forget to account for them sitting with their date. Nothing worse than showing up as that date and getting put at a table where you don’t know anyone!
But if all else fails and you don’t feel like going through the stress of creating a seating chart, just let people sit wherever they want, and reserve a couple of tables for your immediate family sitting around you. Just remember this day is all about you, and as long as you are happy your guests will be happy!