I’m Gettin’ Married in the Morning: Six Items Every Wedding Reception Needs

Joann & Doug  0744There are lots of details to keep track of when you are planning a wedding. Many of these details involve the wedding reception. This is going to be the place where the wedding guests spend most of their time, which means you want it to be as perfect as possible. Here is a list of six items every wedding reception needs.

1. Table Cards
A key to a good wedding reception is organization. You need to make sure to place cards at each table to make it easy for guests to find their seats. If you want to get creative, you can label the tables with song titles or famous names to make them more memorable.

2. Music
Unless you are going to hire a band, you will need a good DJ to keep the atmosphere energetic at your wedding. Avoid the temptation of making your iPod the DJ. Even if you do decide to make an iPod playlist for your reception, you should get someone to monitor it to skip songs if things are too slow. And if you do have a band, use the IPod to provide music when the band is on break.

3. Cake
The cake is one of the most important parts of the reception. You don’t have to pay a fortune for a wedding cake. Get some cake pans and have a friend who likes to bake make your cake. This will create a special desert when you have a friend make you a custom cake. They will be honored, and you will save a bundle. One trendy idea is to have decorated cupcakes in lieu of a cake. If you choose to do this, you can plan it the same way as you would a cake. Purchase some nice cupcake pans and ask a good friend to make a variety of types. You could have lemon, rasberry, chocate – the options are limitless.

4. Open Bar
Don’t be cheap when it comes to this part of the reception. There are plenty of other areas where you can save money. An open bar will guarantee that your reception will be lively.

5. Photographer
Make sure that the photographer gets plenty of shots at the reception. As well as lots of candid shots, try to gather everyone together for as many group shots as possible.

6. Centerpieces
Beautiful centerpieces create a great setting for a wedding reception. Flowers are the traditional centerpiece, and you won’t go wrong if you choose to use them. However, feel free to get creative with your centerpieces. One romantic idea is to roll up a page of sheet music of your song. Wrap it with a beautiful ribbon and place it in a vase in place of flowers to create a striking centerpiece.

If you plan ahead, you will be able to gather together everything that you need to create the ideal wedding reception. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family and friends. You only have one chance to host your wedding reception. Make it count by planning out every detail.

Party Time: Five Unique Ideas to Make Your Reception Memorable

During the year, many people attend several different weddings that often all have similar decor, styles, and food, making it important to throw an event that is both memorable and unique. By incorporating different elements into the reception, it can make for an unforgettable experience that is fun and truly different than all the rest and make your reception memorable.

photobooth_header1. Photo Booth

Allow guests to get playful in front of the camera with an old-fashioned photo booth. Photo booth rentals are becoming an increasingly popular party favor. Guests can enjoy playing with props that are provided while taking photos together for a printed souvenir that can be taken home or placed in a guestbook for the couple. Different backdrops can also be used in the photo booth, as well as monogrammed designs that are printed on each photo strip to mark the special event.

2. Ice Cream Truck

Gelato and ice cream trucks are a great way to provide dessert at a reception for an informal and unique food item that is fun. Guests can enjoy requesting different flavors, which will work to complement the cupcakes or cake slices and can be hand-picked by the bride and groom beforehand. The ice cream truck will bring along the spoons, bowls, or cones for a great way to make a formal event feel less stuffy.

3. Games

When hosting an outdoor reception during the summer, several games can be provided to allow guests to mingle and have a bit of fun. Horse shoes, large chess board games, and checkers have a high amount of aesthetic appeal, while preventing family and friends from getting bored with small talk.

4. Confetti Bar

A confetti bar is a fun way to allow people to mix their own confetti with different shades and sizes available to throw on the dance floor, or when the bride and groom make their big exit. Large glass jars and bowls are great party rentals that can be used to hold the different amounts of confetti for an attractive display that will be exciting to browse.

5. Cameras on Tables

To allow guests to interact and have a bit of fun, disposable cameras can be left on each table with a sign that asks guests to photograph themselves and the party throughout the evening. The bride and groom can then have the cameras collected at the end of the night for dozens of candid photos that will make for great memories.

And if you really want your wedding to stand out from the crowd, consider sending custom MUSICAL wedding invitations – your guest will be wowed and know that they are going to the BEST wedding of the season!

Unique Wedding Themes

The last few wedding years have been wrapped in burlap, covered in lace, accentuated with pearls and given an extra shine with mercury vases and rustic, shabby chic elegance. All very unique wedding themes, but where do we go from here?

Are you going to be the couple that has a Star Wars themed wedding? Here comes the bride with a long velvet cape down the aisle, dramatic theme music playing in the background and light sabers as favors?

Or will you be Alice in Wonderland? Adding a whimsical touch? Showing off some gothic details and making your guests go.. “ohh, wow..”rings

What if your groom just can’t forget his childhood memories as a Superhero? Colored silk capes and face masks added to the dance floor or photo booth, and a grand Superhero-monogram in the center of the dance floor with flashy lightning strikes provided by the DJ while the crowd dances to upbeat music? And maybe, just maybe there will be a mystery to solve during the Trivia game at dinner or performance during the cocktail hour. And let your guests know in advance the super hero theme by having custom made invites that play a superhero song when the box is opened! Music Box Invites can match ANY wedding theme and get your guests so excited to be invited.

Robin Hood might add some charm to a romantic wedding and Harry Potter will make your event truly magical but the Lord of the Rings theme will make your wedding very dramatic. Best venue choice here would be a castle in the woods, a very long aisle covered in tulle and rings, tuxedos and cylinders for the men and big dresses for the women. The meal will definitely need to be a feast and maybe you will let your guests eat with their fingers?

The good old “James Bond-Style” with all its elegance, glamour and attitude can just be the right pick for you. It’s classy, it’s sharp, it has everything an evening wedding should have, not too over the top with decorations but cocktails, a plated dinner, a band, a performance and some dance highlights complete this wedding.

Top Hat PosterAnd then there is the Old Hollywood Themed Wedding. This one is still a very popular choice. You can go all out and add spectacular entertainment and keep the attire to impress. Women with fitted cocktail gowns and gloves, men in tuxedos and slick hair… Martini cocktails at the bar, photo booth opportunities with Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin, guest appearance by Frank Sinatra and classical dance music during the plated dinner. Glitz and glamour can be incorporated with the right choice of linens, chargers and chair covers, tall flower centerpieces and butlers serving appetizers and champagne.

What will 2014 bring us? Send us your ideas and we will select the Top 10 of your choices. Please contact sandy@strings-champagne.com to offer your selections.IMG_4602

Article provided by Strings & Champagne Events, www.strings-champange.com

Sandy Stringer





How to Choose the Right Wedding Venue

Joann & Doug  0073On what’s likely to be the biggest day of your life, it’s natural to want things to be absolutely perfect on your wedding day. Months of preparation go into planning the guest list, designing the wedding invitations and finding that perfect dress; but the most expensive wedding decision comes in picking the right wedding venue. On average the cost of hiring a wedding venue will take up to 50% of your overall wedding budget, so committing to the purchase is not something that should be taken lightly.

The type of wedding you are going to have will be a huge factor in picking the perfect location; are you having a church service, an outdoor blessing, a civil ceremony? You may be able to choose a wedding venue which will allow for both the ceremony itself and the reception after, but if not, alongside picking the right venue comes the decisions regarding transporting your guests.

Consider how your guests will reach the wedding venue. Do you need to allow room in the budget for transportation? Is there adequate parking on site or nearby? If you pick a countryside retreat, make sure that all your guests know exactly how to reach your venue – you don’t want them getting lost! You also need to what will happen at the end of the evening. A beautiful country house out in the sticks may be beautiful, but where are your guests going to stay after? If they live far away they probably won’t want to drive home, so check there is adequate accommodation nearby. Think carefully about the head count for your wedding too, as a venue needs to allow for your full guest list comfortably.Hay_steps_sm

As you ponder the size of a venue, think also about the potential layout for your day and evening. Is there room for a dance floor and band or DJ? Is there room for enough tables and chairs? Will everyone be able to see the head table?

Have you always dreamed of an outdoor wedding? In some countries such as the UK it’s not an easy option, as you cannot legally get married other than in a licensed wedding venue. Speak with an adviser at your registry office however, as you may be able to get legally married there in advance and enjoy a religious blessing in the great outdoors on a separate date. If you do opt for an outdoor blessing, keep in mind that you may have unplanned spectators (in the form of the general public).
How about the overall aesthetics of your ideal wedding venue? As you browse potential properties, pay attention to the décor and furnishings – do they fit with your wedding theme and colors? Look out for any picturesque features that may enhance your wedding photos – such as chandeliers, period furniture, beautiful architecture or outdoor water features.

Also discuss your exact requirements with a wedding venue before booking. Let them know your budget and what your ideal specifications would be in terms of catering, bar and décor. Many venues can provide an all-inclusive package. If planning a wedding seems like a daunting help, get some help. You can hire professional venue finders to act on your behalf to find you a suitable venue and a lot these people have contacts within the industry, meaning they can get you a venue at a competitive rate.

The venue sets the tone of the wedding – outdoor can be more casual, more green, less clothing while indoors at a Country Club or resort can be very upscale, black tie events. If you have a vision in mind, make sure the venue you choose matches that. And once you do decide on the venue and date, don’t forget to get your Save the  Dates out as soon as possible – Save the Date cards should go out no less than 5 months before and longer if a destination wedding. Work with a custom wedding invitation company to make sure that your venue and your theme match the invites going to the guests so they can plan accordingly!

Guest Blogger

This article was brought to you by Siobhan McBride who writes on a range of topics offering advice and information on event management


Planning the #Perfect #Wedding – the 2nd time around!

When I got married for the first time 25 years ago, there were a lot less choices to be made. I mean basically there were two types of cake and not tons of linen choices. Weddings were not “themed” as much as just “colored” and most favors involved Jordan almonds.

Luckily for me, I got another chance at love and marriage AND the fun of planning a wedding in this new era of “anything goes” weddings. Celebrating our first anniversary this past April, I am still very happy with the choices I made for our wedding.

First of all, we didn’t invite all those distant relatives that our parents insisted you invite when you are in your twenties. We only wanted the dearest and nearest of our family and friends to share this important day with us. I wanted to be able to totally enjoy the day and not have to talk to people I barely knew. By keeping our guest list to a minimum, we were able to provide an over-the-top party for those who attended. For young brides I urge that you limit your guests and remember that the more people there, the less time you will have to enjoy yourselves because you will be spending time interacting with your guests. You don’t have to allow “plus ones”, if these are your closest friends and family, they should know each other and be able to attend and enjoy themselves without bringing someone you don’t even know to your wedding.

Joann & Doug  0073Our first good choice (other than with each other) was our venue. We wanted the ceremony outside by a lake but the reception inside and very elegant Interlachen Country Club (in our home town Winter Park, Florida)  not only gave us that but also had incredible food, a wonderful event planner and the prices were actually LESS than our other choices. I can’t say enough great things about Natalie, their food and beverage manager. I didn’t need a day of coordinator because she was all over it. They also gave us so much space and arranged the furniture so we had lovely seating areas. We had two different adjoining rooms – first one was for the cocktail hour and then hosted the bar, and the large ballroom was for the reception. But we also had the patio outside where the men went and smoked cigars and there were lovely wood rocking chairs for people to sit and enjoy the evening. We brought in champagne, had an open bar and had wine served with dinner (diners had three choices). We also served the side dishes “family style” so people could have more if they wanted. No one left hungry and everyone raved about the food. Remember all this when choosing a venue – the ones that provide the most items make it easier because you only have to deal with one person. I can’t imagine how hard it would have been to deal with a separate caterer and such.

Joann & Doug  1536It was also a perfect room for our “theme” – 1940’s Hollywood Supper Club. Lucky for us, we were able to have recording artist, Michael Andrew  perform at our wedding and he was so fabulous. Michael is a Frank Sinatra style crooner and was the youngest conductor at the Rainbow Room in New York, played at the Coconut Club in LA, and is heading to Broadway in a new musical version of The Nutty Professor. I think I will always have fond memories of him coming to our house a couple of weeks before the wedding to go over the song list. He practically performed a private concert as he sang examples of some of the songs.

The ceremony was lovely outdoors by the lake. My nephew walked me down the aisle to the traditional “Here Comes the Bride” and my husband and I exchange vows we wrote for the occasions. Lots of laughs and tears later, we departed to “The Best is Yet to Come” and our guests made their way into the cocktail hour. We had a jazz trio playing some New Orleans Jazz as well as old standards and trays of french inspired appetizers were passed around. Of course, there was an open bar and bins of ice cold champagne bottles. We used tall vases with feathers on the tables to complete the Hollywood theme.

The reception ballroom was set up with a stage for Michael and his 3 piece band (including a baby grand piano player) on stage and the dance floor running the length of the ballroom with small round tables circling it  and of course, we had our sweetheart table right on the dance floor. The reception began after i changed into my 2nd gown and we began our First Dance.

Joann & Doug  0869Our dance instructor, Michael Dean was (and is) amazing. Our song was Fly me to the Moon (which Michael Andrew did a special recording of just for us to practice with) and Michael Dean (the Dance Doctor) choreographed the perfect wedding dance. We looked like winners from Dancing with the Stars and absolutely amazed our guests! That song was also a very important element to my wedding invitations. You see, I wanted the invitations to play the song when opened by my guests and couldn’t find anyone who could do it. So I had to do it myself! I worked with a custom invitation place and then ordered the music chips and put the whole thing together. It worked so well that I partnered with a friend of mine and we began Music Box Invites to provide this service to other brides.100_2018

I got my chairs from A Chair Affair but owner Ann Taylor offered much more than just the chairs, she was my go to person for advice on other vendors. She was so helpful (and today carries all types of rentals) that I just can’t thank her enough for everything she did to help me.

Linens were a challenge because of the carpet at Interlachen (very busy and odd orange/brown/gold coloring). My colors were Silver, Champagne and Black. But Over the Top Rental Linens were fabulous (and very patient) to work with. I wanted the room to be lit mainly by candlelight and for it to really shimmer. So we ended up with a silver glitter overlay and black sequined placemats instead of chargers (the chargers would have only been on the table for a few minutes, whereas the placemats stayed all night). The centerpiece of each table was a tall black candelabrum positioned in a square rhinestone covered box that had creamy white flowers in it. The table was accented with candles adorned with crystals and each table number was a framed picture of a famous Hollywood Couple and the menus featured Doug and I in a movie poster knock off of (the Astaire/Rogers) Top Hat. Inside the menus was a story on the Hollywood couple for that table. Guests visited other tables to find out about the other menu’s during the evening and some tried to collect all 10.

Joann & Doug  0744Top Hat Poster

Finding a photographer was difficult – so many of them had really great photos and examples to show us. In the end, I was most comfortable with Sterling Photography. Our engagement shoot was done as an Old Hollywood photo shoot and we were able to use those photos on the menu’s and CD covers (our favor was a CD of Michael Andrew’s Tribute to Frank Sinatra).  I really appreciated the website “here comes the guide” which gave me checklists to take to my meetings and helped me with my photo list. We made sure to take a picture at each table so we had pictures with all our guests. Remembering that after my first wedding, we only watched the video the next day, I didn’t do a video except I had a friend video tape and edit the first dance video.

While our reception flowers and my bouquet came out great, we had a problem with the florist overall so I won’t mention that vendor. The only advice I can give is to make sure that you get pictures beforehand of WHAT your flowers will look like to make sure they are making what you want. I had given the florist pictures of what I wanted for the cocktail hour and he didn’t follow that AT ALL. It was totally different and that was upsetting to me because he promised me they would be what I wanted (I was going to do them myself since it was just a tall vase with feathers – no flowers) but he insisted. It was really the only misstep other than some disco lights our lighting guy gave us for free that we didn’t use.Joann & Doug  0781

My cake lady, Everything Cake probably won’t ever do another wedding cake after me. Originally we were doing a standard 3 layer tiered cake but when I saw these cake plates, I knew I had to changed it to three cakes. After a lot of back and forth and sketching, she DID create the most perfect cakes and we were very happy.

A sparkler exit is not extremely expensive but very memorable

A sparkler exit is not extremely expensive but very memorable

The evening was ending all too soon and I changed back into my ceremony gown (I will save the saga of the 4 gowns for another blog) and we made our way out for the sparkler exit. I have to say this was probably my favorite part of the evening. The sparklers lasted long enough for us to parade up and down three times – to chants of ONE MORE TIME and the pictures from it are just gorgeous. Then spontaneously our guests started to sing “Fly me to the Moon” and serenaded us as we got in our car to drive off …

I just wish the day could have last longer but the memories (and our photo books) will last a lifetime.  And now I get the great pleasure of helping my step daughter plan her wedding!




Joann Marks is the founder and co-owner of Music Box Invites, contact her here!

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