Friday, April 11, 2014

Wedding Paper - Save the Dates, Invites, Menus, Oh My!

When it comes to your wedding, there can be a lot of different types of paper products you may need to get your guests the details they need and make sure everything goes smoothly.  From the save the dates and invitations to the escort cards and thank you notes, the options are endless.  If you are a paper and design person like myself, it can be even harder to make your selections and pick your favorites.  Below we have come up with a list of the paper products you may, or may not, need for your wedding, but it is good to review the list and see if you want to add anything!

Save the Dates
For a destination wedding, save the dates are usually sent out anywhere from a year to 6 months before the wedding date.  I believe that it is better to get them out on the earlier side so that your guests have time to find hotels and decide on their plans.  Save the dates can be anything from a postcard to magnets.  The basic information your guests need would be the date, location and a link to your wedding website.

Invitations - RSVP cards, Maps, Information
The most important part of your wedding paper is most likely going to be your invitation suites.  There are so many options when it comes to your invites!  I highly recommend meeting with a stationer to go over options so that you can get a good idea on pricing and what fits your budget.  Don’t forget to include an RSVP card and envelope, a map of the area if needed and an information card that may include things like other festivities taking place, lodging suggestions or your wedding website.

Welcome Letters
Welcome letters are what you would provide to your guests upon arrival to their hotel.  Sometimes this letter comes along with a welcome bag of some sort, but if you want to skip the bag, you should atleast provide a letter.  This can include things like a “thank you for coming” note, things to do in the area, reminder of event times (welcome party, ceremony, brunch), parking information, etc.  If you are not sure where all of your guests are staying, you could also send this in an email the week leading up to your wedding.

Ceremony Programs
If you are having a church ceremony, you are most likely going to want to have a ceremony program.  If you are having an outdoor ceremony, a program of the service is not required (especially if is rather basic), but it can be nice for your guests to have something to look at while they wait.  You will want to include things like the bridal party and family names, order of service and maybe a thank you to your friends and family.  

Escort Cards & Place Cards
What is the difference you ask? Escort cards are what the guests pick up and “escort” them to their seat.  Place cards are what assign your “place” at the table.  Most brides will do escort cards and not place cards, as it can be tedious to assign each seat at the table for your guests.  There are many options for escort cards ranging from tented, seating charts, starfish, etc.

Menu Cards
If you are having a plated meal with or without a choice, it is always a good idea to include a menu card on the table.  You can either do one per table or you can do one per place setting.  If you are doing stations or buffet, a menu is not needed, but you may need catering cards to identify what each food is.  Check with your caterer first to see if they provide them or not.

There are always places throughout your wedding where you will want to include some signage.  Some examples of this would be for your signature drinks, directing guests to the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception, guest book details, bride and groom signs, and more.

Thank You Notes
Don’t forget your thank you notes!  You can talk to your stationer about having them match your invitation suite, or you can also talk with your photographer about doing a “Thank You” photo to use on your cards.

Learn from the expert!
Jen from Dulce Press in Mashpee says, “When choosing wedding invitations, be sure to go with something that sets the tone for the wedding.  Whether it's casual, formal, backyard BBQ, your wedding invitation style will show your guests what you're planning.  It doesn't mean that if it's a casual wedding, the invitations have to be flimsy! Just go with a fun, fresh design over a traditional format.” 

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Receiving Line...and other ideas

In some way, shape or form at your wedding you are going to want to be sure to say hi and thank each person that was able to join you in the celebration.  The receiving line used to be the most popular way to do this, but here are some ideas as to how you can take care of this task, depending on your wedding day schedule.

Receiving Line
The receiving line is a bit old fashioned, but it does come in rather handy from time to time.  If you are getting married at a church and/or you have a lot of time to kill in between your ceremony and reception, I would highly recommend thee receiving line. This way you are able to greet all of your guests, with your parents, immediately after the ceremony, go for photos and meet them at the reception. I typically recommend this for my clients that have more than enough time in between their ceremony and reception.  

Greeting Guests at the Tables
If you do not have time for a receiving line, or think it is too old fashioned, then the fall back would be to greet your guests at the tables after you have finished each course of your meal. It is always nice to have someone in charge of making sure you get back to your seats when each course is brought out so that you do not miss a course. This is a great option, but remember to keep it short and sweet at each table - keep it movong!  I would also recommend that you choose to sit at a sweetheart style table so that you are not leaving your guests at your table each time you get up.

The Cocktail Hour
If you are having a less formal affair, and you are having all of your photos done before the ceremony, then it is perfectly fine to mingle at cocktail hour and visit with all of your guests.  That way you can enjoy your meal without interruption and converse with those at your head table.

On The Dance Floor
If you don't like those options, and would rather keep it super casual, then just thank your guests by dancing the night away with them!! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Meet Olivia - Our Awesome Intern and Admin!

Cape Cod Celebrations has been fortunate enough to have an amazing young woman interning with us for the past 2 years and who will be joining us again this summer, but not only as our intern, but also our new admin!
Olivia has been studying event planning at UMASS Amherst and will be graduating a semester early this fall - smarty pants!

Words cannot express how grateful I am that Olivia found us.  Her drive and attention to detail is well beyond her years.  And in her 2+ years with us she has been on site with me to trouble shoot events with no air conditioning on one of the hottest days of the year, but also to be thankful for beautiful days like the one above at Chequesset Golf Club.

We love you Olivia!  Thank you for being so awesome!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Choosing Your Menu

You have found the venue, you have found the dress.  All of the details are coming together, but now you have to figure out what the heck to feed your guests!  From a laid back BBQ to a 4 course lobster dinner, here are some things to consider when choosing your Cape Cod wedding menu.

Cocktail Hour
First things first.  If you are going to be serving alcohol, there has to be food served with it.  So depending on the length of your cocktail hour - anywhere from 30-90 minutes - be sure that you have some sort of food available for your guests to enjoy while sipping on a cocktail.  If you are trying to mind your budget, why not just go with simple cheese and crudite displays.  You can skip the passed hors d’oeuvres.  If you want to provide more than just cheese and vegetables, you can also consider doing a raw bar or an action station where the chef prepares something fun for your guests - like the Chowder Station from The Casual Gourmet.  If you want to have food passed, we recommend that you choose at least 5-6 different hors d’oeuvres and you can count on one of each kind per person.  It is always a good idea to feature meat, seafood and vegetarian options.  Some Cape Cod favorites are scallops wrapped in bacon, mini lobster rolls and shrimp cocktail.  

“If you and your fiance are true foodies for whom each meal is an adventure, but your family are very simple eaters, choose some exotic hors d’oeuvres and a more mainstream entree for dinner," says Olive Chase, President of The Casual Gourmet.

Station Style Dinner
Station styled dinners have become quite popular and are just a bit different than your typical buffet style dinner.  Station style dinners are set-up around your reception space with different selections like a salad station, a carving station and a pasta station where chefs are usually right there preparing the food for your guests as they come up to the table.  Some couples use stations as a way to turn their reception into more of a cocktail party, instead of a sitdown dinner.

Buffet Dinner
A buffet styled dinner is just as you remember it - one or two long tables set-up where guests are called up table by table to serve themselves.  Some couples think that buffet style dinners can be more affordable, but depending on your venue or caterer, they can sometimes be more costly due to the fact that they have to factor in for guests who take more than their share, or want seconds.  So save time, it can be nice to start the meal with a served or pre-set salad so that guests do not have to get their salad at the buffet along with their dinner.

Plated Meal  
Plated meals are the most popular of choices for weddings.  I highly recommend going with a three course meal - salad, entree and wedding cake.  The appetizer course always seems like a waste to me, especially seeing that your guests just came off of a heavy cocktail hour and because it adds more time to the service of the food.  I also recommend avoiding giving your guests a choice of a meal - like beef or fish.  Why not offer a duet entree of beef and fish and if there are guests that do not like beef or fish, they can request to have just one or the other.  And don’t worry - all venues and caterers will be prepared for any vegetarians and allergies, as long as you provide them with the count ahead of time.

Ask Your Caterer!
"Make your caterer your friend! Ask what their specialties are and how they will be preparing your food at the site you have chosen. Will they cook on-site even if the venue has no kitchen or bring in food already prepared? Make sure they are receptive to your food tastes and are able to produce the meal you have in mind," said Olive.  If you don’t know, do not be afraid to ask!  This is most likely the first and last wedding you will ever have, so be open about what you like and do not like!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Seating of the Guests

One of the most dreaded planning components of any wedding is where and how to seat the guests.  Long tables or rounds? Assigned seating or open seating?  Can Aunt Martha sit at the same table with Uncle Bob?  There is not really any easy way to figure it all out, but we can provide you with some ideas to help to make the decision on how the seating will work best at your wedding.

Channing Johnson Photography

Long Tables or Rounds
To be honest, I really feel that either work.  A lot of people will say that the long tables are not as good for conversation, but I can also see how the rounds may not be good for conversation either.  So I would base it off of what you want your aesthetic to be in your space.  It is very popular now to do a mix of shapes as well to give more movement to the room.

Open Seating
If you have under 50 guests at your event, you are more than welcome to skip the escort cards and just let your guests seat themselves.  The only caveat I have for this, is to make sure you have a table, or tables, reserved for the bridal party and family.  If you skip this part, the bride and groom may end up at a table that they do not want to sit at!

Escort Cards
If you have over 50 guests, I highly recommend escort cards.  An escort card is what guests pick up and “escort” them to their table.  This could be anything from a tented card with their name and table number to a tag on their favor which they take to the table with them or a map on an easel with names in alpha order.  One big thing that brides tend to forget is that the escort cards need to be in alphabetical order, not table number order, and it is so nice to hand them over to your planner or catering manager in that order.  Saves tons of time!

Place Cards
If you are having more of an upscale event, or if you want to assign specific seats at the table, you would start with escort cards to get the guest to the table and then you would have place cards in front of each seat showing where that guest would sit.  This is not necessary, but some couples find that they prefer this so that they know that people sitting next to each other at the table will make conversation.

One thing to consider when building your seating plan is that your guests will really only be seated for 1-1.5 hours.  Most of them are all just waiting for the dance floor to open!  So don’t stress about it too much!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Toasting the Happy Couple!

Who? What? Where? When? Always big questions come up when figuring out who will toast the happy couple the weekend of their wedding.  Here are some key ideas to help scheduling your toasting throughout your wedding festivities.

Channing Johnson Photography

Who?  Father of the Bride (Mother of the Bride could also do this with the FOB)
What? Usually toasts the couple and thanks everyone for coming to celebrate
Where? Typically this happens the night of the wedding
When?  I like to recommend this toast right after everyone has taken their seats (after introductions and maybe even after the first dance).  It typically is the first toast of the night

Who? Best Man
What? Usually toasts primarily to the Groom and their relationship, but brings in great stories about how the couple met and tries not to embarrass anyone….too much.
Where?  The night of the wedding.  
When?  Can be after the Father of the Bride toast before dinner, or after dinner is complete.

Who? Maid of Honor
What? Usually toasts primarily to the Bride and their relationship, brings in great stories about hour the couple met. Usually less embarrassing and more sweet.
Where? The night of the wedding, unless the MOH would rather toast at the rehearsal dinner
When?  After the Best Man toast.

Who? The Happy Couple
What? Usually thank their parents, the bridal party and everyone for coming and sometimes they share words about each other.
Where? This is usually at both the rehearsal dinner and the night of the wedding.  The rehearsal dinner is to really thank family and bridal party with gifts and the wedding is to thank the guests for coming.
When?  At the rehearsal dinner or wedding it is typically after dinner has completed.  

Who? Parents of the Groom
What? Usually toasts the couple and the parents of the bride for hosting the next day
Where? At the rehearsal dinner if they are hosting
When?  Before dinner is served

Who? Other Random Toasters
What?  Typically the other random toasts are more like roasts
Where? At the rehearsal dinner.  It is always good to let others toast you at the rehearsal dinner so that your wedding night is not full of tons of people talking which can take away from precious dance time.
When?  After all of the toasting by the couple has completed.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Mother of the Bride & Mother of the Groom Roles

Hello Moms!  Your son or daughter just got engaged!  How fun!  How crazy!  How overwhelming!  You are going to have a crazy couple of months ahead of you in the planning process so we decided to collect a list of roles that you will have from now until “I Do”.

Mother of the Bride
You have always dreamt of this day when your little girl would find the love of her life and walk down the aisle!  Be sure to remember that this is her wedding and she may have some crazy ideas, but you will have to be supportive throughout the stressful process.  Here is a list of “Mother-of-the-Bride Roles” for you to keep in mind while she is planning away!

- Come up with a budget you are comfortable with early on in the process
- Make your guest list and keep in mind that it is not ideal for your daughter to meet anyone for the first time at her wedding!
- Be supportive!  Times have changed and there is a lot of added stress that comes from planning a wedding.  Be her rock when she needs it!
- Hire a planner! It is definitely a smart move - mostly because if you don’t have someone there the day of the wedding to help, you may be doing it all and not enjoying the day the way you should.
- Be available.  There are lots of meetings and decisions that have to be made and you are most likely going to need to be by her side when she makes them.  Be sure that you can make yourself available for her when needed.
- Get to know the next lady that we are going to talk about.  The more you are on the same team, the easier the planning process will go!

Mother of the Groom
Your son found the love of his life and now the planning begins!  Because you are the Mother of the Groom, you do not have as many roles as the Mother of the Bride, but we have come up with a list of things for you to keep in mind throughout the planning process!

- Make your guest list and keep in mind that it is not ideal for your son to meet anyone for the first time at his wedding!
- Be Supportive!  Let your soon-to-be daughter-in-law live her wedding dreams even if it was not what you would had in mind.
- Find a great rehearsal dinner venue and include your son in the process.
- Find a beautiful Mother of the Groom dress and be sure to ask the bride what colors would be appropriate.
- Enjoy the process.  Because it is not your daughter getting married, you really need to take a bit of a back seat on this one.  When she wants your help, she will ask for it, but be sure she knows you are available!
- Get to know the next lady that we are talked about above.  The more you are on the same team, the easier the planning process will go!