Creating Extra Space for Your Party

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Having people over for a party or holiday dinner is so much fun. Sometimes, though, your family and party outgrow your space. A great way to overcome this is to add extra space by tenting your deck or patio.

A deck or patio usually has door access that can help the flow of people. The door can stay opened even in the dead of winter by heating the tent. Even in bad weather a tent can provide extra party space with minimal exposure to the elements.

 

Choosing a Venue

Choosing a venue is one of the big pieces of your wedding that needs to be decided early on in the planning process. With so many options, there are several things to keep in mind.

Availability

If you have a date that you have to have, make sure you ask if that date is available before you go to look at the space or ask additional questions. This is especially important if you are planning to get married in under a year.

If you don’t have a date set, see what they have available in a general time frame like July of the year you want to get married.

Size

After you make sure the space you are looking at is available, the next step is to make sure it is the appropriate size. Be aware some venues will say the capacity is large but that means your guests will be in several different rooms or they will be cramped into the space. Be sure to see a layout of the maximum capacity so that you know what you are going to working with before you commit to a venue.

Another thing to consider is to make sure your venue isn’t too large for you wedding. A lot is discussed about being big enough, but if you are having under 75 people, be sure there will not be a lot of empty space. It will feel cold and uninviting.

Distance

The best case scenario is that you pick a venue that you can have the ceremony and the reception at so you don’t need to change venues. However, if you have a place you really want to get married at make sure the drive is 20 minutes or less.

Also, if you have a lot of out of town guests, make sure your venue is near a hotel or other accommodations.

Inclusive vs Customizable

If you want to make planning easy, picking a golf course or mansion that provides everything is a great way to go. If you want to be able to have control over all of the little details then you may want to pick an outdoor venue or other venue where you will need to bring most things in yourself.

Style

Lastly, if you are having a theme or want a certain feel, make sure the venue matches. Small things like green padding on chairs with blue napkins won’t be noticed but turn of the century decor may clash with modern decor so make sure you take that into consideration when booking a venue and planning your decor.

 

Wedding Checklist

You’re engaged. Now what? Navigating wedding planning can seem a little baffling but luckily there are a lot of places you can find wedding checklists to help stay on track.

There are two main options for checklists: Online and Book. No matter which one you choose, make sure you get a wedding planning checklist before you make too many decisions. It will help to make sure things are done in a logical order and nothing is forgotten.

Online Wedding Checklists

There are a lot of options for wedding checklists online, but the most popular are theKnot and WeddingWire. Both are great sites to use for wedding planning but you will still need a binder or folder of some sort to keep all of the contracts that you receive.

Book Wedding Planners

There are a number of wedding planners you can get from a book store or from Amazon. The benefit here is most of them have pockets for contracts and places for you to write your notes for each phase of wedding planning. Some top rated ones are below.

No matter which option you go with, make a system that works for you and stick with it. Checklists and planners will help you stay on top of everything and make planning your dream wedding much simpler.

Managing Your Wedding and Event Vendors

Managing all of the vendors for your wedding or event comes down to organization. No matter your style, there is a way to tame the madness.

Separate Email

The first suggestion is to create a separate email for your wedding/event or designate one email where everything will be sent. This will make looking back on conversations much easier.

Planning Websites

Whether you are planning a wedding, a large fundraiser, or any other event, you are likely going to need to manage various vendors and suppliers and there is likely an online tool that fits your style. Below are a few that our customers have used.

WeddingWire
Lanyon
PlanningPod

Creating Your Own System

There are a lot of resources you can use to create your own system if you don’t want to use (or pay for) one.

An easy way to create a paper system is to print out a standard form you design or download and fill out all the information for each vendor. Put this is a binder in sheet protectors with the contracts behind them. This will allow you to keep track of all the information. You can even keep all of your quotes in the binder in the back and move signed contracts to the front so you have who you talking to in an easy to access place in case they are needed.

If you are more tech savvy, you can do the same thing in Google drive. This way all of the information needed is in a uniform template making it easy to find (things like company name, contact info, overview of services contracted, etc.)

No matter how you decide to organize your vendors, decide on a system before you start making calls. This way you have a way of tracking who you have contacted.

16 Mistakes to Avoid While Planning Your Wedding

Planning a wedding is so exciting but can be rife with landmines. The biggest mistakes people make while planning a wedding revolve around money, scheduling/organization and vendor selection.

Mistake #1: Not setting budget priorities as the first step

There are a lot of reasons to making a budget early on in the planning process.

  • Dictates how many people you can invite
  • Gets everyone on the same page
  • Creates a guide of where to splurge and where to cut back
  • Keeps you on track

Not knowing prices keeps people from creating a budget. A good way to circumvent this is creating a list of priorities and a maximum that you can spend, then get quotes for everything you think you want. This way you can compare actual pricing against your list of priorities and overall budget to decide what stays and what goes.

Mistake #2: Choosing suppliers based on the “cheapest quote”

Not all quotes are equal. There are a lot of extra fees that can be added that are not on the quote initially. Those fees add up so make sure the quotes you are comparing include the same items and services. The best way to do that is to ask for a list (in writing) of what is included. Also ask for pricing of extras that are not included that may be needed (specific delivery issues, overtime fees, etc) so that you can see what quote is truly the best fit.

Mistake #3: Selecting the wrong venue

Selecting a venue can be challenging but it is very important. The venue will dictate the size and style of your reception. Deciding early on about how many people you want to invite will help make sure you select a venue that will accommodate your guests without a lot of extra space.

Whether you want a formal affair on a golf course or a laid back party on the beach should be decided before you look at venues. The types of venues you look at will be dictated by the style and size of your wedding.

Other things to note when you are looking at venues are what do they include. Some venues include tables, chairs, linens, etc. and others do not. Knowing this up front will help you compare pricing and let you know what you need to book before you make a commitment.

Mistake #4: Not asking enough questions

There are a lot of questions to ask your vendors. It is easy to forget everything you want to ask and some things you may not realize you need to ask about. To make things easier, here is a blog post of questions you should ask vendors before making a commitment.

Mistake #5: Making commitments too late

Quotes are just that, quotes. It is common practice to not reserve your spot or equipment until they receive your deposit. You don’t want to make a rash decision but if you wait too long to make a commitment the vendor may not be able to accommodate your order. The earlier you ask for quotes the better. This will allow you to take more time to decide on what vendors you would like to hire.

Mistake #6: Doing all your own wedding decorations

Decorating your wedding sounds like a wonderful way to save money. If you are really crafty and have the time (as in your venue will let you in the day before) to decorate it can be a great way to cut costs. Be mindful of how much time you really have to decorate though because everything takes longer than you expect and the last thing you want to do is stress yourself out because you took on more than you could handle in the decorating area. If you are not crafty don’t consider decorating your wedding yourself because it will go very slowly and be a source of frustration.

A happy medium may be that you create the pieces for your decorations and pay someone to set them up so you can relax and enjoy your wedding day while still being involved in the decorating process.

Mistake #7: Not hiring a professional to help if you need it

Like decorating, it is easy to take on a lot of the wedding prep because of costs. In the long run, it can be cheaper to get help early on. They can help keep an eye on budget, make sure you thought about everything, and take a lot of stress off of you. No one can do it all so don’t be afraid to get help.

Mistake #8: Winging it

Weather happens no matter how well you planned. However, having a plan to deal with weather will make things go more smoothly. Having a weather plan up front will also make it easier to communicate that plan with your vendors and guests so everything and everyone shows up on time.

Another thing to not wing is decor. It needs to go somewhere and without a plan you will end up with more than you need or not enough.

There are a lot of decisions to make about a wedding and winging it can sound like a great option but it makes your wedding day much more stressful.

Mistake #9: Leaving your guests in the dark

Guest need a lot of information. Things like directions, hotels, and weather plans need to be communicated at the invite but also right before the wedding. People may loose the directions or forget to pack them. Having all the information on a website, in an email, and at the ceremony are all good options to keep guests informed.

Mistake #10: Neglecting the lists

Play list and don’t play list for the DJ, photo list for the photographer, guest list for invitations and meal lists for the caterer. There are a lot of lists to make but you should make them early and keep them up to date. These list will ensure everything is as you want it and will reduce stress and questions the day of your wedding.

Mistake #11: Saving things for later

When you are months away from your wedding it is really easy to say you will do things later. However, those little things add up quickly and take way more time than you expect. Doing as much as possible ahead of time will be less stressful and it will allow room the week of your wedding to deal with anything unexpected or enjoy a glass of wine with your friends and family.

Mistake #12: Not enough organization

There is a lot to keep track of when you are planning a wedding. Keeping everything on a wedding website such as theKnot.com can help. These sites will help you keep vendor information, names and addresses of guests, and timelines in one place that is easy to manage. Another avenue is a binder or book to keep contracts and important information handy.

Mistake #13: Making the seating chart too early

The seating chart is the one thing you want to leave until the last minute. Things like illnesses and travel issues will affect your guest list. You also will not have your RSVP list until 2-3 weeks out. Once you have everyone’s RSVP you can get to work on the seating chart. This will keep you from having to start over a few times as people’s answer changes, unexpected guests RSVP, or people you were sure could be there can’t.

Mistake #14: Getting carried away

Bridezilla is a term for a reason. Don’t be one. Everyone knows that weddings are stressful but you cannot take back hurtful words. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and schedule time to relax and be pampered to help relieve stress. Also know that everything will not go exactly as planned. Be ok with that. Most people won’t notice. Even better, make sure your bridal party is in the loop about plans. They can answer most questions so you don’t have to deal with last minute questions and issues alone, or at all in some cases.

Mistake #15: Arrive late for your own wedding

There is a lot to do the day of your wedding. Make sure to leave extra time and create a morning-of schedule so that you can stay on track.

Mistake #16: Forgetting your belongings

It is really easy to forget to designate someone to gather clothes, gifts, guest book, and any other items you brought to the venue. Designating a parent or trusted friend to go through and make sure everything is removed from the ceremony venue and reception venue before they leave.

 

Tipping Your Event Vendors

Tipping can be a tough topic to navigate. Below we help clarify the matter, broken down by category of vendor.

Helpful Tips

Most wedding/event professionals do not expect a tip even though it is becoming customary to tip all service providers. The only one that normally expect tips is the catering staff and the salon staff.

Catering

There are 3 ways to handle tipping the catering staff.

  1. Put it in the contract (some caterers do this, so read before you tip)
  2. Tip 15% – 20% of the bill
  3. Find out how many chefs and servers will be working your event and tip $50 – $100 per chef and $20 – $50 per server.

Wedding planner

Tipping your wedding planner is not necessary. If they gave you a large discount or went above and beyond their contracted services giving a 10-20% tip is a nice gesture, up to $500. Also, if you have professional photos of your wedding for the planner’s portfolio, that can be a great way to say thank you as well. Both a monetary tip and photos can be mailed in a thank you card after the honeymoon.

Photographer and videographer

If your photographer and/or videographer own the studio, there is no need to tip. However, if they do not, giving $50 – $100 per photographer/videographer is a nice gesture at the end of the reception but it is not required.

Ceremony staff and reception staff

Often gratuity is built into your contract for the venue staff. If it is not included below is a general guideline.

  • $200 – $300 for the maître d’
  • $20 – $50 for ceremony staff, reception staff and delivery staff
  • 10 – 20 % of liquor or food bill to be split among bartenders or waiters
  • $1 per guest for coatroom
  • $1 per car for parking attendants

These tips are usually given at the end of the event.

Officiant

A lot of times officiants do not accept tips but offering $50 – $100 is a nice gesture. If they are affiliated with a church of synagogue, make a donation to them.

The best time for this tip if the rehearsal dinner if the officiant is there. If not, after the ceremony is acceptable.

Hair and makeup artist

A tip of 15  to 25 % is expected just like if you went for your regular visit. It is a good idea to have extra just in case someone has a meltdown and the up-do needs to be redone. Tip your beauty stylists at the end of your service.

Band or DJ

Offering a 10 to 15 percent tip is a nice gesture to your band or DJ, especially if they have to carry a lot of heavy equipment from one location to the next. For musicians, a $25 to $50 tip per band member is appropriate or $50 to $150 per DJ at the end of the reception.

Tipping musicians is completely optional, depending on the quality of the job and how willing they were to follow your ideal playlist. Don’t forget about any sound technicians they bring with them too.

Transportation

A 15 percent tip is optional if it isn’t included in the contract. Tip transportation pros at the end of the night or after the last ride. If you used a separate company for the guest buses, designate a bus captain to hand the driver a tip.

Florist

The florist doesn’t expect a tip. However, if they do an outstanding job, you can consider giving them a 10 to 15 percent tip after services are rendered.

No matter who and what you decide to tip, make sure you budget for this expense so that you can keep tabs on it and aren’t scrambling at the last minute to get money where it is supposed to go.

Wedding Trends to Watch for 2017

Some trends for 2017 and 2018 are mainstays that have been in style for a while but there are some new ones to add to the trends to watch list as well.

Metallics paired with white

Cooper and brushed metallics give an industrial vibe but the white softens the feel making it a perfect neutral combination that will pair well with most accent colors.

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Paper flower bouquets

Whether you are a fan of litterateur, want a bouquet that will last forever, or just looking for something unique, paper flowers are a great option.

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Rustic

Rustic has been a popular theme for several years and that is expected to continue. It is a simple and romantic theme. The items to pull this theme together are easy to find and do not require a lot of DIY.

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Vintage

Like rustic, vintage has been a popular wedding theme for several years. There are a lot of things that are easy to find but things like china and glassware may be a little more challenging to find depending on the look you are going for. No matter how you do vintage, it is a romantic feel for any wedding.

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High Drama

A newer trend is about a lot of drama. This theme focuses on bold colors and patterns. They are a lot of fun and are as unique as the couples themselves.

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Pure Romance

Weddings light with candles and chandeliers will always be in style. This is especially true if you pair it with soft colors to create an all around romantic glow.

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Whimsical

From elaborate and creative themes such as movie themes, woodland themes, and more are becoming very popular and are as different as the couples.

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Jewel-toned color palettes

Traditionally weddings have been white and pale colors. That is all changing with bright jewel toned colors that look fabulous.

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Naked cake

The naked cake trend can invoke strong feelings. One group will think it looks gorgeous and light. The other will think it looks unfinished. We think they are beautiful and love this new trend.

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New Year’s Eve Party Trends

New Year’s Eve is a great reason to have the all out bash you’ve wanted to have all year. Don’t know where to start? Check out some of the themes that are trending this year and things to consider while you are planning your end of year party.

Popular themes this year

This year is seeing some traditional themes plus some new themes to consider for your New Year’s Eve event.

  • Gold and Silver
  • Black Light
  • Decade Party
  • Black and White
  • Masquerade
  • Bonfire
  • Cocktail

Add some fun

No matter your theme, what’s a party without champagne and confetti? Don’t forget to add the festivity when midnight is approaching!

  • Champagne
  • Confetti
  • Balloons
  • Noise Makers
  • Streamers

Above all else, have fun ringing in the new year!

Holiday Party Planning

With parties, decorating, baking and other festivities, the holiday season can be a busy time of year. If you are looking to have a holiday party, plan early before you get over taken by all of the holiday to dos and you will have a blast.

Below are some things to keep in mind while you plan your party.

Venue, date and time

Venue, date and time are important to plan early. You want to give yourself plenty of time to plan before you need to be attending holiday events, wrapping gifts and everything else that goes on during the holiday season. Securing your venue early if you will not be having the party at home (and sometimes even if you are having it at home) will make sure you have your first choice of venue, date and time.

If you are having the party at your home, make sure you have everything you need as far in advance as possible. Things like coat racks can sell or rent out quickly.

This is also the time to decide if you will be having a sit down dinner or a buffet style party. If you are having a sit down dinner remember you have to seat everyone at the same time. If you do not have the tables and chairs to do that, consider renting them early so you know the items will be available.

Invitations

Invitations should be sent out at least 3 weeks prior to the event. During the holiday season it is a good idea to send them out earlier than that so people do not fill their calendars or miss the invitation in the mix of holiday cards.

If your guests will need to bring something such as a gift for a gift exchange or an ugly sweater for a contest you will want to give guests time to get those items ready.

When you are writing out your party invitations, be sure to include all of the following pertinent information so there is no confusion:

  • Date
  • Start and end time
  • Location
  • RSVP information (especially important for a sit down dinner party)
  • Theme if there is one
  • What guests should bring, if anything

Menu

By far the least stressful way to provide food and drinks for a party is to have it catered. If you will be short on time, this is a good route to go.

If, however, you want to do the cooking, plan on making easy things you have made before. This will help eliminate some of the stress. Also, consider making all finger foods and serving the food buffet style. This will eliminate the stress of a large dinner needing to be ready at a certain time and create less clean up after the party.

Another way to reduce the stress of food preparation is to make everything ahead of time and set your oven to 200 degrees to keep everything warm. This also works to keep buffet food warm so you can easily replenish the buffet.

Cocktails are fun, but time consuming as they are made as people want them and one drink at a time. Consider drinks such as punch, wine and beer that can be self-serve. This way you can enjoy your party instead of being a bar tender.

When you are planning your food and drinks, make sure you have enough cups, plates, spoons, forks and knives. If you do not, consider buying plastic wear or renting the items you will need.

Decorating

Lighting is important for any party. Consider turning off overhead lights and use candles and Christmas lights instead. This will create a warm glow for your party.

If you have a theme for your party, make sure to decorate for it. Otherwise, decorate your home for the holidays. This will make for a festive space for your party.

Some theme ideas are:

  • Winter wonderland
  • Green and red
  • White Christmas
  • Ugly sweater party
  • Christmas karaoke night
  • Christmas cast off exchange

Make sure to play holiday music or a holiday/party mix that is appropriate for the feel of the party.

Having some friends come over a few days before the party to decorate will make things easier and make decorating more fun.

Clean

Before the party starts, fill a tub with hot soapy water to put all of the dirty dishes in during the party. This will make them easy to clean the next day and will keep bugs at bay so you do not have to do them right after the party ends.

Place cleaning supplies near the party area for easy access so that spills can be cleaned up right away to prevent stains.

How to Choose Your Wedding Caterer

Finding a caterer for your wedding can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to limit the overwhelm and keep things exciting.

Budget

Before you do anything, get a budget together. Having a budget will make sure that you have proper parameters in mind before you start talking to prospective caterers. This is also important because some caterers are more willing to make suggestions to fit your budget than others which creates a great litmus test for if a particular caterer is going to be a good fit for you.

Availability

Another thing to get a handle of before calling caterers is your date. Having your date or dates handy will allow you to make sure that any caterer you call is available for your wedding before you have too much of a conversation.

References

A good place to start when you are looking at caterers is to get recommendations from friends and family. They know your tastes and they will know if the caterer they worked with will work for you.

With that said, even if your friend recommends a caterer be sure to call the references a caterer gives you. Better to do your due diligence than to find out they are hard to work with after you commit.

Experience

There are a few things that you really want to weigh heavily in your decision of a caterer. They are

  • Do they specialize in the food you want?
  • Are willing to customize a menu?
  • Are familiar with your venue?
  • Do they do events similar to yours regularly?

These items are really important since they build the framework of your theme and event.

Tasting

Once you have asked your initial questions, pick at least 3 caterers and have a tasting. Make sure that what you sample is what you are ordering. This way you can know what you are purchasing. If they are not willing to let you sample your menu, choose a different caterer.

Contract

Before committing to a caterer make sure you receive a contract that lays out what food you are getting, for how many people, the event date and start time, any prep accommodations and removal fees that may apply. Another thing to make sure is outlined are corking fees, cake cutting fees, tips and overtime fees. Making sure everything is spelled out in a contract will limit day of surprises.

Final Thoughts

When you are comparing your contracts, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Things like freshness of food, number of guests per server and prep accommodations needed vary from caterer to caterer. Some also separate fees out from the contract total so that they appear lower cost. Make sure to factor these things into the bottom line cost before committing.