3 Things Your Wedding Caterer Wants You to Stop Doing

While you may find yourself so wrapped up in your wedding planning, there will come times when you will need to momentarily step back and to let the wedding professionals guide you.

I know you are new to wedding planning, and for most couples, this is the first time they have ever had to plan something so big and detailed. But don’t worry!  That is why I am here to help you build your dream day! With that said, there will come times when you will need to momentarily step back and to let the wedding professionals guide you. Your wedding is your vision and I want to help you get there. Just keep in mind that sometimes you may need to briefly get out of the driver’s seat – just long enough for your wedding vendors to map things out for you.  Below are three things that you should stop doing when planning your wedding in order to make the process easier and more enjoyable for everyone!

1. Not Revealing Your Budget
While it may seem like being completely upfront and honest with your vendors could make you too vulnerable, it’s actually the opposite. This is your first time, but wedding professionals do this every day. It is very common for couples to hide their desired catering budget and us wedding professionals don’t understand why! When you go to buy a car, you know before you leave the house whether you’ll be shopping for a Honda or Lamborghini, and you should follow that same mindset while planning your wedding. Give your caterer a starting budget that you know you are comfortable with, even just a range is fine! Providing a dollar amount as a strong starting point is so much more helpful than saying, “low budget”, “affordable” or “high-end budget” – your definition of “affordable” could mean a far different number than another couple.
The worst thing you can do is ignore the budget topic altogether.  Your caterer will want to provide you the best services within your budget. No caterer wants to scare you away with a giant sticker price and also doesn’t want to disappoint you with something more basic than what you had in mind. Trust that your wedding caterer isn’t out for every dime of your budget! Holding out on your budget only slows things down and makes it take longer to get you the information you need. If you truly don’t have a budget in mind, be upfront about it, but also be realistic that you may not get the type of catering proposal you had in mind right off the bat.

2. Bringing an Entourage to Your Tasting (Especially Without Notice)
This one can easily be avoided. For most caterers, they plan ahead to serve two people and prepare accordingly. Your tasting is basically a private dinner consisting of one on one time with the chef. Unlike restaurants, not all caterers have endless amounts of food on hand. Caterers order food fresh for each event and order the quantity based on attendance. Your caterer will understand that there may be a parent, bridal party member, or sibling who wants to come as well, and that is fine, but you should be sure to share that information beforehand.  Not only does your caterer not want to look ill prepared, but they also like to know your proposed headcount ahead of time to make things easier on you. If you have six people that want to join your tasting, most caterers will kindly guide you toward a more intimate number. While it is understandable that some people may be helping you pay for the wedding, or your best friends are foodies and you value their opinions, there really can be too many cooks in the kitchen. Once you surpass four people, the opinions can be overwhelming, and you may walk away feeling more stressed than needed. The value of bringing others into the wedding planning process is understandable and appreciated, but ultimately this day is about you and your partner. This is your day to be yourselves, and have things the way the two of you like them! If you bring too many strong opinions to the table, you might lose your wedding day identity.

3. Asking Too Many Questions without Answering Any of Theirs
We know this is an exciting time, and definitely an unknown domain. You have nothing but questions, and that is very normal, but remember how often your caterer has done this. Let them guide you. It’s just like in school – if you wait long enough, your questions will probably be answered before you have to ask them. You’ll get your answers faster by providing some first. It’s very hard to tell you how many servers you will need to have on staff for your event if you don’t state how many people you’re expecting or what type of dinner you want. Event hours, guest count, type of dinner service, and type of bar are just a few of the factors in calculating event costs. The only question you really SHOULD ask upfront is to see a menu, because after all, if you don’t love what your potential caterer is cooking up, it’s time to keep looking.

While this post focused on things to avoid while working with your wedding caterer, these 3 tips can be applied with almost all of your other wedding vendors as well.  Not everyone is out to get you when planning a wedding.  Wedding professionals understand what a great expense a wedding is and want to make your event as amazing as possible.  This is why it is important to be honest about your budget so that they can plan accordingly and do their absolute best to fulfill all of your requests.  Also, remember, whether it be about food, color scheme, decorations or anything else, don’t let anyone’s opinion take over your day, you and your future spouse should make all the final decisions and always remember to please yourselves before anyone else!  While your mind will most likely be filled with questions the whole time you are planning your wedding, stay calm!  If you are working with the right wedding vendors they will ease your mind and provide you with the knowledge you need to plan your dream day.  I hope this helps and as always, happy wedding planning!

Beginner’s Guide to Wedding Venue Hunting

When starting your hunt, you want to get as much information as possible from the potential venues so there are no surprises down the road and to ensure the venue you end up with is your perfect fit.

When starting to wedding plan, one of the first things to do is find a venue. Everything centers around the venue so this is one of the most important parts of getting the wedding planning process started. When starting your hunt, you want to get as much information as possible from the potential venues so there are no surprises down the road and to ensure the venue you end up with is your perfect fit. Below is a list of questions to help you make the best decision for your special day.

  • How many weddings do you have in one day?
    Many venues have more than one wedding in a day, which is fine, you just want to ensure you have enough setup and breakdown time, as well as, enough time for your event. You will want at least 2 hours for setting up, 1 hour for breaking down, and 4 hours for your actual event. Another great question when discussing the time frame is the cost of adding an additional hour.  An extra hour can eliminate some stress and erase any feelings of needing to rush any portion of your event, so if the price is right, it is definitely worth it!
  • What is included in the venue rental?
    Venues range from providing only the venue space to providing tables and chairs, utensils and plates, linens, napkins and more. If no additional items are included, another great question is if you must rent them through the venue or if they can be provided by the caterer or a vendor.  The fewer vendors you have to deal with, the less stress you will have.  A venue that provides you with more than just an empty space will save you from the headache of making sure everything arrives at the right place at the right time and allow you to pay attention to other important details of your day.
  • When are the final details due?
    You want to know up front what your commitment is when signing the contract and the flexibility of final head count and any possible changes you may need to make down the road when you are further into planning.
  • Are you required to use the venue’s preferred vendors?
    Some venues will have a list of vendors you must use such as caterers, decorators, florists, and so forth.  If this is the case, you will want to look up these vendors before deciding on the venue in order to make sure they are also a great fit for you and to get an idea of their pricing.
  • What are you, as the client, responsible for as far as breakdown after the event?
    Some venues only require that you or your vendors take out any décor or items you brought in the venue with you. Others require you to go so far as to sweep and mop the venue when your event concludes. This is good to know so you can prepare accordingly.
  • Are there any restrictions?
    Can you hang decorations from the ceiling or on the walls? Are candles allowed? Is confetti allowed? These are all good questions to ask so that you have all the facts and are aware of all the venue regulations.  You don’t want to find out that you can’t have certain decor after you already had the perfect vision of how you planned to decorate the venue in your head.

While the above are basic functional questions you need to know, don’t be afraid to ask a ton more. A great wedding venue will be happy to answer your questions and there is no such thing as getting too much information. Feel free to walk around the venue and take pictures if you like. Keeping organized and bringing a list of questions in a wedding folder can prove to be very helpful.  Happy wedding planning!

5 Cute Dessert Ideas For Your Wedding

Take a look at 5 cute dessert ideas that can allow you to veer away from the norm and add even more originality to your wedding day!

Don’t forget dessert!  Although, who would, right?

Everyone knows a wedding cake is part of the process when you’re planning your big day.  For some, the cake tasting is one of the things they look forward to the most.  Wedding cakes are great, traditional, and an easy way to make sure everyone gets some dessert, especially if your venue cuts and serves it.  But, what if you wanted to do something other than a traditional wedding cake and groom’s cake?  Take a look below at 5 cute dessert ideas that can allow you to veer away from the norm and add even more originality to your wedding day!

  1. S’mores Bar: these are super fun and super cute, especially for outdoor weddings and the fall season!  Sure, most venues have some restrictions on open flames but you don’t necessarily have to do it where your guests toast the marshmallows themselves.  See if your caterer is able to offer a S’mores Bar and an attendant for it as well, that way you won’t have to worry about open flames and it’ll be much safer for your guests and your wedding overall!
  2. Cupcakes: this one is pretty obvious, you can do cupcakes instead of cake.  The most fun part about this option is the freedom it gives you to give some personality to your dessert.  If you do one big cake, it’s all the same design and most of time the same flavor.  With cupcakes, you can do as many flavors as you want and decorate them to your liking!  Or, have you ever thought of build your own cupcakes?  I didn’t think so.  Have the basic cupcakes there in different flavors and then have all the makings there for them as well!  Your guests get to pick the flavor cupcake, different icing, whether or not they want sprinkles, if they want M&M’s or any other toppings, or even little mini cupcake toppers that go along with your wedding theme!  This way, your guests have something to do, as well as, get to pick their own dessert.  I’m sure they’d appreciate it as much as you would, and the effect it has on both your wallet or your sanity is another plus!
  3. Popcorn Bar: popcorn isn’t a very popular dessert item at weddings, so if you’re looking for something different but still delicious, try this one!  There are tons of different flavors of popcorn you can offer to cover everyone’s preference and it’s something your guests don’t have to eat all in one sitting.  This also gives you the freedom to use it as a part of your wedding decorations if you wanted.  You can get all kinds of different vases to put the popcorn in and arrange it to your liking.  I’m sure you could even get popcorn in your wedding colors!  Check with your caterer to see if they can do it, chances are, they can!
  4. Milk & Cookies: this is always fun because everyone loves milk and cookies so you can’t go wrong!  Once again, this is an option that allows you to offer a ton of different flavors and will allow you to please all of your guests no matter what their preference.  If you wanted to decorate cookies with icing you can do different designs, but be sure to keep your wedding colors involved!  The milk is a bit tricky, it is best to have an attendant at this station to assure the milk is kept cold and they can also pour for your guests, this will reduce spills and messes, as well as, your stress level!  Another way to customize this option would be to include specialized cups for the milk which could double as a take home favor!  Kill two birds with one stone which is always a plus when planning a wedding!
  5. Assortment of Desserts: this is great and can either relieve some stress or cause more depending on how extravagant you’re going with it.  This is ideal for someone who wants to give their guests a lot of options for dessert and doesn’t mind going against tradition.  With this, there are so many possibilities you are able to cater to exactly what your favorite types of desserts are.  Brownies, mini pies, cake balls, truffle lollipops, tarts, cookies, cupcakes, anything your heart desires, throw it on the dessert table!

Your wedding dessert can be a wonderful way to get creative and be different while also getting your guests more involved, if that’s what you’re after.  Wedding cakes are great and give you the opportunity to get that ever-so-memorable picture of you and your love cutting the cake together, so you don’t have to get rid of it completely.  Do a cake in addition to other desserts if you still want to have those traditional moments and photos.  Feel free to surround your wedding cake with cupcakes, brownies or cookies, or do a separate s’mores bar or dessert station as well, choose whatever you please as long as you are happy with it.  Don’t fear creativity, not just when it comes to desserts but in all aspects of your wedding planning, originality often leads to the best memories!

Why You Should Consider A Winter Wedding

Winter weddings are not nearly as popular as the spring and fall season. This makes them even more unique and with a few tips, very memorable.

Winter weddings are not nearly as popular as the spring and fall season. This makes them even more unique and with a few tips, very memorable.

An advantage of a wedding during the cold months is more availability at venues. More availability usually translates to less expensive, especially if you are open to a wedding at the beginning of the New Year. Of course, you need to take the weather into consideration and book an indoor or heated venue.  Winter weddings can also guarantee a great turn out as most people do their traveling during the summer months, and a winter celebration gives them something to look forward to and be excited about. Below are some ideas that make for a stunning and intimate wedding.

  1. Charming Hors d’oeuvres – These can be for a cocktail hour or late night snack, but offering something other than the actual dinner can add style to a wedding. Food as art is a trend we are starting to see. Hors d’oeuvres and displays need to look neat as well as appetizing. These are usually fairly inexpensive to add in the scheme of things and adds another element. Some winter examples are a shooter of tomato soup and grilled cheese bite, candy cane macaroons, bite size cookie with a bailey’s shooter, seasonal and artsy crostini, and bacon wrapped chestnuts.
  1. Lighting- With shorter days and darker nights, look for a venue with chandeliers to give a romantic glow. Or a venue that allows you to string café lights for a cozy, intimate ambiance. Otherwise, go crazy with candles, twinkle lights, or any special lighting to make for a romantic winter night.
  1. Main Dishes– You will want to feed your guests warm items in the winter. We have a tendency to order comfort food in the colder months. While bite-size appetizers or midnight snacks are great, you don’t want the main course to make them sluggish or sleepy. Opt for entrees high in protein like steak, chicken, and fish. Add veggies and stay away from fried foods or anything greasy. Soup and Salad are both great options for a first course when having a plated dinner.
  1. Hot Chocolate Bar– What better way to keep warm than a hot cocoa bar. It doesn’t need a lot of space and you can dress it up with DIY signs, fake snow, and cute mugs. Or keep is simple with your holiday or wedding colors and let the edible goodies speak for themselves. For a unique twist, add jumbo marshmallows with a text or graphic of your wedding date, names, or theme.  Make it an adult hot chocolate station by offering Grand Mariner, Peppermint schnapps, Kahlua, Rum, Crème de Mint, Amaretto and last but not least Bailey’s Irish Cream. Adding a hot toddy station is also something you rarely see if going for a unique treat.

So, don’t be scared of a winter wedding!  Your guests will be happy to get themselves out of the house to share your special day with you.  Pushing back your wedding date a few months and waiting for the winter could not only save you a few bucks but could also help you land the venue of your dreams.  If a month or two is all that stands between you and your top choice venue, wait it out and have the event you always imagined.  Your day will be special and memorable no matter what the weather.

Four Common Catering Misconceptions

Get the most out of your caterer with these four tips. Learn what will actually save you money and what only sounds like it will.

Choosing a caterer for your big day is one of the major decisions you will have to make.  It is no secret that wedding costs add up quickly and with there being so many options within your catering decisions, this may seem like a good place to cut down on some of your budget.  There is no harm in trying to trim some costs, but not everything you think is going to save you money will actually do so.  I am here to explain some misconceptions when it comes to catering and ways to save.  Get the most out of your caterer with these four tips, learn what will actually save you money and what only sounds like it will.

  1. Thinking an all vegetarian event will save you money
    It makes sense when you initially get the idea, but when it comes time to crunch the numbers, you may be surprised. While steak can be pricey, it doesn’t mean that vegetarian options would save you much money. Instead of looking at meat vs no meat, consider the products. Mushroom ravioli with truffle oil can cost just as much, if not more, than some meat entrees. Take into consideration the products used with each dish when you are choosing your menu items. If something is imported or out of season, it may add a few extra bucks per person.
  2. Assuming action stations are cheaper
    Actions stations are a great addition to a wedding! They engage your guests, allow them to pick how they want their food, and they can catch up with family and friends while they wait their turn. However, with each action station comes an additional attendant or two to help serve guests – and that means extra staffing cost for you. When considering action stations, don’t look at just the price per person for the station. Ask your caterer how many staff members are required to work each station you are interested in. If having solely actions stations breaks the wedding bank, choose one action station that is a must-have, and ask your caterer to help you find the right buffet to compliment it.
  3. Ordering less hors d’oeuvres than your anticipated head count
    It may sound crazy, but it happens more often than you’d think. If you have 200 guests attending, and only have the budget to feed hors d’oeuvres to 60 of them, it’s time to come up with a new plan. Think of it from the guest’s perspective – if you attended a wedding and heard people rave about an hors d’oeuvre, you’d want to try it, wouldn’t you? To avoid this, choose lesser priced hors d’oeuvres that you can order more of, or ask your caterer about their display selection. You want to make sure whatever is available to guests is available to all guests.
  4. Paying for an open bar for half of your guests
    This is not a reality. Even if his side doesn’t drink at all, how will the bartender know if they are part of the groom’s side? And how will they regulate it? If you have 250 guests and think only 100 will drink, look into other bar options. Venues and caterers offer a variety of options. If you don’t like the idea of a cash bar, consider drink tickets or a consumption bar. Both are paid by you, but they can be more affordable alternatives in this case. With drink tickets, there are different tiers of pricing depending on the type of bar available. You can purchase as many drink tickets as you wish, and then distribute them amongst the guests you know will drink. An easy way to do this is including it with their place card. Once their tickets run out, they can have the option of purchasing drinks. A consumption bar means every drink has a set price (which also depends on which tier bar you have available) each drink ordered gets tallied throughout the event. You will then get billed after the event for those drinks served. You can set limits to this as well. If your bar budget caps at $2,500, the bar can turn into a cash bar at that point. Most caterers and venues are great about allowing you to extend the cap as the night goes on as well.

It is easy to see why Brides and Grooms may see some of the above options as smart money saving ideas before they are really looked into.  It is important to make sure you evaluate and compare your options before actually making a decision.  Don’t cheat your guests out of something delicious by thinking you are saving a few bucks when in reality, you may not be.  Don’t stress, caterers are well aware that there is always a budget to aim within when planning a wedding.  A good caterer will work with you and be able to make suggestions so that you will be happy with your food choices and your spending!

How to Pick the Perfect Bouquet

A wedding bouquet is one of the few things that will be completely and specifically designed just for you, learn how to make it perfect.

A bridal bouquet is something that you can really express yourself with.  Whether you want real flowers, fake flowers, no flowers, a trailing bouquet, a posy bouquet, or anything in between, it is one of the few things that will completely and specifically be designed for you. Surprisingly enough, the bouquet needs to match your dress, in both color and style, and can really affect the way you look on your big day.  So here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Choose your dress before the bouquet. You can have an idea of what type of bouquet you would like, but style makes a huge difference.  The dress you pick may not go with the style bouquet you had always imagined.
  2. Bring Color Swatches!  There are a million different shades of white out there. Bring a swatch of your dress to make sure, if you’re having any white flowers, they don’t clash with the color of your dress.  Also, bring swatches of your other color(s) so you can be sure to match them as best as possible. Especially when it comes to your bridesmaids bouquets, they need to match their dresses too!
  3. If you want real flowers, consider which ones are in season. If you want flowers that are out of season, they will be much more expensive if they’re even available. For summer months, look into some sunflowers, hydrangea, or star gazers, for spring: orchids, cherry blossoms, or freesia, for winter months: roses, holy berry, or carnations, and for autumn: irises, zinnias, or chrysanthemums. However, there are some flowers are not really affected by the seasons, lilies are one of these exceptions.
  4. If you are going a different route, like a brooch bouquet, make sure there is a very clear understanding of what you want, and what kind of a look you want to stay away from.
  5. Your bouquet is also a good place to put your something old or borrowed. If you’ve got a family heirloom, like a handkerchief, or a brooch that you want to add to a floral bouquet, see if your florist can incorporate it. Most of the time, items can be added to the stems and can make a beautiful, and very personal, addition.
  6. The more traditional you are going with your dress, and wedding in general, the more traditional your bouquet should be. Traditional bouquets are most often a round/posy bouquet or maybe even a teardrop.
  7. If the focus of your dress is on the bodice, you should probably stay away from a round bouquet, since that will draw attention away from your dress. Try looking into an arm or trailing bouquet, both are very beautiful but sit a little differently so your dress can still be seen.
  8. Make sure to take some pictures of your bouquet beforehand, especially if you have a specific place to put it during the reception. Your photographer is going to have plenty of things to take pictures of that night and you don’t want to later realize that you don’t have any pictures of the bouquet you designed so perfectly.
  9. Keep in mind that you are going to be holding on to your bouquet for a pretty good amount of time, so make sure it’s comfortable for you. Try not to make it too heavy so it doesn’t hurt your wrists and be sure that it has soft fabric around the stems so it doesn’t poke you or irritate your hands.
  10. Take the time to see what each flower and color represents, and match it to how your feeling. For instance, roses represent love, white chrysanthemums are for truth, ivy for fidelity, and if it’s your first and only love, put some lilacs in it. The world around you may never know all the meaning behind your flowers, but you and your partner will.
  11. It is important to remember, different flowers work better with different arrangements. Longer stemmed flowers, like calla lilies, tend to work better with cascading or arm bouquets, whereas irises and tulips work better in the posy bouquets.
  12. Consider your body shape when designing your bouquet, as well. If you are really tall, try and stick to a longer bouquet to help elongate yourself and to keep with the line. If you are really short, stick to something a little smaller and compact.

If you find all of the flowers and bouquet designing a bit overwhelming, another idea is for just the bride to have a bouquet and to have the bridesmaids hold on to something different.  Not only does this lessen your stress of matching flowers to dresses, but it also makes your bouquet a little more special, and provides you with a little bit more money to spend on your own.  Also, keep in mind that if your bouquet is something you plan on preserving, you don’t have to throw it! It’s yours, do with it what you please.  You may want to consider getting a small, simpler bouquet to throw later in the night and then you won’t have to worry about it.  I hope these tips on picking out the perfect bouquet have helped ease your mind through at least one of your many wedding planning decisions!

5 Important Questions to Ask Your Venue Before Booking

If you don’t ask the right questions before booking your venue you could be facing thousands of dollars in additional charges that could have been avoided.

Planning a wedding can be extremely stressful and time-consuming, not to mention, very expensive! One of the biggest and costliest decisions, when it comes to your special day, will be choosing your venue. That is why it is important for you to know the right questions to ask when shopping for your venue. These questions can help ensure you are getting everything you want, and most importantly, they can save you a significant amount of money! So don’t stress, we are here to help, take a look below at the five questions to ask before booking your wedding venue!

  1. Does the Venue Supply Tables and Chairs?
    Believe it or not, there are several venues out there that may not supply tables and chairs for your event.  A question like this may be easy to overlook, but renting tables and chairs is no small expense and can add up very quickly!
    -Chiavari chairs are the most common and desirable for weddings, these chairs can run up to $10 per chair to rent.  White garden chairs are another common wedding chair, averaging at about $4 per chair.  120-inch tables seat 10 people and typically rent for about $10 each.  In the end, it will cost you about $11 per guest if you were to set up with chiavari chairs and round tables with seating for 10.  If you have 150 guests, that already an additional $1,650!
  2. Does the Venue have China, Glassware and Silverware?
    This information is not always presented at the beginning when getting a quote from a venue or caterer. Unfortunately, most independent venues do not supply china, glassware, and silverware and these necessities can end up being extremely expensive.
    -On average, china, glassware, and silverware can cost $5 to $10 per person, depending on what type of event you are having. If you have 150 guests, that can add up to an additional $750 to $1,000.
  3. Does the Venue have a Dance Floor?
    There is no better day to celebrate and dance than your wedding day, but your guests are going to want to join you!  Make sure there is room on the dance floor for both you and your guests to enjoy your special day.
    -A 20 by 20-foot dance floor can cost you about $1,000.
  4. Does the Venue Supply Table Linens and Linen Napkins?
    If the venue you are looking at does not supply tables and chairs, like we talked about previously, it is likely that it does not supply linens either.
    -Napkins start at around 75 cents each and liens, for the average 120-inch table, go for about $17 each.  You must also keep in mind, you are responsible for covering more than just the tables for your guests’ seating.  Buffet tables, cake tables, gift tables, registration tables, and whatever else you may have will also need to be covered and should be added into your cost.  A 150 guest wedding will consist of about 22 tables and 150 napkins, bringing the price for linens to around $486.50.
  5. Does the Venue Charge for Parking?
    If you are having your reception in or near a downtown area, there is a good chance your venue either charges for parking or requires valet service.
    -Parking could cost anywhere from $5 to $15 per car. If you calculate a 150 guest wedding by one car per two guests, you would have 75 cars, averaging an additional cost of $750.

We hope we didn’t scare you too much with all of these big numbers! As you can see, the necessary items for your wedding can add up fast! If you don’t ask the right questions you could be facing thousands of dollars in additional charges that possibly could have been avoided. Be informed, ask first and save money!