Monday, May 11, 2015

WEDDING NOTES™ - Let Them Eat Cake or Pie or?

At one time choosing a wedding cake was easy.  You figured many quests were expected, you went to your neighborhood baker, you picked white or chocolate layer (s) and gave the baker the address for delivery and a deposit.  Done.

Today's couples are busily going to cake tastings, bringing swatches of material to determine the color of the frosting, debating between marzipan and cream frosting, debating about size and shape and then repeating the process for the groom's cake.  It doesn't have to be this way.

Here are some cake ordering tips that can save you money.

  • ·         Unless you really want one, don't order a multi tiered cake.  Instead, order several round single layer cakes.  Place one of them on a tall cake stand and surround it with the other round layers on varying heights.  It provides visual interest for the desert table and costs far less.
  • ·         If you wish to have a tiered wedding cake, order a smaller version and have sheet cakes available for serving to guests.  It will taste exactly the same but cost much less since the time invested in frosting/decorating the sheet cakes is far less.
  • ·         Order one show cake that you can feature in the photo of the cake cutting, but have your baker or caterer, make enough smaller cakes to be the centerpieces at guest tables.
  • ·         Order enough cake for 3/4th of your planned guest count.  Some people will leave before the cake is cut and others just don't want desert.
  • ·         Let your cake cutters know that you want 2" slices cut rather than giant hunks of cake.  It is a substantial dessert portion and much more in line with people's view of dessert.
  • ·         One bride we know chose to serve plates of cookies and biscotti to each table prior to cake cutting.  It gave her and her groom a chance to greet all of the guests and thank them for coming.  Cookies cost less than cake and many people prefer that to cake.  She ordered only a small "show" cake for the photo.
  • ·         You don't NEED to have a cake table.  Many brides are opting for a dessert table with a variety of offerings.  You can have an ice cream station, pies, cupcakes, cheese cake or even a fountain of chocolate for dipping fruit or pretzels.

Monday, May 4, 2015

WEDDING NOTES™ - The Seating Chart

There are plenty of areas that require input from MOM when planning a wedding reception.  Who to seat where and with whom at the reception can be a difficult PR challenge.  But a diplomatic and tuned in mother of the bride can be a huge help.

When working with the caterer or venue manager, they will need to know not only how many guests will be in attendance, but they will need to know how the bride would like the room set up.  Will there be a head table for the bridal party?  Will it include the parents?  Will there be separate head tables for the bride's family and one for the groom's family?  Will you number the tables or name them?  Who will sit where?  Is it a big deal for some guests and not an issue for others?

The best advice?  Agree on room set up with the caterer and then reconstruct that layout on paper and practice placing guests on various configurations.  You may have agreed upon long rectangular tables but think that 8 or 10 person rounds will work better.  Work closely with the room manager to insure the maximum best use of the facility.

Find out from the groom's parents about any special seating needs or issues as you help your daughter prepare the seating charts.  And keep these basics in mind as the chart is worked.

1.  Don't seat divorced or divorcing couples together.
2.  Don't seat a divorced person with a table of happy couples.
3.  Don't seat guests who haven't spoken to one another for decades at the same table.
4.  Don't seat heavy drinkers right next to the bar.
5.  Don't seat elderly relatives in hard to reach seats.
6.  If you have guests who love to dance, seat them close to the dance floor.
7.   If you have relatives that don't get along, avoid placing them at the same table.
8.  Unless you have planned a special children only reception to coincide with the adult reception, always seat children with their parents and not at a kid's only table.
9.  Be alert to potential problems if you have numbered tables for honored guests.  Some people are highly sensitive to slights - like being assigned a seat at a lower numbered table.  Avoid this by naming tables like - Love, Peace, Joy, Heaven etc.
10.  Be flexible enough to do some last minute juggling of places if you see a problem developing.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

WEDDING NOTES™ - The Caterer

Once the groom is chosen many brides-to-be consider the selection of the reception site the next most important decision to be made.  This is the person that will create a memorable party for your celebration.  The service they deliver, the food they prepare and the flair with which it is served will make a lasting impression on your guests.  So pick a good one by doing your research.

Some hints that make a difference:
  • ·         Always go for a meet and greet with the caterer or banquet manager you are considering.
  • ·         Book them early.  The best ones are usually widely recommended and sought after.  Consider a year in advance if you have that much time.
  • ·         Always ask for their professional credentials.  You'll want someone who is state certified and is a member of a professional organization.
  • ·         Ask for proof of liability insurance.  Without it, you could be sued for guest's food poisoning.  It has happened.
  • ·         If the vendor you are considering is relatively new, ask for references - and check them.
  • ·         Check if you are required to use one of their "package receptions" or can you design your own.
  • ·         Check on the availability of rental items - chairs, linens, dishes etc.  Can you bring in your own resource or are you committed to their facility.
  • ·         Check on the number of events that may be booked at the same time as yours.  Can the facility handle that traffic load?  How's the parking?  Are there enough bathrooms?
  • ·         Who will be the onsite event manager the day of the wedding?
  • ·         If you have decided on a vendor, make sure you have a solid contract with that person.  It should cover all of the items related to the event that you have discussed.
If the parents of the bride are likely to be held up with post ceremony photographs, they should arrange for a couple to be the official host and hostess of the reception.   This couple should arrive at the facility well before the wedding party and liaison with the caterer.  They should review the terms of the contract and make sure that everything is in place prior to the start of the reception.  Be sure that the
caterer knows the official status of this couple."

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

WEDDING NOTES™ - Mom and the Guest List

Sound scary?  It shouldn't be!  As the mother-of-the-bride remember the one most important rule that describes your role in your daughter's upcoming nuptials.  The most important job you have is to make things easier for the bride. Establishing the guest list is a critical part of wedding planning and being there to help your daughter plan THE list should make things easier for her.

Once the wedding budget has been established and the maximum number of guest that it can support determined, your role in helping her plan the guest list means walking a fine line between the "musts" and the "shoulds".  Your daughter will be well aware of that distinction since she has a guest list of her own in mind.  And then there is the groom's family wishes to consider.  Your advice can make it easier.  Here are some options.

Once the budgeted number of guests has been determined, it can be as simple (and fair) as dividing the total by 3.  If your daughter is planning on (budgeting for) 150 guests, her family gets 50, the groom’s family gets 50 and the bride and groom get 50 together.

As the bride's mother, you can propose your guest list.  In fact, make two lists - one for the "musts" and one for the "shoulds".  The "must list" includes grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and other of your closest relatives.  The "shoulds" list would include the names of those friends you'd love to include if you could.  Suggest that the groom's family and the couple do the same.  Once the three separate lists are merged, you can see where adjustments must be made.

If the first cut at the guest list exceeds the budgeted number, something has to give.  Either the budget grows or the guest list is cut.  Managing the guest list seems like the best solution.  If it's the bride's family list that is over the count, many brides choose to make the cut at lst cousins.  All extended family members just can't be asked to attend.  It becomes mom's job to explain that to relatives in her best diplomatic style.

Another option for controlling the list would be to watch out for "plus ones" - allowing single wedding guests to bring dates to the wedding.  Etiquette books generally state that only married and/or engaged couples be allowed to bring their partners.  But sometimes real life gets in the way.

The bottom line - the bride's input on the list should be the most important.  After offering your input, the bride should have the final decision.  Your role is not to dominate the guest list.  Be as supportive as you can of her final decisions.

Friday, April 17, 2015

WEDDING NOTES™ - The Bride, The Gown and MOM

TV shows have done a great disservice to brides by broadcasting programs that show a bride entering a salon with her "entourage".  While it may make for good TV, it doesn't make for wonderful shopping.

Most brides and moms would advise others not to miss the opportunity to shop for THE GOWN together.  Just you two. Leave the grandmothers and aunts and full bridesmaid contingent home. It can be a wonderful experience for both the mom and her daughter.  But know that it can also be disappointing if the bride is expecting support for her choices and mom can't/won't give it.  As one expert said, "The bride may look for mom's approval, but she's doing it because she's nervous about the choice, not because she wants mom to choose for her."

What should mom do if her daughter truly loves a gown she doesn't particularly care for?  Stop and think about her reasons for not liking it.  Maybe it's not her taste in gowns.  If a mom is tailored and the daughter more flamboyant, it's likely that they'll disagree but it is up to mom to realize that it's not her gown, it's her daughter's.  The bride has a style of her own and she wants the gown to reflect who she is.  Mom can offer thoughts which support her preference but in the end, it is the bride's choice.

Mom can offer comments around these topics:
  • ·         Seasonality - is it the right dress for a summer wedding or a beach wedding?
  • ·         Cut - is it too tight or too low?  But be careful how this is said. You both want the bride to look her best on this important day.  Does the gown emphasize the bride's best features?
  • ·         Comfort - will the bride be able to sit, move, dance and bend in the gown?
  • ·         Budget - is it in line with what the bride's budget projected?
  • ·         Alterations - be supportive of any changes the bride would like.  Remember that a good seamstress can work wonders.  Expect that some adjustments will need t be made.  Unless one is having a gown custom made, alterations are usual.
Handled correctly - with sensitivity and genuine affection for the bride on her big day, this shopping experience can and should be a special and memorable time for mom and her daughter.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

WEDDING NOTES™ - Gown Shopping Tips

Shopping for your wedding gown can be either a wonder filled experience or it can be a dreaded encounter.  Your mind set before you begin will make all the difference.  Here are some tips from experts that will help make your shopping for THE DRESS easier and satisfying.

1.  Know your wedding budget and how much you allocated for the gown and don't be tempted to overspend.  Establish a realistic budget and communicate that to the consultant who is helping you.  There are plenty of beautiful gowns well within the reach of most bride's finances.

2.  It's really true that many brides fall in love with the first dress they try on.  It isn't luck.  It's the result of being clear about what you have in mind and communicating that to the consultant who is helping you.  She knows her stock and is expert in evaluating a bride's silhouette so she can select a gown or gowns that are likely to look fabulous on you.

3.  Be aware that alterations are not a bad word.  The gowns you try on and love will be close to perfect on you, but some nips or tucks may be necessary for perfect fit.  Bodies can change between the date you order your gown and the date you come for your first fitting.  A skilled seamstress will make those minor adjustments so that its fit is comfortable and right.

4.  Be selective in inviting friends to shop with you.  In spite of what those TV shows indicate, the average bride does not bring a room full of relatives and friends with her to select her gown.  In fact, an unedited group will give you a headache and add stress to the event.  Very few bridal salons are set up to handle a large group and will gently suggest that when you call for an appointment that you tightly control the number of "guests" who will share your wedding gown shopping experience.  The store's professionals know what they are talking about, so listen.

5.  When you find THE DRESS, stop looking!  Too many brides think that if they don't look at every dress within a 10 mile radius, they haven't done their job.  Sometimes mothers will insist that the bride shop every store in a trading area "just to be sure".  Most consultants will tell you that route will only result in confusion and more stress.  You've found the dress.  It is everything you like.  It's in your budget.  You like the consultant and the store.  What else is there?

6.  The best plan is to work with an experienced consultant in a well-known independent bridal retail salon.  She will have the experience and reputation to help you find the perfect dress and to insure its timely delivery for your wedding.  Beware of online shopping for your important wedding gown.  The horror stories that brides who bought from a photo from an unknown retailer will scare you.  Always shop from someone whose reputation for excellence is well known.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

WEDDING NOTES™ - Ways to Manage Your Wedding Budget

You do have a budget established don't you?  If not - stop right now and seriously work on it.

Establishing a budget and sticking to it will help you organize, produce and deliver a wedding that is beautiful and yours.  On the offside chance that you've gone over that budget in some area (s) here are some tips from experts on places to trim those costs.
  1. The guest list.  The number of people you invite to your wedding will contribute to a major component of expense - the cost per guest measure.  It is reflected in the cost of food, beverages, invitations, reception site and postage.  One way to control those costs is to carefully watch the number of "plus ones" you allow.  The basic rule is a simple one:  If couples aren't married, "plus ones" are optional invitees for the bride and groom.  The same rule should apply to the bridal party and guests.  If a member of the party or a relative has a long term significant other you may wish to make an exception to the rule but it should be done on a case-by-case basis.

  2.  Feeding the band.   If your dream is to have a band play for your wedding dance in place of recorded music, one place you can save some green is in what to feed the band.  Yes,  not only will the band members be counting on grabbing a bite to eat before they play or something nourishing between sets - or both.  But you don't need to offer them the same sit down dinner you are serving your guests.  Ask your caterer to provide a less expensive (and easier to handle) alternative.  If you are holding your reception at a large facility with in house food service, order something from the standard menu to be served to band members before they play and include water/soft drinks for them during their play time.

  3.  There is no rule that says you need to have an open bar for guests at your reception.  In fact, you can serve only beer, wine and punch or other non alcoholic beverage at your cocktails before dinner.  Some couples have a signature cocktail as an additional surprise for guests, but no open bar will save you beaucoup bucks.  Remember that it is your reception and if you don't want alcohol served, that's fine.  You get to decide what you'll serve.  Most experts will agree that having a cash bar is a definite no-no.  Guests are guests.  That means that they don't have to pay.