Friday, April 16, 2010

10 tips for a great welcome reception

Southern Sweetie Bride was kind enough to let me "iphone photograph" her welcome recpetion for this blog post.  The reception at the Gasparilla Inn Beach Club was the perfect example of what a welcome reception should be- a casual event to kick off the weekend celebration.  Welcome receptions are the perfect opportunity to introduce all your friends and family to each other, so that by the time the wedding comes around- everyone knows everyone.  When guests bump into each other on the island (or where ever your destination wedding is), they'll be excited to see a friendly familiar face.

1. Do something unexpected.  This is Southern Sweetie with her Groom.  One of my priorities the entire length of this wedding planning was finding this dinghy for the welcome reception.  Hands down the best "bar" we've ever had!
2. Have a few great games if you've got the right crowd for it!  We had Bocce, Volleyball, and Cornhole.
3. Always a great idea if you're doing a beach event- provide flip flops for your guests.  They can use them again at the wedding reception for dancing shoes.  Oh, and no worries brides, you can still get "good" shoes to arrive in (you know, the shoes)...

4. Big tip: HAVE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHERS THERE!  This is a great night for candids & group photos
 These almost always turn out to be some of the best pictures because everyone is just so relaxed.
 This is Lauren gathering everyone for what I think is going to be one of the best laughing shots ever.

5. Provide seating for just chatting it up.  This may be the 1st time your guests have seen each other in a while- it's great to have conversation areas.
6. Hire a wedding planner so that when your dress literally starts to fall apart, she can sew you back up and get you back to the party.  Yes, this happened tonight.  No, it wasn't the 1st time. Yes, I confess I sewed right through my finger at one point.  Nothing a little nail polish can't fix.
7. Have your photographers take detail shots of everything, before they get "messed up" This is the firepit.  Why a firepit in Florida, at a beach welcome reception with an 80 degree temperature?  See below.
8. That would be for dessert.  Smores anyone?  Or if smores aren't your thing, perhaps a sundae bar is.  Complete with sprinkles in your wedding colors.

9. Serve food; welcoming food.  Serve the kind of food they can't get at home, but make sure there's something for everyone.  Tonight the biggest attractions at the dine around were the mini Snapper sandwiches, the Coconut Shrimp and the Schettani Sangria.

10. Have fun.  If your guests see you smiling and having a blast, so will they.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Welcome your guests with bags they'll love

How do I know that guests love welcome bags so much?  They tell me so.  Today I saw a fantastic reaction when guests came into our hospitality suite to pick up their welcome bag.  When they checked in at the front desk they were handed this card:
And then they came into the Sharp Room, so incredibly excited, flashing their card.  They found their bag and there was an immediate, "Oh my gosh, how perfect!".

That's what I call a proper welcome.  What a way to start the celebration after their travels.

Some things we like & sometimes to include in our bags are:
2 bottles of water
Breath Mints
A savory snack like Pringles, Sunchips, or pretzels
A sweet snack like Famous Amos cookies or Nikkis Key Lime cookies
2 Pillow packs of Advil
Lip balm
Koozies (personalized are the way to go)
Maps (Love Snappy Maps!)
Beach Towels
Candy (like m&m's)
Matches (personalized)

and always: a guest guide outlining the events for the weekend!

Friday, April 09, 2010

I told you so. You're going to regret this.

Confession time.  I can't begin to tell you all the times I have wanted to say,
"I told you so"
"You are really going to regret this"
"Big mistake"
"Please tell me you're joking"
"Are you kidding me right now?"
But, I won't.  Except for in this blog post.  Why? Sometimes (rarely) its because its just an opinion, but more often its because it we don't want to push the subject or emotions are too high, or I just know its never going to happen.  Most of the time- it's because we told you once (maybe twice), and telling you again would be inappropriate.  So as professionals, we know when to keep our mouths shut.  Please know that as professionals however, we'd never allow things to just go badly.

So this last week I collected some of these often thought comments from wedding professionals on Twitter.  I have to admit, I laughed hysterically at a couple of them, all so true!

Using a vendor I specifically told you not to use due to past experiences with the vendor -Lauren Grove
Oh my gosh if I could tell you how many times I have wanted to say I told you so, you're going to regret this, and big mistake on this one.  Please trust your vendors...they've planned a few weddings.  This is especially true if you're hearing the same thing all over town.
Get more coverage during your getting ready time -Rob Epple
This is so true.  Perfect example in this directors cut.  Imagine this without the getting ready shots.
Doing a first glance -Ashley Brockinton
Every single couple I have ever had do this tells me that they are so glad that they did.  Two reasons, they actually get to react without an audience; its actually more intimate.  And secondly, the stress of the audience at the ceremony is gone, you can actually take it all in and enjoy it.
Inviting more than the number of guests the venue allows and then hoping people rsvp no -Jen Wooster-McBride
 Huge huge huge mistake.  Just don't do it.  Decide before you go anywhere what your guest list count has to be and don't even consider any venues that can't hold that capacity.
Don't pick that dress -Andria Lewis

Here's the thing.  We want whats best for you.  If your bridal salon consultant and seamstress are telling you that there isn't going to be any way to get that size 10 dress altered to a 6...don't force it.  I know its the last one in the entire country...but that dress was not meant to be.  If you're getting married in July on a beach, having a beachside reception, in Mexico- don't buy a dress with full length lace sleeves and 23 layers of tulle.  Just because its your wedding day does not mean that you get the day off from sweating.
Not having a rain back up plan -Alan Viau

Not only rain.  Have plans for cold, wind, heat, snow, and the results of all these things (mud, ice, dirty dust, etc.).  Sometimes the reason this gets avoided is because the back up can be costly.  Budget for it in the beginning, and then when you don't use it, go all out on your honeymoon.  The best thing you can do is determine how you can use things you've already planned & purchased in your back up plan.
Use chair covers -Julianne Cragg
This kills me.  You spend all this money on gorgeous flowers, linens, lighting, and paper details to make your reception space look amazing and then you leave in the venues banquet chairs that don't match at all.  It makes the biggest difference.  There's almost always something you can cut back on a little to make this upgrade.  Find it.

Here's my list:
Get video. Confirmed #1 regret. You cannot see yourself walk down the aisle and you can't hear your dad's toast ever again and you will never see the best man polka with your grandma and be loving it.
Do not include registry on invites. Bad etiquette, I don't care what anyone tells you.
Do a trial run with hair and makeup. It's worth your sanity.
Don't order bathroom flowers.  They're stupid.
Have pre wedding day time with your photographer. Your wedding day photography will will better for it. Make your photographer a friendly face and not a stranger.
It is not a media circus.  Your photographers and videographers are never in the same place at the same time.  Most clients ask me if the videographer ever came. No I am not joking.
Don't bring your dog.  They are cute but stress everyone out and add more work.
Eat your dinner.  You will be starving at the end of the night.
Don't make a minute by minute schedule.  Being early and bored is better than rushed and late. Pad your timeline.
Don't skip outdoor lighting. Events in the dark? Really?  No, a tiki torch will not light the place enough.
Don't give up fit for pretty. Under the dress- break out the Spanx leave Victoria in the hotel room for later.
Don't get drunk. A doorknob will find your eye somehow and you won't look as cute in your sparkler exit photo that you don't remember taking.  Even though you have the burns to prove it.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Photo Station Backdrops

One of our favorite extras at weddings the last few years have been photobooths and photostations.  They are a riot!  I'll admit I was skeptical at first, thinking it would be childish.  I was 100% wrong.  Guests LOVE them, and the memory books made from them are fantastic.
I tend to prefer the photostations because we can completely customize the background by having the background re-made for each wedding.
Yesterday I hit my favorite fabric shop to look for backgrounds for Southern Sweetie brides wedding later this month.  Since her wedding reception will be outside under a beautiful century tent at the Gasparilla Inn, we decided to go with a photo station rather than a photobooth.  It just allows for a bit more flexibilty in placement (this is the logistical planner in me talking).
I walked into the shop and had an idea of what I wanted, but knew I was going to find more:

You'll notice that I narrowed it down to only prints.  Solid backgrounds are fine- but not very exciting or fun.  And since photo stations are fun...
When choosing your background, if you do go with a print, make sure the print is large enough and has some contrasting colors to actually show up from a few feet away.  Tiny little polka dots wouldn't work, and neither would pinstripes.  In other words, bold works best.  This is also a place where you can and should tie into the overall design of your wedding- but think a bit outside the box.  For goodness sakes, don't match it to your bridesmaids dresses; it'll look like your maids attire was made from drapes (i.e. The Sound of Music).
Here is what we ended up picking.  I'm so excited to get in there!

P.S. Props are fun and make for some hilarious photos.  Consider placing a basket of wigs, boas, mustaches, hats, chalkboard/chalk next to the station or photobooth.

101 Destination Wedding Planning Tips

From the editors of Destination Weddings & Honeymoons