Friday, September 12, 2014

How big is too big for your guest list?

While you’d love to be able to share your happy day with everyone you know, it’s a fact that there’s a limit to the number of people you can put on your guest list. But how much is too much?

Deciding on who to invite can be tricky!

The first thing that usually limits your guest list is your budget. Before you do anything else (well, besides unlock your secret Pinterest board), you need to figure out your budget. Remember, the larger your guest list, the more every part will cost. You’ll need more save-the-dates, more invitations and more favors and centerpieces!

The next step is to decide on a venue. The maximum occupancy of your venue will be a second deciding factor on your guest list. If you choose a small, intimate location, you simply can’t invite 400 people!

But how do you trim your guest list? It’s not always easy. Start with making a big list. The two of you should think of family, friends and other important people for your list. Then, you can start making edits. Your second-year college roommate you haven’t seen in 10 years may not make the final list if you really want your cousin there. Assume about 80% of your list will say yes, and make your decisions that way.

If people ask if they are invited to the wedding, you should have an answer prepared. “I’m sorry, we wish we could invite everyone, but our venue has a strict occupancy level. But I’d love to meet you for coffee sometime soon so we can catch up!” is a great option.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Let fall’s splendor help you create a stunning wedding

Fall is a gorgeous time of year here in the northeast. Trees are changing colors, the days are bright and the nights are crisp. No wonder couples love to choose fall wedding dates! Why not use nature’s beautiful colors to help you decorate and theme your wedding?

If you love pumpkins, Halloween and traditional fall colors as much as we do, fall decorating couldn’t be easier. You can use pumpkins of all sizes and even carve them into Jack-o’-lanterns!

What's cuter than Mr. and Mrs. pumpkins? Maybe ones with YOUR names!

Fall colors are gorgeous, but you don’t have to stick with an orange-red-brown palette if you don’t want to. Any rich, warm color will work with autumn’s tones. Jewel-tone purples, greens and blues look beautiful!

You also don’t have to stick with a pumpkin theme for your d├ęcor. Apples, multicolored corn, wheat, acorns and more look lovely in a cornucopia or other displays.  We also love multicolored mums – place them everywhere and they can be lovely gifts for special people in your wedding.

We love fall mums in our Stone Garden!
What are your decoration plans for your fall wedding?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Practice makes perfect -- planning the rehearsal dinner!

The night before your wedding is usually the time you have your ceremony rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner. Like with all things wedding-related, there are a lot of traditions surrounding the rehearsal dinner – from who pays for the dinner to who is invited. Like all things wedding-related, many couples modify rehearsal dinner traditions to meet their own needs.

For example, there’s the long-standing tradition that the bride’s family pays for the wedding and the groom’s family pays for the rehearsal dinner. For many couples, that still works. But for some, that tradition simply doesn’t fit. Perhaps the couple is paying for the wedding themselves, or many family members are pitching in. Or, for some couples, the cookie-cutter names of “bride” and “groom” just don’t fit. So, who pays? As with all things related to your wedding, it should be discussed. Never assume that anyone is ready to pay for anything!

Which leads to the dinner itself. It can be as formal or as casual as the budget will allow. A family member’s backyard is a great place for an evening barbecue or a hotel’s banquet room can host a more formal dinner.

A formal rehearsal dinner can take place in a room like our Heritage Room
Who gets invited? Usually, it’s at least the wedding party, parents of the happy couple, parents of any children in the wedding party and the officiant. Many couples choose to invite anyone who’s traveling from out-of-town as well as any other close family. It’s a great time for everyone to get to know each other before your big day!

The rehearsal dinner is a great time to give your gifts to the wedding party, if you choose to! It’s also a time to make sure you get to say your “thank yous” to everyone who’s been a part of your wedding planning.

Do you have any special plans for your rehearsal dinner? Share them in the comments!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Make the first dance memorable for all the right reasons

For some couples, the first dance is easy. They have a special song or are avid dancers and the first dance takes little or no effort. For the rest of us, picking a first dance song is full of concerns. What song should we pick? Should we take dance lessons?

You want your first dance to be memorable, of course, so the song choice is important. The easiest way to start is to decide what you want as a couple. Do you want a romantic song? A traditional song? Something contemporary? Something funny? If you figure that part out first, then you’ve narrowed down your choices already.

Picking a song might seem overwhelming at first. 
As you’re picking your song, keep some important things in mind like song length and the lyrics. If a song is too long, you may feel awkward by the end of it. You can get around that by either having the song edited down or by asking other couples to join you on the dance floor part way through. It’s a great way to get your wedding party and immediate family dancing.

You want to be aware of all of the song’s lyrics. What may seem like a sweet love song in the chorus might have more questionable words in the verses. You’ll also want to make sure that the lyrics are appropriate for all of your guests. If it’s got some R-rated lyrics and your great-grandmother is there, you may want to look for a radio-friendly version!

Dance lessons are helpful to some couples who feel self-conscious about dancing in front of their family and friends. A dance teacher will help you work with your song and make you feel more comfortable about the whole process. It doesn’t mean you have to choreograph a whole routine – though those are fun, too! It just gives you some steps to use during the dance.

How are you picking your first dance song? Are you planning a choreographed dance? Tell us in the comments!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Unique buffet displays will delight your guests

Whether you call them buffets, bars, or stations, the self-service display has become so popular with couples at weddings! It’s a fun and easy way to give your guests a special treat that they personalize for themselves!

Here at the Heritage, we offer a yummy mashed potato bar! Your guests can choose either mashed sweet or white potatoes and a variety of toppings, from cheese and bacon to cinnamon and sugar!

Whether a candy display (left) or a cigar bar (right), give your guests a fun buffet!
We’ve also had guests create their own candy buffet display, which they made fit into their wedding theme and color scheme! With small goodie bags, your guests make the candy combination they choose.

For the cigar aficionados, we’ve also had a fantastic cigar bar display. Of course, guests had to light up in designated areas!

Other great options? A popcorn bar with toppings like cinnamon, cheddar, or chocolate; ice cream sundae bar with all the fixins’; a hot cocoa bar with marshmallows, peppermint and more; or even an Italian bread buffet with varieties of oils and vinegars to dip.

Ask your venue about options that include alcohol like a sangria bar or mimosa bar. There may be rules about who can serve alcohol.

Our favorite will always be the mini dessert display, though. A table filled with mini cannoli, cookies, tarts and cupcakes will always make us smile.

Get creative! What buffet stations will you be serving?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Tips on creating (or not!) the perfect wedding program

One of the items that many couples stress about is whether or not to have a program for their ceremony. There are many reasons to have a program for your guests – but it’s certainly not a requirement. And, if you do want to help your guests know the plan for the day, but don’t want a bunch of paper to hand out, I’ve got tips for you too!

Is a wedding program a "must-have" for you?
Should you have one? If your ceremony is short, your guest list is small and everything is happening in one place, you might not need one. It doesn’t mean you can’t have one if you want one, but it won’t be an issue if you don’t. If, however, you have a religious, ethnic or unique ceremony that may be unfamiliar to some of your guests, then a program will be helpful to explain what’s going on.

If your wedding party is large, you may want to have a program so people know who’s who. It’s also helpful if you have a large guest list where one side may not know the other side very well.

What should be on your program? Generally, an order of events and who’s taking part in each segment. If you have prayers, readings or songs, they should be included, as well as the person performing. If any parts of your ceremony include audience participation, those should also be noted.

You also can include special notes in your program, including any thank-yous or memorial notifications. If your reception is taking place in a different location from the ceremony, putting the address of the reception is helpful to your guests, too!

You can make your program as unique as you’d like. If you want to avoid printing costs and your program is short, a chalkboard or other type of sign is very eco-friendly! If you’ve got an outdoor wedding and you think it may be warm out, printing the program on a fan is also a hit!

And if you do decide to go the printed route, you can personalize the program to reflect your ceremony. A lengthy, formal or religious ceremony should have a more formal program. A short, unique or civil ceremony program can fit nicely on a fun, colorful sheet of paper.

Tell us your thoughts. Are you planning to have a wedding program?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Yes, you do have to send out thank you notes!

Many couples choose to change many traditions associated with weddings – and that’s great. Each wedding should be personal for each couple! But one thing that’s really not negotiable is the thank you note. Sure, it may feel like a tedious process, but it’s an important one. 

Get stationery. You can choose anything that fits your style as a couple. Just like with invitations, a casual backyard wedding will have different thank you notes than a formal wedding will. In fact, you can order your thank you notes at the same time as your invitations, if you like, so that everything fits your theme

You can get your thank you notes at the same time as your invitations. These are from Respond If You Please
Have a good list. Generally, the people who have you pre-wedding or wedding gifts were invited to the wedding, so you have their names and addresses. You also will want to send a thank you note to anyone who helped you on your big day. Perhaps a co-worker coordinated your shuttle from ceremony to reception site. Your sister went above and beyond in making your centerpieces. Thank you notes to them would be appreciated too!

It’s ok to use a template. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. Just fill in the blanks!

Dear (Aunt Sue),
Thank you for the lovely (steak knife set). We can’t wait to (use them in the kitchen in our new house). It was great to see you at the wedding. (I’m sorry you couldn’t make the wedding, and you were missed.) I hope we can get together soon!
(Pat and Chris)

Get help! Both of you got married and both of you will get use from the gifts. Both of you should be working on the thank you notes, too! According to Emily Post, your notes should be sent out within three months of your wedding. Having the two of you work on them together will make that a reality! You don’t have to do them all in one sitting – just a few each a night will get the job done.