Who you pick as your caterer is one of your biggest decisions you make when planning your wedding day. Food is one of the key parts to your wedding day. I reached out to Leslie from Stone Cove Catering to give us 5 tips for picking up your caterer. Stone Cove Catering is a family owned business that began in 2003 working out of King Eider’s Pub kitchen. As the need for catering grew, so did Stone Cove Catering until eventually we found a home base at The 1812 Farm in Bristol, Maine. Stone Cove Catering is a uniquely talented group of artists who view celebratory food as an exciting expression of individual style. Each event that we host is a “one of kind” occasion and always artfully tailored to our client. Just as there is no template for a standard party — no list of “musts” for the event of a lifetime, we believe catering for your gathering is a very personal and unique choice! Together we will craft the event that reflects you, your story, your tastes, and your distinctive style!
Leslie is Stone Cove Catering’s Event and Bar Manager. Her degree in art, eye for design, and 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry make her an integral part of our team. She has been with Stone Cove Catering since the beginning, has a deep passion for catering, and loves helping clients transform their vision into a reality. Leslie is a Certified Bartender, TIPS trained, and a Certified Food Protection Manager.
You’re planning one of the most important days of your life and communication is a vital key to pulling off all the important details of your big day! Communication begins with the initial response. A caterers response time can be an indication of what to expect from them throughout the process and planning. Is your caterer interested in learning more about your plans and vision? There’s a difference between answering an inquiry about availability and really connecting with the client about their vision. For the next 6-12 months you will be planning with this caterer, so it’s important to ensure that they understand your taste, budget, and vision. Having someone who is responsive and excellent at communication is also important so as not to add to the stress of the planning process. How soon should a caterer respond? The standard response time varies between 12-48 hours; Stone Cove Catering strives to return messages within 24 hours of receiving them. Keep in mind that during peak season response times may be slower as caterers are often out of the office for other events. If you’re not satisfied with their responsiveness, then really think it over before you decide to move forward with a contract.
©Rachel Buckley Weddings
#2 Type of Caterer
Partial service caterer and full service caterer. There are differences between the two and it’s important to know what services you’re looking for before you narrow your search. In addition to preparing the food and setting up food presentation areas, a full service caterer can include everything from setting up tables (linens, flatware, centerpieces, etc.) to cleaning up after the event ends. Full service caterers may also include timeline creation and management services, site visits and walk-throughs, pre-planning and preparation, cake cutting, and bar services. Full service caterers will assist in rental coordination and help with logistical details that you may not have thought of. Looking to cut costs and handle setup and/or clean up yourself? That’s fine too! Partial caterers will generally provide the food and setup the food presentation areas. Some may include a basic service package, while others consider serving a separate service. Be sure to discuss your budget and all the options you’re interested in with your caterer. Make sure whatever you decide on is clearly laid out in your contract.
#3 Menu Flexibility
Most caterers have a sample selection of their menu offerings, while some have standard menu offerings. These options help clients have a starting point, but it’s important to know what kind of flexibility your caterer has. Can they handle special requests? Do you have a special family recipe that you’d like incorporated? It’s nice to integrate something as sentimental as a family recipe into your menu. Make sure your caterer is willing to use someone else’s recipe, and that they are willing to alter your menu based on any other special requests you may have. Are they able to customize menus to fit you or your guests specific needs? i.e. Is your caterer able to accommodate to gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, or specific food allergies/sensitivities/intolerances? Are they able to obtain certified gluten free, nut free, glatt kosher, or halal food options?
*Remember that most often caterers are working off-site or in a field kitchen. This means that your caterer is renting and setting up a commercial kitchen to use for your event that ensures your food is prepared according to food safety regulations and guidelines. What this also means is that caterers have limited resources once they’re on-site, so it’s important to communicate with your caterer about any special dietary requests or needs ahead of time.
© Pura Soul Photography
#4 Experienced Staff
Everything can look good on paper, but what it really comes down to is their staff. Does the caterer have experienced front of house staff that are properly trained to care for you and your guests in a professional, customer-oriented manner? What is the Chef’s background and experience? The Chef, Sous Chef, and Kitchen Crew are most responsible for ensuring that the vision for your menu is executed successfully. Is the food being prepared in a licensed kitchen? This question isn’t as frequently asked as you’d expect, yet I think it should be at the top of your list. It’s important to know how your food is being stored, prepared, and served. If your caterer is licensed this also means that they have met the local health department standards and have liability insurance. Sanitation and following the proper food safety guidelines are of the utmost importance, and any caterer should be happy to discuss their steps taken to ensure these guidelines are in practice.
*Remember if you are going to be serving alcohol be sure that your caterer has a liquor license, qualified catering permit with town approval, along with liability insurance.
©Pura Soul Photography
#5 Familiarity With Venue
Most venues have a recommended vendor list or, alternatively, most vendors have lists of venues they’ve worked at. Take advantage of these lists and find a caterer that has experience working at your venue. Trust me, there’s a reason why these vendors are on the list. Recommended vendors have worked at the venue before and will be familiar with the venue’s layout, rental needs, and will already know the rules and restrictions of the venue. Have you thought about trash removal, noise ordinances, if you can have live flame, or whether the water is potable? Caterers have thought about these questions and more. I can’t stress this enough: Choose a caterer that is familiar with your venue, it can potentially save you a lot of hassle on your big day.
*Remember, if you’re not having your wedding at a venue, then make sure your caterer has experience in unique venue scenarios (ex. backyard wedding, beach wedding, boat wedding, etc).
©Anne Schimdt Photography
When planning your wedding, one of the most biggest questions I am asked about is Wedding invitations. So, I reached out to a couple of my favorite Stationary artist. Paper is an important element in your design and a way to tie the different parts of your wedding day: Ceremony, Cocktail Hour, and Reception…
El’s Cards is a watercolor and calligraphy studio on the beautiful seacoast of New Hampshire. All of their invitations and wedding items are painted by hand and then printed on only the highest quality papers. They use all of their own calligraphy style fonts. El’s Cards is run by a husband and wife team, Ellen and Bob Braley. El launched the company in 1999, she loves working with the clients, and is the creative side of El’s Cards. Two years ago, Bob left his full time job to join El and grow the business. Bob does printing, production, and so many other things. The couple loves working together and complement each other’s skill sets perfectly!
©Brea McDonald Photography
1. How does the invitation process begin?– To start the process for purchasing your wedding stationery, the first question to consider is whether you want to select an existing design or have something designed especially for you. Often the answer will come down to your budget. Your wedding stationery (beginning with your Save the Date card) is the first glimpse that your guests will receive of your wedding day. It should be something special. Whether the first announcement of your wedding is the invitation or the Save the Date, the idea is to get your guests excited about the festivities to come. Sending something through the mail is the perfect way to do this. Then, you need to find a trusted professional who has experience in the industry to handle your invitation needs. There is so much available on the internet these days, but we recommend working with someone who can answer questions directly and work with you closely through the process. Stationery does not just mean invitations, but you also should consider your wedding day paper goods as well. You will need certain things to help direct and delight your guests! We work with our couples from the Save the Date right up until the thank you note (also a must!).
photo provided by El’s Cards
2. Do you sell custom invitations or invitation lines, and if so, which ones do you carry and how many are available? At El’s Cards, we do both-custom invitations and invitation collections. We are a full service wedding invitation design company. We do have our own line of invitations which are printed in the El’s Cards studio. There are 7 different categories of invitations, from Creative to Traditional. Each invitation suite is created in our signature style with El’s own original watercolor designs and our own exclusive calligraphy fonts. All fonts used are developed from El’s special (and readable!) calligraphy styles and are completely unique to El’s Cards. We use top quality, extra heavy card stock only. Currently we have over 70 invitation suites available-and every suite offers all the pieces you could need when selecting wedding stationery. Often, our clients will want to take artwork from another suite and use it as part of their chosen suite, making it really a semi-custom item.
Photo Provided by El’s Cards
3. How does the customization work? – We are also thrilled to do full custom invitations and that is done at an hourly rate. El can put paintbrush to paper and come up with a completely original design that you are sure to love! That said, at El’s Cards, even our existing collections are truly a unique design for each couple, because you can’t purchase our wedding artwork or special calligraphy (fonts or hand written) anywhere else. If you are interested in a completely custom invitation, we either sit down together or schedule a phone call with El to discuss your wedding details. El asks that prior to chatting (or meeting in person), the couple takes a peek at our website to see which of our existing invitations appeal to them. This way, El can get a better idea of the couple’s ideal invitation style-bold and colorful, more traditional, or somewhere in between. If the couple is interested in a custom map, we need to build that into our timeline.
4. What are the pieces of an invitation suite? The invitation suite starts with the Save the Date card. Then the actual invitation will include invitation, envelope, reply card, and reply envelope. Many people like to order an enclosure card (etiquette suggests that if the ceremony and reception are at two different places, you should do that.). Some add-ones could be a details card (small for website), envelope liner, or guest addresses in calligraphy. Although a lot of emphasis is put on the importance of the invitation, many times couples will forget the importance of budgeting for the “day of” paper goods. Having a special wedding stationery theme that will carry through the wedding day can really make a big impression on your guest experience. For wedding day paper goods, most couples use a combination of the following: ceremony program, seating chart or escort cards, menus, table numbers, varied signage (drinks, cards, instagram hashtag, etc.). Don’t forget the thank you notes!
5. What are your signature items at El’s Cards? We have many special touches and products that we really consider our own signature items at El’s Cards. We offer artwork on the envelope with most of our invitation suites. It may be a simple shell, or a flowing vine, but in conjunction with our hand calligraphy of the guest address, it makes a big impression on your friends and family. We have been told that it is like receiving a gift in the mail! Our assembly service when purchasing both calligraphy and invitations from El’s Cards is also something special and unique that our couples love. You simply give us the guest address list and we do the rest. Bob assembles the invitations for you, and mails them out on your decided date. The custom maps we create have been increasing in popularity since the first one that was created in 2009 for our own wedding. These can be used as an insert or as an envelope liner as a special detail. Sometimes people like to use them as a Save the Date or on a Welcome bag. Our hand painted seating chart is our most special item of all. This serves as a beautiful way to greet your guests at the reception, and directs them to where they will be seated. Then after the wedding, it is a work of art for our couples to enjoy for their lifetime together. We just launched a new version of this seating chart-printed in house as opposed to written and painted by hand! This makes our most special item more affordable for all of our couples. Recently we have added custom stamps and illustrated drink signs to our signature items!
Photo provided by El’s Cards
For the next couple weeks I am having guest bloggers talk about their speciality within the wedding planning process. I will have two or three experts from each aspect write their tips… Because we all do things differently and see the wedding day process in our own way. When talking about Bridal I wanted my friend Julia to give my readers her top 5 tips before picking out your wedding attire…
Julia Irace grew up in Camden, Maine. She now lives in Scarborough, Maine. She is a true Maine girl, Graduated from The University of Maine 2003, married to Joe Irace, est. 2006 (College Sweethearts). Julia bought Andrea’s Bridal in 2009 – opened His & Hers December 2016 …. Julia, Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us….
TOP Five Tips Before Picking Out Your Wedding Attire:
1. How far in advance should I start shopping for a gown and when should I order it by? We encourage brides to order their bridal gown at least nine months before their wedding. Bridal gowns can take up to six months to arrive in our store. You also want to leave plenty of time to have alterations done, and chose accessories to complete your look. HOWEVER, several designers have inventory for immediate shipment, and we can have in less than a week! We suggest bridesmaids and moms order their gowns approximately six months before the wedding.
2. Do I need an appointment to select bridal gowns? How much time do I have for my consultation? We do work by appointment, so we can give you our full attention, and the best service possible! You will have a one-on-one appointment with one of our fabulous bridal consultants. Bridal gown con sultations are ninety minutes long.
3. How many guests can I bring with me? You can bring as many guests as you would like – however, our appointment spaces comfortably seat four to six people. Bring the people who’s opinion you value most. It’s easy to get confused by too many opinions, always keep in mind, your opinion is really the only one that matters.
4. What is the starting price of your gowns? Are there any upcoming trunk shows? The bridal gowns in our showroom range in price from $ 800 – $ 4500. The majority of the bridal gowns in our showroom are priced between $ 1200 – 1800. We also have a huge selection of “off the rack bridal gowns (discontinued samples, duplicate gowns, …)” which start at $ 99.
5. How many fittings will I need? Do I work with the same fitter or a different one each time? You should plan on having at least two fittings. At your first fitting, the tailor/seamstress will pin your gown for the alterations. You will have a second fitting once the alterations are complete. If your alterations are extensive, or if you are having customer changes, plan on having more than two fittings. At Andrea’s Bridal we do not have an in house seamstress department. However, we provide all of our brides with a list of seamstresses, and make recommendations based on where the bride lives and the alterations needed.
The Bar Association
For the next coming weeks I will be having guest bloggers come and share there expertise. As a wedding planner I am only as good as the team of vendors… When I create a wedding day event, I need to trust all the vendor involved and create a team that focused on your day’s success. One of the key pieces of your wedding puzzle is bar service. SO to give you the 5 tips on choosing your bar service, from The Bar Association. They are a Bartending Catering Service specializing in bringing you local craft beers, hand-curated wines, and customized cocktails made special for you on your day by our in-house mixologist. They are able to bring this service, along with creative, well-trained, and charismatic bartenders, anywhere in our beloved state of Maine. They focus on the couples vision and work with them to make their event unique to them and as individualized as they are. Because The Bar Association carry a Class 1 Liquor License they can offer our services to a wide range of custom celebrations including private, public and corporate events, product launches, entertainment events, and fundraiser events. Their vision to personalize our service to the needs of the party!
5 Tips For Couples When Deciding On A Bar Service:
1.Keeping the Budget: Most of us have a budget and there a few ways to stay on track. We have found often that folks want to save money when possible (obviously!) and due to this, they need to be creative with their Service type.
The up and coming trend is Service-Only packages (where the couple can bring their own alcohol or BYOB) This is an excellent service for the detail-oriented but is it worth all the hassle in the end? This is a Service we offer and, when it works, it’s great, but we have seen the bad side of this Service. For folks thinking about choosing this Service, please know that ALL of the details fall into your lap. You have to be sure to purchase enough alcohol, bring all of the product, bring enough ice, have enough of the appropriate mixers, provide water, provide non-alcoholic beverages, have garnishes, napkins, straws, trash bags, cutting boards, etc.
We have had clients forget crucial components needed for us to provide an efficient, smooth, and timely service. This can lead to long lines and impatient guests. There are many things that guests remember after a wedding has taken place, but if the Bar Service appears sloppy because there weren’t enough mixers or the booze ran out or there were no trash barrels for the garbage, that is what gets etched into your guests mind.
Oftentimes, all this extra work, planning, coordinating, and stress that gets placed on the couples shoulders when choosing Service Only, can be alleviated for a little extra money when they choose to go with a Cash or Open Bar Service Option.
Another Option to consider is a Split Service. Creating a combination of Open and Full Bar cocktail hour followed by a Beer and Wine Service for the remainder of the evening is one example. That or Open Bar for the first hour followed by a Cash Bar for the remainder of the evening. By splitting up the type and extensiveness of your offerings, you can work toward keeping your expenses down and help you stay within your budget.
Lastly, offering a Cash Bar dramatically reduces your costs while still giving you the flexibility to create a Bar Service to match your vision. This is becoming more popular. You are still able to have a choice in what is being offered, including Specialty Drinks, but the weight of the bill resides on your guests shoulders. We have done many of these events and have never witnessed one person be upset to pay for their drinks.
2. What Does your Venue Allow: Find out what your Venue allows and requires for Alcohol Service. There are non- licensed but insured businesses that offer bartending services and for some venues that is sufficient. However, other Venues require a Licensed Bar Service. What can be confusing about that is when a Venue asks for a “Licensed” Bartender. Somewhere in there, the term “Licensed Bar Service” grew into a term that doesn’t actually exist: “Licensed bartender”. The License is attached to the business, not to any one person. If we are doing a Cash or Open Bar Service for you, we purchase the alcohol for you and distribute it at your wedding with our bartenders. If you are bringing your own alcohol, a License is not involved. You will receive insured bartenders, but not Licensed bartenders. This is true for any Service Only Bartending Catering business out there.
The beauty of having a Class 1 Liquor License is that we can do a Cash bar for you for any duration of your reception, which really helps to alleviate some of the costs involved with budgeting your event. At this point in the game the finances tend to dwindle and you try to find the cheapest service out there. As with most things, however, the cheapest rarely matches up with the best. In addition, I try to think about what it might cost to take 100 + people out for a night of drinking for 5 or more hours . . . no matter what bar you go to, you will be spending a pretty penny. So, by having a Bar Service that is Licensed, you have opened yourself up to more creative freedom, allowing you to customize your Service with Combination or Split Service. Regardless of who you hire, they should have General Liability AND Liquor Liability, that protects you, the Venue, and all of your guests
3.Keep it Simple, keep it Classy: People are thrilled and excited to be celebrating with you and we have found more times than not, a straight forward Beer, Wine, and 2-3 Specialty Cocktails are sufficient for a memorable and delightful evening. Everyone is so thrilled for your celebration, to be with you, and to have a fantastic evening. They are excited for whatever offering you have chosen for them. While there might be one grumpy great-uncle at your celebration, everyone will find something to enjoy!
4.Service Times: With the above in mind, we highly recommend keeping your bar service to a 5-hour Service. If you have Service for much longer than that, your guests last memories of your celebration might not be their favorite ones! Extended Bar Service with Full Bar options often lead to some sloppiness at the end of the evening. We, as bartenders, need to start tossing out our distraction tactics like “why don’t you come back in 20 minutes” or helping them to a seat and pushing water at them. While that is our job and we are trained for it…you want your guests to not only remember the entire evening but to have a good memory of the end of the evening as well.
5. Professionalism: Finally, with your Bar Service in mind, you should be seeking a Company that is charismatic, personable, knowledgeable, and well-trained, especially if they may have to intervene with a guest that has had a few too many. TIPS trained bartenders have had that training. You also want to be seeking a Company that is a team player, one who considers the appearance of the venue (and the visual aesthetic of your day) by cleaning up trash and busing glassware, and who plays well with your other vendors, it is a team effort after all! Planners, Venues, and your other Vendors can be the best assets for seeking references and referrals for Bar Services.
Happy planning! Be well, drink well!
Thank you so much Catherine for taking the time to share your knowledge with us!
- So… I have taught you my secret, I don’t plan a Wedding… I plan 4 small events: Getting Ready, Ceremony, Cocktail Hour, Reception… And sometime I add Rehearsal Dinner, and Afterparty… After I layout this mini events, I put the elements of an events: vendors in each mini event, and that’s how I never miss a detail or a design element… So here is are the pieces that are a part of each event. I put vendors into categories: This does not include the Photographer, Videographer, and Planner who are with you all day and their role is to document and direct overall event! They are amazing and necessary… I will write more about them later….
Elements Of Your Wedding: Vendors
Fashion: Any thing that you wear to add This includes: hair, make up, accessories, The DRESS!, suits, shoes and THE RINGS!!
- Getting Ready: This is were Fashion plays the biggest role: hair, make up, dress, shoes, suits
- Ceremony: Rings!!! Who has them? When will the hand off be to get them to the ceremony?
- Cocktail Hour: Touch up make up? Different shoes? Purse?
- Reception: Get away dress? Where will you change?
©Kate Crabtree Photography Location: Primo Restaurant, Rockport, Maine
Decor: Anything that has to do with furnishing or decorating a space, it includes: flowers, lighting, linens, candles, vessels, rentals
- Getting Ready: personal flowers, where should they be delivered?
- Ceremony: arbor, chairs, entrance pieces, aisle markers, petal or lavender toss
- Cocktail Hour: cocktail tables, linens, bar pieces, glass ware, china, bar, centerpieces for cocktail tables, lighting, cocktail napkins, escort cards, seating chart,
- Reception: tables, chairs, bars, china, flatware, glassware, centerpieces, lighting, linens, table numbers, favors, guest book, menu cards, don’t forget lighting for guests leaving
©White Loft Studio Location: Barn of Walnut Hill, North Yarmouth
Stationary: This is all paper products used throughout the wedding day: This includes: save the dates, invitations, programs, escort cards, place cards, menu cards, napkins, guestbook, seating charts, table numbers, Thank You cards, reserved signs
- Before The Wedding: invitations, save-the-dates,
- Ceremony: programs, reserves seats,
- Cocktail: napkins, escort cards, seating charts, guest book
- Reception: table numbers, favor tags, place cards
- After the wedding: Thank you cards
©Anne Schimdt Photography Location: Asticou Inn, Northeast Harbor
Catering: This consists of all the food and beverages you give your guests throughout the wedding day: Dinner:(plated, buffet, family style, hor d’oeuvres) Dessert: cake, Beverages: Open or cash bar, signature drinks, late night snacks
- Getting Ready: Lunch… you’ve got to eat while getting ready!
- Ceremony: Are you offering guest water, lemonade when they arrive to location?
- Cocktail Hour: Passed and/or Stationary Hors D’oeuvres, Signature drinks? Open or Cash Bar? Full or limited bar?
- Reception: Plated, Buffet or Family Style dinner? Dessert? Late night snacks
© Aphrodite Wedding Photography
Music: Whether you choose a DJ or Band, music is an important part of the day!
- Getting Ready: I highly suggest making a super fun playlist to listen to while you are getting ready…. so fun!
- Ceremony: Here the music you need to prepare for: Processional, Special music during the ceremony, Recessional,
- Cocktail Hour: Pick a theme like 1920s or 1980s, a live jazz trio or maybe even Irish Gig music
- Reception: First dance, Parent dances, and any other songs that means something to you.
Abel’s Boatyard, Bar Harbor Maine
Transportation:Getting to church on time is super important!!! Transportation can make or break your wedding day!!
- Getting Ready: How are you and your guests getting from where you are getting ready to the ceremony?
- Ceremony: Are your guests arriving by car? Is there parking? Is it parking marked properly? If you are providing transportation: where is the pick up location, how many, and where is the drop off?
- Reception: If it is a different location: how are you getting guest there? Is there parking? If you are providing transportation, where and when is pick up and drop off?
© White Loft Studio
Location: Barn at Walnut Hill, North Yarmouth
When people start planning their wedding day, often times they become immediately overwhelmed… Why wouldn’t you be! There are so many moving parts of a wedding… and every planning book and wedding guide lays out all the parts of wedding: Venue, Catering, Rentals, Transportation, Music, Decor, Stationary, Hair and Makeup, Apparel, Photography & Videography, Favors…GAH! Of course you ready to give up! I HATE how they lay out planning a wedding in books, because they confusing. I plan weddings in a very different manner, and I am going to share my weird way with you. Shhhh…. don’t tell anyone.
The 4 Major Parts Of A Wedding Day: Here are the parts of a wedding day and what needs to be accomplished during that part of the day.
- Getting Ready For Your Wedding Day: This is the time where you and your vendors are getting ready for the “BIG DAY” but planning this piece is incredible important, as you as the “client” will not be hands on, a good itinerary, trusting and hiring great, experienced vendors
- vendors arrive & set up (who is coming when & where, who do they contact when they arrive) set up (who’s doing what, where, how)
- hair & makeup (who is doing it, where, for how many?)
- getting dressed:bride, groom & wedding party: (where are you getting dressed, what do you need?)
- First Look!!! (DOOOO IT!!!! TRUST ME!!!)
- Transportation(pick up & drop off times)
- Wedding Ceremony: This is what it is all about…. sometimes we lose track of that… but your ceremony, your relationship, your love is why we are doing this…. Don’t lose sight of this!!! SO here are the parts of your ceremony to think about:
- Officiant: Who do you want to marry you? I highly recommend you read A Sweet Start’s (Maine wedding officiant) blog about how to pick your officiant and the questions your should ask them.
- License: Get it! Where? When? How? IF you are getting married in Maine...Here is how you get a married license in our beautiful state!
- Ceremony Layout:
- vows: traditional, write your own
- readings: how many? who will do them?
- special singing: who? what? when?
- ceremony tradition: sand, candle, knot, ribbon
- music: canned or musician? : Prelude choices, processional, recessional, postlude choices
- Decor: programs, pew decor, alter decor, arbor or chuppah, electricity, lay out, reserve signs
- Food/Drink: Do you want to offer your guest water
- Transportation: How are you guests getting to your ceremony? Is there enough parking?
- Cocktail Hour: This in the time where your guests mingle and stretch their legs before dinner. This is a fun time to for guests, so add your personality to this hour or so… lawn games, signature drinks, fun music
- Food: passed or stationary hors d’ouevres: 7 to 10 pieces per person
- Transportation: If it is a second location
- Beverage: cash bar or open bar: If you do open bar see if they charge by consumption: you get a bill at the end of the night, or an hourly per person price
- Music: Band or DJ any special song requests for the cocktail hour
- Stationary: paper products that are needed during cocktail hour:napkins, seating chart/escort cards,
- Decor: cocktail tables, bar flowers, linens, candles
- Reception: Dinner, Dancing, and Happily Ever After…
- Food: plated, buffet, family style… CAKE!
- Stationary needs: menu cards, place cards, guest book, table numbers
- Decor: linens, centerpieces, candles, favors, lighting,
- Music: Band vs. Dee Jay
- Dancing: first dance, parent dances
- Transportation: how are you getting your guest home?
©Audra Photography Location: Private Farm In Maine
Wedding Planning can be super stressful. There is so much information out there! Pinterest alone can suck hours of your life with a single pin…. and don’t even get me started on etsy. These resources are awesome! BUT.. .if you don’t have your priorities straight you will loss valuable time AND money!!!
How do you keep tunnel vision and not get lost in all details? By understanding your vision. How do you create a vision… that is my favorite part… Here are some fun tips!
© Anne Schmidt
Carly & Craig, New York City
Here is the major parts of a wedding… have you and your partner put them in order 1-9 from most important to least important:
- location: Is a water view a must? Do you have to have a barn wedding? Must get married at your family’s residence?
- food & beverage: Are you a totally Foodie? Do you have to have a sit down farm to table meal?
- music: Do you have to have a band?! Is a DJ perfect for your vibe?
- photography: Do you love a certain style? Do you know a photographer that you want?
- videography: Do you want a video of your day?
- decor: flowers, linens, lighting, etc.: Have you always wanted chandeliers in your tent? Do you love orchids or ranunculus?
- ceremony: Do you want a personalized custom ceremony from a officiant? Do you envision an arbor covered in flowers?
- fashion: Is what you wear the most important?
- number of guest: Do you want just close friends and family? Or do you it to be a HUGE party?
- time of day, time of year: Summer wedding a must? Evening wedding?
When you have put them the order of importants give the values of the 1 being the most important to 9 for the least important…. Create a spreadsheet with your top 3.
Compare the results… it should make for an interesting conversation…
First things first, allow me to stand on a soapbox for a moment: All weddings are a luxury. You are spending an amount of money on a single event that is not an everyday need. The sooner you can understand that the better and easier you can understand your budget. Creating a budget is a tricky process, and has some hard conversations involved. I hope, as we move forward in this blog, that you remember that your wedding is a celebration and uniquely yours… I will also talk a lot about vendors. I am a vendor, and want to speak for us as well. We vendors provide a service for your event. We are business owners and this is our job. Our pricing is not to take advantage of you or your event, they are to support our families. Our pricing varies due to our overhead and experience. I shall step off my soapbox and give you a few HONEST tips on creating your budget.
© Michelle Turner
#1 Get Started!
Now is the time to just rip off the bandaid. Time to have conversations with each other and your family. How much do you want to spend on your event? This number may change as we move along the process and your priorities change. However, a starting number is important. I won’t give you an average, because I feel these numbers are too skewed. Some weddings are $200,000 or more while others are adorable elopements or backyard weddings costing $3,000 or less. Some venues are blank canvas, meaning you only rent the space, while others includes food and alcohol. However, a least half of your budget will go to your venue, food and alcohol. So, we will come back to this….Overwhelming I know.
#2 Make A List Of Priorities:
What is most important to each of you? Do you need there to be amazing food? Live music? Flowers? Invitations? You and your partner should make a list of the top 3 most important priorities for your wedding. Share them with each other. This will give you guidelines of where your money should go. For example, If food and flowers are most important to both of you put the majority of your budget there and choose a DJ over a live band. IF photos are your most important, focus on that and perhaps have simpler flowers. The larger your budget the more down the line of priorities you can go. The smaller the budget the more you may only to focus on one or two of your priorities. What if you want more then just one or two? Well… Check out #3
© Aphrodite Wedding Photography
#3 Guest Count:
The more guests you invite, the more food you need to buy and the higher the rental costs for plates, and chairs, and tables. With fewer guests you might have the extra money for nicer plates and better food. I know this is difficult and can be a painful process. My advice is to find a boundary and stick to it…. No work friends, no cousins, no second cousins, whatever the boundary, it needs to be consistent on both sides and stick to it.
© kate crabtree photography
#4 Pick vendors that fit your needs:
Now time to reach out to vendors and get pricing to see who fits within your budget. This can be labor intensive as not all vendors have their pricing on their website. I suggest you create an excel spreadsheet with your three top options and their pricing so you can see the options all lay out before you.
Please remember my soap box speech… Vendor pricing is not to make you angry and rip you off. Running a business is expensive. We are giving you a service and an experience that deserves to be paid for. If a vendor isn’t a priority (meaning you don’t want to send a larger part of your budget on them) and is too expensive, keep looking, there are vendors out there for every price point.
#5 Crunch The Numbers:
Now that you know how many people you want, and your priorities it is time to crunch the numbers…. Planner, Venue, Caterer, Photographer, Videographer, Floral, Lighting, Rentals, Decor, Paper Products, take your above spreadsheet and start picking the vendors that you love and that fit your price point, and crunch the numbers.
NOW let’s say your budget isn’t working… you can’t get the numbers to work. Well it’s time to go back to #1 and reevaluate your priorities and, perhaps, your overall budget.
Is this easy? NO! However, every vendor is going to ask you your budget… and this isn’t because we are nosy, it is because we want to respect it and see if we are a good fit. So as painful as this process is… it will make the rest of the planning journey worth it. It will help you hone your vision, make good choices, and make your wedding right for you.
Congratulations!!! You said “YES!!” Are you so excited?? Freaking out??
Most couples have two responses to becoming newly engaged… They are either ready to hit the ground running and plan the whole wedding, RIGHT NOW! OR They panic and want to go hide! Both are completely normal, as is anywhere in the middle. I have been blessed by planning well over 100 weddings from luxury elopements of 25 people to large affairs of 325. So let me give you just a few tips on how to get started… xo
Here are my TOP 5 Tips of what to do after you get engaged!!
#1: ENJOY IT!!!
This is a great time…. breathe it in. Tell your closest family, get a manicure (you are going to be to showing off that ring a lot), make sure you get your ring sized, and celebrate… take a few weeks to bask in the awesomeness that is your engagement.
Once the dust settles and your engagement feels more like a reality, it’s time to get started. The first thing to do is get organized. Time to have the conversations: Who’s paying? Where is the location? Begin the guest list, with the dreaded list B? What are your priorities: Food? Location? Music? Photography? Time to get a binder, start the spreadsheets of who is contributing what? Guest lists etc. and get the ball rolling.
#3:Find your Vision:
Oceanside? Backyard wedding? Destination Wedding? Casual wedding? Formal wedding? Nautical? Rustic? Modern? Dancing all night? What is your vision? What is the most important things to you? What don’t you care about? This is where you decide and figure out where to put your money. Money… yup. It’s time to talk about that…
#4:Start a Budget:
UGH! The hardest part, right? I will expand on this in the weeks to come. As a planner one of my first question is a almost always, “what is your budget?” I am not trying be nosy, or seeing how much I can get from you. I am trying to know where to direct you and help move you to the right vendors. As well as help create your vision, and make your priorities a reality!
#5:Start Hiring Your High Demand Vendors:
Once you know your numbers it’s time to hire your High Demand Vendors: Venue, Planner, Photographer, Band, Caterer, some of these vendors can only do only one event per day or weekend. So, they are the most important to lock down.
Over the next couple of days I will be doing Instagram Stories and Facebook Lives about this blog… talking about each tip in more detail… Follow along by following me…
Facebook or Instagram
I will try to be funny and entertaining but I am sure it will be mostly awkward… xo
PS… Congratulations again on your engagement…. I would love to hear your story… comment below and tell me all the details… xo
©First Mate Photography
©First Mate Photography
There is nothing like fall in Maine… The warm days and cool nights, the coziness of the light in the sky, and of course the colors of the leaves changing. It is a stunning setting for a wedding….
Here’s the deal with an outdoor fall wedding… Normally, the ceremony and cocktail hour are outside and then you come indoors, either in a building or a tent for dinner and dancing…. Sounds perfect, you want to your guest to experience the fall scenery…..
However of all the seasons fall is also the hardest to predict. It could be 80 degrees, it could be 30 degrees, it could be sunny and clear, or it could be cold and rainy…. Fear not! Here are 5 simple things you can do to make your guests feel cozy. When I think of fall wedding, I think of the word, cozy.
1:Pashminas: Tying pashminas on the back of ceremony chairs is a fun way to both add color and detail to your wedding, while allowing the ladies at your wedding to stay warm during your ceremony and cocktail hour. It is also fun to see your guest matching the decor. If you choose colors that complement your color palette, it creates a fun look for photos, and guests love them! These are not super expensive and a great little detail guests will remember, here are some places to buy them: Wholesale Scarves City, FashionUnic, and NY wholesales scarves
© First Mate Photography
2:Blankets: Having trunks or baskets with blankets for guest to cuddle in is a really adorable way for guest to stay cozy… You can either buy them in colors that match your decor or you can collect a bunch of different quilts and flannels and create a more bohemian look for you ceremony. Bulk Blankets can found at websites like: ErosWholesale, or shop your local thrift stores or start looking in family’s attics and blanket chests!
3:Heaters: For less than $1000 you can have heaters connect to a thermostat put in your tent. This is a inexpensive way to keep your guests toasty warm while they sit and eat dinner. The heat can be adjusted so that during dinner it can be set on high and once dancing starts it can be lowered. Just contact your rental company and make sure you reserve your heaters.
© Michelle Turner Photography
4:Warm Signature Drink: Mulled Cider or a Hot Cocoa Bar are a fun ways for your guests to stay cozy during cocktail hour.
Here’s my favorite
- 1 gallon fresh apple cider or unfiltered apple juice
- 1 medium orange
- 1 (1 1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger
- 5 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
- 1 tablespoon whole cloves
- 5 star anise pods
- 1 1/2 cups bourbon, brandy, or dark rum
- Orange slices, for serving (optional)
Pour the cider or juice into a 5-quart or larger slow cooker. Cut the orange into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Cut the ginger into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Add both to the slow cooker. Add the cinnamon sticks, cloves, and star anise. To make it easier to serve, place the cloves and star anise pods in a tea ball first, or place in a double layer of cheesecloth or coffee filter, gather it up into a sachet, and tie closed with kitchen twine. Cover the slow cooker and cook until the flavors meld, 4 hours on LOW. Add the bourbon, brandy, or rum and stir to combine. Let sit for 10 minutes for the flavors to meld. Keep warm and serve in mugs garnished with orange slices.
5:Make Soup part of your meal: Nothing warms the soul like a delicious soup as your starter. Salads are nice but take a risk and try a butternut squash soup, or a corn chowder, roasted red pepper soup….. Serve in a mug or a in a gourd… such a cute and memorable way to start your meal.