Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Why have a Rehearsal?

Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinners
I have heard so many times “I've been in a lot of weddings and so have my friends, I'm not going to have a rehearsal or rehearsal dinner.”  Many people seem to think a rehearsal and the following dinner are optional activities. That sounds like a terrible idea so here are a few tips to help you navigate the day before the big day.

Why have a Rehearsal?
The rehearsal is very important in making sure that your wedding day goes according to plan. It is a complete run-through of the ceremony and will let all of your attendants know exactly what they  need to do the day of. Even if your bridesmaids have each been in multiple weddings, every wedding is different. Plus, do you think the groomsmen will remember what they did at the last wedding they were in? Each officiant will have a different way of approaching the ceremony, your venue will be different than those other weddings, and the little details of your ceremony will be just yours.

Who needs to come?
Typically, you only invite the people who are actually participating in the ceremony to the rehearsal. This includes your bridal party, young attendants such as the flower girl and ring bearer, your officiant, parents, and anyone you may have reading or singing. If you're planning on going straight to the rehearsal dinner, don't be surprised if anyone you invited to dinner is also at the actual rehearsal.

When does it happen?
Usually the rehearsal takes place the evening before the wedding. This is flexible depending on everyone's schedule. You may have the rehearsal a day or two before the wedding, or in the morning or afternoon the day before the wedding. Invitations should be sent out a week or so after the wedding invitations are sent.

Why have a rehearsal dinner?
A rehearsal dinner is a great way for you to get everyone in your bridal party and your immediate family all together before the big day.  This is also the time for more informal toasts, traditionally given by the groom's parents and by the groom to thank the bridal party and parents for all they have done to help out, along with a little doting on the bride. Anyone else that was invited is more than welcome to make a toast and often these are more informal and personal than the reception speeches, as long as they're not too personal.

Who needs to come?
Everyone that attended the rehearsal should be in attendance at the dinner. If someone participating in the ceremony is bringing a date to the wedding, it is also polite to invite that guest to the rehearsal dinner. Many people include their out of town guests but it is also perfectly acceptable for you to let them explore the city on their own, provided you've given them a list of attractions and things to do. You could invite out of town guests out for drinks or a small dessert gathering if you don't want to exclude them but also don't want to foot the bill for another 80 person dinner.

When/where does it happen?
Although the rehearsal can happen any time close to the wedding day, the rehearsal dinner is almost always the day before the wedding. There's no particular etiquette on time of day for the meal so it can be a rehearsal brunch, lunch, or dinner. Whatever time of day you choose, the formality is up to the discretion of the bride and groom and the location should match. Play lawn games at a casual BBQ or have a fancy 5 course dinner if its a small party. Whatever you like!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Planning a Wedding Shower?

Wedding Shower Etiquette and Ideas

Who hosts my bridal shower?

It used to be in bad taste for any family members, including sisters or mothers to host a bridal shower since it seemed they were begging for gifts. Typically, nowadays, its not unusual for sisters to host since they are often the leaders of the bridal party. Showers are hosted by the Maid of Honor and usually include the rest of the bridal party for much of the planning and party costs. A bride should NEVER host her own shower and should have little input and let the hosts do their thing. A bride should step in and help with the guest lists and minor details. Showers are usually held no sooner than two months before the wedding date.

Who is invited?

Showers are reserved for the nearest and dearest, (and those distant Aunts who live for this sort of stuff). A lot of times a bride will have more than one shower, due to families living in different areas, or office showers, or any other reason everyone can't be together all at the same time. In this case regardless of who is hosting the shower, the mother and the bridal party should  be invited to every party. Not every woman on the guest list has to be invited, but do include the groom's side of the family.

Basic Ettiquette for the Bride

  1. You should be there along with the host of the party to greet all of your guests (unless its a surprise, of course)
  2. Registry information should be kept off of the official invitation, hostesses should try to spread the word, or include a separate note with the invitation with registry information. Wedding websites are fantastic for this info.
  3. Never ask for cash, even asking for gift cards can seem in bad taste.
  4. Don't use the gifts until after the wedding. God forbid anything is postponed or canceled, you want to be able to return the gifts.
  5. A registry is not required but seeing as that is basically the point of today's bridal shower, it will ensure you don't have to smile through your teeth with every "Thank you".

Groom's corner

Many showers now include the groom or even state outright that its a “couple's shower”. Both the bride and groom can register, and men and women have equal part in the guest list. It can be a fun way to make sure that the day isn't solely about the bride. If instead you choose a traditional shower, it is also a returning tradition for the groom to arrive with flowers for the bride and hosts just before the gift opening.

Games and Shower themes

  1. Round-the-clock- This theme provides each guest with an hour of the day for which they buy an appropriate gift. Midnight- a sexy piece of lingerie, 6 pm- cooking ware, 7 am- individual cup coffee brewer.
  2. Facebook Status Game- Have a list of statuses taken from the bride and groom's facebook pages,  guests will have to guess who posted what. Whoever has the most correct wins!
  3. Shoebox shower- Every gift should fit into a shoe box. The idea is that if it will fit in a shoe box, it will fit in a suitcase for the honeymoon.
  4. Traditionally, the MOH will collect the bows from all of the presents and make a ribbon bouquet for the bride to carry down the aisle during the rehearsal.
  5. Clean and Dirty- guests bring one gift to use for cleaning, and a dirty, sexy gift. Example: Clean- Mr. Clean Magic Eraser  Dirty- a sexy toy.
  6. Right-Left Game- The host or one of the bridesmaids will write a story about how the couple met using the words “right” and “left” as many times as possible. Hand one or two prizes out to the guests and each time “right” or “left” is said in the story, they must pass the gift in that direction. When the story is over, whoever is holding the prize, wins it!

And above all, don't forget timely, thoughtful “Thank You”  Cards.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

How to Plan a Wedding with a Difficult Guest List

Wedding Etiquette for the Blended Family

Today's families are full of interesting mixes. More often than not, it seems like brides and grooms have to decide what to do about divorced parents, feuding siblings, or other family dilemmas at their weddings. In an ideal world everyone would be courteous enough to put aside their differences and smile nicely for the photographer, but just in case they're not willing...

Mothers Take Precedence

Unless either the Bride or Groom's mother is the only one with the problem, tradition dictates that the Mother's (and specifically the Bride's mother) comes before the rest of the family. You should announce your engagement to mother's first. If Your parents are divorced but both parents are hosting the wedding, the mother's name along with her husband's will appear first on the invitation. A Bride's mother- and her husband if she is remarried, will be seated in the first row at your ceremony and placed directly after the bride and groom in the receiving line. If your divorced parents don't get along, a father may be asked to sit in the second row, or possibly in the third row behind the the bride's maternal grandmother; and in the receiving line will be placed after the groom's parents.


Stepmothers on good terms with the bride and the rest of the family need not worry, although traditionally there is not a large role for you, a polite bride will try to include you. Stepmother's should be sat first in the processional and will be seated next to their husbands. It is considered the mother of the bride's right to choose her dress first and the step mother should follow suit and choose something a little more understated. And even if the Father of the Bride and his wife are paying for most or part of the wedding, a stepmother will not have too much say in the guest list, but a courteous bride will listen to suggestions.


Since fathers don't generally hold a large role in planning the wedding, the most controversial subject is who will walk the bride down the aisle. Go with your heart on this one. It is perfectly acceptable to choose your stepfather if he is the man you consider “Dad”. It's also fine to allow them both to walk you down. Treat the father-daughter dance the same way, if you're closer to your stepfather dance with him, but don't forget to give your biological father a dance at some point in the night as well. Or you can dance half it with your father, and half with your stepfather.


At the ceremony, seating is never predetermined so guests who are not on good terms may avoid each other simply by not sitting together. And as if a seating chart isn't stressful enough, family feuds can only make it worse. Separate guests who don't get along as much as possible but talk to each side and let them know how important this day is to you and that putting differences aside would mean the world to you. As far as seating your other guests, don't drive yourself crazy over fusing two different families together. Pair people together that you think will get along well but don't worry if people don't line up exactly, everyone has something in common... you!

Just remember, that a discussion on “the hard things” long before the ceremony will ease tensions the day of. Just calmly explain how you would like the day to go and why, and ask for your family's cooperation. If they're just as excited as you are about the big day, then they will behave and everyone will have a great time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Personalizing Your Bar

Signature Drinks

I haven’t been to a wedding in a long time without seeing a signature drink. Signature drinks are an incredibly hot trend right now and come in all styles and flavors.  Signature drinks are a great way to carry out the theme of your wedding or maybe you want to serve the drink you had when you first met or when he proposed. Whatever your reason, make it personal! With that said, here’s some information you might find useful when choosing what you’ll have at your wedding.

Did You Know: One of the first signature drinks "The Windsor Arms", comes from the 1922 marriage of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip in London.  

Signature drinks can be a budget saver. 
Offering just one signature drink instead of a whole open bar can greatly cut down your costs. Depending on the type and quality of the alcohol, an open bar can average $12.50- $20 per guest, a wine and beer bar $7-$15 and a signature drink only bar around $4-$6 per guest.
But how do you choose? 
With so many options out there it can seem a bit daunting to pick a drink that reflects you both. Why not have a “His” and a “Hers” drink. And if you really can’t choose, I’ve even heard of entire “His” and “Hers” bars. Since most of us don’t have the budget for that, this may help. Keep it simple. Start with the classics like martinis and manhattans and build on them. Change the name of classic drinks to something describing the couple. Choose a color; use your bridesmaid’s dresses or flowers for inspiration. Flavors of the season or from your cake are also great for ideas. Then pick your base spirit, vodka, whiskey, whatever- just make sure that people will like it and that it’s affordable for you. A professional mixologist can also help you concoct a cocktail that’s simply your own.
You’ll also want to keep these tips in mind:
Serve a punch: they are made in batches and appeal to a lot of different tastes.
Make large quantities: making large amounts ahead of time will help speed the bar service and keep your guests happy.
Add unique garnishes: herbs and edible flowers will make a great drink look as good as it tastes. But be careful about putting in fruit/herbs ahead of time, after a while it may develop a bitter taste. Mix the liquids ahead and add fruit when served.
Flavored water: It can be a great, refreshing alternative and will be good for guests that want something fun but aren’t drinking alcohol.

Recipes by the season:

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup half-and-half
2 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup creme de menthe
*Whipped cream and shaved bittersweet chocolate for garnish

(for 1 cocktail)
1 lemon
4 basil leaves, roughly torn
6-8 rasberrries
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 oz. Limoncello
1 oz. Citron vodka
Champagne, to top off

Cut the lemon in half, then cut each half into quarters. Use 2 pieces per cocktail.
Muddle lemon, basil, raspberries in a glass, until raspberries and lemon are well mashed. Fill glass with ice. Add limoncello, vodka and sugar. Stir. Top with champagne.

5 ripe strawberries, chopped
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1oz simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water)
3oz Gin
muddle the basil and strawberry with the simple syrup  with a mortar and pestle (an ice cream scoop and a cocktail shaker works as well). Add all other ingredients and shake with ice.
8 fresh cranberries
1 tsp. pumpkin spice agave nectar*
Splash of fresh lemon juice
Champagne of sparkling wine

In the bottom of a mixing glass, muddle the cranberries, agave nectar, and lemon juice. Add ice and the champagne or sparkling wine and gently mix. Strain out into a champagne flute. Top off with an extra splash of wine.
Garnish with 3 floating cranberries
*To make pumpkin spice agave nectar, simply combine 1/c cup agave nectar with 1 tsp store bought pumpkin pie spice and stir.
Flavored Water:
I truly couldn't pick just one flavored water so here's an article with a bunch of great options!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Unique Locations for a Unique Event- Part 2

Locating the Unusual Location- Part 2

Hey there readers! As promised, here is Part 2 of great places you might consider for your wedding venue.


Restaurants can be great places to have a wedding reception. Maybe it was where you had your first date, or somewhere you go often now as a couple. By having a reception at a restaurant, you can expect the food to be just like it would be if you were going for a great night out. They have all of the dinnerware, tables and linens so you may cut costs on rentals. But you may be limited on space, and depending on the venue, dancing may not be as high on the priority list. A great restaurant for a small, intimate event, perhaps even a shower or anniversary dinner is TreVi in Glenside, PA. TreVi's classic Italian cuisine will bring a warmth to your special night that you won't find in larger restaurants.


On a lovely spring or summer day, there's no better place to be than in a park. They provide the perfect natural backdrop to any event and it gives a fun, down to earth vibe for your guests to relax with. You may want to consider just having the ceremony in the park, with a reception venue with an indoor space. Tenting is also an option but figure out the logistics of bathrooms, catering areas and any park service rules about having events in the park. One of the nicest parks just outside of Philadelphia is Sculpture Park at the Abington Art Center. Within the wooded park area are sculptures from local artists scattered throughout. The displays are changed every so often and with a pavilion for the reception, you get the best of both worlds!

Art Galleries

If you and your fiance are the artistic sort, an art gallery or museum will be perfect for you. Guests usually have time to roam the galleries during cocktail hour and your reception will need little decoration to make the room look fabulous. Be careful of rules stating where you're allowed to have food and beverages. One of the best art venues in Philly is the Fleisher Art Memorial. The gallery spaces at Fleisher add so much detail and interest to an event that will awe your guests and a venue like this is hard to find in Philadelphia!

Corporate Centers
A lot of large companies have big spaces that they use for their own events or just have very large lobbies with interesting displays that end up being perfect for private events. They are usually blank slates which allow you to really personalize the space and most of them have a modern feel that really lends itself to some great lighting options. A great venue is WHYY, Philadelphia's public radio and tv producer which rents out portions of their building for private events. With its large spaces and beyond average media capabilities, you can really put together a fun, personalized event, plus they display your names and a congratulations message on their jumbo screen on the front of the building.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Unique Locations for a Unique Event

Locating the Unusual Location

If you've read my last post on tips to finding your perfect venue location then you're ready for a little inspiration on locations. You wouldn't be able to guess all of the places that are willing to host private events these days. Any building that has the space is now realizing that they are capable of hosting an event and in this economy, they're capitalizing on it. Take a look at some of the types of places you can hold your event, highlighted by some of our favorite Philly venues.

Historical Locations

Historical locations can be great for weddings because they come with built-in charm. They usually have wonderfully manicured outdoor areas and can be a great talking point for guests. They typically very adaptable to many different styles of weddings so they're great for just about every bride while maintaining the ability to be different for every event. Many historical venues have restrictions on where food and drinks are allowed, if loud music or dancing is allowed and if it is, you want to make sure that the electricity is up to date and is able to accommodate your all night partying. One of our favorite historical places is the Belmont Mansion located Fairmount Park. This old mansion was once a stop on the underground railroad and is now a very nice museum dedicated to Black History, not to mention the breath-taking city skyline view.

Out Door Locations

An outdoor location can make for one of the most beautiful and customizable venues for a spring, summer or early fall wedding. Out door weddings often include a tented reception, or feature a pavilion which guests love because it keeps them out of the sun. Just be careful on choosing an outdoor venue that doesn't have a good rain plan. Even if rain on your wedding day is good luck, no one wants to be a soggy bride. Bartram's Gardens is a great venue for the outdoorsy bride. As one of Philadelphia's most notable botanical gardens, Bartram's offers all of the charm of a sweet, modest wedding with great buildings and a nice barn just in case of rain.


Museums are fantastic wedding venues because it gives your guests something to do while you're away taking pictures with your bridal crew. With built in entertainment and spaces that are kept impeccably, museums are the way to go. There's a museum for just about everything you may be fascinated in so you can really showcase you and your finance's interests. These types of venues may also have restrictions on where you're allowed to have food or if you're allowed to have a big dance party so choose a place that will not only reflect your love of a sport, city, or hobby but that will also allow you to have a great time at your wedding. The Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent is located in Center City Philadelphia and features a great outdoor space that is rare to find in any city. Featuring everything that is great about Philadelphia, your guests will not only be invited to a venue full of interesting things but may even learn something along the way.

And since venues are so important and one of the most exciting decisions you'll make about your wedding, there's a PART 2 coming in a few days!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Wedding Traditions Passed

Long Gone is the Traditional Wedding...

As wedding professionals, we’ve noticed a lot of changes in weddings and lately we’ve been wondering what has happened to some of the traditions associated with a typical wedding. We love the creativity and personalization of today’s weddings but where did all of the tradition go? Here’s 3 traditions we’ve noticed getting tossed.

The Wedding Cake

The tradition of wedding cakes dates back to Roman times when a simple barley cake would be broken over the bride’s head and guests scurrying at her to get at the crumbs for good luck. Once tiered, frosted cakes became more popular, A bride would cut the cake and pass small pieces of cake through her wedding band for each guest.

What Couples are doing today:
Cupcakes! One of the biggest trends for brides today is cupcakes. It makes sense- they’re easier to manage the day of your wedding and they look just as nice, if not better than a traditional wedding cake. Another great cake alternative are pies for dessert. Pies are a great way to bring a great, home-made, personalized, DIY feel to your wedding. I love the idea of seasonal fruit pies in the Spring and Summer. And lastly we have dessert tables. These can consist of any dessert combination you’d like, ensuring that you’re wedding is quintessentially you, and your guests will love all of the options.

The Garter/Bouquet Toss

The Tradition:
The origin of this tradition is a little nuts. After the bride and groom said “I do”, they were expected to almost immediately consummate the marriage. Undergarments were stolen from the bedroom as proof that the marriage had been made official and also for good luck. Women attending the wedding were known for tearing at the bride’s dress as the threads denoted… good luck. As you can imagine, it wasn’t enjoyable for the couple so it became tradition for the bride to toss the bouquet as a distraction for the ladies and the groom to throw the garter so the other men would leave his new wife alone.

What Couples are doing today:
Nothing. It has happened many times at event’s I’ve attended that the couple did not partake in either of these traditions. A lot of couples find the tradition cliché or embarrassing. But ladies, who doesn’t love to put your friends in the center of a dance floor, announce them as single, and then watch as they desperately grab for a bouquet?

Wedding and Engagement Rings:

I’m going to pass on the story that says rings are a lighter version of tools used to keep captured brides from running away- because the Egyptians had a different tradition first… and it’s a more pleasant story to tell the grandkids. 

The Tradition:
The Egyptians, and many other ancient cultures, used the ring as a sign of eternity, no beginning, no end. We wear the ring on the third finger of the left hand, because they believed that that the vein in that finger ran directly to the heart, which the Romans later named “vena amoris”.
Also, a 12th Century Pope declared that the time in between the engagement and marriage should be lengthened which greatly increased engagement rings in popularity. And a clever 1950’s ad campaign by DeBeers cemented a diamond as the must-have gem. Perhaps you’ve heard it? “A Diamond is Forever”.

What Couples are doing today:
This tradition is not fading as quickly as some of the others. But there is an increasing amount of couples getting ring tattoos (diamonds are forever but tattoos are permanent?) and many brides are forgoing the traditional diamond and opting for other precious gems like a sapphire due to the amount of conflict surrounding the diamond market. And surprisingly enough, men wearing weddings bands is not a deep-seeded tradition but the number of men wearing them is going up.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Finding the Perfect Venue

Finding the Perfect Venue

So you've found the perfect guy and he's asked you to marry him. The first thing on your to-do list should be to pick out a venue for your wedding and reception. And there's a lot to consider but finding a place that really captures the essence of your perfect day is the one thing that will set the pace for everything else. Keep these things in mind when looking for your venue.
Make sure the venue can comfortably accommodate your guest list. Venues will let you know their capacity limits right off the bat but a lot of times they will give you a maximum capacity, if you're expecting 130 and the venue capacity is 130 do some extra research and viewing of the venue to make sure things won't get too tight.

Like anything else, be sure of what you're getting for the price of the rental. Does it include the ceremony fee if you need it, are any of the rentals or services included? Review any contracts with your planner, caterer, or the facility staff before you sign it so you don't miss anything.

Look and Feel
It's true that you can style almost any place to convey any feeling you want, but why not choose a venue that already has a bit of your style incorporated? Existing decorations and room styling don't have to match your theme exactly but they should not clash completely. Don't try to have a simple, country style wedding at the Grand Plaza Ballroom and don't try to have a lavish $100,000 wedding in the basement of your church. A bit of work and strategic decorating can take an empty space and make it your dream vision.
A lot of venues and vendors will have insurance but sometimes they will ask you to take out a plan on your homeowners policy. Insurance riders are typically free, or very inexpensive and a simple call to your insurance company should do the trick. It's usually not a big deal, but don't be caught off guard a week before the wedding, this is one thing you can do ahead of time and not have to worry about!

The little things.
You've fallen in love with a venue. Its easy to be picturing your perfect day and then forget about the logistics. You're guests will appreciate a little fore-thought. What is parking like, is it free? What are the electric capacities? You don't want to start the first dance and blow a fuse in the middle of it. Is it handicapped accessible? What do the bathrooms look like? Especially with out door venues, you want to make sure that you grandmother won't have to adjust her evening gown in a port-a-potty. Walking through the event as a guest in your head may go a long way when picking up some of the little details.

Other weddings and privacy
If you want your venue all to your self and make sure that the venue staff are devoted to just you, then make sure they don't do multiple weddings in one day, or that they've scheduled an early afternoon wedding right before your evening wedding. If you're getting married on the beach or at a park, expect a passer-by and there's a chance they won't be discreet about their presence. I've been to a wedding in a park where a jogger ran through the ceremony.
So when you're choosing a venue, keep these things in mind. If you've hired an outside caterer, I urge you to do multiple walk-throughs with them so they can trouble-shoot any issues that someone who's only planning one wedding in their lifetime might not realize. There's also specific kitchen-related issues that they will be more concerned about than you but will make all the difference come day of. And look for my upcoming posts on venues that you might not expect to have a wedding at!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Inviting the Uninvited

Wedding Etiquette- Inviting the Uninvited

So you’re making your guest list for your romantic, intimate wedding and suddenly you’re up to 300 guests and don’t know where to draw the line. Many couples get inundated with thinking they are obliged to invite certain people to their wedding whether they want to or not. Here are some suggestions on how to navigate the tricky invites.

Extended Family
If your family is anything like mine, at weddings- everyone is expected to be invited, including relatives that you hardly ever see. General rule says that whoever is paying for the wedding picks the guest list. Many couples these days are taking on all, or some of the wedding expenses. If you’re paying for all of it, you decide the entire guest list. If your parents or someone else is paying for the wedding, or part of it, technically they should be able to decide the guest list too. Go by percentages, if your parents are paying for half of the wedding, they get to decide half of the guest list. It would of course be nice of you to take into consideration your family’s wishes but if you can’t afford a large guest list then don’t feel obliged to invite people you aren’t close to.

You like the people you work with; that’s fantastic. But do you need to invite them to your wedding? Another general rule to follow is, “Would you invite them to your house for dinner?” If the answer is “no”, then don’t invite them to your wedding. It’s possible that you are friends with people while you’re at the office but if you haven’t or wouldn’t bring your office mates along to something non-work related then don’t feel obliged. If you are close with a few of your coworkers but not others, invite who you’d like and let them know that others aren’t invited so they can be sensitive to others’ feelings.
I’m not sure how often this issue comes up, but I suspect more often than I think it does- inviting exes to the wedding. If you’ve stayed on good terms with an ex and you consider yourselves still friends then you may consider inviting them. If your spouse-to-be is uncomfortable with the idea then just explain to your ex why they aren’t invited; you’re making a commitment to your fiancé which most certainly overrides any commitment you have to your friendship. If your fiancé is okay with an ex being there, then modern etiquette doesn’t rule it out; but use your best judgment to make the situation as relaxed as possible.
Dates and Plus-Ones
Nothing brings up a guest count like the “plus one”. The most direct way of letting your guests know that they aren’t allowed to bring a date is through only naming the person you’re inviting on the invitation. If they mark on the return card that they are brining a date you can either add the date to your guest list or kindly explain to your friend that you are trying to keep the number of guests down and that they aren’t allowed to bring a date. If you have enough single friends that know each other, usually a “no date” policy is fine. If you have very few single people invited to your wedding, they will have a much better time if they bring a date and adding an extra 3 or 4 guests shouldn’t cause too much of an upset to your budget.

You’ve planned a classic, elegant affair and your vision is complete but the idea of your cousin’s 6 year old crashing into the cake table has been giving you nightmares for weeks. Let your guests know that it will be adults only by putting “Adult Reception” on the invitations. If many of your guests are from out of town, offering a babysitter at a location close to the reception or in another room at your venue is a nice gesture and ensures that they won’t have to be excluded from the fun just because they have to stay home with the kids.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wedding Cake Alternatives

Wedding Cake Alternatives

I love cake, mostly wedding cake. No lie, I will think about cake for days before I finally crack, buy something at the grocery store only to be disappointed, my craving fulfilled none-the-less and I can refocus on life again. But sometimes you just want to be a little more creative than cake will allow, especially on your wedding day, a day where your ideas set you apart from the masses of other brides. Cake alternatives are all the rage now and just like everything else, many of the trends have been played out. Cupcake towers, dessert tables, and candy bars are all wonderful alternatives for a wedding cake but if you'd like to go above and beyond on the “Wow” factor, here are a few new ideas:

Belgian Waffle or Crepe Station

As someone who works in the wedding industry, I can say that the one thing that never fails to impress are the “live action” stations- one chef preparing items fresh, right in front of your guests. Many people use stations for dinner but it often gets neglected as an option for dessert. There are so many options when is comes to sweet waffles and crepes- syrups, fruit, whipped cream, chocolate or powdered sugar- the combinations seem limitless and all of your guests will be able to customize their desserts.

Gourmet Coffee Bar

Hire your guests a barista with a fully stocked coffee bar and offer things like cappucino, Irish coffee, or hot chocolate for the kids. You can adjust what you're offering based on the season and time of day your wedding takes place. You can really build up your options with flavored syrups, and for the adults a bit of bourbon or flavored liqueurs to really warm 'em up. Give your guests a variety of biscotti, coffee cakes, and danishes or scones. This idea is particularly great for winter weddings since you can really go for an intimate, warm atmosphere.


A traditional French dessert used for weddings, first communions, and other major life markers, a croquembouche can be a dazzling display for your guests. Although its technically not a new idea, this dessert has greatly faded out of popularity, although I have no idea why. A large tower of chocolate cream puffs with seemingly elaborate but surprisingly simple threads of spun sugar will have your guests admiring dessert even before dinner is served. Another cool spin on this traditional dessert would be to use truffles instead of cream puffs- because, well...need I say more about a tower of chocolate?

Dessert Shooters

If your guests are ready to dance, they may not even be thinking about sitting down to eat a piece of cake and I've seen a lot of parties where guests kind of just forget about the cake. Dessert shooters can be a great option for the distracted guest because they can be butlered around, eaten quickly and guests usually aren't shy about taking more than one, giving them a chance to sample a few flavors. You can stack cake, cream and fruit like a mini trifle, use gourmet mousses or cremes, or for a lighter option a cold fruit gazpacho or smoothie.

Guests love it when they can attend a wedding that will offer them a new experience. So take your pick. Dessert is always a focal point at weddings and no matter what you choose, it's hard to go wrong...

Monday, January 7, 2013

8 Questions You Didn't Think to Ask Your Caterer

8 questions you didn’t think to ask your caterer

For many brides, a wedding is the biggest single event, and perhaps the only event, they will ever plan. And it’s never going to just be a party. Many brides have no idea what goes into planning a wedding, especially when it comes to the role of the caterer. Your caterer will not just be serving you food. As a caterer, we hope be be some help  in this department. Here are 8 questions that you may have not thought to ask.

Are you licensed?
This should be a no brainer but there are companies out there unlicensed. Bottom line, I would never recommend using a catering company if they don’t have the proper licensing and insurance.
Have you worked at the venue before?
If your venue does not have an exclusive caterer, they will probably have a list of preferred caterers that they have worked with previously. Finding a caterer that has worked at your venue before can make all of the difference. The caterer will know how the venue works, the rules, and most importantly- how they function in that particular space.
Do you charge for a tasting?
This may surprise you but some caterers will charge for a tasting. There’s a lot of work that goes into preparing a tasting menu and the cost can add up. Usually the cost will range from $30-50 per person so check before you schedule an appointment. But don’t worry, when you decide on the caterer they will usually take the amount you paid off of your final bill.

How involved are you in the reception?
Some caterers will take on more of a role of day-of event coordinator, and others will let the other vendors do their thing. If you don’t have a wedding planner, it’s nice if your caterer is willing to take on that role. They will coordinate the reception activities with the DJ, decorate the ceremony area, help your florist decorate the reception area, and make sure the event runs smoothly.
How many events do you schedule per day?
Unless you are hiring a very large catering company that can handle multiple weddings, check to see how many weddings your caterer plans on working the day of your event. Make sure they have enough time and staff to give your event the time and attention it deserves.
What do I do for guest with dietary restrictions?
Many caterers are prepared to do vegetarian and gluten-free dishes as they are pretty standard dietary restrictions and are easily worked around with advance notice. Vegan and kosher are a little more complicated. Make sure your caterer has the capabilities of preparing these foods if you require them.

Where is the water coming from?
You may think this is an odd question, but ask where water for the event is coming from, especially if you are at an outdoor venue. There are a lot of venues that don’t have a traditional source of water and you may want to ask the caterer to bring bottled water. You would be surprised at how many venues I’ve been to that don’t have a proper water source.
How many staff  are provided and what do they wear?
Most caterers will provide your staff- all of the cooking crew, waiters and bar tenders. Find out what they ask their staff to wear and make sure it fits the event. You may even be able to ask them to wear something more fitting to your idea of the proper dress code.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Best Wedding Resources

Best Wedding Resources

What could be a better first post on a blog about wedding planning than the tool we use the most often ourselves... the internet. There are a million different resources when it comes to wedding planning and no longer are the days where you can have a little planning book with a neat and tidy checklist. Everyone's wedding is different and not everyone is going to fit into the traditional checklist. And with the modern age comes the limitless resource that is the internet. So instead of trying to sift through the billions of websites, here's a few of my favorites.

Wedding Wire is one of the biggest, most complete compilation of wedding vendors out there and its easy to use. Each vendor is given a page that has all of their company information including reviews from their previous clients. Wedding Wire has a limitless supply of resources within the site including forums, deals, fashion and travel ideas, and event information. Vendors really parade themselves on this site because it's accessible to everyone and its not overwhelming so it really appeals to all types of brides.

You may already be aware of the magazine but The Knot's website is full of even more information. I personally prefer the print version of just about any enterprise but if you're looking for a ton of information all in one place, is the place. Another thing I can appreciate about this company, is that they've got a site for every stage of your life- babies, home buying and decoration, and a beauty and style site.

Everyone laughs at me when I say that I love Martha Stewart Weddings but that's only until they go on and look for themselves. is great for finding venues and vendors but what I really love is all of the DIY ideas and the blend of traditional and modern that lends itself to a simple elegance. Just like the previous sites, Martha Stewart Weddings has everything you're looking for to plan your wedding but does err on the side of tradition. And if you're looking for advice, there are plenty of etiquette articles as well, because everyone loves a polite bride.

There are hundreds of wedding blogs out there to look at but it can all be a little overwhelming. As much as I hate to say it, I find a lot of wedding blogs (as different as they are) are all very alike. All lovely, but serve mainly as inspiration to future brides by featuring other weddings. I believe this can result in inspiration overload. But sometimes a little inspiration is all we need. So if you've read everything on The Unveiled Truth and you're looking for some more info, here are some of my favorites:
Style Me Pretty- Lovely and Chic
Broke Ass Bride- Brides on a budget with a side of bad-assitude
Ruffled- Sophisticated Indie (also has a great wedding marketplace to buy/sell wedding items)
Off Beat Bride- For the alternative bride who does everything just a little differently

A Message from Gina

The Unveiled Truth

So you've gotten engaged- now what. There are so many ideas swirling in your head and everyone has an opinion or suggestion. Its all with good intentions, but there's a lot of big decisions to be made. This is probably the first major, event you've planned, if not the only one you'll ever plan, and of course you want it to be special. What you need to be thinking about is what is most important to you, your fiance, and what you both want for your wedding day. Is it the food, the music, the flowers, the party, the family, the dress? Every wedding is different. In all my years, I haven't done two weddings the same way. You would be amazed at the number of vendors and levels of service that are available to you. It may be best for your sanity and budget to hire someone to help you with the process; if you don't you'll be making quick decisions that may cost you big.  When I meet with a bride, I allow her to reveal what is most important to her on her wedding day.  And with that, we can convey to guests a little bit about the couple through the design, the menu, and the small details which are key to making a wedding day unique in every way. Start with a big vision, then work out the details; this blog is about the details. There's a lot of in's and out's of this industry and we'd like to help you navigate it through the words of this blog. 

My goal in publishing this blog is for me to reveal the hidden truth surrounding planning a wedding. These are the things that you may not ever get to know until you start planning your own big day. And we want to help you get the most out of the experience without making too many mistakes. Being in the catering industry for as long as we have been, we know the underlying truth about planning a wedding, birthday party etc... Although knowing how to have fun and enjoy the experience is the most important thing, KNOWLEDGE is key, and organization is what's going to make it all work. The more you know, the better off you'll be. 

There's a lot of information to come in the following posts. But let me give you a little intro to some of our upcoming advice:
The first decision you need to make is the location. Have a guesstimate of guests you plan to invite and remember that typically 10-15% will not attend. Finding a venue that fits this number is essential. Once you have your guesstimate then you can go out and look for your venue. After that, there only comes more decisions... Caterers, Cakes, Dresses, Florists, Photographers, Wedding Planners, Band or DJ. Always ask the vendors you've already hired for recommendations; they have seen a lot of weddings so they can be a great source.   Read the reviews online, the internet has turned out to be a bride's best source of information. Ask a lot of questions about your vendors- they love to tell you about what they have done in the past, how they got started, and what they can do for you. And remember, the most expensive is not always the best. Once you have all your vendors picked out and all your decisions are made now its time to wait for the BIG DAY. It will go by so quickly, really. Try and make it as memorable as possible. Relax and enjoy it!!!

We hope you enjoy the blog and find some helpful information along the way. We're so excited to see where this endeavor leads us and are thrilled that we can share our expertise. Congratulations on you wedding, and may it truly be the best day of your life.


J Cabot Catering