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 fiancĂ© which most certainly overrides any commitment you have to your friendship. If your fiancĂ© 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