This or That: Online RSVP or Snail Mail RSVP

I get this question all the time! Is it acceptable to choose to do online RSVPS? On this one, I am going to get straight to the point.

Non-Wedding Celebrations:
Go for the digital option or the old-fashioned telephone. Unless it’s a crazy large party, these RSVPs are easy to control. Some people are even open to text reservations depending on how small or intimate the event might be.

Wedding Ceremonies & Receptions:

Photo compliments of Catherine Rhodes Photography.

I’m old school on this one, which is rare since I am completely OK with brides and grooms not following tradition. I feel that these days, it’s completely up to you which traditions you would like to include and which ones you don’t. But on RSVPs, my vote is to go the traditional route.

I know it’s increases the price of your invitation suite and increases the amount of postage you need an ultimately increases the total cost, but for a formal even that only (hopefully) takes place once in your life, I think a handheld, paper RSVP is necessary. If you spend all this money on a beautiful handmade, calligraphy inscribed invitation, spending the extra money on the mail-in paper RSVP is necessary. There are other areas you can cut costs or be more financially cautious, but in my opinion this is not the place.

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This or That: Cocktail Reception or Seated Dinner?

Welcome to the first official This or That post! This mini blog series will feature two different options or controversial topics that I will share my thoughts on and weigh in on the pros and cons. If there’s a topic you ever want me to cover, let me know!

Since it’s almost Valentine’s Day and we will be wrapping up engagement season soon, I know a lot of couples are plugging away at reception details. So, today’s This or That topic is hors d’evours reception versus seated dinner.

Usually, there are two determining factors behind deciding on the food service style: price and atmosphere.

Price:
If you’re basing your decision solely on your budget, I recommend going with a seated dinner. Most people opt for a hors d’evours reception because they think it’s going to save some money. In actuality, that’s not always the case. If you’re serving food over a traditional mealtime, guests are still going to consume the same amount of food because it’s replacing a meal. Guests could consume even more if they are served buffet style because it encourages grazing versus food being served directly to them.

If price is your determining factor, I would recommend opting for  seated meal and weighing the pros and cons between buffet and plated service instead. This way, your guests are guaranteed to eat a delicious meal, and the caterer should ensure you don’t run out of food. Plus, it keeps the vibe of a traditional wedding reception and creates a more captive audience during dances and speeches.

Photo courtesy of Scott Patrick Myers Photography.

Atmosphere:
If you’re selecting a service style based on atmosphere, then I would definitely recommend an hor d’evours reception. More and more often I see traditional sit down meals replaced with passed appetizers and food stations. This organically cultivates a mingling atmosphere and encourages guests to move about the space.

Action stations are ideal when you want your event to feel upbeat and interactive. They offer cook-to-order or customizable food options that are prepared in front of you by a chef. Build-your-own taco stations, pasta stations or even sushi stations can be unique adds to your events that will have guests talking about them long after the evening is over. Maybe even think about incorporating brunch options into an evening event with a DIY crepe station. The possibilities are truly endless!

Repurpose & Reuse

If you know me well, you know I love a good bargain! Marshall’s is my jam, and so is the Dollar Stop at Target. I also love “redecorating” my house by taking all my knick knacks and decor off the shelves in my house, bringing them to a central location and then redistributing everything among the house to make it feel like I purchased new decorations.

So, it should come at no surprise that I love dual purposing party decor. Everyone always complains that parties become so expensive. Instead of purchasing disposable decor or things you will never again use, why not purchase things you can reuse not just at future parties but in your everyday.

My first example has to be one of my favorites (maybe because it is yet again baby related and I am in total baby mode), but it came from a shower I attended for my friend Mariette. The hostesses created a clothesline of onesies that adorably matched the shower’s color scheme, but they also were coordinated and numbered up to 12. The mama-to-be could use them in her baby’s month photos. Instead of the generic stickers, she is now equipped with 12 onesies to dress Conrad in (happy one month, little man)!

Eclectic dishware has been a trend at weddings and parties that have a romantic, antique feel. And styling a table full of mismatched dishes is not only easy to do, but it requires very little purchasing. If this is the vibe you’re going for, raid the cabinets of your mom, grandma and even an antique shop or two, and you can collect all sorts of ornate China, colorful glassware and pieces with character for a very small price.

Photo courtesy of Codi Shandel Photography.

And when you do have to purchase party-specific items, try and purchase things that can be reused from celebration to celebration. I am someone who LOVES color, but most of my serving dishes are plain white with maybe a small monochromatic detail. This way, you can work them into any color scheme or decor theme. Below are a few links to items that I find myself consistently using every time I host friends and family:

Bash Beverage Tub from Crate & Barrel ($89.95)
I have this one, which is the larger version and works well if you host a lot of parties or bigger gatherings. If you tend to have more intimate events, they also have a small version  ($69.95). I chose the silver one, but now that I have collected more servingware, I almost wish I would have purchased the gold one. There’s lots of fun, neutral colors available, including graphite, silver, gold and copper.

Place Card Holder Set from Pier 1 ($28.95)

Technically, these are called place cards, but I prefer to use them as buffet labels. They’re dry erase, which makes them easy to reuse and a nice, neutral color to match my servingware.

Double Sided Chalkboard from Target ($59.99)
The one I own is actually from Hobby Lobby, but here’s another great option from Target. These work great for welcome signs on your front porch, menu boards, photo opps, etc.

A Few Of My Favorite Things: 2017 Wedding Edition

At the end of each year, I pull together a post that dives into my favorite event ideas from the year. And although I know 2017 isn’t over yet, I just wrapped up my wedding season at work and wanted to do a special wedding edition of My Favorite Things.

These are ideas, tricks and overall good-for-the-soul tidbits from weddings I’ve coordinated, attended or I know people who have attended, so take a look if you plan on throwing a wedding bash next year because you might want to incorporate a few of these!

If The Shoe Fits
This gorgeous wedding shot by the talented ladies at Love Tree Studios was completely centered around none other than a pair of shoes. And if you know me, I am totally a shoe girl, so I love that Jaime and Todd used these shoes (which they also found a matching tie for) as their color and design inspiration for their big day. And a special shout out to Kent’s Floral Gallery for making the floral pattern come to life!

The Veteran Flower Girls
Yes, little girls in fluffy, tutu-like dresses are adorable. But how much cuter is it to incorporate your grandma’s as flower girls instead of putting them in the traditional prelude? Those smiles on their faces just tell it all!

Frost Yourself (Or Your Invitation)
“How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” anybody? I was drooling over these gorgeous vellum envelopes when my invitation to a friend’s wedding came in the mail. You spend lots of time and money on gorgeous invitations that people hang up in their house as the countdown to your big day approaches, so why not package them in a pretty frosted envelope?

Bring Your Wedding Day to Life
I think Cindy is on my list every year, but I just love having a live painter at events! Not only does it create an amazing keepsake for your special day, but it’s also a great way to incorporate an interactive element for your guests. Plus, it’s fun to compare the real photography to TooRooster Artistry’s painted version.

Dripping with Deliciousness
I’m all about a naked cake because A) I think they’re gorgeous, and B) I am not a frosting fan, so a naked cake is the perfect solution to a dessert that I enjoy without the top layer. However, this naked cake produced by All About Cakes definitely takes the cake–yes, pun intended. It was my favorite cake of the year! Thanks to Scott Patrick Myers for the photo!

Setting the Scene
I watch tons of wedding videos, but the opener to this video produced by Byler Media was one of my favorites. It not only kept religion in the wedding day, but it also incorporated the bride and groom’s wedding party. Clearly, there was a little forethought in this one 😉

Coordinated Chaos
As someone who had her bridesmaids wear mismatched dresses in her own wedding, I continue to be a fan of non-matching dresses. But what I really love and hope continues into 2018 wedding trends is not only mismatched colors but a mixture of colors, textures and patterns. I love the depth that various patterns and textures can bring in whether it’s through bridal bouquets or in this instance, through bridesmaid dresses.

Photo compliments of Erin Evangeline Photography. 

Extending the Wedding Day
We all know about the traditional act of giving roses to the mothers during the ceremony. Well, Sally and David decided to switch it up a little bit. Their mothers were part of a special moment during the ceremony where they each brought a rose to the alter where David and Sally were standing. Sally and David then exchanged roses as their first gift as husband and wife. They put them in a vase that stayed at the front for the remainder of the ceremony. While that was cute, the message that the officiant continued to explain is what really struck a cord with me. The vase they selected for these flowers was going to be displayed empty in their home. Whenever Sally and David have a fight, are at a loss for words, etc. one of them will place a single rose in that vase to let the other know exactly what they are thinking. No words are needed, no special cards, just a single rose that will transport the two of them back to their wedding day and to those promises each of them made. How sweet is that?

Don’t Put Grandma Solely in Charge of the Kiddos

This is something I’ve witnessed multiple times just over the past six weeks or so as I’ve been coordinating weddings at work. The Mother of the Bride only gets to partially enjoy the wedding day because she spends much of her time distracted by grandkids.

Now don’t misunderstand me. Every other day, it’s perfectly acceptable for Grandma time, but I feel terrible when Mothers of the Bride or Mothers of the Groom don’t get to fully enjoy their role because they are also on babysitting duty. Usually this issue stems from one or both parents of her grandkids taking part of the bridal party. Therefore, when Mom and Dad are up at the head table, who is in charge of their little ones? Here are a few suggestions I have.

  1. If the in-laws are invited to the wedding, put them in charge of the grandkids. This worked out great at our wedding because our nephews were able to be part of our wedding as ring bearers and tear up the dance floor at the reception, but my mother-in-law was able to enjoy the day as Mother of the Groom. Instead, my sister-in-law’s mother-in-law was on Grandma duty.
  2. Hire a baby-sitter to watch after the kids. This might sound strange, but if the in-laws aren’t invited to the wedding and there isn’t quite the perfect person to watch after the kids, hire a baby-sitter to come to the reception to watch after them and be in charge of taking them home. This can also be a great option for family members who have small children but also want to stay a little later at the reception. The sitter can be in charge of a handful of kids.
  3. Don’t bring the kids to the reception. I know this option isn’t quite as easy to do, but depending on the kids’ age, it might just be easier to take them home between ceremony and reception to be with a sitter, so Mom and Dad can enjoy the evening and Grandma isn’t on duty. This might be a necessity if the reception isn’t kid friendly.

Far too much, I’ve seen the Mother of the Bride or Mother of the Groom not being able to sit and enjoy dinner because she’s running after little ones down the hall. Or, she almost misses the first dance because she’s in the lobby consoling a screaming baby.

It’s not fair to these moms because they’ve spent a lot of time and energy planning the big day with their son or daughter. Not to mention, they are probably helping to pay for the event too. In addition to the bride and groom, she is a hostess as well, and she should have the opportunity to soak up the special moments of the day, mingle with guests and not have to leave early to take kiddos back home.

No, You Are Not the Exception To The Rule

Hey, is this you in this photo? Yes, I’m talking about the lady with the big ol’ tablet taking a photo or the guy across the aisle holding up his cell phone.

Photo by Tom Pumford. 

I say that in a joking matter, and no I am not going to spend this blog post bit…er…complaining about people who don’t follow rules. The purpose of this post is to check yourself. Are you being one of THOSE people? You might be and not even realize it!

The idea for this post came to me after I was coordinating a wedding this past weekend. The officiant opened the ceremony by welcoming guests and politely made a request in honor of the couple to leave the documenting to the hired professionals and to truly be present in the moment with them. Not event 30 seconds later, a guest sitting the very middle of the audience stood and started taking photos on his iPhone. “Ummmm hello….?” was what I really wanted to say outlout, but instead I just shook my head and glanced around as the other vendors and guests looked at the gentleman in horror.

Here’s another one of my favorites. The ceremony has just wrapped up, the couple is officially Mr. and Mrs., and the bridal party and family begin to congregate off to the side to take photos. Then all of a sudden, there’s a hoard of people heading in the direction of the newlyweds saying to the people they are with, “I just want to say hello to them really quick.” Can I be blunt with you? All 250 guests want to do the exact same thing. If they choose not to do a receiving line, there’s probably a reason for that (time, weather, etc.), and the couple will absolutely make their way around to socialize with you later.

Photo by Tim Mossholder.

Or for example, let’s say you’re attending an event that is taking place at a public location and only part of the venue is dedicated to the private event. It’s OK for you to ignore the signage about where the private event is located and help yourself to other amenities that are not intended for you, right? Probably not. That would be like someone from the general population coming into the private party and helping themselves to the complimentary appetizers. That wouldn’t be OK, now would it?

I’m not trying to sound like a Negative Nancy. It just baffles me how many people think they’re the exception to the rule. News flash: if you are asking for a special request, special accommodations or to be the exception, you aren’t the only one. Lots of people are doing it. You don’t want to be one of THOSE people that is being talked about after the event. Just tryin’ to help you out!

Inform, Inform, Inform

People are not mind readers. As much as we would love for people to know what we are thinking at certain times, it’s inevitably not going to happen. And especially when you are inviting people to an event or trying to coordinate a large amount of people, it’s important to communicate exactly when and where you need people to be.

Before the Event
Verbiage on your invite is key. This is your opportunity to prepare guests for your event. If the timeframe of your event is over a normal eating time, but you are not planning on serving a full meal, make sure guests know just appetizers and drinks are being served. Is there pertinent clothing information they need to know? Is it a costume party, a formal event, or is there a need for specific type of footwear (think outdoor venue where heels would not be an appropriate choice) needed? Are there specific directions guests need to know? Sometimes an address and specific instructions once they arrive on property are important. Is there parking on site, or do they need to find parking close by? Are there detours or road closures due to constructions or citywide events? A successful event starts with communication prior to its start.

Photo compliments of Catherine Rhodes Photography.
Photo compliments of Scott Patrick Myers Photography.

During the Event
Posting a timeline somewhere at the event helps guests to know where they need to be when and exactly how long each portion of the event is. If there’s a silent auction that closes at a particular time, you might want to note that in a program. Or if you have a long cocktail hour, letting guests know what time dinner is served allows them to know they have time to mingle and walk around before finding their seats. And if there is a particular group of people who need to be aware of an activity, it’s always helpful to make an announcement about it. For example, if you need family to stick around after a ceremony for family photos, have the officiant make a reminder announcement following the ceremony.

Photo compliments of D Squared Designs.

After the Event
Showing your appreciation for guests’ attendance and if they brought you a gift is proper etiquette. Follow-up can also be a great way to remind guests where they can go online to find party or photo booth pics. Or if there’s still opportunities to make a donation to the cause of the evening, make sure to mention that in your follow-up email or thank you.

By taking the time to do each of these, your guests will remain well informed, and the overall flow of the event will be much smoother!

Photo compliments of KatFour Photography