Congratulations! You’re finally settling down and tying the knot. I’m sure everyone is excited and you’re starting to wonder why you didn’t just elope.
While picking out teal bridesmaid dresses and choosing your maid of honor, you’ll need to plan a rehearsal dinner, wedding day feast, and of course the post wedding brunch. So, we’re here to help guide you through the process and minimize the yelling, screaming, and intense micromanaging you soon will be engaging in.
The first thing you need to do is decide what’s most important and make sure you work those things into your budget. Being stressed over how much your Uncle Franky is going to drink during the open bar is not worth it. You can be frugal and still go all out; stick initially to 15 percent below your estimated budget and be flexible with what is offered. By keeping a little money in the piggy bank, you won’t feel as anxious when another expenditure pops up.
When picking any meal during your wedding festivities, choose the food that you like to eat, not your mother-in-law’s favorite things, not your vegan brother’s idea of dinner. Pick what you and your future spouse enjoy. Food can be as intimate as your first dance and can add to a wonderful wedding experience just as easily as it can take away. I’ve catered hundreds of weddings and have sat through hours and hours of weary couples attempting to meet the needs of everyone. Leave a box on the RSVP card for allergies and call it a day. It’s easier, and if someone is going to be difficult, place them at the children’s table.
Each meal can be as formal or simple as you desire, from backyard barbecues to a wine pairing dinner. The key is variety and simplicity; if it seems too complicated, then it is. Keep your menus short and sweet and choose fun themes that loosen people up, keep your guests mingling and the party flowing. Open your mind to a luau, Spanish tapas, family-style Italian, or a great backyard grill-out.
Pick the setting that feels right. As you tour different locations, get an idea for the layout and discuss options that have been successful previously. Don’t choose a property based only on how many it can seat or how many rooms there are. We all can drive, and buses and taxis are easy to come by. Pick a place that feels right for the event, not just a place that can hold the event.
Another good rule of thumb is that, if you enjoy the food and service at the restaurant or have enjoyed an event at the property, you’re probably moving in the right direction.
Keep in mind that properties may change staff frequently. Nothing is worse than being impressed by the tasting, only to have someone else in charge two months down the road who wants to cook “their food.” Consistency is important. If the banquet chef has been doing this for 10 years, then the likelihood of a problem arising is low. All you have to do is ask, “How long has the chef been here?” “Oh, and how long was the former chef here?”
If you can arrange it, meet the chef and the management team who would be in charge of your event. Be open and honest about what you’re looking for. Food-service professionals will be happy to say what works well and what doesn’t. Sometimes coming up with a compromise about the menu or the room diagram will make everyone involved happy.
A wedding cake can be an incredible centerpiece for your weekend of bliss, but stay within the boundaries of your cake maker. I’ve been handed magazine clippings and photographs that are challenging for even the world’s most accomplished cake artists. Forcing a baker into a design and style that do not come naturally is like forcing a gorilla into a dog costume; it just ain’t gonna work.
Get a cake that tastes great, a real cake, a yummy cake. I know you love Ace of Cakes. Who doesn’t? We all enjoy the splendor of a beautiful wedding cake, but pick the cake that makes your mouth water and crave more as you leave the tasting. The prettiest cake never looks as appealing when it’s slapped on a plate and passed out by the hundreds.
Be flexible. I know you get to do this only once and you’ll definitely be anxious, but the more flexible you are, the happier you’ll be. If the appetizer course drags a little bit and your tenderloin is a little over medium, it’s not the end of the world and it shouldn’t ruin the uniting of two perfect souls. Let it go; a good host is a relaxed host. Think of your favorite holiday party. Is the host uptight and freaking out? I think not.
And that brings me to the last important point: You should always have access to food at your own wedding. With all of the hand-shaking, cheek-kissing and high fives, you’ll soon realize that your belly is overflowing with Pomegranate Manhattans and desires something more than another cocktail. Assign a handful of trustworthy friends and family to continuously check on you.
At the end of the evening, when you finally have some time for yourselves, have a gourmet picnic or a double-decker Italian sub waiting for you back in the room. It’s OK to eat before you go to bed; you just got married. You can let yourself go now.
When it’s all said and done, make sure that your memories are good ones — they’ll need to last a lifetime.
No event is perfect, but a wedding can be planned with a high chance of success. Make it easier on yourself and be open to the ideas of professionals along the way; that’s what they’re there for. Remember, you can still hop on a plane and make it to Vegas within a couple of hours — but your vegan brother and your mother-in-law will miss you.