Friday, November 15, 2013

License, gifts and decorations. Oh My!

There are several obvious aspects to the wedding for which you plan for, when to cut your cake, who will complete the blessing, what you shall eat; however, the planning should not end there. Once dinner is done and the dancing begins, there are several important items that still need your attention surrounding the end of the evening and the following morning. You will need to plan arrangements for your the marriage license, gifts, you decorative items and the tuxedos.

Marriage License: Be sure to ask you officiant if you or they will be responsible for mailing the formal marriage license to the state for processing. In most my experiences, the officiant will be the one mailing in the license. But, if you are responsible, you could come prepared by bringing the necessary postage and charging an extended family member or friend with placing it into the mail after the ceremony and the needed signatures. If you need to travel from your ceremony site to the reception site, this can be done in transit. If your ceremony and reception are at the same location, ask the facility where you drop outgoing mail. In the event that neither of these are an option, you can slide the formal certificate, and the certificate that is yours to keep, into the locked card box at the reception to be tended to the day after the reception.

Gifts: You will want to put someone who is trustworthy in charge of the task of gathering the gifts and card box at the end of the night. Notably you will want to choose someone who will have enjoyed themselves, but not too much. Often a parent is chosen to do this; but it too can be a trusted friend or extended family member.

While it is standard etiquette for guests to send large gifts directly to your home, it is possible that these large gifts may still arrive at the reception. Additionally, you have no way of knowing how many gifts you will receive verse gift cards. Therefore, the rule of thumb is to simply be prepared. If you are having your reception at a venue that does not have overnight accommodations, you will want to be sure that whoever you have charged with this task has a vehicle, or access to a vehicle, that is large enough to accommodate the potential gifts. They will need to be able to load them into the car to transport to whatever destination you have selected. Ideally, since they are in the vehicle, it would be best to transport them directly to your home or the home of a parent to watch while you are away on your honeymoon. This way the gifts are only touched once. If they are transported to the location in which you have arranged overnight accommodations do not leave them in the vehicle. In this case you will have to load them onto a luggage cart and transport them to a guestroom.

It is considered inappropriate and rude to utilize a luggage overnight; however, by the time your reception has ended all the majority of the arriving guests will have checked in, thus they will not need the cart. The point? Roll the cart loaded with gifts directly into the guestroom so they can simply be wheeled out and to the vehicle(s) in the morning. I would recommend promptly thereafter returning the cart for the use of guests who are checking out.

This same scenario of transporting the gifts and cards via luggage cart, to a guestroom, will hold true if your reception is at the same location as where you are staying. The difference here would be questioning your venue to see if they provide any assistance at the end of the night with the transport of the gifts and cards. Note that I said assist. Some facilities will not offer any assistance in this process due to liability reasons while others will offer assistance to whoever you have placed in charge of this task. The facility may retrieve the luggage cart for you to load up and they may even take the cart to the predetermined destination but they will not complete this task solo on your behalf.  

As for the gift cards, in the event your hotel has safes in the room I would recommend using this for the gift cards. Many hotels to do have safes in the room but they do have safety deposit boxes located in the executive offices. Many hotels will not publicize this as often there are a limited number of boxes so be sure to ask if they have one and what is the procedure to secure one for the evening of your reception. Again, you can simply leave the cards in the locked card box with the other gifts if you so choose.

Decorative Items: If you are a fan of Pinterest you may very well be planning to make some or all of your decorations. Even if you are not planning on making any items at all, at the least you will most likely have a cake topper, card box, guest book with pen and toasting glasses. Typically, the facility will place these items out for you during the set up process, but you will need to have someone and some way to retrieve them at the end of the night. Ask the facility what their protocol for returning / retrieving these items. Each facility may be different in their response. With that, a recommendation would be to ask them to place these items on the gift table as each items is used. Meaning, once the social hour is over, the guest book with pen can be moved to the gift table. It will still be accessible by your guests in the event they had not yet signed it but it will be in a central location at the end of the night. This too applied to your toasting glasses and cake topper which can be placed then once dinner is done and the dancing begins as you will no longer need access to them. 

If you are making centerpieces and other more extensive items for which you do not want back as the facility if they will dispose of these for you and if so is there a charge. In the event you want to keep these items, see if the facility is willing to store them until the next morning. As mentioned before regarding the gifts, you will want to be sure that you have ready a large enough vehicle to get all of your decorations home. Many times my brides who wanted to keep their items wake up the next morning realizing that they did not bring the same large SUV for which brought these items. So be sure to plan as rarely can the facility store the items for you as there will most likely be another wedding or event that will be delivering their items to the facility and storage space is not ordinarily in abundance.

Tuxedos: The last item for today is the tuxedos. Some brides prefer to leave this completely the responsibility of the groomsmen which is ideal; however, in some cases the bride and groom rent the tuxedos in lieu of a groomsmen gift. It is in this case that you will want to prepare and make arrangements for their return. To ensure everything is returned as needed, place someone in charge of gathering all of the tuxedos the morning after the reception. If a tux is not returned in full, such as missing a tie, you may get charged. Therefore, in advance make a list of all the items that should be in the tuxedo bag (jacket, pants, tie, vest, shoes, etc.) and give to whoever you have placed in charge. Have all the groomsmen meet in a designated guest room with their tux and tux bag and together they can all quickly go through the check list to ensure all of the items are accounted for. If there are any items missing have the groomsmen check their guestroom again but if that does not solve the issue, try asking the facility to check the lost and found items as it is likely the article of clothing was left at the reception site.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sports Themed Receptions

There are so many different ways to let your personalities shine through. The more obvious ways are in the colors your select, your dress style, and your centerpiece choices and so on. Many people seek out different themes for their wedding such as rustic, nautical or classic. But there are so many different themes that may be a little scary but can be amazing if you do them right.

One example is a sport theme. Does that mean that you need to have little jerseys as your place cards or a football helmet as a cake topper? Certainly not, unless of course you are both die hard fans and wish to do so. You can bring this theme into an elegant event through creativity and planning. For example, since I live in the great city of Pittsburgh, I will use for this example our Steelers NFL team whose colors are black and gold.

To pull in such colors the bridesmaid's dresses can be a elegant little black dress whose flowers are flowers of various gold shades. For the groomsmen, an all black tuxedo with a gold vest will pull in the colors of the girl's flowers. Now for you I would recommend your white dress (or a shade of white) and white flowers. For the groom, all black including the vest. I recommend this look for any bride and groom as it allows for timeless photos as these will most likely be hanging in your home for many years. Dressing to trendy will date the photos very quickly whereas classic black and white is still as elegant today as it was back in the 1964 film My Fair Lady. If you would like to have a splash of color for yourself, go bold and daring with a unique shoe style.

For centerpieces you can mimic the bridesmaids dresses on the tables. Using our previous example, having black linens with gold centerpieces. This could be as simple as a cylinder filled with water dyed yellow with food coloring and floating candles; or simply gold candles as pictured to the left. If your ballroom where the reception is to be held is light and airy feel confident in selecting the black linens; however, if the room is already dark in appearance (dark walls, carpet, lack of windows), you may want to leave the linens white or use gold linens with black accent as seen in the photo on the above right.

For your cake a subtle touch would be to have a trim tastefully done on some of the layers that resembles the treads of a football. Now at first through you may think I am crazy but a talented baker can add this detail to your wedding cake and have it blend into the 'background' in such a way that it is not apparent. On that same token if you really want to go all out but still want a traditional looking wedding cake, have the grooms cake resemble a football or the actual football field of your favorite team. Traditionally, the grooms cake is displayed and consumed at the rehearsal dinner, but having it at the reception on a separate table next to the actual wedding cake would be a great compromise in this case.

CAUTION: I would not use black icing anywhere on the cake for a number of reasons. The two most important: first, your mouth turns black when eating black icing and you will be photographed more on your wedding day than any other time in your life and you will not want black teeth. More important still is your wedding dress. If you get black icing on your dress it can stain and you do not want that stress on the day of your wedding. If you want to have black accents on the cake do this with fondant decorations as these are removed before the cake is cut, plated and served. Or you can use real ribbon around the base of each layer which again will be removed before service.

If you want to keep the main events of the day formal such as the ceremony and the reception, you can always have fun with the cocktail hour, especially with this theme. It is as simple as having a 'tailgate' which can be accomplished by serving food items that you might serve or have while tailgating such as:

  • Turkey, Cheddar, Cherry Tomato Kabobs with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
  • Antipasto Skewers
  • Crudités Display with Dips

For your place cards, yes I mentioned above that they do not need to be in the form of a football jersey unless of course that is something that you want. A more elegant way of pulling this off is to have the place cards made to look like the admission ticket to the sporting event. The teams would be your maiden name is your future name. The seat number listed on the ticket would be the table number for which the guest is to be seated. All gaming tickets have the game day listed on it which would of course, would be your wedding date, and so on. If you would prefer to have traditional place cards, you could always use this concept for your save the date cards which would set the tone for everything that will follow.

Along the lines of the escort cards / place card table, you too could use a traditional guest book along with a football or your teams jersey to be signed by guests.

One last suggestion/idea today before I sign off would be to have fun with your grand announcement into the reception. Be announced into the room with your teams fight song playing. Take it a step further and have the groomsmen come in with your teams jersey and/or helmets on.