For you Brides to be here are a few helpful hints on creating, and planning a PERFECT reception.
- WALK THOROUGH- Do a walk-through of your venue as soon as you're able, noting features to highlight -- a grand staircase or a grove of trees, perhaps -- and areas that need to be spruced up or downplayed.
- SIGN HERE PLEASE-Make sure you have signed contracts from all your vendors and that you've read the fine print and resolved any questions.
- LIGHT IT UP-Lighting can make or break an event, but to create the right ambiance, you don't necessarily need to hire professionals to cast patterns on the dance floor. You can set the mood simply by flanking an outdoor walkway with dozens of luminaria or setting dining tables with elegant candelabra or clusters of small candles; you might also replace harsh white bulbs in fixtures with more flattering amber ones.
- WORK WITH WHAT YOU HAVE-An all-white theme won't do in a hotel ballroom papered in red and gold, nor does it make sense to try to transform a rustic lodge into the crystal palace.
- THEME- Whether it's a monogram, a color pairing, or a food or flower that evokes a favorite place, a repeated element helps to both personalize and unify your event.
- INVITE CAREFULLY- Be prepared: Up to 80 to 90 percent of those invited may attend. (The smaller the list, the more yeses you should expect percentage-wise, because you will likely be asking only those closest to you.)
- HELP-Even if you've decided against an overall wedding planner, you'll want a cool-headed pro on hand to ask guests to be seated for dinner, help organize toasts, and handle any problems. Ask if your venue can provide this service; if not, some independent planners will work for a single day.
- DAYS OF OUR LIVES-Many venues charge more for after-dark affairs. With an outdoor reception, if you opt for a luncheon event, you'll also cut back on or eliminate costs associated with lighting, such as setup and generators.
- KEEP THE HELPERS HAPPY-Your hospitality should extend to photographers, videographers, waiters, and musicians, as well as any other vendors working at your reception. Make sure they have water, scheduled breaks, and, most important, a meal. It need not be the same one that you're serving to guests, but it should be nourishing and delicious.
- SHOW APPRECIATION-Make sure you've designated someone, such as the best man, to distribute gratuity envelopes you've prepared at party's end. You'll need to tip all service providers, including the catering and reception staff (unless gratuity is added to the total bill), cleanup crew, and limousine drivers.
See more tips at Martha Stewart Weddings.com