Restaurant Wedding Receptions

December 1st, 2014
There are restaurants that are suitable for wedding receptions.  Photo by Johnny Knight.

There are restaurants that are suitable for wedding receptions. Photo by Johnny Knight.

Of all the places you could have your wedding reception, do you want to choose to have it at a restaurant?  There are definitely pros and cons.

Of course, first, whether or not this is a good idea depends on what restaurant you choose.  There are some that are very good at this caliber of event.  There are some that don’t have the first idea what is required.

It also depends on your expectations.  If you are having a quiet luncheon for 15 close family members, many restaurants are capable.  If you want a full-blown wedding reception for 150 with a DJ and a dance floor, there are many fewer places that can handle that level of service.

One of the advantages of having your wedding reception at a restaurant is the possibility of saving money.  Restaurants are often a less expensive way to cater a large party.   They rarely have a room charge, or, if they do, it is nominal.  They also provide tables, chairs, linens, dishes, glassware, and silver as part of their package.  Because they own all the furniture and serving pieces, you don’t pay a separate rental rate for them.

What you often give up for the price is the high level of service that most wedding caterers provide.  In my experience, wedding caterers are more responsive than restaurants.  They can also be more flexible.  They are accustomed to working with very demanding clients.  A restaurant may or may not have those qualities.  If you are thinking of having your reception at a restaurant, this would be a good thing to find out before you decide.

I worked on a wedding reception once where the bride didn’t receive any kind of contract or receipt from the restaurant after she made her payment.  It was worrisome because she had specific contracts with all the rest of her vendors.  The restaurant was completely above board and the reception went off without a hitch.  They were just treating her wedding reception the same way they treated all of their reservations.  They didn’t see the need for any more paperwork.  That is not what you’ll find with a full-service caterer.

So, is it a good idea to have your reception at a restaurant?  That’s up to you.  I’ve worked at some wonderful restaurant receptions.  I’ve also seen some of the drawbacks.  Just be sure you know what you’re getting into before you make a commitment.

Announcing 2015 Price Increase

October 6th, 2014

Photo by Peter Coombs.

I try very hard to keep my prices reasonable, but I will be increasing my prices to keep up with inflation and increased costs starting January 1, 2015.  If you want to book me for next year at this year’s prices, be sure to get in touch with me before the end of this year.  If you hire me by the end of December, I’ll be happy to offer you current prices for any wedding or party in 2015.  Email me now!

Re-run: DIY Weddings–Planning and Coordination

September 29th, 2014
If you hire a good planner, this is all you should have to think about on your wedding day.

If you hire a good planner, this is all you should have to think about on your wedding day. Photo by MWD Photography.

I’ve written a lot about do-it-yourself weddings lately, and here are my final thoughts (probably) on the subject.  Should you plan and manage your wedding yourself?  Yes–and no.

Most people can do much of the planning themselves.  Hiring vendors is not difficult.  You will probably also want to plan the decor yourself so that it reflects your taste.  Of course, if you’d rather not handle all the details yourself, by all means, hire a full-service wedding planner!

The place where a lot of people get stuck in the planning process is scheduling the wedding day and the logistics of making everything happen.  It turns out that these are special skills.  And so you will likely want to have a professional planner on hand.  One of my favorite parts of this job is taking a tangled mass of good ideas and turning it into a usable plan.  Actually, I really like seeing the smile of relief on my clients’ faces when I do that.

Even if you are able to do the scheduling and logistics yourself, actually managing what happens on your wedding day is another matter.  I like to use a theatre metaphor to describe it:  You are the star of the show; you can also be the director and the producer.  But you need a good stage manager to make sure that you shine.  Also, on the day of your wedding, you should be able to focus on getting married, not on whether the flowers are delivered on time.

This might be predictable coming from me, but I have seen enough problems and near-disasters to know that it really does make a difference:  Make sure you have someone with practical, hands-on experience managing your wedding day.  Don’t try to do it yourself.

Re-run: DIY Weddings–Decor

September 22nd, 2014
If you have the time and skill, you can go all-out and make a chandelier, as this bride did.

If you have the time and skill, you can go all-out and make a chandelier, as this bride did.

I’m still thinking about DIY weddings, and about when DIY is a good idea and when it is not.  One of the most successful kinds of do-it-yourself wedding planning is in the area of decor.

There are some kinds of decor that are better left to professionals.  Things like flowers (see my thoughts on that here) and lighting fall in that category.  If you want to hang large objects from a ceiling, I would recommend hiring someone for that, too.

But there are lots and lots of things that are suitable for DIY:  table runners, table numbers, card box, place cards, photo props, menus, programs, favors.  Especially if you are planning unique decor, it may be easier and cheaper to make it yourself, rather than hunting down the perfect item at craft shops, second-hand stores, rental shops, and the internet.

Of course, it takes extra time–sometimes lots of extra time–and a little skill to do it all yourself.  As always, plan carefully and leave yourself enough time.  You don’t want to end up like a friend of mine who was frantically hand-writing place cards late on the night before her wedding.  Plan to have it all done early and get help if you need it.