By Rick Coates
In the quest to find out whats in, the modern bride may be shocked to
learn that just about everything and anything goes for todays wedding
reception. It is important to remember that this is your day and your
guests are coming to honor and celebrate with you. So the secret to a
successful wedding reception in 2010 and beyond is to personalize it.
Make it about you and your significant other and the reception will be
Here are a few tips and trends to personalize your wedding reception
1) Keep it Local: Okay the local thing is in everyones vocabulary by
now but going local is definitely in for weddings on all fronts.
One couple recently had the Taco House in TC cater their rehearsal dinner
(it is one of their favorite places to eat). If you have a favorite
restaurant seek them out and see if they cater. Keeping it local is more
than just the food, it is about seeking a destination within Northern
Michigan to have your wedding.
Destination weddings are hot but why not showcase the region you live in
and have your ceremony and reception in your own backyard? There are so
many cool places from the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes to Mackinac Island to a
vineyard or even a castle.
Speaking of backyards, the backyard wedding ceremony and reception is
definitely in as brides and grooms try to cut expenses. So if you, your
parents or friends have great backyards, do it all there. Incorporate
local events into your special day.
Also, check with local visitors bureaus or plan activities at points of
interest in the region such as a winery tour, canoe or tubing trip. Use a
local band: live music is great and Northern Michigan is loaded with
versatile and talented musicians. Consider a singer-songwriter for
cocktail hour and then a DJ for the dance.
2) Why Not Friday: Who said weddings have to be on Saturdays? Caterers in
the region have reported more wedding receptions on non-traditional days
like Friday. As reception and banquet halls fill up on Saturdays, seeking
out other days might even lead to better pricing.
3) Foodie Stations: Go for more of the classic cocktail party feel not
only with the drinks but with food stations versus a sit down dinner. Food
stations create more of a conversational atmosphere versus the traditional
creative here: have chef-attended stations with flambéing, sautéing and
even stir-fry stations where guests select their own ingredients or a
grill station where guests choose their beef, poultry or seafood option.
4) Entrée or Buffet: Unless you are going with the food station concept
go plated versus buffet. Food stations are a relaxed go-at
-your-own-pace with appetizer plates. Buffets tend to be like herding
cattle with people lined up while other guests look them up and down, and
then there is always the Uncle Frank who piles four plates of food onto
one plate. Buffets result in so much waste.
If you go plated do not ask your guests to check a box to determine their
entrée three months ahead of time. It never works -- who really knows
what they want to eat that far in advance? Instead be creative by
selecting a Duets plate such as Sky & Surf (duck and salmon) or the
traditional Surf & Turf modernized by offering a whitefish cake and
marinated sliced buffalo flank steak (both local). Remember, trying to
keep your spouse happy for the rest of your life is going to be challenge
enough, you will never please every single guest regardless of what you
do, so choose a menu you like.
5) Late Night Eats: If you go the sit-down-plated dinner and serve small
portions offering a late night menu about an hour before the reception
ends with American comfort foods such as a hot pretzel bar or a make your
own nacho bar helps take the hunger edge off. Come on, everyone has hit a
late night drive-through after wedding reception or night on the town.
6) Get Your Greens On: Going green is for wedding receptions as well.
Do what you can and ask your caterer or reception hall to go as green as
possible. It is not just about the visible items but it is about aspects
of the reception your guests wont see. So just using recycled paper for
your invitations doesnt make your wedding green.
This also goes for the food. No longer is there just that one wacky cousin
looking for a vegetarian option. Vegan and vegetarian offerings are
important and todays chefs and caterers have become very creative in
their vegetarian offerings. They are able to please even the meagans or
non-vegetarian guests. So consider smaller portions of beef and go with
more greens on the plate.
7) Cake, Cookies & Candy: What about the traditional wedding cake? Rumor
has it that it is making its way to the endangered list as wedding
receptions move to dessert tables. Do both: have a wedding cake and an
assorted dessert table. There is never such a thing as too many desserts.
Again be creative: make your own sundae bar or better yet, hire the ice
cream truck to come by your reception. Okay, dont put out those Andes
mints or wrap those chalky after dinner mints in some lace and put on the
table for a favor. Favors are back in and they are your way of letting
your guests know that you appreciate them coming, so make the favors
special, use locally made chocolates or other local items.
8) Booze, Brews and Bordeaux: This is always one of the toughest aspects
of any wedding reception. Because all other costs of a wedding are fixed,
the open bar is always the wild card. Consider a limited open bar during a
one-hour period. Have the venue alert guests (or do it on the invitation)
that the bride and groom are hosting the bar for the first hour and the
rest of the evening will be a cash bar.
A popular concept is offering beer and wine with mixed drinks being a cash
bar. Why should you spend a down payment on a house so everyone can drink
top shelf cocktails on you? Going local is definitely in with your drink
offerings, use local wines, beers and yes even locally (Michigan made)
9) Does Size Really Matter?: Dont fall for this myth, size really does
matter. Large weddings are expensive and for most no longer a reality.
Consider the small wedding ceremony and reception for immediate family and
a few close friends and then a party to celebrate at a later date for
everyone. This concept is gaining momentum and keeps that special day
affordable and memorable.
That party at a later date may be very inexpensive, a backyard cookout,
a tubing trip where everyone brings their own beverages or even a potluck
at a township park or hall. Consider a pig roast with everyone bringing a
dish to pass and their favorite drink and favorite outdoor activity
(badminton, bocce ball, volleyball). This may sound hokey but would you
rather be a little hokey and have a memorable time or spend thousands to
do what everyone else is doing?
10) Wedding Planner or Aunt Betty: Wedding planners were the craze of the
90s and continued into the new millennium and will remain popular in the
new decade. So as you look to cut costs do not opt for Aunt Betty to be
your wedding planner. Having a professional wedding planner will
ultimately save you money and will result in the wedding you want and not
the wedding Aunt Betty wants you to have. Thank that family member for
offering but tell them you want them to enjoy your wedding, not work it.
Northern Michigan has several talented wedding planners: seek one out and
eliminate much of the stress from that special day.