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New Jersey Bride wedding Magazine for 2005

 


Reception ideas to think about

Whether you already know that you want to be married in the church where you were baptized or you're scouring the city for a creative new locale, there are a few key things to consider before you sign on the dotted line.

Accessibility
Make sure both the ceremony and reception sites are completely accessible for everyone you have invited to your wedding. It's your job to ensure that Grandma has equal opportunity to enjoy the day as much as anyone else. This means there should alternatives to stairs, wide hallways, and fully accessible bathrooms. Ask if the sites are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Arrival Time
Find out exactly how early you may arrive to get ready. When looking at reception sites, find out how early your caterer and decorator can begin working. And while you're at it, be sure to find out exactly when you will need to call it a night - and if that's negotiable.

Beauty
Whether it's a grand synagogue or a quaint seaside chapel, a naturally beautiful location might be a little more expensive at first glance, but it almost always pays off in terms of money, time and stress.

Back-ups
If you're planning any part of the wedding out-of-doors, make sure you have a good back-up in case of rain. The back-up should be written in the contract so that it cannot be promised as a back-up to someone else as well.

Capacity
It is basic, but easily forgotten: make sure there's enough room for all your guests. When looking at a reception site, make sure you're talking about the seating capacity. Also be sure to ask how the seating capacity will change once a dance floor is added. While you're on the subject of seating, find out if the locale you are considering provides the tables and chairs and, if so, if they are included in the cost you're discussing.

Cars
Find out for certain how many parking spaces are available for your guests, and where those spaces are located. If necessary, make arrangements for extra parking - you wouldn't want someone to miss your grand entrance because they were searching for a parking spot!

Catering
Ask if you can bring in any caterer or if the site works with just a few "preferred" caterers - or even just one. Also check if the kitchen at the reception hall is a full kitchen, where everything can be cooked, or if it is actually just a facility for keeping food warm before serving it. If you are having your reception in a private banquet hall of a restaurant, find out if there will be a separate chef and staff for your event. This will ensure that your service won't be affected by the regular business of the restaurant.

Check the Calendar
Before you sign a contract, make sure that your wedding date doesn't conflict with any other big events - like your cousin's high school graduation, a religious holiday or a local festival.

One final note: make sure you are clear on exactly what's included and get it all in writing!

 

 

Creating A Budget
Is money no object when it comes to your wedding? Are you one of the very few (and very lucky) people who has an unlimited supply of funds just waiting to be spent on the wedding of a lifetime? Great! Skip this article. If you're like most people these days, though, you'll need to create a budget to ensure that you allocate money to the things that are most important to you.

The first step is to do just that - figure out what's most important to you. Be sure to read "Aaaack! Where Do I Start?" and use our priorities worksheet to figure this out. You'll also need to ask yourself, "How Formal Should My Wedding Be?" Then, talking with your parents, you'll determine exactly how you are going to afford it. The amounts to allocate will help you determine the number of guests you can invite, the location of your reception, the food you will serve, the flowers on display and many other elements of the celebration.

In general, whoever is paying for the reception should have the lion's share of the decision-making power - although it's important that everyone is happy with the outcome. Of course, these days it is not uncommon for both sets of parents (as well as the bride and groom) to help pay for the wedding, so the decision really must be a joint one.

Number of Guests
The number of wedding guests greatly defines the cost of the reception, so putting together your guest list is often one of the most difficult parts of planning your wedding, since you may feel that you have to limit the number of friends and family you can invite. For this reason, the size of your wedding is one of the first things you should to establish.

Time of Year
The month in which you choose to have a wedding has a significant impact on the cost, because ceremony and reception sites, as well as photographers and musicians, are often more expensive during "peak wedding months" (May, June, August, September and October). Selecting an off-season date will usually afford good savings.

Note that December is not considered an off-season month, because Saturday evenings in December are generally reserved for holiday parties. Most hotels will refuse to negotiate prices during these prime dates and may require a minimum budget be met to reserve the space.

Day of the Week
The day of the week is another determining factor in overall cost. Clearly, weekends are the overwhelming choice to hold a wedding, with Saturday being the most popular day. By choosing either Friday evening or Sunday to tie the knot, not only will you have an easier time booking ceremony and reception sites, but you can also save money. Limousine services, musicians and DJs may offer discounts for weddings held on Friday or Sunday - if they don't offer, negotiate! You hold the power, since it's likely you are the only party interested in their services for that date.

Restaurants and caterers may reduce prices for rehearsal dinners held on a Thursday evening or another weekday night, since their facilities are less busy. They will welcome the business and their wait staff will be more attentive to your party on these slower nights.

Time of Day
The time of day that your reception is scheduled will also affect the cost. Hotels and reception facilities sometimes limit reception times to fit into their timetable. For example, they set aside 12:00 noon until 5:00 p.m. for afternoon receptions, and 6:00 p.m. until 12:00 midnight for evening receptions. Most hotels discourage and even charge extra to host a reception that blends into both time segments. So, when researching reception sites, make sure you inquire about their reception policies to avoid any unforeseen expenses.

If you select a luncheon reception and there is one set price for lunch and dinner, try to negotiate reduced prices on food and beverages for holding a daytime reception.

Menu
The menu also affects cost. Contrary to what you might expect, a sit-down meal is frequently the most economical choice in comparison to dinner buffets, station receptions and heavy hors d'oeuvres. Inevitably, the biggest cost factor is the type of food you select. Many hotels supply reception packages ranging from basic chicken dinners to elaborate hors d'oeuvre parties. If you are interested in creating your own reception menu and are holding the reception at a facility that allows off-premise caterers, a seasoned catering professional can tailor a menu to your specific tastes and budget.

Beverages
One of largest costs for your reception will be the bar tab. If you host a bar for the full reception, it's not uncommon for the cost to equal or even exceed the meal cost. Often you can elect (or negotiate) an "open bar" package, which sets a fixed hourly cost per person, regardless of the amount consumed. The advantage of an open bar is having a fixed cost to factor into your budget.

Another misconception is that you can save a lot of money by serving only beer, wine and soda. Quite often the reduced cost is only $1 to $2 per person. The reason is many people will drink more beer and wine than mixed drinks. To save money on an open bar, close the bar during dinner and reopen after the meal. This way you will have bar coverage at the time it is needed most.

Many people also think that they will save money by purchasing their own wine and champagne for the event, rather than using the caterer's wine list. Although you might think you're saving $2 or $3 per bottle, you will often be charged a "corkage fee" which almost always makes it more expensive. Another downside: if your don't drink as much as you expect, you're stuck with cases and cases of wine. Carefully evaluate the corkage fee and how much you expect your group to consume before you do this - and, if you do, be sure to get the corkage fee written in the contract.

Music
The clear-cut cost-saving measure when selecting music is to hire a disc jockey for the reception versus a band. Using a DJ means more variety in the music played; plus, DJs play songs by the actual recording artists, so the music is easily recognizable.

Flowers
One of the easiest ways to save money on floral arrangements and bouquets is to select flowers that are naturally blooming at the time of your wedding. Tulips, for example, bloom in spring, so ordering them for an October wedding is an extremely costly request. See Floral Notes or more information on when popular flowers are in bloom.

Another smart move is to hire a florist who works out of his/her home rather than using a flower shop. A home-based florist can do everything a shop owner can, and you'll save money because overhead costs (like rent) are not a part of their prices.

Invitations
In today's computer age, you can create lovely invitations using a home computer. Many stationery stores carry blank wedding invitations with appropriate graphics and borders, including response cards and envelopes. Simply add the appropriate wording and print them on a color or black and white printer.

Be careful, though: many papers do not absorb the ink or toner from a home printer well enough. Buy just one invitation, print it and mail it to yourself to be sure your invitations won't smear in the mail.

By incorporating some of these suggestions in your wedding plans, you'll save money without your guests feeling you have skimped on your most important day.

One last tip: sign up for a credit card that earns you frequent flier miles, and charge all your expenses to it - you could easily earn enough miles for a free flight for your

 

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such as a park
wedding theme. Remember it’s your wedding day it should express you and your fiancés style or interest and maybe even a special place you shared together. 

 

He’s finally popped the question and of course you said yes. Now the work starts. Your wedding plans must begin right away.
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