Organizing a Backyard Wedding: Here’s How to Get Started

Backyard weddings are more popular than ever. Venues are postponing events due to the pandemic, travel restrictions are in place, and safety requirements for small gatherings have created a challenge. So, brides who are still eager to tie the knot are bringing things right into their very own backyard. If you are considering a wedding at home, here are tips to consider.

Organize your rental supply checklist.
While wedding venues have rooms set up and ready to entertain, it may be a challenge knowing exactly what you should order to create the same atmosphere.  Here is a checklist to get you started:

  • Tables
  • Tablecloths and linens
  • Chairs – for the ceremony and meal
  • Chair draperies
  • Table décor – centerpieces
  • Plates, cutlery, glassware
  • Lighting
  • Bars tables to serve food
  • Beverage station supplies – beverages and pitchers, ice bucket, beverage glasses
  • Floral arrangements and greenery
  • Lighting
  • Tents
  • Guest book
  • Arch for the ceremony
  • Trash bins
  • Serving utensils
  • Extension cords, power strips

Order appropriate food conducive to a backyard gathering.
Perhaps you had dreamed of a formal sit-down dinner indoors. You can still enjoy your favorite dishes; just modify how you serve them to suit your ambiance. When people think backyard wedding, comfort food typically comes to mind. So, include your upscale finger foods and side dishes while mixing them with your classic backyard selections. If you had your heart set on lobster as an entrée, consider serving it in a pastry or handheld appetizer instead. Pig roasts, hamburgers, and easy to serve buffet options have historically been a hit.

Create a unique beverage station.
Stock your bar with the typical favorites, but also include a specialty cocktail exclusive to your event. Think seasonal or original. If you have an innovation cocktail creation, this is the best time to share it with your favorite people.  Ordering a keg from a local brewery or cidery to serve is a also great way to make your ceremony intimate. Anything that makes your wedding memorable is key.

Add a place for games and entertainment.
Backyard games such as cornhole, tetherball, horseshoes, Canjam, and so on are perfect entertainment to mix with the DJ and wedding festivities. It also creates a casual, fun, and intimate setting that fits the ambiance of an outdoor wedding.

Make restrooms accessible.
Be sure to have clean restrooms available and easy to access. Allowing traffic inside to use the powder room can create unnecessary traffic and chaos. An outdoor setup can eliminate congestion for the caterer who is preparing food indoors. Here are some upscale options to consider: Luxury Restroom Trailers – Edmunds Waste Removal.

Must-Ask Questions Before Booking Your Wedding Venue

Selecting the venue for your wedding is one of the most important (and expensive) decisions you will make during wedding planning. Perhaps you already have the perfect place in mind. Or maybe you are on the hunt for the space that suits you both. Either way, here are some things to consider and questions to ask the before signing on the dotted line.

Is there enough space?
Even if your guest list is not finalized, gather an idea of how many people you plan to invite. Find a reception space that allows everyone enough room to spread out comfortably without too much extra space. Most venues charge a minimum fee. So, consider the 15-20% of your guest list that will not be able to make it.   Here are also some tips for keeping your list small.

What is included in the package?
It is important to obtain package details in writing so you can evaluate it against other venues. Do they include catering, or will you need to bring in an outside vendor? Is there staff available to serve food and work the bar, or do you need to ask your caterer to provide this service? Are there clean restrooms nearby that your guests can access? Make a list of the important items and have it ready for your meeting. Anything you need to take care of independently should be carefully considered before you make the final decision.

Is it in a convenient location?
Consider where your overnight guest will stay before you make the call.  While there may be the perfect space in the middle of the country, it may be difficult for some guests to commute. Research suitable hotels nearby and find a reception hall close to the ceremony location. Ideally, you will select a venue where both can take place on site. There is no need for your guest spending precious time driving across town!

What about alcohol?
Be sure to ask the venue if the carry the proper licensing before you decide to stock the bar. If you choose to bring in your own supply, ask if they charge a cork fee. There may be a significant cost difference between the purchase of alcohol on site versus the per bottle opening charge you find on your bill at the end of the night.

 

How to Store Your Wedding Dress

Shopping for your wedding dress is one of the most exciting days out during wedding planning. This is the time to dress up and feel like a princess!  But, if you have already purchased your dress and it is now waiting at home for the big day (alterations and all), here are some storage tips to keep it looking its best.

Let it Breathe
While you may consider and airtight box after you say “I do”, storing a wedding dress for a future date is different. Your dress needs to breathe. Cloth garment bags will protect the material from outside elements while allowing proper ventilation. If you do not have a bag, simply place your dress between a flat bedsheet that fully covers the material. Cut a hole at the top of the sheet to allow your dress to hang with the sheet equally covering both sides. Feel free to use safety pins to carefully secure the sheet around the sides of your dress. Just make sure you do not pin the dress fabric, only the sheet surrounding your garment.

Let it hang
Hanging your dress tall will keep the fresh pressed look you received from the dress shop or alterations boutique. Once your dress is carefully placed inside the garment bag, hang it in a closet on a tall rack where the bottom is not bundled on the floor to prevent wrinkling. Try to select a location to hang it away from crowded spaces. If other clothes are shoved around your wedding dress, there is a chance more wrinkling will occur.

Find the best place
If you are debating which closet is best, choose the space that is opened rarely to protect your dress from overexposure to the sun. Also try to keep the dress in a cool, temperature-controlled room with low humidity. If you are storing your dress in a tropical environment, purchase a small humidifier from a local hardware store to keep your space cool and dry.

Leave it be
This may be the hardest part! Once you have safely stored your dress, try your best to leave it alone. Removing it frequently increases your change of spills, oils from your skin, new wrinkles, makeup, and other elements that can change the integrity of your new dress.

Once you are finally close to your wedding day, carefully remove your dress and have it professionally steamed.

Winter Wedding Tips

What is there not to love about a romantic winter wedding? Imagine your cozied up by the fire and saying your “I do’s” with a blanket of snow in the background. Winter weddings are increasingly becoming more popular. If getting hitched this time of year sounds appealing to you, here are some tips for planning.

Create a Comfortable Space

Whether you are celebrating under the tent outdoors with a wood burning fire or remaining inside with the heater running, create a cozy and inviting space for your guests to lounge. Place a couch with decorative blankets in front of a coffee table for people to sit and create conversation. Or, arrange decorative camping chairs fireside with a smore’s kit to keep your guests interreacting and entertained. It is important to have a warm place to gather, especially for those who cannot handle cold temperatures.

Warm cocktails

A winter wedding is the perfect time to serve hot toddies. Hot coffee mixed with Kalua or Bailey’s Irish Cream is a fantastic way to stay warm. Consider hot apple cider cocktails or a warm Old-Fashioned to give your party a twist. Also, stick with full bodied red wines that pair well with heavy hors d’oeuvres or the dinner you serve.

Coat Check

A coat check is extremely helpful at a winter wedding reception. Most of your guests will show up wearing a heavy coat but are not interested in carting it around throughout the evening. Allowing them to arrive and safely hand off that added layer will free them up to participate fully without focusing on where they laid their belongings. This will also allow you to open up space for dining and dancing.

Dress for the Season

While you may not choose to stick with a winter theme, be sure to keep the season in mind. Deep, dark colors are beautiful over the winter months. If your dress is made of a light fabric, carry a shawl or fur wrap to keep you warm; especially if you plan to venture outdoors. That added shawl or set of hand warmers will be easy to shed while toasting or dancing and is easy to pick up for outdoor photos or congregating.

Still searching for more winter wedding tips? Here are more ideas to help with your planning. Also, check out our floral ideas for getting married over the cold months.

 

 

Tips for Sending Postponement Announcements

Curbing the spread of COVID-19 has been a hot topic for months. If you are planning a wedding right now, the stress of making changes to your timeline, catering to CDC guidelines, and debating difficult next moves (based on unknown factors) can be emotionally taxing. You have spent months on planning so the final decision to postpone your event it not an easy one. But if it is inevitable, here are some tips to get your information out to your guests in the most efficient way.

Where to start

Before you make an announcement to your entire guestlist, individually call your wedding party to give them a heads up. These folks are essential and may need to make travel adjustments quickly. More than likely, this is your close circle and their availability could help determine when you chose to reschedule.

Get the Word Out

Once your wedding party has been notified, it is time to let your guestlist know the change in plans. Begin with posting details on your wedding website. You may not have a reschedule date, but the more information you can share the better. Then, start calling friends and family while encouraging them to pass the information along to other guests they are in close contact with. Then begin emailing individuals to either give them a heads up or to confirm they have been notified by another source. It may be helpful to create an email draft and blind copy each guest to streamline this process. While you may want to call each guest personally, there may not be enough time to do so.

Divide and Conquer

This is a time when you and your fiancé must work together. You worked on creating your guestlist together, so take the names of those you personally added and begin calling, emailing, or visiting those guests, respectively.  Let your fiancé do the same with his list. Or, divide your list in half and start reaching out until everyone has been notified. If you work together, you will cut the notification process in half.

Paper Announcements

Now that you have tried to reach everyone on your guestlist electronically or in person, send a postponement announcement. This is essential for any guests who you missed or were unable to be contacted. Not everyone will visit your website, so this will eliminate any surprise. If you have a change-of-date, this is the time to notify every one of those details as a full invitation is not necessary. If you do not have a date change yet, let them know details are pending. Give your guests an electronic RSVP option rather than a paper trail this go around.

If you want to go ahead and tie the knot and plan a celebration on a later date, here are a few reasons why this option could benefit you.

 

Tips to Make Your Wedding Planning Easier

Planning a wedding can seem overwhelming, there are many details to bring together.  If the thought of making it all happen at the right time creates anxiety, here are a few tips to help keep you on the right track.

Lists, Lists, Lists
If you are a list lover, this is an easy step for you.  If lists are not your thing, give it a shot anyway. The point is – wedding planning can be a lot to store in your head. Here are organizing pieces that are easier to maintain with a list.

  • To do’s – A planning list on paper will help you see your tasks in order so you can check them off as you go.
  • Vendor list – Create a list of vendors you need to visit with names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails. It is a good idea to keep your vendor’s contact information handy, even saved in your smartphone.
  • Guest list – You will refer to your guest list for showers, pre-wedding parties, invitations, and thank you cards.
  • Wedding musts and wishes – As you are planning, write down the MUST happen items for your wedding alongside your list of wishes. Rather than throwing everything in all at once, this will help you prioritize and keep your budget under control. Your wish list items can be included through the process once you determine how your finances align with your preparation.

Hire a Planner
If you have the funds in your budget to hire a wedding planner, DO. It will be well-worth the expense. This person can ease your load by taking on tasks and details for you. She understands the planning process from start to finish and is a great resource for top wedding vendors.

Just Ask
If there is something extra you want for your wedding, ask. Whether is it a vendor, your coordinator, the reception hall, or a helpful comrade; sometimes the answer is “yes” if you simply ask! Perhaps you can expect a simple “no” for special circumstances and become pleasantly surprised to hear that “yes” is a possibility.

Save a Paper Trail
Keep a folder with a copy of all agreements and contracts. Even take note of the verbal agreements and promises to be stored in this file. You never know when this will come in handy. Your records should back up your demands in a crunch.

If you are interested in more planning tips, here is a checklist you can follow.

Responsibilities of Your Maid of Honor

The maid of honor at your wedding plays a particularly important role.  She is there to help with tasks big and small, calm your nerves when you feel emotionally unstable, and keep the energy positive.  So, be selective with who you ask to take on this responsibility. Here is a list of items your maid of honor will tackle on and before your wedding day.

Host a bridal shower
Many brides have a pre-wedding shower for friends and family to bring gifts before the event. While some gatherings may call for a collection of registry selections, others have a particular theme in mind. Typically, the maid of honor will host at least one of these events. She will help coordinate the guest list, arrange refreshments, and keep of log of what you receive. Most importantly, she is there to help you create positive memories leading up to your wedding day.

Lead the bridesmaids
Your bridesmaids will need to order dresses, attend fittings, show up to certain events, and host a bachelorette party. Your maid of honor is there to lead the way. She can make sure all your ladies have taken care of these details and are there to help you with any extra task thrown your way.

Be your crutch
Inevitably, something will go wrong, which is okay. Your maid of honor is there to help fix any given situation, but also to keep you calm. You have enough stress already so leave the extra burden up to her. It is her job after all!

Outside of unexpected hiccups, she is also there to take over the tedious tasks and details that you shouldn’t stress over. She will even be by your side at the altar to hold your bouquet while you say your vows and fix the train on your dress as you walk down the aisle.

Sign the marriage license
One important, traditional task your maid of honor has the privilege of participating in is the witnessing of your marriage license. Her memory will be with you, documented forever!

Wedding wrap-up
As you take off for your honeymoon, your maid of honor will stay behind to make sure the gifts are taken safely to your home, any items you left behind are collected, and any rental items are returned. It is time for you to simply relax.

 

Your Wedding Invitations Guide

Now that you are engaged, congratulations! As you begin organizing details, take some time to find a style of wedding invitation that is right for you.  Here is a guide to helping you begin the selection process as well as understanding how to properly address and insert the correct wording.

Style

First, determine whether you plan to have a casual or formal event and keep your setting in mind.  Will your wedding take place indoors or outdoors, in the evening or early afternoon? Are you planning a destination wedding, or something at your local church? Each of these factors can play a part when deciding which invitation to choose. A formal wedding invitation is better suited for an indoor wedding in the evening hours where a sit-down dinner will be served.  A casual invitation is better suited for an early afternoon wedding on the beach. It is essential that the formality and style of your selection corresponds with your atmosphere.

Colors

Have you already selected the colors of your bridesmaid’s dresses and floral arrangements? If you have a shade in mind, wedding invitations are a perfect avenue for introducing your color theme.

Addressing

Before you order your wedding invitations, pre-plan who will be included on your guest list.  Always order additional invitations in the event you need to extend a last-minute invite. Address your envelopes to clearly reflect who you plan to include.  If you are hoping for a family along with their children, address your envelopes to the “Family of….” If you only intend to invite the couple, address the invitation to “Mr. and Mrs.…” For the singleton who is engaged, be sure to include their fiancé. In this instance, or in the instance of a single person who you want to bring a guest, write “Mr. or Ms.….and Guest” While most single adults are allowed to bring a date to weddings, if you are keeping your numbers low and only want to invite him or her, be sure you only address the invitation to the name of the person you plan to include. Here are more tips on how to keep your guest list small.   Here is a guide to knowing when you should allow a “plus-one.” Make sure you include response cards and envelopes with postage to keep your RSVP list in order.

Wording

This part should take most of your attention and time. It is essential to include the name of the bride and groom, the exact wedding location and time, parent’s name if they are taking part in wedding payment and planning, and any other pertinent information your guests will need to know. Avoid adding registry information or logistics. If you want to include anything additional such as these items, add them to a card or small note within the envelope. Feel free to add a poem, or something unique to make your invitation special, but remember to keep it simple with few words. Too much information in a small space can be overwhelming. Here are some invitation mistakes to avoid. If you are planning a reception following your ceremony include a note stating “Reception to follow” so all guest can plan ahead. Optional elements to include in your envelope are, reception details, directions, registry information, and anything else.  Wedding website details can be added to your invitation or as an optional add-in.

The Perfect Time to Serve Dessert at Your Reception

Timing your wedding reception is key to keeping your guests engaged and having a good time. While there is a typical order of events, when you serve dessert will determine how the rest of the evening will flow. Here are some tips to helping you plan ahead.

Let it flow

If you are hosting a sit-down meal, let the courses flow naturally and offer your sweet treats once the main course is complete and the dirty plates have been removed. At this point, direct everyone’s attention to the cake display and begin serving slices as soon as you finalize the cutting celebration. If you are hosting an open buffet, let your wedding coordinator determine when your guests are wrapping up their final course. Then you can cut the cake and set out dessert alternatives.  Find great options for a sweets table here.

Don’t delay

Some guests will be ready to leave after dinner is served, yet they will want to see the newlyweds cut their cake. While dinner should not be rushed, do not delay for too long! Timing your dessert will allow these guests to fully enjoy your celebration and head home before the party and dancing takes over. You can leave the sweets on display and available for your long-term party guests to enjoy throughout the evening.

Setting the party mood

Cutting the cake is a great way to direct the attention of your guests away from their table members and towards the happy couple. This can lead smoothly to toasting and first dances. It is understood to be the finality of your meal and the introduction to the reception party. Have fun with it and allow the DJ to take the floor. It’s only fun from here!

 

Making the Most of Your Wedding Day

The day is finally here!  Whether you had a long engagement or planned your nuptials soon after saying yes, waiting to walk down the aisle can seem like an eternity. Now that the stress of planning is behind you and you have finally reached your wedding day, here are a few ways to make it one you are sure to enjoy.

Stay positive.
Yes, you have the choice to stay positive regardless of what goes astray. Your ability to allow yourself to go with the flow (regardless of what goes wrong) can make or break your wedding day. The truth is, most unforeseen circumstances are out of your control. The caterer may bring the wrong appetizer, the DJ may fall ill, your bridesmaids may get into a disagreement; it is all okay! The focus is getting married and surrounding yourself with the people you love. If you succeed in making that happen, nothing else matters. Choose to take small obstacles with a grain of salt…you will be glad you did.

Put on a smile.
Smiling is contagious! Everyone around you will feed off your energy and undoubtably, the bride can set the tone of her wedding. When your wedding party sees you smile, they will follow suit, and that energy will be noticeable when you walk down the aisle. According to Psychology Today, “The feel-good neurotransmitters – dopamine, endorphins and serotonin – are all released when a smile flashes across your face…” So, even if it may be difficult to muster up a smile, do it anyway! Today is a day to focus on celebrating your new marriage.

Laugh and have a good time.
So, now we asked you to keep a positive attitude under all circumstances and maintain a smile, but now we ask you to take it a step further. Laugh as much as you can on your wedding day. If you embarrass yourself or if a vendor makes a mistake, just laugh it off and stay lighthearted. The small details (even the mistakes) are what make your wedding unique and memorable. When you finally make it down the aisle, have fun with your vows. When you hit the dance floor as a newlywed, enjoy the music and act silly as you dance.  You worked hard to make this day special and you should enjoy every minute of it!