Your cocktail hour at your wedding is the kick off to your celebration, so we want to take some time today to discuss this hour of fun and how you can best use the time and the space during these 60 (or 90) minutes.
how long should it be?
Most cocktail hours are an hour, obviously, but from time to time, if the time line allows, we recommend extended cocktail hours with a max of an hour and a half. Extended cocktail hours work best when you plan to take all of your photos after your ceremony and when your cocktail hour is immediately following. This allows for more time for photos and almost guarantees that you and your wedding party can join the tail end of cocktail hour. Last year we also had cocktail hours that took place before the ceremony (gasp!) where the couple mingled with the guests before saying "I Do".
DEcor & Signage
Enhancing your cocktail hour with fun signage, furniture and decor is always a great idea! Here is a short list of items that you could incorporate in to your cocktail hour:
Photos - Do we Have to Miss Cocktail Hour?
If you are dead set on getting to your cocktail hour, we recommend one of two options for your time line. Either plan to do a first look and take all of your photos before the ceremony, or plan to allow for a 1.5 hour cocktail "hour". With the first look, you not only get the chance to see your fiancé privately before the day gets crazy, but you also get to have all of your photos done before the ceremony, which means more cocktail hour for you! If you want to keep the surprise factor until you walk down the aisle, then plan to have an hour and a half cocktail hour so that you can take photos for the first hour and join the last 30 minutes of cocktails. On the fence about a first look, check our our blog post about "First Look VS Down the Aisle" to help you decide.
Earlier this month we explored exciting surprises to add to your wedding plans and leave your guests saying, “wow.” If you missed it, check out the blog here!
In wedding planning we focus on the guest experience but, some of our favorite surprises are the personal surprises between bride & groom. We love when the couple takes a little extra time to find an extra special way to say I love you on the wedding day.
Here are some ideas that might inspire you to surprise your other half!
Something that "Blings"
There are so many directions a couple can follow to add a sentimental surprise to their wedding day. Pass heartfelt letters to each other, take a moment alone during the wedding. We loved the story of the groom who flew in his bride’s childhood friend who wouldn’t have been able to make the wedding. One groom who travels often for work monogrammed their favorite quote into a keepsake for his bride to have whenever he was away.
Hire a skywriter over your cocktail hour. Perform his or her favorite song at the wedding. Bring in your college mascots. Or pimp out your room for the evening of the wedding with all of your favorite drinks and snacks. Show off your personality. A little extra effort will mean so much to your soon to be wife or husband!
Everyone is looking for ways to wow their guests at their wedding, so we have come up with a few fun ideas that may add an element of fun and surprise to your day! Have a special surprise you are planning? Share it with us!
Who doesn't like fireworks?!? Fireworks are a great way to end a very special day and it is always a great element of surprise. The tricky thing about fireworks on Cape Cod is the time of year and location, not to mention the cost. We typically work with Atlas, based in NH, and they can set off displays from barges or the beach depending on the requirements of the town.
Everyone also loves delicious and fun food! Why not surprise your guests with a sneaky treat during the wedding? We have seen ice cream trucks drive up at the end of the wedding while guests are leaving - Choco Taco anyone? - and Ben and Jerry's come with an ice cream sundae bar. Yum!
Want to keep the fun during the wedding? Rent a cotton candy machine or snow cone maker for your guests to enjoy - just check with your caterer or venue first to make sure they can man it for you!
Late night snacks for the dance floor are always a hit - but have fun with it! Change it up with donuts, mini milk shakes and cookies, mini ice cream cones or go savory with cones of fries, tater tots or mini lobster rolls! Your guests will thank you!
Beverages are also a fun way to add an element of surprise to your day! At cocktail hour, consider a specialty bar where guests can make their own version of your favorite alcohol - think prosecco bar, gin bar or whiskey bar. If you love beer, feature a beer bar of local favorites - we have so many great breweries on Cape Cod! Or after dinner, open up a coffee bar where guests can add in their favorite liquor.
Once the dance floor opens there are great ways to surprise your guests with more fun! If you or your groom love cigars, consider hiring a cigar roller to come to the event and roll fresh cigars for everyone to enjoy or take home. After kicking off the next big step in your future, think about a twist and feature a tarot card reader for your guests to see what their future may have in store!
For your after party, think of fun ways to surprise your guests with pops of WOW like a light up dance floor, gambling tables or karaoke! Think of ways to make your after party a totally different feel than the wedding so walking into the space will be like they just entered a whole new party.
There are so many other new and fun ideas of ways to surprise your guests, just think outside the box and bring in elements that you may not have even considered for your wedding day!
One of the best things about planning a wedding is putting together an event that really reflects you and your soon-to-be other half! A tented wedding can be the perfect way to show off your style and tailor the details of your big day to you and your beau. You may have your childhood home, the place you first met, or the place you used to summer vacation that stays with you both and you cannot think of another place that would have all the pieces you love and mean so much to you both...so, let’s have a tented wedding!! We have put together a few tips to making sure that tent in the backyard is really the way to go.
Creating a venue for your guests can be a lot of fun and comfort is key. The bigger your guest list, the more space you will need. Don’t stop at just square footage but also consider the geography of your space. Is it flat? What’s underground? A tenting company can come to your site and give you an idea of what can be safely be done at your location.
Lights, band or DJ, cooking, restrooms, all of these items require a power source. If there is not power near your venue, generators are available through most tent companies but keep your budget in mind. Many weddings can be done on the power from a home or structure on property but, if it’s an older home or you have a 10 piece band, it may not be sufficient.
Your wedding is a 5 or 6 hour event with the bar open and drinks flowing. If there is a house on site, it may be equipped for your event. Many times, you will have to bring facilities in. We usually recommend portable bathrooms for parties over 50 people. Anyone remember, Meet the Parents?
Many towns and villages (on Cape Cod especially) have strict sound ordinances. Give your local police station a call and inquire about their sounds rules. Better to know that to get a visit on your wedding day! If you are near the water, you may also want to consider the town across the water from you. Sounds travels!
No matter the time of day, those who live near you can also bring a halt to your event. Before you get too far into your wedding plans, check in with your neighbor. They’ll appreciate that you considered them!
Some of the most beautiful locations are down tight roads or on highly populated streets. Whether you shuttle from a nearby location, or provide a valet, keep in mind roads should remain clear.
Whether you are having all of the parts of your wedding in the same location or just cocktail & reception, weather is a factor. Have a Plan B & sometimes even a Plan C for where your guests will go if it’s raining or windy. And rain isn’t the only things to consider, the heat and sun can affect your guests as well.
8. General Impact-
If you are using your neighbor’s or even a rental home’s manicured lawn, keep in mind there are tables, chairs, dance floor & tent being built on those beautiful grounds. They can have an impact. Always make sure the owners of your site understand the scope of your event.
Tented weddings can allow for incredible freedom in your wedding planning. You can get creative and really customize your wedding to your vision. While there may be ways to save by purchasing your own alcohol and creating your decor, etc., remember you are creating your venue from scratch. The cost can add up quickly if you haven’t created a budget for yourself.
A private, tented location can be very intimate and comfortable. You and your guests create some amazing memories in this relaxed, outdoor atmosphere. Lots of pieces go into making a great tented wedding, make sure you're covered for the unforeseen. Peace of mind is worth it!
-written by our Senior Planner Stephanie
You are newly engaged! You have a new accessory that you cannot stop staring at. You’ve told your family, friends, Facebook… you are on cloud nine! This is one of the most exciting times of your life. You are taking the next steps with that person who’s the one. Now what’s on your checklist? First step, picking a date, booking your venue, then booking your wedding planner :)
Full steam ahead with wedding planning! It’s so easy to get lost in the whirlwind of the amazing experience of being engaged and planning what some consider the best day of their lives. We want it to be the best day of your lives but, take a beat. Take a breath. Remember that marriage is a commitment for hopefully the rest of your lives together.
While more and more weddings are non-traditional (not in a church), it’s easy to get swept up in the planning and skip a step that can solidify WHY you are getting married in the first place. Premarital counseling may seem like a thing of the past for many, but you are planning a huge life event, and we recommend at least having a conversation with your fiance about life and where it will take you. These questions may help you ease into the conversation...
Take a weekend... Take a trip together... Have the conversation… Then back to the world of planning… We’ll see you there!
- written by our Senior Planner Stephanie
Some couples look forward to it, and some couples just want it to be over, but the first dance is a really beautiful moment for the couple and for the guests at any wedding. When it comes to planning your first dance we have a couple of recommendations to get it done and get it done right, even if you are deathly afraid of dancing in front of a crowd!
We normally recommend that the first dance is done right after cocktail hour once guests are seating in the tent. If you choose to do introductions of your bridal party or just the bride and groom, right after that announcement is the perfect time to share your dance with everyone and then enjoy your dinner. Some couples choose to save the first dance for after dinner, which is also acceptable.
Just because your first dance song is six minutes long doesn’t mean that the band or DJ has to play the whole song for you. Talk with your band and/or DJ and let them know how long you want the song to be and when a good time would be to fade it out. If you do want to dance to the whole song, think about inviting your bridal party or other guests to the dance floor half way through the song so that you don’t lose everyone’s attention.
When you start thinking about your first dance song, compile a list of songs that remind you of each other or songs that have really played a role in your relationship. Then sit down and play all of the songs you came up with and do a “First Dance Test”. If you can’t really dance to the song then it makes it easier to take that one off the list and move on to another one. Now, not all dance songs have to be slow songs! I have seen many couples dance to songs that are more upbeat like Hall and Oates “You Make My Dreams Come True”.
While I think dance lessons are a great idea for couples to get down the basics for their first dance, I am not an advocate for a choreographed first dance. The main reason for this is that when you are sharing your first dance with your new spouse, you want to be focusing on him/her and the moment you are in, instead of thinking about the dance steps and what one you may forget. If you want to do a fun, choreographed song, save it for later in the night and have it be a surprise with less pressure!
A lot of my clients get hung up on favor ideas, so I thought I would share with you some ideas that I typically share with my clients. Now there are a ton more ideas out there that you can definitely consider, but the following suggestions are ones that I know have gone over well at weddings.
First, some basic favor requirements.
Make it Edible
Edible favors are my person favorite. There are lots of ideas that you can do here locally or from your home town. We have done a lot of chocolates from the Chatham Candy Manor or other local candy shops and we have also seen some really unique edible ideas from our client’s home town like maple syrup and hot sauce! Another fun and popular edible idea is a candy station! Let your guests choose from multiple candies - whether they are your favorites or just fit your color scheme, guests love filling their bags with candy! With these edible options, your guests will either eat it there that night or will be so happy when they get home to snack on it before bed!
Keep Their Beer Cold!
Koozies are also another very popular favor. You can find all sorts of clever sayings on etsy or pinterest like - “To have and to hold and to keep your beer cold” or “Let Love Brew”. If you’re not big beer drinkers or are going to be serving beers in pint glasses then I probably would not recommend this. Typically these are handed out at the bar with beers and are also in a basket for guests to take them.
Double as the Escort Card
One great way to ensure your guests get their favor is to attach it to their escort card! In order to find where they are seated they will have to pick up their name with their favor attached. We have see these attached to compasses, starfish, jars of cape cod bath salts, keys and more!
If a favor really isn’t your thing, then consider doing a donation of some sort to a cause that means a lot to you and your fiancee. You may have had a friend or relative pass who you would like to honor with a donation. I recommend putting this information on the menu or thank you card at the tables so that your guests know you made this donation on their behalf. Another cool donation type favor I have seen was the replacement of their guest’s carbon footprint to get to their wedding, which was a really unique idea and also helps the planet!
So I am a firm believer that every wedding is unique in its own way and that all couples can really make the day reflect their personalities, but there are certain formalities that every planner, venue manager or catering manager will ask about. It doesn’t mean that you have to include it in your day, but these are the most typical things that we see at events and we won’t judge you if you want to remove it from your day or even add something else in that is more special to you and your family!
Once the guests have been seated there is usually some sort of formal introduction. This can be the entire bridal party including parents and grandparents, it could be just the bridal party or could even be just the bride and groom. If you prefer not to be introduced that is fine too! If you do choose to have an introduction, you will need to know how you would like to be introduced - Mr. & Mrs., by your first names, by your nicknames, whatever you choose! Your band or DJ will be in touch with you about the specifics, have fun with it!
After the introductions is typically when the bride and groom will have their first dance. You may have taken dance lessons and this is your time to show off your moves, or you may hate dancing and will ask your bridal party and/or other couples to join you halfway through. Whatever makes you comfortable!
There are many toasts that can take place on the wedding day from the host giving a welcome toast, to the maid of honor and/or best man and even the couple. You will need to discuss with your family who would like to toast and when. Sometimes it is more appropriate for certain family members to toast at the rehearsal dinner instead of the actual wedding day. On the day itself I recommend keeping it to 4 toasts or less - that would include a welcome toast (typically given by the father of the bride), the maid of honor toast, the best man toast and a thank you toast from the couple.
As dinner is winding down the couple will typically cut the cake before the party really gets started. This can be announced with a song and everyone’s attention on you or it can be what I call “stealth” where just the parents and the photographer/videographer are invited over to witness it. Obviously others will see it happen as well, but it will not be made a spectacle.
A great way to open up the dance floor after dinner is with the parent dances. This is where the bride will dance with her dad and the groom will dance with his mom. We do see a lot where just the bride will dance with her dad or where they will share one parent dance together. Another fun idea is to invite other father/daughter or mother/son pairs that are there that night to join halfway through the dance
Bouquet or Garter Toss
Although the bouquet toss and garter toss are not seen too much at weddings anymore I still wanted to include it. This is totally up to you and is usually based on your crowd. Do not do a bouquet toss if only 2 people there are single! Maybe consider giving your bouquet to the couple there that has been married the longest or present it to a grandmother or your mother.
Happy New Year!
As I sit here and reflect on 2014, I am so grateful for all that we accomplished. It is amazing how much love, support and recognition I continue to receive from my clients, local vendors, and my friends and family. I truly feel blessed. We are excited to look ahead at all of the wonderful clients we are already working with as well as our plan to share some new and exciting things in 2015.
Here is a look back at some of the highlights of our 2014 season. Onward and upward to 2015!
Winning Cape Cod SCORE's Small Business Owner of the Year Award!
Cover of Cape & Plymouth Business Magazine
15 Tented Events from Bourne to Provincetown
(photo by emilie inc.)
The NotWedding Cape Cod 2014 at the Sea Crest Beach Hotel
(photo by Eric Foley)
35 Happily Married Couples
(photo by Stacey Hedman)
5 Life Celebrations - Birthdays, Anniversaries, Oh My!
Let’s be honest. Everyone knows that the wedding night is all about being on the dance floor and having a blast with your friends and family. And one of the hard parts of planning for this portion of the evening is giving your band or DJ the song choices you want to hear that night. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind and help you through the process of selecting your songs.
Have a Dance Party
One of my close friends, who is a music fanatic, decided to have a dance party at their house to go through song choices that they thought they would want to hear at their wedding. If they played the song and you couldn’t dance to it, they took it off the list. What a fun way to narrow down ideas!
There are so many first dance songs out there to choose from, but what I recommend is to choose one that really speaks to you, even if it is not a typical first dance, love song. One of my best friends had her first dance with her husband to Hall and Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True” which totally reflected their personalities and was one of their personal favorites. Make it your own!
So in all of the years I have been wedding planning I have had mixed thoughts on the dance lessons. Here is what I have ultimately decided on – if you are going to take dance lessons, just learn how to dance more than just swaying and turning in a constant circle. Maybe add a dip or spin in here or there, but learning a full on dance from start to finish is just tricky. And all you are thinking about at that moment is what step you are supposed to do and if you are going to mess it up instead of focusing on dancing with the person you just married. My two cents!
If you are going to dance with your mom or dad, I recommend choosing the song with your parent and making sure both of you are comfortable with it. Some couples even choose to do the dances as one parent dance where the bride and groom are on the dance floor at the same time with their mom and/or dad. Another way to make it a bit less awkward is to ask other father/daughter or mother/son pairs at the wedding to join you half way through the song.
Do Not Play List
This list is very important!! A lot of bands and DJs here the same songs (organized dance songs are typically on this list) but you need to think of songs that annoy you, make you think of an ex or just are terrible dance songs. Be sure to include all of these on your list and be specific with your band or DJ about those songs and if you will allow for requests.
Leave it to the Pros
When it comes down to it, I highly recommend making your lists of songs and then just leave it to the pros. They do this every weekend and know what the crowd wants at certain times. Don’t expect them to play straight from your playlist the entire time. Be open to their interpretation of the crowd. And hire the best! The band or DJ is not a place to skimp in your budget! Ask for references and check out reviews online!
"I always welcome song ideas from the bride and groom. When choosing music, it's a good idea to use popular songs that most people will know at your wedding. Most of the time if people don't know it they won't dance or they'll leave the floor.” - DJ Danny Walsh
Plan. Relax. Enjoy.
At Cape Cod Celebrations, your vision is our brand. Learn more about how we can help you pull together your beautiful Cape Cod Wedding.