6 (BIG) Wedding Planning Lessons that Pay Off

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wedding reception with MR & MRS letters in front of a shiny background at a rainy weddingWhy jump into wedding planning blind? Head into planning your wedding with the lessons that pay big—both in time and precious budget funds. Best yet, these lessons come without those “I wish I’d…” regrets that so many couples have about their wedding day.

Interviewing vendors is not an option.

Contracts may seem like a boring and tedious part of wedding planning, but the “blah, blah, blah” of the fine print can make a big impact on your choices and budget. If reading through every contract isn’t your first choice (even if it is…), use an interview to find out the fine points. Ask wedding vendors about important details, such as overtime fees and cancellation policies.

If you have a “have-to-have” wedding vendor, make sure to ask your wedding venue about whether you can bring in your preferred caterer or photographer. Choosing a wedding vendor can also be a budget-friendly choice because couples can select the service within budget. Some wedding venues require couples to use a specific catering service or other vendor. Wedding venues with an open vendor policy allows you to use who you want (and bring in the touches you’ve been dreaming about).

Delegate with direction (and not without).

Organized wedding planning is an essential part of staying on top of things (use these tips to stay organized during wedding planning). As you start checking off tasks on your wedding planning checklist, asking for help is a “must” of wedding planning—but it comes with a disclaimer. If you’re set on using friends and family, always make sure you give input and clear deadlines. Many couples have shed tears when their ask for wedding planning help results in drama.

For wedding planning assistance without the drama, consider hiring a wedding planner (or choosing a wedding venue with an on-staff planner). A wedding planner can plan as much or as little as wanted or needed. Plus, a wedding planner isn’t related to you, so you don’t have to worry about any drama popping up years down the road.

DIY is not always worth it (at least not for everything).

Do-it-yourself projects may seem like the answer to every part of wedding planning; many couples are surprised to find out that DIY projects are not always the time- and dollar-saving answer. They’ve learned the hard way what you can learn the easy way. Always research projects to determine the cost of the project (including the amount of time) versus hiring a wedding vendor. Procrastinators, beware: DIY projects need to be started (and finished) early (use these other tips for successful DIY wedding projects).

De-stressing is not an option. It’s a lifesaver.

Be wary of taking the “pedal to the metal” approach to wedding planning. Even when you feel pressed for time (like when you have days or months, not years), schedule de-stressing days when you can relax. We’ve given you a few ideas for ways to take some time off from wedding planning (just make sure you actually disconnect the whole time). Feel free to plan some date nights and outings with your besties—and make sure your significant other does the same. A day off from time to time can help you mentally and emotionally, especially when the process feels overwhelming.

Wedding day preps are worth their weight in gold.

Your wedding day should be a relaxed occasion without worrying what else needs to be done—or how to fix a problem. A few last-minute wedding preps can make that possible. Pack an emergency kit with essentials like a sewing kit, stain remover, first aid supplies, and a few other important must-haves.

To keep the day running smoothly, send out a schedule to every involved in the day. Let your attendants and family know where they need to be, a general timeline of the day (this may be thrown off a bit), and anything you need them to do.

For vendors, make as many payment arrangements in advance as possible. If vendors requirement payment on the day of, put payment in envelopes carefully labeled with their name. Ask someone you trust (not an attendant) to pass out envelopes so you don’t have to.

Relax. Have fun!

Your special day is supposed to special. Expect that not everything is going to go exactly the way you planned. Be flexible, and enjoy all the benefits of your wedding planning.

10 Amazing Wedding Decor Ideas

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A gorgeous wedding venue is the perfect start to creating a beautiful wedding reception that leaves your guests in awe. These stunning wedding décor ideas are the next step to a wow-worthy big day.

beautiful Milwaukee wedding venue with uplighting

Lighting

Nothing captures the attention of guests like uplighting. And nothing illuminates the wonderful features of the wedding venue that made you choose it as the site of your special day.

wedding reception with MR & MRS letters in front of a shiny background at a rainy wedding

Shimmering Backdrops

A bit of sparkle can dazzle and delight. A shimmering backdrop attracts and draws guests when needed.

red carpet in lobby at 1451 Renaissance Place

Red Carpet Entrance

After a beautiful wedding venue exterior, a red carpet makes your guests feel like royalty.

mandap with floral garland

Over-the-Top Décor

Don’t let any part of your wedding feel neglected. Follow the old saying, “go big or go home.”

simple elegant wedding centerpieces with silver vases and purple roses

Understated Elegance

Understated does need to mean unnoticed. These stunning vases contribute to a wonderful formal wedding atmosphere.

wedding decor with soft candles at milwaukee wedding venue

Beautiful Glow

The right wedding lighting doesn’t always need to be bright.

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Sweet Presentation

The smallest details can make the biggest impact.

wedding table with tall vase with neutral flowers, lavendar printed table covering and lavendar chair covers

Unique Linens

One-of-a-kind table linens can add interest and personality to a formal affair.

couple cutting cake on wedding date

Romantic Flare

Small hints of romance can go a long toward setting the mood.

milwaukee wedding venue with tall dramatic centerpiece with greenery, black napkins and silver chairs

Dramatic Decor

Dramatic décor makes guests gasp. Make sure your combination of wedding décor details coordinate wonderfully (or use an event specialist that can choose the right décor and vendors).

6 BIG Wedding Planner Myths Explained

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wedding reception planned by venue wedding planner

Wedding planning has a reputation for being overwhelming—and deservedly so. There are so many wedding planning details to coordinate, and so little time. A wedding planner can be a great addition to a wedding planning team (especially when time and a lack of expertise are the problem!), but many couples hesitate because they believe some of the most common myths about hiring a wedding planner.

Admittedly, some wedding planners fit the stereotypical mold. They only cater to the rich and famous. As event planners ourselves, though, we are here to tell you that not all wedding planners fit that one-size-fits-all mold. That’s why we’re going to shed some light on some particularly erroneous wedding myths.

Myth: Wedding planners are only available to plan the entire wedding.

Couples who want control, this explanation is aimed at you. Wedding planners can plan as much—or as little—as wanted and needed. If you want to take the reigns over some aspects, make sure that there is an open line of communication and clear deadlines set.

For couples who want to use a certain vendor, select a wedding venue with an open vendor policy; this policy allows couples to use any vendor they prefer (instead of choosing required vendors off a list-more information on choosing vendors can be found here).

Myth: It’s too expensive to hire a wedding planner.

They say time is money, and that phrase is never more true than when wedding planning. Many couples believe that do-it-yourself wedding projects are always cheaper; the reality is that this misperception is not always true.

The phrase also applies to wedding planners. The value of the wedding planner is in their expertise and time-saving skills. Wedding planners can save couples time, allowing them to meet their professional and personal obligations.

Myth: Wedding planners only work with couples with huge budgets.

Unlike the wedding planners on television, not all wedding planners only cater to the rich and famous. Wedding planners are available for busy couples with budgets of all sizes, and can be an enormous help when coordinating vendors and wedding details.

Myth: My friends are just as good as a wedding planner.

We’re not disputing that your friends have “mad” skills. It can be awesome to have friends who can help with do-it-yourself projects and de-stressing (we’ve put down a few suggestions for local de-stressing ideas here). However, relying on friends for wedding planning can also be a huge mistake with a high degree of risk.

As well-meaning as your friends are, many times you’ll find that they want to plan their wedding (not yours!) which can lead to an unpleasant exchange (or many unpleasant encounters). Unless your friends are professionals, using them to plan your wedding can lead to missed deadlines and no back-ups to fill in during an emergency. A wedding planner has the expertise to select the right local vendors and handle any last-minute problems that might come up.

Myth: Wedding planners don’t listen to couples’ preferences.

It’s a wedding planner’s job to plan a wedding as unique as the couple. Select your wedding planner carefully; look for an experienced planner who can turn your vision into reality. If you want a planner that is familiar with your venue, hire the venue wedding planner. A venue wedding planner is intimately familiar with your wedding reception space (and ceremony, if you choose a venue with space for both) and local vendors in all price ranges and styles.

Myth: I can’t use my favorite vendor if I hire a wedding planner.

A wedding planner may take over wedding planning, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have your favorite caterer, photographer, florist, or videographer. If you have a favorite vendor, tell your planner your preference as soon as possible so they can choose a vendor that allows your preference. At some venues, couples have to choose from a required list of vendors. Venues with an open-vendor policy allow any reputable vendor to come into their facility.

Best Wedding Planning Posts of 2018

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bride above a beautiful wedding receptionAny engaged couple can tell you that wedding planning is a multi-step process. From the proposal to the final wedding vendor contract, the wedding planning process can be full of twists, turns, and an occasional yearning to elope. As wedding planners, we’ve seen it all—and helped couples navigate through every step of the wedding planning process.

We’ve put together the best wedding planning blog posts that can help you through planning your big day from the start to the end. (Contact us if you want more info. We can make your dream day a reality.)

Get started wedding planning…

Wedding Planning Guide: What is the first step in planning a wedding?

Tap into these tricks as you dive into wedding planning…

Tips from the Pros: 15 Tips (and Tricks!) that’ll Kick Start Your Wedding Planning

Setting a wedding budget…

How can I keep my wedding within budget?

Use these questions to screen wedding venues and find the right ‘one’…

24 Wedding Venue Questions You Shouldn’t Forget to Ask

This wedding venue tour checklist makes sure your wedding venue has all those ‘must-have’ spaces…

What should I look for in my wedding venue tour?

Deciding whether to host an adults-only wedding…

Should you host an adults-only wedding?

Keeping the wedding drama (with friends and family) to a minimum…

7 Ways to Minimize the Wedding Planning Drama

Choosing and hiring wedding vendors…

Complete Wedding Vendor List

And for when the urge to elope strikes…

25 Ways to De-Stress Wedding Planning in Milwaukee

Planning an epic wedding reception dance…

7 Tips for an AWESOME Wedding Dance

Deciding on a fun wedding reception surprise…

21 (Fun!) Wedding Reception Surprise Ideas

Setting up a stellar wedding website…

10 Musts of a Stellar Wedding Website

Dealing with any wedding day emergencies that might come up…

7 Wedding Day Curve Balls (& How to Deal with Them)

Engaged? Use these 10 Essential Wedding Planning Tips

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bride and groom dancing at summer wedding reception in beautiful wedding venueFrom the moment couples announce their engagement, the advice starts coming in (and never seems to stop). Suddenly, everyone has an idea for your wedding—and there are a million ways to use all that advice. When it comes down to it, though, you don’t need all that wedding advice (good news!), just a few basic tips that can guide planning the special day of your dreams.

Don’t procrastinate.

Wedding planning can be a lot less stressful by checking off a few of the wedding planning tasks now (here are the first few wedding planning tasks to get you started). As an extra bonus, booking the right wedding venue and vendors guarantees that you get the site, caterer, and photographer that you want. As you start planning, don’t feel that you need to have an exact wedding date. It can be easier to get the venue and vendors you want if you are flexible about dates (“what dates are you available?”) and only have a month or season in mind (use these tips to choose the right wedding date).

Stay organized.

We’re not going to lie: there are a lot of steps to wedding planning. It can be overwhelming—and completely doable if you stay organized. Use this wedding planning checklist and these tips to stay on top of your wedding planning. If family or friends ask to help, give them a deadline to ensure that the task is done and checked off the list.

If hiring a wedding planner, choose the right level of wedding planning.

Most couples assume that a wedding planner is a one-size-fits-all service that completely takes over. In reality, there are full-service wedding planners that can attend to every detail and part-time planners that can assist throughout the process. Decide which type of planning fits your wedding and your lifestyle early in the process and add it to your to-do list (or criteria for your wedding venue). This can help you decide between two planners or venues (some venues offer on-staff wedding planners that are intimately familiar with the venue and local vendors).

Select your venue carefully.

There are a lot of big wedding planning decisions; one of the biggest is the wedding venue because it dictates all the other wedding day details. The best piece of wedding planning advice: consider your options for a wedding venue carefully. Use this wedding venue checklist and these questions to select the best wedding venue for your special day. Don’t choose a wedding venue until you’ve seen it; online photos can be misleading. Schedule a tour (or ask a family member or planner if you can’t) to ensure that the wedding venue is the right one.

Let everyone know that you have a favorite vendor.

Assumptions are the enemy during wedding planning; don’t assume you can bring in your favorite caterer or décor caterer you would love to use. Make sure you ask the venue if they have an open vendor policy, which allows couples to bring in their preferred vendors. If hiring a wedding planner, let them know right away that you have a vendor in mind so they can factor that into the planning process.

Draft a guest list early in the process.

As you go through the wedding planning process, you’ll find that two key points keep coming up: date and amount of guests. While you don’t have to get a final guest list nailed down, it does make cents (pun intended) to set an estimated guest list. As you plan, decide whether you want an adults-only wedding or a kids included guest list. This simple step can help you as you make key wedding planning decisions—and save you from heartache. You don’t want to fall in love with a wedding venue that doesn’t have enough room for your guests.

Make guest comfort a priority.

Your big day is all about you, but the people you want to join you celebrating should be a focus too. Keep your guests in mind as you plan. Choose a venue with enough space and all the amenities that your guests appreciate. Little things matter, like a venue with convenient parking and transportation so guests don’t have to tramp for miles to your big day. An open-bar policy can also be a touchy subject for guests; decide early what your preference is and communicate the specifics on your wedding website. You’d be surprised too how those little things can stick with you; the smallest details, like a late-night food course, can be the detail that guests talk about for years.

Decide on a budget ASAP.

A wedding budget should not be an afterthought. Have a conversation with your significant other and anyone else that has expressed an interest in contributing to your big day. (As long as you are opening the lines of communication, discuss these key points before you delve into wedding planning.) Decide on a wedding budget (this wedding budget checklist can help) and be open about issues that may arise, such as credit problems or credit card limits.

Pack an emergency wedding kit for your big day.

An emergency wedding kit may seem like a small detail, but one with big implications. Make sure you pack these wedding essentials for those “just in case” situations, such as bad weather, a rip or tear, or any other unpleasant problems that come up. In your wedding kit, too, plan on putting payments for vendors and any last-minute items you need for the day (use this list of wedding kit essentials).

Enjoy yourself.

A wedding is a celebration. Enjoy it—and the process to get to your big day! When you feel overwhelmed, use these tips for de-stressing or spend some time relaxing with these de-stressing ideas. Once all the planning is over, take a deep breath and use these last-minute preps to ensure that you are enjoying every moment of the biggest day of your life.

Wedding Planning Guide: What is the first step in planning a wedding?

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wedding day at a reception hall with bride and groom dancing after wedding planningYour significant other popped the question! Congrats! Once the glow of the proposal has worn off, it’s time to face the enormous task of wedding planning. While this wedding planning checklist from Real Simple can get you through the next few months (or years), we’ve given you a wedding planning guide that can get you started with the first step, talking to your partner, and can take you step-by-step from there.

Before you shop for wedding dresses or decide on flowers, sit down and talk to your future husband or wife (then follow the next steps in our wedding planning guide). A simple conversation now can give your wedding planning direction and guide you as select and finalize all the wedding day details.

Location

Where would you like to get married? Decide together whether your home town, current city, lake home, alma mater, or favorite vacation spot is your ideal place to get married. Once you’ve narrowed down the city, state, and country, start thinking about what you want and need in your wedding venue.

Next wedding planning step: Use this list of criteria to narrow down your choices for wedding venue; the next step is to contact potential wedding venues and ask them these important questions.

Date

You don’t have to select the exact wedding date, but it is helpful to narrow down your options to a month or season. If there is some flexibility on date but not on budget, ask the wedding venue for an evening weekday or Sunday morning (for brunch!); many venues give discounted rates for off-peak days.

Next wedding planning step: Use this guide to decide on a wedding date you both are excited about. Contact wedding venues and ask if the date is available. If there is some flexibility on date, ask the wedding venue for open dates during the desired season or month.

Guest List

You and your spouse-to-be don’t have to come up with an exact wedding list, but start talking about whether you want a big wedding or a smaller, more intimate affair. An idea of the guest count is also helpful when choosing the right wedding venue, which shouldn’t be too big or too small.

Next wedding planning step: Use these steps to set a wedding guest list. A final guest list can give you general numbers to give to the caterer and vendors for linen rental and centerpieces.

Budget

This is a very important part of the initial wedding planning conversation. Decide how much you want to spend on your wedding day, and where the funds are coming from.

Next wedding planning step: Contact any friends or family members that have expressed an interest in helping pay for the wedding day. Make sure you get a clear answer (not just “we can cover dinner”) to minimize any disagreements later.

Style

Every couple has their own style and vision for the wedding day. Do you want a formal, elegant wedding day? Or a day with a historic style? Is a rustic wedding more your style? As you discuss the big picture, be sure to ask if there is anything really important that either of you really want on their big day. Your spouse-to-be’s answer may surprise you.

Next wedding planning step: Take your desired style and run with it as you coordinate the details of your desire wedding atmosphere. Use the style to find wedding venues and attire, and to set a delicious wedding menu.

Time

Wedding planning can be a monumental task. Discuss the amount of time you both have to allocate to planning your special day. Be realistic; a good wedding planner can be a huge help when your time is small.

Next wedding planning step: If you need a wedding planner, get recommendations from friends or add it to your list of wedding venue criteria. Many venues have a wedding planner on staff who is intimately familiar with the site and local vendors. If DIY wedding planning is the choice, ask friends or family for their help; give them specific tasks and deadlines to eliminate any misunderstandings later.

24 Wedding Venue Questions You Shouldn’t Forget to Ask

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milwaukee wedding venue with dramatic uplightingIt’s not unusual to be so completely awestruck by a wedding venue that you completely forget to ask about the logistical details. It’s even completely understandable; after all, there are some beautiful wedding venues in Milwaukee!

Try to avoid the trap “it’s so beautiful, where do I sign?” whenever possible. Those small details can play an important role in coordinating all those other details (use this convenient wedding planning checklist), such as a volume curfew that puts a real damper on a fantastic wedding dance or a lack of parking for wedding guests. A wedding venue is the foundation of all that wedding planning; it makes sense (both for your wedding budget and wedding planning) to sweat the small details before you reserve the site for your big day.

This advice comes with a wedding tip: never reserve a wedding venue without asking the logistical details and touring the venue (and we can help!). Use this list of wedding venue questions to make sure the venue is the right one AND this link to tour a beautiful Milwaukee wedding venue as you plan your special day.

Availability

Venue Cost

  • How much is your venue rate? How many hours are covered by that rate? What is the overtime fee if my wedding goes beyond that length of time?
  • What services are covered by the venue rate?
  • Do you offer wedding planning services?
  • What staff is included in the venue rate (i.e. coat check, venue manager, etc.)?

Fine Print

  • Does your venue carry liability insurance? (This can be important in case a guest is injured.)
  • What is the wedding venue cancellation policy?
  • Do I have to use a preferred vendor from a list? Do you have an open vendor policy? (The latter policy means you can bring in the vendor of your choice.)
  • What is the venue alcohol policy? Do I need to hire a vendor bring it in? Are bartenders included in the venue rate?

Guests

  • Where do my guests have to park? Is it close to the wedding venue?
  • Is the wedding venue handicap accessible?
  • Are there local accommodations for my guests (i.e. hotels, inns, etc.)? How far away are these businesses?
  • When can I tour the wedding venue?

7 Winter Wedding Do’s and Don’ts Your Guests Appreciate

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winter wedding venue feature wall with beads and uplightingThere are some wonderful winter wedding ideas on the web (like these winter wedding ideas). While guests love every one, we’re focusing on those winter wedding planning steps that your guests really appreciate—especially on one of our freezing Wisconsin winter days.

DO warm them up.

We’re stating the obvious: it’s cold outside! Winter weather can be cold, snowy, wet—or all of the above. Don’t leave guests out in the cold. Take steps to warm them up as soon as they walk in the door; welcome them with a warm fire (add that to your wedding venue checklist) and serve them warm beverages and refreshments. Remember, that a cozy welcome shouldn’t turn into toasty wedding reception; take steps to keep guests comfortable so they enjoy themselves.

DON’T make guests trudge (too far) through the snow.

Nothing can put a damper on the evening like ruining guests’ best dancing shoes. When choosing a winter wedding venue, make sure you ask about available parking. Make your guests’ night; choose a wedding venue with an incredibly close parking lot so your guests have a short walk in the cold winter weather. (If you want to make the winter weather commute even easier, hold your ceremony and reception at the same wedding venue.)

DO choose the right venue for a beautiful winter wedding.

Choosing the right wedding venue is important part of any season wedding planning; a winter wedding deserves no less. Use this checklist for singling out the right wedding venue for your big day—and don’t mark a beautiful venue exterior off the list just because of the weather. Some of the most beautiful photos are taken outside (especially with beautiful shawls and accessories!) in the winter weather.

DON’T feel you have to plan a winter wedding all yourself.

Planning a winter wedding can feel overwhelming. There are so many winter wedding details to coordinate! To de-stress the process, take a break from the wedding planning (use this list of local de-stressing ideas in Milwaukee!) and don’t hesitate to ask for help. If you want professional assistance, hire a wedding planner or select a wedding venue with experienced planners that are intimately familiar with the venue, local vendors, and the wedding planning process.   

DO get inspired by the beautiful season.

Every couple chooses a winter wedding date for a different reason: to commemorate a certain date, because it’s their “down time,” beautiful wedding venues tend to have more wedding dates, they love the season…the list goes on and on. Whatever the reason, once you’ve chosen a winter wedding date, indulge the season as you plan BUT don’t feel confined by it. Winter weddings can still be colorful and diverse events; not every winter wedding has to be pure white or holiday-themed. Have fun with creating a beautiful winter wedding day.

DON’T neglect your bridesmaids.

Hopefully, you chose your bridesmaids because you prize them. Make them feel like prized guests on the wedding day—no matter how cold it is! Provide transportation so they don’t have to brave the cold weather. When they do need to stand in the cold (like for beautiful wedding photos!), provide fashionable weather accessories that keep them snug and warm. Your bridesmaids are going to appreciate shawls, muffs, mittens, hats…anything cozy and warm.

DO decide on the right winter wedding favor.

A winter wedding comes with incredible opportunities: beautiful winter wedding décor, scrumptious seasonal wedding menu dishes, and unique winter wedding favors. Think hot cocoa kits (with all the fixings), mittens, holiday ornaments, blankets, fire starters…the options for winter wedding favors are as numerous as the snowflakes during a blizzard (these winter wedding favor ideas can inspire you).

The Complete Company Holiday Party Planning Checklist

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company holiday party with lightingPlanning a company holiday party is not for the faint of heart—but it is a task for the incredibly organized. We’ve been part of many company holiday parties (and have planned our fair share as event planners); we know that company holiday party planning can feel larger than the spirit of the holidays. That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive corporate holiday party planning checklist that can organize the task and provide the assistance needed for a memorable (and hopefully jolly) company holiday party.

____Goal/Type of Event. The first step in company holiday party planning is determining the goal, type of event (that fulfills the goal), and guest list. Would you like to host an employee-only luncheon? A formal adults-only event for employees and their significant others? A family-friendly company holiday party brunch? The simple step of setting goals and a target guest list can help with the next steps of company holiday party planning.

____Venue. Once the type of company holiday party is determined, choose a company holiday party venue nearby that checks off all the boxes: appropriate for the type of event (i.e. formal for an adults-only company holiday party or employee luncheon), secure location, convenient for parking and public transportation, sized appropriately for the guest list, budget-friendly. Contact local company holiday party venues to get a quote and ensure that the company holiday party venue meets every need and can provide appropriate amenities, such as staffing and parking.

____Date. The right company holiday party date is dependent on the nature of the business and type of company holiday party. For example, a weekend brunch is the ideal setting for a family-friendly gathering for employees and their families. If winter is a slow time for regular company business, schedule an employee lunch for mid-day or late afternoon (or an open-house where employees can drop in as available). To narrow dates, use one of two company holiday party planning strategies:

  • Holiday season. A company holiday party scheduled in November and December capitalize on the essence of the holiday spirit. The only disadvantage is that attendance may be decreased due to the many personal and professional holiday commitments. (Budget-friendly tip: schedule a company holiday party during an “off day,” a weekday when venues are typically not booked, to get a discounted rate. Contact a local company holiday party venue for rate information.)
  • Post-holiday season. A post-holiday company party, scheduled in January and February, are a popular option among guests because they have fewer holiday obligations. After-holiday parties can also be a budget-friendly option as many holiday party venues offer discounts during this off-peak season.

____Theme. Choose a holiday party theme that is in line with company holiday party goals, such as Santa’s workshop for a family-friendly holiday party. A holiday party theme gives the event direction and plays a key role in choosing décor, refreshments, and holiday party favors.

____Invitations. When selecting the right method of invitation distribution, consider the guest list and most appropriate manner for notifications. A digital invitation is a convenient and comprehensive way to reach the office staff. Paper invitations are a highly effective method for generating RSVPs to a family-friendly gathering. If the guests are younger, brainstorm ideas for a new-age digital invite. Whatever the method, design an invitation that sets the tone for the event. Be cognitive of the theme and appropriate information for the occasion.

____Food. The type of event determines the amount and timing of company holiday party treats, such as appetizers or a meal. The extent of the food served can vary from a course of appetizers to a full sit-down meal. The type of dinner service (i.e. buffet, sit-down, family style) should fit the occasion, such as a full sit-down meal for a formal company holiday party.

____Transportation. Book a venue with parking so your employees don’t have to pay for the convenience. This is a small way to show appreciation for your employees.

____Entertainment. The possibilities for company holiday party entertainment are endless: carolers, a holiday show, speech, Father Christmas, comedians. The right holiday party entertainment suits the occasion and the guest list.

____Alcohol. If holding a holiday party during the work day, or if hosting a luncheon where employees are expected to return to work, a company can choose to limit or choose not to have alcohol at the party. Don’t feel obligated to have alcohol at the company holiday party. If doing so, make sure the decision is approved by top managers and legal counsel.

____Favors. Company holiday party favors depend on the guest list and type of occasion. Favors can vary from a small hot cocoa gift basket to as large as a company bonus. A recent company holiday party trend is to return the favor as well, by having employees bring items to donate to a local charity (i.e. food for a local food bank, books for a children’s charity, etc.) If this option is chosen, don’t neglect to add a show of appreciation to employees for their contributions.

7 Tips for an AWESOME Wedding Dance

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wedding couple dancing at wedding venueIf an epic dance party is the top priority on your wedding planning checklist, these tips are for you. We’ve seen some fantastic wedding reception dances, and these tips always seem to make a wedding dance a big hit for both couples and guests.

Two words: WOW factor.

Impress your guests the moment they walk into the door. Choose a venue with all the details that leave guests awestruck and ready for mingling and dancing. The right décor, like lighting, signage, and table décor, can put your guests in the mood for a night of serious dancing. If a vintage wedding is more to your liking, complement the historical details of your venue with vintage décor and songs.

Make sure your venue has the power for a dance party.

If you want to host the ultimate dance party with a fantastic song play list and cool lighting, ensure that your venue has the electrical system to pull it off. During the wedding venue tour, ask venue staff if the venue has hosted DJs and bands in the past (as well as these other questions). You can also request information about electrical requirements from your entertainer.

Look for a dance floor Goldilocks would approve of.

If a packed dance floor is your goal, take steps to make sure it doesn’t feel packed. The right dance floor is like the Goldilocks fairy tale: not too big and not too small. A small dance floor can drive guests away because they don’t want to be jostled; a dance floor with room to spare can look empty and unappealing.

Choose a venue with a strategically-located bar.

One of the easiest ways to empty a dance floor is to make guests work to get a beverage. Choose a venue with a bar near the dance floor, or station a beverage station within a quick walk from the dance floor.

Surprise them.

To add “memorable” to the list of words that come up in conversations about your wedding, add a surprise to the wedding reception line-up. Choose a surprise from the list, or come up with a custom surprise that fits you as a couple. A choreographed first dance can make guests cheer, or schedule a surprise visit by your favorite sports mascot (maybe from the school where you first met?).

Be selective about your wedding entertainers.

The best parties are led by top-quality entertainers. When searching for entertainers, seek out quality entertainers who come highly recommended and have experience. Be cautious about entertainers who don’t have a list of clients that can recommend them (from personal experience) or don’t have a contingency plan in case of an emergency.

Serve a late-night wedding course.

If you want to keep guests on the dance floor, serve a late-night course so your guests aren’t heading out for a snack. For a themed wedding, choose a dish that fits with the occasion. If you have a favorite that you didn’t serve earlier, ask your caterer to bring out platters for the perfect dance party fuel.