Be Our Guest: Tips to Give your Wedding Guests the Royal Treatment

Weddings are one of life’s most wonderful milestones, meant to be celebrated with family and friends. Often, between gown fittings, cake tasting and budget-planning, even the most thoughtful couples can lose sight of their guests. While the wedding is technically about you, the couple, you should take care to be considerate of your guests and let them know you’re so glad they made the effort to be with you on your special day.

The most seemingly obvious yet simple way to be thoughtful of your guests is to, well, think about them! Put yourself in their shoes. There are a few factors that will impact your guests the most – travel, weather, food/beverage and the first impression – and by spending a little time thinking these through it will make your event one to remember.

Travel0691-jess+dave

Are a lot of your guests coming in from out of town? Have you reserved enough hotel rooms at
an appropriate variety of room rates and did you communicate this information to them? Have you considered drive time between your lodging options and the ceremony and reception sites? Did you provide easy-to-follow, accurate directions to your venues? Often when couples have a large number of guests traveling to attend their wedding, they will have both the ceremony and reception at one venue, simplifying logistics for their friends and family. Taking it a step further, having the event at a hotel will eliminate the problem. And, many hotels will give you a better room rate for your guests if you’re having your event at their hotel.

1108If you do have a lot of out-of-towners, it’s very helpful to provide transportation for them. Buses are a great way to get a lot of people from one place to another – and make sure they get to the ceremony on time. Bussing is also a fun way to foster mingling between your guests who may not know each other or to give relatives a chance catch up.

Also along the lines of travel is parking. If your venue does not have a large free parking lot, you’ll need to plan for valet service. By all means, please build this into your budget! It is frustrating for guests to have no choice but to valet and then have to pay for it themselves. Even if your event site does offer a park-yourself option, providing valet service for your guests is a very generous touch and your guests will appreciate it. Make sure you explain the parking situation on the direction cards you include in your invitations. And as many guests will invariably lose it along the way, make sure to have copies of the directions on hand at the ceremony site and include one in your welcome items (more on that later).

Weather

While you obvi0408-jessdave-copyously can’t put in an order for perfect weather, you should
consider how weather could affect your event – and your guests. Did you know that May is the rainiest month in the DFW area? January is the coldest month, while July is on average the hottest (though you probably would have guessed it was August). If you’re set on an outdoor event, you must make a back-up plan in case of rain. Tents take time to construct and if earlier in the week it looks like it might rain, play it safe and get the tent! Other thoughtful touches if you anticipate rain could be a stand of umbrellas for your guests to get to their cars relatively dry or baskets of flip-flops so ladies can save their Louboutin heels from mud.

If you insist on an outdoor event during the warm months, make sure you have fans, ice-cold 850_dsc0822drinks and other means to keep your guests cool and comfortable. If your event is during the winter months, you should rent a coat rack for the reception. It’s unkind to expect your guests to just keep their coats on the back of their chairs and it will take away from the look you probably spent a lot of money on.

Food and Beverage

0505-jess+daveLet’s be honest, while your guests are looking forward to witnessing your lovely marriage ceremony, it’s the reception that they’re most excited about – the music, the dancing, the food and drinks! What a disappointment to stand at the bar and order a drink only to hear, “that will be $6.00, sir.” What?! Just say no to the cash bar. It is in poor taste to expect your guests to pay for their own drinks. You wouldn’t invite guests to your home for dinner and ask them to pay for their cocktails while they’re there, would you? Of course not! If you cannot afford a full open bar for the duration of your reception, there are plenty of more affordable options. You can offer only beer and wine; you can have a champagne-only bar or save by nixing the champagne and having guests toast with drinks “in hand” at the time of your formal toasts. Or you can forgo alcohol altogether and just serve iced tea, coffee or soft drinks.

There are so many options when it comes to food at receptions now – seated dinner, buffet, stations. While many factors will affect your choice of meal – style of reception, personal preference, the venue itself – you also may want to consider the palate of your guests. You and your fiancé may be avid connoisseurs of exotic foreign delicacies but most likely your guests will appreciate a more recognizable menu. That doesn’t mean your food has to be boring. Mix it up a little, and make sure the caterer will label the food on buffets and stations. Guests want to know what they’re being offered, and they’re more likely to try new things when they know what they are. Also, it’s considerate to steer clear of common allergens, such as peanuts or shellfish, especially if you know you have guests with allergies.0288-jess+dave

The First Impression

This one is short and sweet – plan for a little something for your guests to receive when they arrive at their hotel. It doesn’t have to be much, just a personal note thanking them for traveling to share your big day. You can arrange for them to receive it at the desk upon check-in or pay a small fee to have it left in each guest’s room. You can get more elaborate than a note – baskets, bags or cowboy hats filled with goodies and bottled water, brochures on local attractions and your agenda for the weekend. But just be sure to include that little note that you took the time to personally write to them to let them know you are glad they came.

The Bottom Line

Despite your best efforts, with so many demands on your time surrounding your wedding weekend, it is not easy to get quality time with all of your guests. Even though they may get only a few minutes of your time during the event, your guests will feel welcome and happy to be a part of your celebration if you will take the time during your planning to focus on them and what might serve them well. After all, while your wedding comes and goes in a blur, you will have these friends and family members in your life long after you say “I do.”

Images by f8 Studio, Amy Herfurth Photography and Graham Hobart Weddings

Tiffany and Cynthia at Marie Gabrielle Restaurant & Gardens

Planned & Designed by Weddings by StarDust  |  Videographer: Beyond Films  |  Venue: Marie Gabrielle Restaurant & Gardens |  Photographer: Tony Valadez  |  Florist: 21 Parc Events  |  Apparel: Ysa Makino, Hayley Paige, Fouy Chov, Adrianna Papell, Montage, and Watters from StarDust Celebrations  |  Rentals: Big D Party Rentals, DFW Dance Floors, Randy Ro Entertainment, Bella Accento, Beyond Lighting  |  Stationery: StarDust Celebrations  |  Bakery: Frosted Art  |  Favors: Trailercakes  |  Photobooth: Picturedust  |  Entertainment: Intensity, LeForce Entertainment, Bravo Entertainment

TIFFANY + CYNTHIA | 10.8.16 from Beyond on Vimeo.

Real Wedding: Kathleen & Ryan

Kathleen and Ryan’s night at the museum was one for the history books! Their friends and family were in for a treat at the Perot Museum of Natural Science where the evening consisted of eating dinner with the dinosaurs, cake cutting among on the precious gems and dancing under the “Molecule” stars. This perfect April night ended with tacos by the giant frogs for a late night snack and a surprise firework show. This wedding was DINO-mite!

Planned & Designed by Weddings by StarDust  |  Images by John Cain Photography  |  Ceremony venue: St. Rita Catholic Community  |  Reception venue: Perot Museum of Nature and Science  |  Florist: 21 Parc  |  Invitations & Stationery: StarDust Celebrations |  Bridal gown: Birnbaum & Bullock from StarDust Celebrations  |  Bridesmaids dresses: Dessy from StarDust Celebrations  |  Tuxedos: StarDust Celebrations  |  Bakery: Frosted Art  |  Caterer: Beyond the Box  |  Entertainment:  Royal Dukes band, Emcee Marcus Rollins  |  Beauty: Elan Makeup Studio  |  Rentals: La Tavola, AFR Furniture Rentals, DFW Dance Floors  |  Fireworks: Pyrotex

Real Wedding: Katie & John

Katie and Johns periwinkle wedding at the Adolphus Hotel was full of surprises. Katie’s love for all things Disney inspired the StarDust team to surprise her with hidden Mickey Mouse ears throughout her day, they even got the bridesmaids in on the fun and had hidden Mickeys in all the bouquets! Guests enjoyed dinner and dancing with the couple and ended the night with a send-off fit for a Disney princess. The couple was showered in white confetti as they rode off together in a horse drawn carriage!

Planned & designed by Weddings by StarDust  |  Photos by Amy Herfurth Photography

Ceremony: Truett Chapel, First Baptist Dallas  |  Reception: Adolphus Hotel  |  Florist: The Garden Gate  |  Bridesmaids attire: WToo from StarDust Celebrations  |  Bakery: Delicious Cakes  |  Rentals: BBJ Linens, DFW Dance Floors  |  Lighting: Beyond  |  Beauty: Tracy Melton Artistry  |  Entertainment: DJ Marcus Rollins  |  Photobooth: PictureDust  |  Stationery: StarDust Celebrations  |  Transportation: Blue Diamond  |  Videography: Robert Oberg Wedding Films

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Oh Baby! 8 Things to Consider when having Children at your Wedding

Amy Herfurth Photography

Amy Herfurth Photography

Having children in the wedding is a matter of personal preference. There are no right or wrong answers, as well as no hard and fast rules. There are some factors however, that the couple may want to consider.

1. Children under four are unpredictable. If a flower girl or ring bearer is young, he or she may not follow through with walking down the aisle, even if rehearsed perfectly the evening before. So brides– always be prepared to implement a contingency plan.

2. For the ring bearer, regardless of the age, the rings on the pillow should be “pretend”. The real rings are usually given to the honor attendants or to the clergy. Two disasters can occur if the real rings are attached to the ring pillow. First, the knots must be secure in order to avoid becoming untied, this usually means the best man cannot get the knots untied during the ceremony. Second, the rings are not tied securely and they fall off the pillow.

3. Children like to run and play which usually leads to getting tussled or dirty. The stress parents place on children to “act nice’ and “not get dirty” is sometimes not a pretty sight. Weddings are often formal and are considered worship services so keep this in mind when selecting children. If a child usually follows instructions, he or she will probably be great. Conversely, children who usually misbehave do not suddenly become well-mannered after being invited to participate in a wedding ceremony.

4. Guests who bring infants or small children are usually considerate and leave the ceremony if crying begins. However, there are those who believe that sound of a crying child is perfectly acceptable. The couple may share this view but if you do not want to hear children speaking loudly or crying, you may want to alert your greeters or house staff to direct parents to a nursery if necessary. If you know in advance that many of your guests have children, it may be a good idea to hire a sitter for the hour during the ceremony.

5. It’s a good idea to have the parents sit in the first row of the temple or sanctuary, in order that children participating in the ceremony may sit during the wedding service, after the processional. If possible the children can always walk out during the recessional or be escorted out after the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom at the end of the ceremony.

6. Bringing children to the reception is a touchy subject. The bride needs to think of what kind of event she has in mind. Children can change the tone of the reception. Some brides love the inclusiveness of all generations, others believe that receptions, like dance clubs, are no place for children. We have found that if children are on the dance floor hopping around, adults will usually not dance. Someone will have the dreadful task of asking parents to keep the children off the dance floor.

Ring Bearer

Anna Smith Photography

7. Also during receptions, children are sometimes left to run wild. This can be dangerous not only for the child but also for wait staff and other vendors trying to provide services. So, if children are to be invited, consider engaging a sitter to keep them occupied. They can watch videos, play games or nap, while the parents can have a great night out with good music, great food and no need to worry about the children.

8. Lastly, some brides want lots of children participating in the wedding ceremony. For those weddings, consider having the children enter two-by-two holding hands. I have seen children come down the aisle being pulled in a wagon, still others have marched down in perfect unison while carrying candle lighters or ringing bells. We have even had a mother of a bride who was escorted by her 6 year old grandson. These and other ideas help to create an intergenerational ceremony and children almost always are adorable. Be creative and be FLEXIBLE because children will always be children.

Children in Weddings | Wedding Party | Flower Girls | Ring Bearers | Wedding Planning | Weddings by StarDust | Dallas, Texas

Real Wedding: Jessica & David

Jessica and David had an intimate wedding at the Joule Hotel on the Rooftop Terrace. Although the clouds were looming, Jessica was not going to let a little rain stand in her way. Just as the ceremony was ending, the rain started falling and umbrellas came out! The bride and groom along with their guests laughed it off and the party continued.  The romantic quartet played on during cocktails and dinner.

They wanted an elegant, unstructured feel with the freedom to mingle with guests and enjoy each other’s company. The seating was arranged in one big U shaped table with a beautiful lush floral runner with lounge furniture all around for a relaxed, family oriented environment.  This love fest ended with a fun send off into the glass elevator with streamers!

Planned & Designed by Weddings by StarDust  |  Photos by Gary Donihoo, f8 Studio

Venue: The Joule Hotel | Bride’s attire: Matthew Christopher from StarDust Celebrations | Bridesmaid’s attire: Mori Lee from StarDust Celebrations | Florist: 21 Parc | Bakery: Cake Carousel |  Beauty: Kristin Colaneri | Entertainment: European Ensemble| Stationery: StarDust Celebrations |  Rentals: BBJ Linens, AFR Furniture Rentals, Shag Carpet Props

Please be Seated – The Basics of Wedding Reception Seating & Place Cards

A “seated” wedding reception means that there is full seating or, put another way, a seat for every guest. We recommend that there be full seating for guests whenever possible. Even if your reception is a cocktail party or just cake and punch, providing insufficient seating puts the burden on the guest to find a place to sit or set down a plate or purse. Many wedding guests will simply leave the party early if they cannot find a place to sit.

The type of seating offered—full or partial– is an important distinction when asking a venue about the number of guests it is able to accommodate. The question to always ask: “is that for full seating?” You’ll often find that the capacity quoted by a venue is not for full seating and you will be very disappointed if you were planning on providing a seat for every guest!

A decision to have full seating does not necessarily determine how food will be served. Meal service may be either a served, plated dinner, or buffet/stations.

Seating may be assigned or open. Sometimes it is best to have a combination of the two with reserved tables for the wedding party and immediate family, and open seating for all other guests.

If there is assigned seating for all guests, it is communicated in one of several ways:

  • Escort cards – these are cards that include the guest’s name and table number. There are many creative ways to provide this information and samples are found in just about every bridal magazine.  The cards are always arranged alphabetically by last name. If the escort card is also a favor consider giving one to every guest. If it’s just a card, you can include married couples on a single card (for example, Mr. and Mrs. John Smith). Plus-ones should have their own card if you know the name. Unnamed plus-ones may be listed with the named guest bringing them (ie. Mr. John Smith and guest).
  • Seating Chart – this is a chart listing the guest names alphabetically and indicating the assigned table number. The seating chart can also include a layout of the room with numbered circles representing tables to assist in finding the right table. The seating chart is used instead of an escort card.
  • Place cards – these are cards put at the actual place setting to indicate exactly where at the assigned table the guest is to sit. It is usually sufficient to only assign a table and let the guests chose their own seat at the assigned table. But if you need to be very specific about who sits next to whom, place cards are the proper choice. The place card is used in conjunction with either the seating chart or the escort card

Deciding where to seat guests can be a lot of work and you may decide to just offer open seating. If so, please keep these tips in mind:

  1. Always provide reserved seating for the wedding party and the immediate family. These folks are usually busy with photos right after the ceremony and remain busy greeting guests at the reception. By the time they are ready to sit-down, there may be no seating available! It’s a simple task to reserve several tables for family and the wedding party.
  2. With open seating, you are letting all of your guests chose where to sit and with whom. Relatives, neighbors, school friends, etc. like to sit with each other and don’t always neatly add up to a table for eight or a table for ten. The result is that some tables may end up having chairs and place settings added and other tables may have open seats. It’s important to provide enough tables and chairs to accommodate what may be an irregular seating pattern. We always plan for at least one more table than we think we will need when there is open seating.

Wedding Reception Seating | Seating Charts | Place Cards | Escort Cards | Wedding Planning | Dallas, Texas

Real Wedding: Erica & Adam

Erica and Adam’s wedding was full of love and laughter even when the rain caused a change in ceremony plans. The StarDust team worked their magic and created a gorgeous event full of shades of pink and fuchsia. The couple danced the night away with all their friends and family and ended the evening with a romantic sparkler send off!

Planned & designed by Weddings by StarDust  |  Photos by Anna Smith Photography

Venue: Rosewood Crescent Hotel | Bride’s attire: Eve of Milady from StarDust Celebrations | Groom’s attire: StarDust Celebrations | Florist: 21 Parc | Beauty: Elan Makeup Studio | Entertainment: Stradivarius Strings, DJ Shadow of the South | Stationery: StarDust Celebrations | Videographer: Brittany Bay Productions

Real Wedding: Jennifer & Ben

Flashback Friday to one of our favorite summer weddings! The StarDust team planned a lakeside getaway to Horseshoe Bay, Texas for Jennifer and Ben. It was the perfect summer evening starting with vows by lake, dinner and dancing under the stars, and finishing it off with a wild after-party so the fun never ended!

Photography by Gary Donihoo, f8 Studio

Venue: Horseshoe Bay Resort | Bridal Attire: Lazaro from StarDust Celebrations, Veil & Accessories: Paris by Debra Moreland from StarDust Celebrations | Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Monique Lhuillier from StarDust Celebrations | Bakery: Simon Lee Bakery | Entertainment: Blind Date Band, DJ Marcus Rollins | Videography: Clayton Stringer

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