Get expert tips on all the little details you don’t want to forget. Read the recap of From Ring to Reception Inspiration Zoom session from Bridal Extravaganza of Atlanta Online July 2020.
1. How do you determine what details matter most in grand scheme of a wedding weekend? What do you tell brides and grooms to do the day before the wedding?
JDV Occasions: What's important will be a little different for every couple. If you love Italian food, let's make sure that's showcased in your menu. Everyone has music, decor, etc. If you don't love cake, we can do dessert displays. We want you to walk into your room and think, wow this is so us. Start with your venue. Have you always wanted to have your wedding outdoors in a field? Then work from there. Do you want a DJ or band? Do you want big pops of color or more muted colors with white as a focal point? What's most important is that you're marrying the person you want to spend your life with. You need to get married, have fun, and enjoy your day. There are no rules.
2. How does ceremony music differ from reception music and why is it important beyond the walk down the aisle?
Tim Staro, Saxophonist: For the ceremony we can start with jazz music, or whatever your taste is. I also have a playlist I send to couples to give them ideas. I like to keep cocktail hour upbeat because it sets the mood for the party. As long as people smile and feel good, that's what I want. The reception is the most fun part. I plug in to the DJ set to bring that live music dimension. Couples send me their favorite songs and there we go! People get very excited about having a live musician interacting with them on the dance floor.
3. What is important to know when selecting formal wear for male members of the wedding party?
Savvi Formalwear: Sometimes the gentlemen get a little left behind. We want to have a look for gentleman that meshes with the overall look of wedding, but we want the men to feel confident in what they're wearing. Make sure the fit is right. Give it a personal touch to speak to his style. We want all the men to feel their most handsome. You can rent or purchase styles. Some of the men want to own the garment because it takes him back to how great he felt in that ensemble on that day.
4. What makes a hotel venue stand out from a regular event venue?
The Hotel at Avalon: You can really create a destination experience even if you're local. Plan a wedding weekend, not just a day. We have so many amenities you can take advantage of. Maybe you do a hospitality desk in lobby. A family member can own that to give out welcome bags, itineraries, favors. That's an experience from the moment guests arrive to when they leave. You can arrange a meet up at the lobby bar. You can rent cabana at the pool and host family or bridesmaids and make branded beach balls for a fun gathering. You can create experiences where guests don't have to leave the property and it's cost effective. Many who live locally want to stay at the hotel as well, it becomes a staycation. You get so many more moment and memories in 72 hours instead of just six hours and you don't have to worry if you spent enough time with certain guests. Within Avalon, there are 25 restaurants on site and many have rooftop bars or private dining rooms you can reserve for guests.
Eventscapes: When you do your event at a hotel,you don't have to worry about transporting guests to another location. Both from a cost standpoint and logistics. Often people are trying to find a perfect location, but you can transform a lovely neutral room into whatever you want. Sometimes we have to work against a room. But with a neutral ballroom you can truly make it your own.
ENMUSE: The getting ready area is always important for our brides who love those photos. At a hotel there tends to be lovely spaces for that.
JDV Occasions: We do many hotel ballroom weddings. They're convenient for guests. They have staging and tables and chairs, so it can save you money in budget. Most hotels already have a lot included for you.
5. What are the elements of ceremony and celebration décor that you find couples aren’t thinking about?
Eventscapes: We want to be one of the pieces that makes your day perfect. We work with your entire vendor team. One thing many couples forget is that stages aren't usually pretty on their own. Often we cover the stage that is brought in or is part of the venue. We have covered them with fabric or custom carpets. In the reception's entertainment section, some people think the facility wall behind them looks fine, but we want to give those musicians or DJs a great backdrop. Uplights, decor columns, etc. make it stand out. Lighting at the wedding is a big element that can be overlooked, but it sets the mood immediately. Great lighting expresses everything else more beautifully. If you do nothing more to a dance floor than add some lighting, you did great. You can't ignore it. Bring it to light, warm it to your liking. It really brings a reception together.
6. What makes for the best engagement photos? How do you put together a shot list for the wedding weekend?
ENMUSE Photography: We love personalization. It's very important to make your wedding "you." One approach we take is to get to know your story and your personality. We want to know about your cultures and traditions. What is most important to you and your loved ones? We'll shoot from that perspective. During engagement sessions, we love to get to know the couples. We ask questions like, what's one word that your friends and family would use to describe you as a couple. That helps us focus on what attire would be ideal and maybe some details we'll bring to the session. For a bride we did a shoot with, she wanted to show her tomboy side although she was in her gown. We added sneakers!
We typically shoot as a pair so that we don't miss anything. But with less than 50 guests at a small venue, one photographer should cover it.
7. Thinking back on all the weddings you’ve participated in, what element has made the biggest impression?
Tim Staro Saxophonist: Playing a special song for a couple is a great moment. I think in particular people love Careless Whisper.
ENMUSE Photography: We did a micro wedding on Zoom recently. Instead of making it passive participation, they made it active. They assigned a cousin to do a special dance performance and they paid respects to elderly family members. They had a huge screen so we did a group photo with everyone in the room and virtually. Getting everyone involved was special, guests had roles and were very much part of the experience instead just watching.
Savvi Formalwear: I get the opportunity to work with amazing couples and the special people in their lives. One thing we've recommended along the way. As I'm preparing to deliver a suit to a groom or have him in for his fitting. I invite her to create a special message that he'll find in the pocket of his tuxedo. We create a moment to be by himself to read it and have those words from his bride. I've had brides do it at the appointment and then another one on the day of the wedding.
The Hotel at Avalon: I've seen fun cutouts on dance floor as the night winds down. Brides have elevated the Sunday brunch with Mimosa and Bloody Mary bars. You want your guests to have a great experience. It's great to have a planner so they can give you ideas to surprise and delight your guests. It's important to think about what your guests will experience.
JDV Occasions: When you welcome guests, have a special feature of a champagne wall or passed cocktails as they arrive. Late night nibbles are a big hit. Mini pizzas, ice cream cones, chicken and waffles are great touches. As a planner, I love to do special surprises for my couples. For example, as we assemble the guests to send you off outside the party space, inside you'll recreate your first dance as a last dance with just you and your band or DJ. It's so special I love to do a room reveal and maybe you're joined by your parents or just the couple. We let you see your wedding and have about ten minutes that you can take it in and really see how it came together. At that point, the hard part is over and it's such a magical moment.
From low maintenance to Bridezilla, every bride (and a whole lot of grooms too) care that the big day feels special. Sure you may have seen or attended another wedding that you thought was beautiful, that doesn’t make it YOUR wedding.