Monday, September 29, 2008

COCKTAIL HOUR: NOT A CAGE FIGHT (PART II)

I'd like to continue on with my thoughts about cocktail hour, and bring up a very obvious--but very basic--concept (that I call the "Goldlilocks Effect".

Remember the childhood book, "Goldilocks and the Three Bears"? (One bowl of porridge was too hot, one was too cold, the next just right?)

When looking at a wedding reception, I would argue that the cocktail hour room is just as important--if not more important--than the room where a bride/groom choose to have their ceremony and reception.

Why? As I've said before, the cocktail hour really sets the tone for the rest of the evening. If your guests have an amazing time at cocktail hour, they are likely to continue the fun during the reception. If cocktail hour, on the other hand, is stressful and crowded, your guests may take that mood with them into the next part of the evening.

It's really crucial to choose a room (or rooms, if there will be more than one) that helps underline the feeling you want to convey for the night (or day). For example, I went to a beautiful wedding in New Jersey at an historic mansion. Cocktail hour was in several different, adjacent rooms throughout the mansion. While the use of a multitude of rooms could have felt labarynth-esque (see below), it really worked in this setting. Why? The rooms were easy to access and walk to and from, and the wedding really highlighted the feel of an historic country home, by allowing guests to wander and enjoy the classic decor--and somehow, feel as if they were living in that beautiful mansion for at least the evening.

Sometimes, though, using many rooms ends up working against a bride/groom -- IF the rooms are not well-laid out. TallGuy and I attended an extremely lavish (in my opinion, overdone) wedding at a very glitzy hotel in Manhattan. Cocktail hour was held in several different rooms. Each room was tiny and narrow (which led to crowding since it was a large affair), and it was difficult to find friends and family (whereas at the New Jersey wedding, the rooms were much more interconnected and spacious).

My point is that in searching for a venue, one really has to take into account the Goldilocks Effect - a room may be too large. It may be too small. It has to be JUST RIGHT. Whether on a budget or not, you are spending way too much money to settle for anything less.

When thinking about a cocktail room, try and have a good, accurate estimate in your head as to how many people you can expect to attend. If anything, overestimate the number, so you can figure out how you can prevent any sort of crowding. If worst comes to worst, and the room feels a little empty, that's OK. At least you avoid the throwing of the elbows.

If you use multiple rooms, walk through them and see if they "make sense". Do they evoke the feel of what you want for your big day? Or do they feel maze- like and not easy to navigate?

These ideas may seem obvious. They are. But when choosing a venue, it becomes extremely overwhelming (After having visited only 3 places, I was completely exhausted!) Doing a "trial run" to get the feel of what you want (walking through the rooms, figuring out numbers, and thinking about how the room will be set up/arranged) will help you form a blueprint of what is important to you.

As you go and search for the "perfect" venue, keep that mental blueprint with you. You WILL eventually find a spot that is "just right" -- but it takes some searching.

As for cocktail hour, the best thing to remember is that it does "set the tone". I'll continue on with my thoughts about cocktail hour, and how you can maximize enjoyment and comfort for your guests, in my next post.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

COCKTAIL HOUR: NOT A CAGE FIGHT (PART I)

I was thinking about cocktail hour, and how important of an event it is when a bride/groom choose to have a "full scale" wedding reception (i.e. ceremony, cocktail hour, reception).

To me, cocktail hour is that time when guests need to "re-fuel". After a ceremony--even if it's short--the first thing guests want to do is make a beeline for one of two places: the bathroom or the food.

Therefore, making hors d'oeuvres accessible -- no matter how many guests you have -- is of utmost importance (probably more important than how good the food actually IS).

Surely, no one wants to gobble down anything that's inedible.


But the worst thing about a cocktail hour, at least that I've experienced, is the fact that you end up waiting on a long line -- it's not really about the quality of the food, surprisingly.
(If the food is amazing, well, that's a bonus--but if I can't even GET TO THE FOOD--that's a problem).

Serving stations are great, so long as there are quite a few of them, and they are spread out throughout the room where you have cocktail hour. Same with having waiters milling about.

I've been to many large weddings where there are literally lines 10-15 people long, elbows are thrown, and guests cut in front of you like it's a totally acceptable practice.

TallGuy and I were at a wedding a few months ago, and this obnoxious lady decided it was cool to cut in front of several of us waiting--and she loudly announced she was going to do it.

I strongly believe this should never happen at a cocktail hour. No matter how large the number of guests, a bride/groom should make sure food (and drink) is plentiful -- and spread out in many locations.

At our wedding, TallGuy and I were surprised that the cocktail hour room was pretty EMPTY -- most of our guests were on the balcony adjacent to the actual room. We found that having a indoor/outdoor combination was great, as it spread people out.

If your venue allows the use of an adjacent outdoor patio or balcony, or several small rooms, I would highly recommend that as a way to make sure your guests are comfortable--and eating.

In the next series of posts, I'll talk about the cocktail hour---to me, one of the most crucial parts of the wedding event, as it will set the tone for the rest of the evening (for those of you having only a cocktail hour, fear not..... the tips will still apply!)

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

NEEDING SOME INSPIRATION...THE WEDDING FAIRY RETURNS (WITH A REQUEST :)

Hello my lovely readers. I hope you all have been well. So sorry for the long pause in my writings, but I've been trying to think about what subject or topic to tackle next.

And I keep trying, and trying, and trying! I am having The Wedding Fairy version of writer's block.

I need some inspiration to get me started, and I think the best place to get it is from the people who know the most about the planning process--and the ups and downs that go along with it.

My request from you guys? I'd love your thoughts and observations from a wedding you recently attended (something you absolutely adored or completely hated), photos of an amazing (or atrocious) wedding cake or bridesmaid's dress, stories, rants...basically ANYTHING that you think will inspire conversation and debate.

I'd love to pull you guys into my writing process, and though I certainly don't like having writers block, it IS a nice way to get inspired AND get you all involved.

Thanks in advance - I can't wait to read the dirty details that you have to share, and see any amazing (or horrid) photos that you can send my way! Your ideas will certainly inspire me to begin a discussion based on your thoughts and feedback.

Stay tuned!