wediquette :: venues

One of the foundational elements of every wedding event is the location. Get the foundation right, and everything else will follow. The wedding ceremony and wedding reception location will help emphasize the magic, character, and vigor of your wedding day. San Diego has amazing scenic and desirable locations for any type of wedding – high quality resorts, ocean and nautical, desert and mountain, tropical and botanical, and all types of religious venues.
In your minds eye, where do you picture the perfect spot to honor each other and celebrate? — A traditional church, by the water (ocean, waterfall), in a floral garden, in a scenic countryside, in the clouds (skydiving), in a sports venue (stadium), on a high vista view, or in an exotic ethnic atmosphere?
As you may have guessed, usually the location works with the style or theme of the wedding. If you want a Victorian style wedding, you might select a serene garden or countryside location. For a Tropical wedding you might want a boat, waterfall, or a beach location. In a Southwestern type wedding, you might select a scenic sunset desert or a colorful Hispanic / Spanish style location.

Elbow Room
Think comfort and elbow room; this will help facilitate a celebratory atmosphere. When you visit a potential wedding or reception location, picture where everyone will be situated and how you and your guests will feel. For the ceremony, there should be enough room for the bride and groom, the wedding party, the supporting cast (officiant, musicians), and the total number of guests you invited. For the reception, there should be ample space for the guests, the activities you have planned (dancing, band, activities), and the amenities (gift table, food tables, cake / dessert table).

Before choosing a location, you should attempt to visit the wedding and reception location at exactly the same time of day as your event, to make sure there are no surprises. If it’s a private venue, perhaps you can attend prior to its start. On rare occasions, your venue might be in a more public area allowing for viewing while an event is in progress. It is, though, inappropriate to “crash” another person’s private affair.
• Look at the lighting and shadows. Is it too light or too dark? If the weather is raining or overcast will that make a big difference in the lighting? If outdoors, what is the contingency for inclement weather?
• Look at the colors. Will your wedding colors and theme go with the room? If you add your own personal touches of candles or unique centerpieces will they coordinate with the room?
• Listen to the sound. Is there an echo or are sounds muted? With microphones, music, and speaking will everyone be able to hear well?
KEY QUESTION – Ask the location vendor what options they have for incorporating your own unique touches – color, special items (e.g. candles), and music.

Private or Public
Decide if you want absolute privacy, a public environment, or a combination of both. Having the general public in your area can be either fun or a nuisance, depending on how you view it.
KEY QUESTION – Ask the location vendor what the public vehicle and foot traffic is like during the time of your event. If you want privacy, ask if there are any controls of the public that they can facilitate. If you want the public involved, ask how you can include everyone!.

Transportation and Parking
Make it easy for you and your guests to get to and from the location. Plan how you and guests will get to, from, and between the wedding and reception sites. Everyone should be focused on you and your day, not anxious about getting lost or having their car towed. There should be close and safe parking where it’s legal to park. If parking is a problem, alternative solutions like shuttles, limos, and trolleys can be delightfully memorable.
KEY QUESTION – Ask the location vendor what transportation and parking alternatives are available.

Combination Sites
Couples can simplify the wedding planning process by choosing a location that offers both a wedding ceremony and wedding reception site. Not only will this make things easy on you, but it will also save time and money. Combining wedding ceremony and reception sites:
• Saves time and money
• Decreases planning and coordination issues
• Allows for a seamless transition from ceremony to celebration
• Eliminates driving and parking stressors for guests unfamiliar with the area

Guest Lodging
Venues that offer guest lodging may also offer discounts towards the venue cost. Your guests will enjoy the convenience of going to their rooms after the reception has concluded. By choosing a wedding location with lodging options, you will:
• Maximize the time that you have with your family and friends
• Add fun and excitement to your wedding weekend
• Ensure that your guests will arrive on time for your special day
• Allows a safe option for guests who drink a bit too much at the reception

May you find the location that matches your special theme and style, to make your wedding amazing.

wediquette :: wedding invitations

A wedding invitation usually includes an outer envelope and an inner envelope. The outer envelope displays the post office mailing information and contains the inner envelope and the invitation. The inner envelope displays the name of the invitee and contains the invitation.

• Titles and degrees – spell the full word (e.g. Doctor)
• Married couples with same last names – use Mr. and Mrs.
• Married couples with different last names – place their names on separate lines in alphabetical order.
• Unmarried couples living together – place their names on separate lines in alphabetical order.
• Unmarried couples living separately – use their individual names and send separate invitations to each.
• Military {An officer ranking equal to or higher than a captain in the army or a lieutenant in the navy – place their title next to their name with the branch of service below. For retired high ranking officers – place (Ret.) after their name. For reserve on duty, non-commissioned officers, or enlisted individuals – place the branch of service below their name}
• Children – it is not necessary to include children names on the wedding invitation outer envelope. List children on the inner envelope with their parents (e.g. Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Michael and Jamie).
• Adults only – Many guests do not realize that the absence of a child’s name on a wedding invitation means that the child is not invited. If you don’t want children at the wedding and/or reception, either informally spread the word or formally communicate that you can only accommodate adults. Additionally, you can remove the space with “Number of guests” from your invitation.

Inner Envelopes
Inner envelopes can generally be addressed without first names or addresses (e.g. Mr. and Mrs. Jones). Close relatives can be addressed with familial names (e.g. Aunt Mary, Grandma Trudy). Single persons with an unspecified guest should have additional instructions such as “and Guest” indicating they may bring a date.

An invitation generally contains the following information:
[Brides parents names]
[Grooms parents names]
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their children
[Bride name]
[Groom name]
[Special instructions about reception, attire (e.g. black tie), etc.]

Mentioning gifts or that you do not want gifts on a wedding invitation is generally considered poor etiquette. The best way to communicate gift information is at the shower, on the couples wedding website or through word of mouth of your family and friends. Even if you do not want gifts, there will still be guests that will give you something, so it is best to be ready to receive any gifts graciously. Personal wedding website are becoming more popular these days.

Timing is essential, to give yourself and your guests adequate time to respond and plan.
Ordering wedding invitations. You should order your invitations at least four to six months before the wedding. The printer will usually need about four weeks to process the order; you will also need about a month to address and assemble the invitations.
Sending wedding invitations. You should mail the invitations six to eight weeks before the wedding and no later than eight weeks. Remember that your out-of-town guests will need to make travel arrangements. The RSVP date should be at least three weeks before the wedding, so you have enough time to deal with seating and catering needs.

Electronic Invitations
Email is a great idea for sending invitations if you are planning on going GREEN. The invitation creates the image and tone for the celebration you want, so if you’re not careful…sending something electronically can send the message you are rushed, extremely cheap, and/or don’t care about the quality of your wedding celebration. There are customizable email stationery available so you can create a one of a kind look while still remaining environmentally friendly.

Saving Money
Here are a few tips on saving money on wedding invitations and still use good etiquette.
• Paper – use inexpensive paper like linen or a blend – don’t use 100% cotton paper.
• Printing – use thermograph printing or an inexpensive ink instead of engraving.
• Web or mail order catalogs – bulk flat-print invitations ordered via mail or on the web can be very reasonable.
• Invitation kits – office and software stores have wedding invitation kits.
• Insertions – minimize insertions and don’t use foil or similar materials – insertions increase the weight of envelopes and result in higher postage fees.

wediquette :: wedding music

The first question you should ask yourself is what style and flavor of music do you want for your ceremony?

• Wedding ceremonies will often dictate the course of music and styling for this decision. Usually, an organist or a string or brass ensemble will be chosen. Your faith may weigh in on music choices. Your ethnicity and family background may also have a bearing on music chosen.
• Many ensembles can provide a variety of styles to choose from from their musical repertoire. Give them notice on music you wish to hear or if you want them to learn a song. Don’t wait until the last minute and expect a musician or band to learn something the week of the wedding, especially if they can’t get the sheet music for it.
• Auditioning music. Ask for a demo CD or DVD or see if you can see them perform in a public venue. It is never appropriate to crash a private event to audition your DJ or band. You certainly wouldn’t want strangers visiting your private event to view vendors.
• Disc Jockeys can provide a variety of old and modern contemporary selections to suit your tastes. They can mix and match songs and styles and play the music the way you are used to hearing it – as the original recording.
• What music is appropriate for a wedding ceremony? Traditional ceremonies use classical music. Many modern brides eschew the traditional organ version of the Bridal Chorus and use either solo or string versions or other classical pieces. Brides also get creative and use contemporary love songs, jazz pieces and even music from movie soundtracks.
• Unity candles, sand ceremonies and rose exchanges are just a few additional traditions that may be added to a ceremony. These, too, often have musical accompaniment. Ask your musician or DJ for something light and instrumental while they take place.

Prelude wedding ceremony music should be playing as guests arrive. Whether you are in a church with an organist or at a resort or San Diego beach side location with a string trio or a Disc Jockey, music should welcome your guests as they arrive.
A church typically supplies an organist or allows you to bring in a certain number of musicians. You virtually never see a DJ in a church. A resort, hotel, country club or backyard wedding allows for more creativity in choosing music options for the ceremony. Be sure and take into account power and equipment needs. Just because your cousin can play the guitar does not automatically mean his sound will be amplified. There is also the need for microphones for most ceremonies. Your resort may have an A/V department to handle this or your DJ or musician may be able to tackle this issue.

There are many more questions you may have surrounding searching for and choosing ceremony music. Take advantage of the professionals out there for their expertise in guiding you to make the right choices. You may style it any way you’d like, but, using professionals, you’ll style it right!

wediquette :: catering choices

Eating is a celebration in itself, especially at a wedding reception. Your guests may not remember many of the small details of the wedding, but they will remember a good meal. As with many parts of a wedding, there are just a few common sense catering etiquette guidelines and then most of the choices are a matter of your own tastes – no pun intended.
If you prefer high tradition, then you may lean towards something classic like filet mignon, salmon mousse, and chocolate-dipped strawberries. However, depending on your family customs and background, ethnic cuisine can be more affordable, interesting, and memorable.

The Reception Meal and Venue

The time, type, and service of the meal is guided by the theme and the location of your wedding. A small reception area will have more limitations than a reception area that is large. You should acquire the input of your coordinator and caterer to help with these decisions.

Time and type of meal
If your wedding is in the late afternoon or evening and is very formal, then the type of meal may tend to be formal, such as a sit down dinner. If your wedding is late morning or early afternoon and casual, then a brunch or light food stations may be more fitting.
Traditionally, dinner / supper is the wedding reception meal of choice. However, there are many other options that are less costly and can provide a unique ambiance at the reception. Consider other options such as a breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, evening cocktails, or a dessert only.

Service of meal
How the meal is served is of some importance. There are generally three options, although each option has many different variations that your caterer should be able to offer.
• Hors d’oeuvres / finger food – Staff bring light foods finger foods to the guests as they are seated or standing.
• Buffet – Guests select their own foods or desserts from one or more buffet tables. This might also include service stations for fun and interesting foods such as crepes or ice cream sundaes, which are assembled by staff based on the guest selections. Buffet tables and service stations take up more room in a reception area, so the space must be considered carefully. Stations may allow for more variety such as a carving station and freshly made pasta and seafood station.
• Seated meal venue – Staff serves guests directly at their tables. The seated meal is usually more formal and traditional.

Questions to ask your caterer
Here are the top questions to consider asking a prospective caterer or facility to help you screen and select the best caterer / vendor for your special wedding day.
1. Health rating and licenses – This can determine cleanliness, health, and legality.
o What is their current rating by the state health department? Remember those A, B & C signs in restaurant windows?
o Do they have a license to sell alcohol? Do they sub contract out the alcohol service?
o Do they have liability insurance?
o Are they affiliated with professional organizations?
o Do they have references?
2. Price – Ask for a price list and options.
o How are foods and meals priced – by each guest? By a minimum number that attend?
o Are children’s prices lower? Vendor meals?
o Can you get a refund if less guests attend than anticipated?
o For alcoholic drinks, are there options such as negotiating a total food and beverage price or a flat fee for bar service?
o Can you purchase and supply your own alcohol?
o What is the minimum cost of a bar setup?
o Is there a wine corking fee?
o Is delivery of food and alcohol included?
o Are there any extra (or hidden) charges?
o What about décor items such as chairs, linens, and/or specialty china and glassware?
3. Dates available – Lock in your date as early as possible.
o Are they available on your wedding date?
4. Freshness and Quality – This ensures the food is fresh and the highest quality.
o Can you taste samples?
o How close to the time of the wedding will the food be made?
o How will the food be kept fresh and unspoiled? Do they use organic items?
o Do they have a quality guarantee?
o Can you speak with the actual chef?
o Can we make menu choices and substitutions based on our tastes, budget or ethnic needs? How flexible are they?
5. Location and Service – This confirms the environment is consistent with your theme and service is available.
o Are they familiar with your reception location? If so, are there any special issues or nuances you should consider or be aware of?
o How will the staff be dressed?
o Who will be available if problems arise? Who is the onsite contact the day of?

May the aroma and tastes of our life together permeate your wedding reception and create wonderful tasty memories for your family and friends!

wediquette :: the bar and alcohol

There is a general consensus that cash bars (where guests pay for their own alcohol drinks) are not very good etiquette. You should look at your guests as your guests, not paying customers. For example, most people would not ask their beloved aunt to pay for a glass of wine at their home, so why treat them any different as a guest at the most important event of your life?
Obviously, the reality in this day and age, with the economic conditions many are experiencing, is that the cost factor has to weigh in on this decision for many people. The liquor and service expense for this part of a reception can really add up.
One of the major concerns is how to pay for alcohol, especially for families and friends that love to drink at a wedding. If you anticipate large alcohol consumption, then here are some tips:
• Negotiate a flat fee bar service with the caterer.
• Purchase the alcohol yourself via a discount superstore.
• Negotiate the return of un-opened bottles.
• Ask the caterer to not serve drinks at tables unless guests specifically request it.
• Require new bottles not be opened unless open bottles are completely emptied.
• For hotels, country clubs and resorts, you might set a dollar limit on the bar expense, after which it turns to a cash bar.
• Host the cocktail hour and the dinner wine and champagne, then switch to a cash bar.
If your affair is much more casual in nature, much of this might be a non-issue. Friends could serve as a bartender on the night and you can provide and keep the leftover liquor.

Safety etiquette suggests that you stop serving alcohol about ½ hour before the reception is due to end. This will save you money, but more importantly provides safety to your guests by stopping the drinking before they try to drive home.