No matter how big or small your budget, every couple has to make decisions about their priorities. Great music might be one couple’s top priority; in order to afford the band they want, they’d be happy serving Kentucky Fried Chicken. On the other hand, two foodies who want to serve a five course meal might be willing to forgo a deejay and use an iPod. But always keep in mind the comfort of your guests. Don’t skimp on areas that will leave them hungry, tired, cold, or waiting in a long line for the bathroom. By the time you invite your parents’ friends and hire a band and pay the florist for twenty centerpieces, there’s rarely any money left for extras. But should you have the funds, these are the splurges that deliver a lot of bang for your buck.
Extra wait staff at the reception. A hotel or caterer will typically provide 1.5 waiters for every three tables. When staffing is light, one side of the room might be finished eating while some tables are still waiting for their main course. Make it two waiters for every three tables and you’ll get much faster service.
Professional lighting. Lighting can make a setting come alive by highlighting the standout features in a room and adding dimension. It also casts a flattering glow that makes everyone look great in photos.
Continuous music of an after-hour deejay. Most bands will take three to four breaks throughout the evening during which they’ll typically turn on a CD> If you can afford the extra fee, they’ll add extra musicians and play seamlessly. Or for those younger guests who want to burn up the dance floor late into the night, hire a deejay.
Guest menus. A printed menu really ups the ante and makes a wonderful keepsake for your guests.
Extra prints. Have your photographer make extra prints you can send out to select guests with your thank-you notes.
Ceremony décor. A personalized ceremony space will make your guests feel comfortable immediately. I you’re having an outdoor summer wedding, hanging flowers, colorful ribbon, pew flowers, or sun-catching glass ornaments on trees are a great way to wow your guests. A lot of the ceremony décor can be used twice, just ask your planner or friend to move the décor to the reception area after the ceremony is over.
A gathering place. Give guests’ a place to mingle during dance breaks by having a lounge area at your reception. Look into renting couches, chairs and other furniture that you can then stage with pillows, flowers, and votive candles.
First impressions are important. Fill baskets or totes with water bottles, champagne, beer, something salty, something sweet and a personal touch. Don’t forget to include a welcome letter as well as a detailed itinerary for where the guest needs to be and when. Leave the welcome bag with the hotel concierge for guests to pick up when they check in.
Inevitably, things will cost more than you think.Inevitably, you will face temptation, whether it be monogrammed cookies or the champagne with the finer bubbles. And, yes, inevitably, you will succumb to some of those urges. That’s why you should narrow down what is most important to you and your fiance. It’s also a great idea to build in a 10 percent cushion into your budget. The extra cushion will help cover any expenses you overlooked or couldn’t have foreseen.
Best of wishes,