Reception

Yellow School Bus

Unconventional Wedding Transportation

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When you and your partner leave the chapel on your wedding day, you could hop into the same faithful Honda Civic that got you to the ceremony. It might lack panache, sure, but transportation is transportation. Or you could upgrade to a limousine, but when you think about it, what’s a limousine but just a nicer version of that same old car? If you really want to leave the wedding and embark on your new life together in style, consider these unconventional modes of transportation

Canoe

Okay, so there’s one major requirement you’ll need if you plan on getting away by boat: water. If you’re getting married by a lake, pond, or slow river, a canoe is a nifty rustic option for your wedding getaway. The experience of paddling together to keep the boat pointed where you want it to go is a good way to start your life as a new couple. And accidentally capsizing the canoe and being able to continue without assigning blame and arguing is good practice, too.

Horseback

If you and your partner are experienced riders, why not ride into the sunset together after the ceremony? The bride on a white horse, the groom on a black horse–you’ll get some great pictures out of your nuptial ride. Just make sure both of you know how to ride so no one gets hurt–if you’ve never been on a horse in your life, you might want a safer option. Maybe a donkey; they’re more docile.

Tandem Bicycle

If you’re not into the unpredictable element of giant live animals at your wedding, you can do a different kind of ride into the sunset on a tandem bicycle. We recommend practice with this one too, though–they’re harder to ride than it looks. Still, if you can master it in time for the ceremony, it’ll be absolutely adorable. Just prepare for guests to sing “Daisy, daisy, tell me your answer, do” as you ride off.

Yellow School Bus

No one really wants to ride the school bus when they’re in school. Once you’ve been out of school for a while, nostalgia starts to set in. Take you and your wedding party back in time by renting a school bus to shuttle you from the ceremony to the reception. Spitballs and back-of-the-bus make out sessions are optional.

Hay ride

If you’re having a fall wedding or a rustic wedding, or both; then a hay ride is a no-brainer for transportation between the wedding and the reception. Then you can arrange for a ride with just you and your new partner, snuggling up in the hay with a blanket wrapped around you, looking up at the stars. Unless you have seasonal allergies, it’s pretty romantic.

Helicopter

Of course, if you have the means and the inclination to go large on your post-wedding transportation, you can go all out and rent a helicopter to deliver you to the start of your honeymoon. Just don’t take a helicopter to the ceremony itself–the prop wash will totally wreck the bride’s hair.

Omelet Station

The Perfect Wedding Reception Brunch

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While there’s a lot to be said for an afternoon wedding, a cocktail hour, and a dinner reception where you can dance the night away, there’s something about a brunch wedding that’s very appealing. For one, your guests don’t have to commit their entire social schedule to your wedding–they can still keep their options open for the evening. It’s also great for the bride and groom to do the wedding and reception with enough time and energy left to get a start on the honeymoon.

Oh, and there’s one more reason why the brunch reception is great–the best food in the world is served at brunch. Here’s a brief overview of all the awesome edibles you can offer your guests at a brunch reception:

Mimosas

Let’s face it: nobody really likes champagne. We all drink it because it’s what you’re supposed to drink when you’re celebrating, but when was the last time you thought, “man I could really go for some champagne right now?” It’s never happened. But a mimosa, on the other hand, takes the champagne and adds the tang of fruit juice, a little energy-boosting vitamin C, and cuts the cloying nature of champagne while leaving the fizz. Mimosas are just an objectively superior way to drink champagne.

Bloody Mary’s with Tons of Fixings

As with breakfast food in general, there are two schools of thought for the perfect breakfast cocktail: sweet and savory. Those on the sweet side of things have mimosas, but the savory folks get god’s own cocktail, the Bloody Mary. Since making a Mary is an intensely personal experience, we recommend having a Bloody Mary bar instead of just serving generic versions. Lay out some olives, cheese cubes, pepperoni, bacon strips, celery, cocktail onions, different mixes, tomato juice, Worcestershire, soy, and an array of hot sauces and watch your guests go to town.

Omelet Station

You know what’s better than a couple of fresh eggs in the morning? A bunch of things mixed in with those fresh eggs and served up piping-hot and folded over. Let guests pick a few meats, veggies, and cheeses to go in their omelet and have each one cooked fresh on the spot. That way, if they don’t’ like what they’ve been served, your guests have no one to blame but themselves.

Biscuits and gravy

There are people who won’t eat biscuits and gravy because they feel like it’s just eating soggy bread. Those people are wrong. It’s eating bread that’s been topped with the delicious mixture of salt and fat that is sausage gravy, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with loving that. Besides, when it is done right, the biscuits are cooked enough that the gravy doesn’t really soak the biscuit (or to go the extra mile, each biscuit half has a sausage patty on top for protection before the gravy’s applied. Any way you serve it, though, biscuits and gravy are the South’s best-kept secret. Discover the deliciousness for yourself.

Waffle bar

You can do pancakes if you’re not into the whole 3-dimensional thing, but waffles work better for a bar-type setting because they have the nooks and crannies to hold whatever craziness your guests pile on top. We recommend setting out plenty of fresh fruits and berries, a hazelnut spread, peanut butter, whipped cream, maple syrup, flavored syrup, and maybe even ice cream (for starters). Let your guests make a ridiculous concoction they normally wouldn’t even eat for dessert, and they’ll be singing your praises for days.

Planning the perfect reception brunch is easy, because breakfast food is the best food. And hey, who says you can’t have a breakfast-for-dinner theme for an evening reception? Just try and tell me your guests wouldn’t be thrilled to roll up to dinner and find donuts and omelets awaiting them instead of steak and chicken. Just make sure you have some high quality natural soap for your guests after they eat; breakfast food tends to be a bit greasier than other types of food.

Grooms: 5 Don’ts for the Wedding Day

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GroomGentlemen, this is it! It’s the big day, the one you’ve been waiting for. All the planning (which you’ve hopefully been a helpful part of) has finally paid off, and you’re about to say “I do” to the one you love. Before you walk down that aisle, though, here are a few more words of advice to consider that will make your wedding day the best it can be. Specifically, avoid these common pitfalls for grooms:

Don’t Be Late for the Ceremony

Not to stereotype, but punctuality is frequently not a guy’s strong suit. Even if you’re usually an on-time guy, there are enough moving pieces in a wedding that you might roll up a few minutes late. But grooms trust me on this: the very last thing a bride (or a bridesmaid, or the bride’s mother) wants to worry about on the wedding day is whether the groom’s showing up or not. Even five minutes of wondering will seem like an eternity. So you should plan to be there at least a half-hour early and already dressed and ready to go for the wedding.

Don’t Get Hammered at the Reception

Did you know more than half of newly married couples don’t consummate the wedding on their wedding night? And that for most of the couples that didn’t make it happen, it’s because the groom was too drunk? Look, we know the reception’s a party, but it’s not a frat party. Get a good buzz going and nurse it throughout the evening, sure. But if you’re throwing up behind a dumpster in back of the venue, it’s going to diminish the chances of having a memorable wedding night. The goal is to make memories, not drown them.

Don’t Neglect the Bride at the Reception

We’ve been to too many weddings where we never saw the bride and groom in the same place after the cake-cutting. Sure, you want to spend time with your best buds, and you want to be a good host to all the guests. But make sure you take some time to check in with your new bride every now and again. She just got married; she’s got a glow going, and you don’t want to extinguish it by ignoring her. This one’s really important, grooms, so please follow this advice.

Don’t Forget to Hug Your Parents

This is a huge day for you, and nobody’s saying it’s not your day. But take a minute to think about it from your parents’ perspective. They took care of you for eighteen years while you grew up and figured yourself out, and the wedding day is kind of the end of a journey for them. It’s bittersweet watching your child getting ready to start a family of their own. Make sure they know how much you love them, especially on this day.

Don’t Neglect the Dance Floor

Even if dancing isn’t your thing, part of your duties as a groom is to make sure the party gets started. Enlist a few bold groomsmen to help pack that dance floor and show everyone how it’s done. If you can’t dance, don’t sweat it. You’re a married man now and no longer just a groom; you’ve got nothing to prove. Your bride already knows if you can’t dance and she married you anyway.

And above all else, don’t sweat the idea that everything is going to change now that you’re married. Weddings are great fun, but marriages are incredibly awesome, too. Here’s hoping yours lasts a lifetime.

Reception Music: Pros and Cons

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Reception MusicUnless you’re holding your reception in that town from Footloose, you’re probably planning on having music and dancing at the reception. These days, there are more options than ever for getting that dance floor jumping. But should you hire a full band, stick with a DJ, or do the DJing yourself? Here are some pros and cons for each reception music option.

Band

A wedding reception is one of the few times in your life you might be tempted to hire a band, unless you work at a concert venue for your day job. This option isn’t as popular as it used to be, but it’s worth considering.

  • Pros: There’s definitely a novelty component to a live band reception now. A good live band brings an energy you don’t get from a DJ or an MP3 player. They provide a whole show instead of just music coming through speakers.
  • Cons: This can be the most expensive option, depending on the band. You’ll need to audition a few bands to make sure they’re what you’re looking for. It’s the most unpredictable option, for sure–you could end up with an awesome show or an awesomely bad one.

DJ

A professional DJ is the other classic option for wedding music. They should roll up with their own P.A. and lighting system to bring the party all on their own.

  • Pros: A DJ’s job is to make sure the dance floor stays filled and the guests are having a good time, and a good DJ will have the job experience to make sure they can. They’ll know what music to play to get every demographic at your wedding dancing, and they’ll take care of technical issues with the sound system.
  • Cons: As with the band, hiring a DJ brings in an unpredictable human element. A *good* DJ keeps the party going, but a bad DJ can lead to an empty dance floor and an empty wallet. You also have to give specific instructions that might be ignored–at a recent wedding, a DJ ignored the bride’s request to keep the music family-friendly and blasted gangsta rap in front of the bride’s 80-year-old grandmother.

MP3s

The most common solution for modern couples is to simply hook up a smartphone or laptop to the sound system and play music from their own collection. You might even stream music from a cloud-based server or a service like Spotify or Pandora.

  • Pros: This is by far the cheapest of the options, especially if you already own most of the music you want to play. It also offers the most control over what you play and how it sounds.
  • Cons: There’s a reason to hire a professional to keep the party going–they know what to play to get people up and moving. You may have a solid playlist of your favorite songs, but are they danceable? Can you appeal to all the demographics on your guest list? Also, if the venue doesn’t have a good sound system, you’ll have to rent one yourself.

What kind of music you have at your reception depends on your taste, your budget, and what you think will appeal to your guests. You can choose to give up a little certainty and control in favor of letting a pro take over, or play it safe and get exactly what you want. Either way, make sure to encourage your guests to take to the dance floor.

5 Great Reception Snacks

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Pigs in a BlanketIt’s a few hours into your reception; the guests had dinner at six, now it’s nine p.m., and everyone’s been tearing up the dance floor. It’s time to put out some refreshments to keep your guests energized and make sure the party doesn’t fizzle out. You could do bowls of popcorn and pretzels–serviceable, but dull. Here are a few ideas for a mid-reception pick-me-up your guests will love.

Sliders, Pigs-in-a-blanket

The trick for these late-night reception snacks is to keep the portions small and easily enjoyed by people standing up wearing formal wear. Sliders–miniature hamburgers or cheeseburgers–fit the bill perfectly, as do miniature hot dogs wrapped in dough. Put out some ketchup and mustard to dip them in, and guests can eat one for a pick-me-up, or more if they skimped on dinner. Bonus points for adding French fries in paper sleeves for portability.

Cookies and Milk

There’s something delightfully transgressive about eating kiddie food in formal wear. Most adults would never dream of having a plate of chocolate chip cookies and milk at 10 o’clock at night, which is exactly what makes this idea so genius. For additional hearkening-back-to-childhood, serve the milk in paper cartons like you used to have in your grade-school cafeteria.

Mac ‘n’ Cheese Bites

You’ll find substantial overlap between State Fair foods and late-night wedding reception snack ideas. It makes sense: both require portability and a certain stick-to-your-ribs quality while keeping the portion size low. Mac ‘n’ Cheese bites–dollops of dense macaroni-and-cheese breaded and deep-fried–have all the salt and grease to keep your guests dancing, but each bite is small enough that guests don’t have to gorge on them.

Mini-Donuts

Speaking of State Fair ideas, if you’re from the Midwest you’re probably familiar with the glory that is the mini-donut. For those unfortunate few who haven’t had them, they’re tiny rings of dough, fried and tossed in a bag with cinnamon and sugar, then served almost too hot to eat. The machine that makes fresh mini-donuts can be rented for the event, and it’s great fun to watch: the dough drops into the fry oil, moves on a conveyor belt, gets flipped by tiny tongs, fries on the other side, then gets flipped into a hopper. It’s almost as fun to watch them being made as to eat them, so it will make a great addition to your reception as well.

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Shooters

Grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup are a fantastic comfort food, but they’re not especially portable for late-night snacking. The trick is to miniaturize them–cut the sandwiches into finger-food-sized triangles, and stack them on top of a one-or-two-ounce glass full of tomato soup. Voila! A portable, adorably-miniature version of one of childhood’s staple foods.

A late-night snack not only energizes your wedding guests, bringing out the food breaks up the monotony of the party, which helps keep the energy up as well. Whatever you decide to serve for your late-night wedding reception snack, remember to keep portions small, keep it portable, and keep it fun. Oh, and don’t forget to provide some wet-naps for greasy (or chocolatey) fingers.

The Pros and Cons of a Buffet Reception

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Buffet ReceptionA sit-down dinner for your wedding reception is an elegant tradition. There’s no denying the appeal of well-dressed waiters bringing plates of freshly-cooked food to your hungry wedding guests. But the buffet reception meal is becoming more popular, and there are good reasons why. Here are some pros, cons, and things to consider when you’re contemplating a buffet reception meal.

Pro: A Variety of Food

When you have a traditional sit-down dinner, odds are your guests will have to choose between one of three entrees. Usually, those are the old standbys – steak, chicken, or fish. With a buffet reception table, you can give your guests a lot more variety. Vegetarian guests or those with allergies will especially appreciate additional options.

Cons: Older guests may not enjoy it

Guests of a certain age–let’s say grandmas, grandpas, and great-aunts–see a fancy sit-down dinner as more elegant than a buffet reception. They may not care about the extra choices or the great spread if it means they have to wait in line and serve themselves. Once they taste the food, that attitude may change, but expect a little resistance when you make the decision.

Pro: Lower costs

Since guests set their own table service and are their own wait staff, you’ll be able to keep costs down compared to a sit-down meal. You’ll still want to have a waiter or two pouring water and busing dishes, but you won’t need anywhere near the personnel that you’d need if they were serving all the food.

Con: The line

There’s no getting around the biggest downside to a buffet reception: that endless line snaking its way around the reception hall, where your guests wait in single-file instead of sitting comfortably at tables chatting. You can mitigate that problem with some clever managing, though–have bowls of mixed nuts or other snacks at the tables, and encourage guests to sit and chat until they’re called to join the line. Appoint your most managerial aunt or uncle to call each table in turn to keep that line from getting unmanageable.

Pro: A beautiful display of piping-hot food…

A well-laid buffet table is a work of art. If your caterer is doing their job, the buffet table should be a visual delight as well as a gustatory one. Not only that, with chafing dishes and heat lamps the food stays hot until the end of the meal. With a big wedding and a sit-down meal, often-times the plates get cold before they even get served. And when they’re in charge of their own portions, even the hungriest guest can get full.

Con: …for the first few guests.

Of course, that beautiful display won’t last forever. By the time the third table is called, the aesthetic appeal will be largely gone and those crisp white linens will be covered with splotches.

Though it may not have the same glamor appeal as a sit-down dinner, a buffet reception can provide variety and flexibility while also helping out your wedding budget. As long as you have a good line manager, it’s definitely worth strong consideration for your reception meal.