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Featured Gay Weddings

 
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WEDDING WISDOM: NATHAN & BENNY

Benny & Nathan (photo: JB Bleibtreu)

Benny & Nathan (photo: JB Bleibtreu)

We’d be very hard pressed to find a couple whose relationship, engagement and wedding were as over-the-top fun and fabulous as that of Nathan and Benny. In fact, this story might be that of a “wedding unicorn.” Buckle up, dear readers.

Benny and Nathan first met on November 13th, 2010 at a local gay bar named Rusty Spurs. Nathan had just left a friend’s birthday party and was ready for a wild night of whiskey, short shorts, and booty dancing. After a couple of hours of non-stop drink... dancing, Nathan went to the bar to get another whiskey and coke when he spotted Benny, standing alone, shirtless, and wearing even shorter shorts than he was! Being terribly shy, it took Nathan all he could muster to approach Benny in about 3 seconds! The two talked for a few minutes and Nathan slipped Benny his number.



The funny thing about that night, is when we asked Benny what it was about Nathan that stuck out to him, he said it was “Nathan’s amazing, engaging eye contact while they were conversing”. Nathan doesn’t deny that he was looking directly into Benny’s eyes, but he later confessed it was only because “he was so tipsy that he needed to focus on something!”)


Benny texted Nathan a few days later and the two had a great back and forth conversation when Benny informed Nathan that he had to go volunteer at OutYouth where texting was not allowed. Nathan’s final text in their initial conversation asked Benny if he “wanted to hang out sometime?”--a message Benny did not notice as he had already silenced his phone and was busy volunteering.

Several days passed and Benny didn’t notice or reply to Nathan’s inquiry. Eventually, a disgruntled Nathan deleted their entire conversation from his phone. Yet, no more than three hours later, Benny noticed he had never responded to Nathan and sent a message stating, “If you really want to hang out, it would be helpful if you sent me some dates and times :p

While Nathan’s former Drag Queen and Pisces-self wanted to text back, “OH HELL NO!” he took a deep breath and decided to reply kindly with some dates and times and the two eventually set up their first date for a few days later. There was only one problem. While Benny had Nathan’s name on the piece of paper he had handed him with his phone number, Nathan had no idea what Benny’s name was. His phone contact simply read ‘Cute Guy From Crusty Sperms.’ Surely that wasn’t right! Even worse, Nathan couldn’t remember what Benny even looked like!

As Nathan waited outside the Roaring Fork before their first date, he hoped that he would be able to spot Benny when he arrived. Lucky for him, not only did Benny recognize Nathan, he was cute, and he even introduced himself!

After great conversation over dinner, the two decided to continue their date with a round of miniature golf. “I beat him. I never beat people at a sport,” exclaimed Benny. We will set to one side the idea of mini-golf being a “sport?!”

Their next few dates involved everything from movies, concerts, and art shows to various 5K races.  In fact, it was at the Urban Adventure Race where they coined their team name ‘Whiskey & Donuts.’ The morning of the race, they enjoyed a few donuts for breakfast. When they arrived at the bar to check-in at 9am, they were asked to provide a team name, but they couldn’t come up with anything good. As they brainstormed ideas, Benny’s friend who worked at the bar came up to say “Hi” and offered them a free drink. They said ‘Whiskey shots, please!’ and the rest is history.

When it came time to talk engagement, Nathan brought it up first, and… Benny shut it down! But, the more the two fell in love, the more Benny came around to the idea. So much so that he even thought about popping the question “which Nathan would never see coming!” But, readers, we are all glad Nathan was the one who took charge.  

The couple have volunteered with Austin Pride since 2011 and Nathan books and manages all the Main Stage entertainment. For the 2015 celebration, Nathan hired Peaches as the event’s headliner. While bonding with Peaches after her set, Nathan pitched the idea of proposing to Benny on stage during her next appearance in Austin at Fun Fun Fun Fest. “The idea was that we’d be presented as surprise backup dancers, and at the end of the set, she’d hand me the mic and I’d propose to Benny.” Nathan clued in a small group of their friends on the surprise who joined the couple at the festival in order to be in the audience for the big moment. 

“Peaches called us out to the stage between her songs “Dick in the Air” and “F*ck the Pain Away.” While I look all smiles, in my head I was cussing the heck out of Nathan because he’s a really good dancer and I’m a tall lanky white guy,” Benny admitted.

Peaches directed the couple to get up on her platform to dance, but as soon as they started to wiggle she turned down her music and handed Nathan her mic. “That was the moment I knew something was up and I immediately started to ugly cry,” confessed Benny. Nathan got down on one knee and Benny said yes with Peaches immediately shouting into the mic “HE SAID YES” and popping champagne as the crowd of over 5,000 witnesses cheered on! 

As the couple walked off stage, an overwhelmed Benny asked “Do my parents know?!” Rather than answering his question directly, Nathan pulled out his phone and sent Benny a text with a link to an engagement website he had created which included congratulatory videos from both of their families, friends, and even some of their favorite bands and entertainers: Hi Fashion, Big Dipper, RuPaul Drag Racer Shangela, internet sensation Jan Terri, and TS Madison. Not only did his parents know, they were a part of it! 


What was Benny’s immediate reaction to one of the coolest engagements ever? “You know you could’ve just proposed under a tree!” Defending his response, Benny explains, “The answer would have been the same!” 


With that as their engagement, where were these two going to set their sites for their wedding? When initially asked by Vice Magazine the next morning, Nathan jokingly answered: “GWAR!” the grotesquely costumed rock band. “Wouldn’t it be amazing if our wedding party and moms went into the monster’s mouth and came out all bloody!” Fortunately, they opted for a decidedly different vibe. After exploring several Austin venues to no avail, Nathan asked one of his friends to help make sure they weren’t missing anywhere unique. Sure enough, she suggested the Prospect House in Dripping Springs. “The polar opposite of Gwar!,” Benny exclaimed, “but the owners immediately knew who Peaches was which was the barometer we were using!” 

Planning the big day came easy for the couple given so much of their relationship has centered on volunteering together to help produce the annual Austin Pride celebration. Not to mention the couple spent a lot of time visiting local Wedding Shows, something Nathan loved! “Hello?! Cake samples!” shouted Nathan.

While whittling down viable options from a list of dream wedding officiants the couple created (a list that included, RuPaul, Michelle Visage and Kate Pierson of the B-52s), Nathan discovered that the B-52s were actually kicking off a new tour in Austin the week before their big day. While it was clear that the chanteuse would be too busy touring the country to participate as hoped, Nathan got an idea and secretly reached out to the B-52s management team. 

Benny, Kate & Nathan

Benny, Kate & Nathan

Two days before the concert and nine days before the wedding, Nathan got the word that Kate was game to marry the couple backstage immediately before the show to kick off the band’s “Spring and Summer of Love Tour”! Now to let Benny know the amazing news! “I wanted to be really dramatic and sit him down all serious to say, ‘I can’t marry you next week’, but I simply couldn’t!“ Benny’s immediate response was pure shock. “What about next week? What about our suits? What about our hair?!” But, in the spirit that clearly defines this couple, they worked together to resolve all issues, calling their families, scheduling haircuts, and coordinating with designer and Project Runway alum Daniel Esquivel, to pick up their suits early. The two anxiously made their way backstage before the concert and were married by the iconic Kate Pierson, exchanging vows swiftly written that incorporated lyrics from the band’s songs. The couple’s first dance as a legally married couple took place on stage while the band performed “Love Shack!” 

When it finally came time for their planned wedding day, the couple had everything laid out, including a well rehearsed lip-sync and dance performance at the altar. But Nathan was not done with his surprises! While Benny waited at the alter for his groom to walk out, hip hop beats blared from the sound system and one of their favorite 90s performers, Sweet LD, from Oaktown’s 357 walked out as a flower girl wearing the outfit she sported in the music video for their song Yeah Yeah Yeah. Later in the ceremony when the officiant asked if anyone objected to their marriage, Nathan coordinated for a drag queen dressed as Kim Davis, the infamous Kentucky County clerk, to stand up and shout in objection to their wedding. In a final ceremony surprise, Miss Davis was told to “sit your ass down” by professional wrestler Nasty Boy Bryan Knobbs who, of course, bore the couple’s rings, which they exchanged after reciting heartfelt vows they each wrote to each other.


“The thing is,” Benny said, “I don’t like to be surprised! But, what I do love, is seeing his face glowing and how excited he gets surprising me.”


Now, dear readers, brace yourselves for the reception of a lifetime, including roasts by Nathan and Benny’s sisters, drag acts, lip-sync battles, costume changes, video toasts, art installations, cartoonists and so much more.  

 

Let’s start with the “Dollar Dance” a tradition in which guests pay the grooms (or bride if you happen to be at that kind of a wedding) for the pleasure of a short dance. But, in their inimitable fashion, Benny and Nathan turned their dollar dance into a “flash dance,” which in strip bar parlance is an express lap dance! Benny didn’t even make it through a third of the room before Genuine’s “Pony” finished. It took two more songs before Benny had finally collected all guest’s dollars! Nathan, dressed in full-on Minnie Mouse regalia, worked the room like a pro to Beyonce’s “Run The World”. The gents shimmied and shook their way to $490 with all proceeds being donated to Austin Pride’s effort to establish an LGBTQ Center. 

Furthering the fun (or madness?!), Benny and Nathan’s mom’s competed in a head-to-head lip-sync battle to “It’s Raining Men” in order to earn their right to a mother-son dance. Nathan said, “We prepped our moms by giving them videos of our favorite RuPaul’s Drag Race performances and said ‘do with this what you want’ and man did they take it seriously!” Benny added, “To my surprise, half way through the performance, Nathan’s step-mom joined the competition with a troupe of backup dancers trying to earn herself the mother-son dance!”

 

 

Lest you wonder what taking it seriously looked like, Benny’s mom opted for a spangled leotard with cone boobs and tassels, created an umbrella prop that had cards from a deck of “naked men” cards hanging from the inside (taking care to tastefully cover up all the naked bits with smiley-face stickers!) and, after being told that a “death drop” was the only true way to end her number, and likely guarantee her the win, she dropped into a chair at the end of the number and held up a sign indicating that this was her death drop. Bitches, PLEASE, this is how it is done!

Spoiler alert, the couple had secretly always planned to dance with all of their moms! 

Photo: Dylan Johnson

Photo: Dylan Johnson

As the sweetest of counterpoints, Benny shared a father-son dance with his dad, dancing to the song “Thank You For Being My Dad.” To Benny’s surprise, while dancing, tears streaming down both their faces, Benny’s dad sang the lyrics to him switching the word “dad” with “son”. We dare you not to be wiping a tear from your eye right now.

As Benny noted, “the whole day was cry, laugh, cry, laugh. Not just me, but everyone! Though I am a pretty easy crier!” Nathan interrupted to say, “he cries at Jerry Springer!”

Photo: Dylan Johnson

Photo: Dylan Johnson

And then the video toasts and drag acts came fast and furious: Michelle Visage, Martha Wash of the Weather Girls, Seven Year Bitch, Deven Green, Wendy Ho, Toni Tennille from Captain & Tennille followed by a local drag queen’s performance of “Love Will Keep Us Together,” Exposé sent a video message to the couple and the Kim Davis impersonator performed “Point of No Return,” world-famous back-up singer Robin Clark and her family covered a Simple Minds track adapted to be about the grooms, two members of The Jets also sang a tribute to the couple, and finally, a toast from Peaches, culminated with a rousing drag performance of “F*ck the Pain Away!”

Photo: Dylan Johnson

Photo: Dylan Johnson


The 193 guests present did not know what hit them.


If music was one “through line” to their wedding, art was the other. As Benny said, “when we were thinking about a theme for the wedding, we thought, why not theme it around art that we love.” The couple own multiple sculptures by artist Elizabeth McGrath and her worked featured prominently throughout the wedding from the altar to the tables. “For some of our closest friends, as part of their save-the-date package, we even made resin hatchets from molds that Liz McGrath gave to us!” Benny explained. The couple also made all their table arrangements, sculpting their own art pieces in homage to Liz’s work in addition to using vintage ceramic figurines, taxidermy, skeletons, and childhood toys, for a sort of a morbid woodland meets cabinet of curiosities look!” Benny clarified, “but the animals had top hats and bowties on!” Of course they dressed up their taxidermy. 

For a more real-time artistic experience, they hired a “Quick Draw Photobooth” where guests took their photos and an artist drew cartoons of the pictures.

And, why not give all of your guests an 8-track tape containing all of the grooms’ images and cover art of them and their dog designed to look like a Bee-Gees album cover?

As a final surprise, taking Benny’s original idea to incorporate “art that we love” into the big day, Nathan commissioned 12 original artworks from favorite artists celebrating the couple and their dog, Theo.

Now, if you’re not yet overwhelmed by the creativity and originality, when it came down to cake time, the grooms’ sweets included a cake decorated to look like wood topped with a white chocolate conjoined fox cub skull topper designed by Conjurer’s Kitchen, a doughnut cake of Peaches created by Voodoo Doughnuts, and a custom menu of freshly made gourmet doughnuts served out of a streamline trailer by Gourdough’s Big. Fat. Doughnuts. 

PHEW!! Can y’all keep going??

When it came time to picking their favorite part of the wedding, Benny instantly said he had two: “The first was dancing with my father. I’ve never felt a closer bond with my father, and I have never been more proud to share that with the world. Aside from gender norms, I do not know why every groom would not dance with his father. The second was definitely my mom’s lip-sync. She fucking killed it!” For Nathan, “it was just about sharing our world, all the pieces of our lives, with our family and friends.” 

Photo: Ryan Adkins

 

As for advice, “we created a wedding about who we are and reflecting who and what we love, without regard of whatever anyone else thought,” Benny said with conviction. “People don’t realize how many cool things they can do at their wedding. They limit themselves.” “Make it yours,” Nathan added. “Don’t make it about what is being fed to you.” When pressed about how they pulled off all that they did, and included everyone that they did, the couple’s answer was simple: “We asked!” 

With Nathan now bitten by the wedding planning but, all we might need to do is ask him for help on planning a wedding!

We’ve never enjoyed a Wedding Wisdom piece as much as this one, especially because Nathan summed up their experience so well:


“It’s just a wedding, but more fierce!”

Our hope is that everyone’s wedding and life be as fierce as Nathan and Benny’s! 




 
 
 

The Engagement

The following questions are meant to help you prepare for the period between knowing you’re going to ask your man to marry you and your big day.

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The Ceremony

These questions and recommendations will help focus you on what matters most for your ceremony and making sure that you are as present as possible for the moment when you say: "I do!"

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The Reception

These pointers are intended to make sure you create the most memorable experience for you and your guests, focusing you on the fun of planning.

Open Section

The following questions are meant to help you prepare for the period between knowing you’re going to ask your man to marry you and your big day. These are intended to get you thinking about what really matters during this exciting time and to help you make the best choices for planning your wedding.

1. Popping the question

In what way could you ask each other to marry?

What would you like to offer each other as a symbol of your engagement?

What will it mean to you both for one of you to ask for the other’s parents’ blessing and pop the question “on bended knee?”

Does one of you want to do the asking?

Read More →

2. Announcing your engagement

Do you want to make a more formal announcement printing announcement cards and mailing them individually?

Should yours be more “light-hearted” and use a digital mailing service?

Is it worth the money for you to have dedicated photography (and “rehearse” your potential wedding photographer) and announce your engagement along with a photo?

Do you make an occasion of the announcement and invite your friends and family to a cocktail party?

Read More →

3. Getting aligned

How much do you truly understand each other’s vision and means for your wedding?

Have you appreciated the differences in ideas you have for your wedding?

On what are you each willing to compromise or create a new idea around where your visions differ?

How much can you spend on your wedding without incurring any debt that will allow you to host your guests in the way that best represents you as a couple?

Based on your budget, do you need to envision your wedding differently?

Are you fully aligned with each other on what you want and what you can create for your wedding? If not, keep talking.

At the end of your wedding, what do you want for yourselves and others to have remembered from it?

Read More →

4. Location or Destination options

Based on your vision for your wedding, where do you want to get married?

Based on your budget, where can you get married?

Based on whom you want to attend your wedding, where does it make most sense to host it?

Read More →

5. Selecting a date

In how much time do you think you can plan (and enjoy planning) your wedding?

Do you want to wait longer than planned to allow for a particular season, date or venue?

Will your work demands allow you the right amount of time to plan and take off for your selected date?

Is there a date more convenient for you, your guests or your budget?

Read More →

6. Determining your budget

Discuss in advance a few ground rules surrounding how much you’re willing to spend, and the type of wedding you would like to host. A completely DIY wedding can be just as memorable as a lavish, formal event.

Your wedding should be a reflection of your personalities and lifestyle, without the burden of incurring debt. Debt is not a lifestyle!

Who could you include to help make a preliminary budget for your wedding to help understand what your vision for the big day will cost?

Will your family share in some or all of the expense of the wedding?

Are there friends you could ask to contribute their skills – florists, bakers, musicians – as your wedding gift?

How will you hold each other accountable to your shared vision and agreed to budget for your wedding?

Read More →

7. Reserving a venue

What venue(s) most encapsulate(s) your personalities, history together or vision for your life as husbands?

Does that venue provide space for your ceremony and reception? Or will you have opportunity to select a second venue?

Does your venue allow outside vendors (catering, florals) or are you required to use the venue’s suppliers?

Were you to opt for outside partners, how accessible is your venue? Delivery and transportation costs can add up quickly if your venue is tucked away.

When considering an outdoor venue, consider all weather contingency plans.

When considering a destination venue, consider the impact it might have on your guests. For a destination wedding give your guests the most possible time to plan, accumulate miles and save up!

Read More →

8. Reserving hotel rooms

Does your wedding venue/destination allow you to provide your guests with the multiple options for lodging? Price-points, types of venues, even home stays?

What opportunities can you create for people to experience the destination you’ve selected beyond your wedding?

Read More →

9. A concept or style for the wedding

When thinking about a concept for your wedding, how do you typically entertain? Of the weddings and parties you have you enjoyed most, what did you most like of them? Which elements felt like you? When deciding about a theme for your wedding, consider your favorite colors, personal or decorating style, activity, destination, historical era or even fantasy! Each of these areas will help you hone in an concept against which you can make many of your experience decisions.

Like with everything to do with your wedding, share with each other the “why” for your ideas for concept and style, and align the ones that most resonate for you both. Keep talking until you hone in on the concept you both most like.

Read More →

10. Gift Registry

Discuss with one another how a registry may help your guests purchase something you want or need, and reduce the stress associated with selecting the perfect gift.

What gifts will provide you with lasting memories by becoming meaningful reminders of those you love?

People will want to give you a gift, so provide them a range of options. From different price points, to including their presence at your destination wedding, to helping create your wedding experience.

You will want to be reminded of the people who attended your wedding, but gifts might not be the only way. Consider charities, asking people to contribute to your honeymoon, asking people to share their memory of their time celebrating through a picture or a letter

Read More →

11. Design a Wedding Website

The site serves your guests and you equally. The more information you provide your guests, the less they will reach out to you.

Look at other couples’ sites to assess what information they included, what look they opted for (make sure your site relates to your concept!) and what platform they used (Wedding Wire, Squarespace). This will help you understand what you need to include and how complex programming it might be.

Consider using your site as the destination your friends, family and guests can turn to from the moment you get engaged.

Use photos from your engagement and your life together to bring your website to life.

Read More →

12. Determine the guest list

Your guest list is about two things: first enjoying the most memorable day of you life with those you love most and second, not blowing the budget.

Start by determining your list and building your budget or, vice versa; how many people does your budget allow you to invite.

Assemble your lists independently and share with each other why you’ve included the guests you have. Allow each other to appreciate why someone is important and together determine the parameters for including (or not) people among your guests.

Generously negotiate your lists. Consider how you can recognize, without including, everyone you’ve decided not to invite.

Read More →

13. Invitations

What value do you want to place on your invitations? Think about how they relate to your personalities, your theme and your budget, not to mention the fact that people will likely only refer to these once.

What tone should your invitation set for your wedding? Consider the design, wording and even medium for delivering it.

When ordering invitations, think about all of the printed material you are thinking of using: invitations, programs, thank you cards, menus, place cards, etc. How should they relate? Can one designer and printer supply all? Is an electronic version viable?

Read More →

14. Hiring a Wedding Planner?

What experience do you have in planning and coordinating an event of the scale of your wedding?

Based on your planning experience, where will you need most help? Do you have the right contacts to create your wedding? Do you have people willing to help in the areas where you’re less than expert or don’t have a trusted partner?

How much time do you have to plan your wedding? Now double that estimate (!) and now consider how much time you have relative to your work, other obligations and simply enjoying the experience of being engaged.

Based on your answers above, what value will having a wedding planner bring you? And, for how long might you need one? Perhaps you can handle a lot of the upfront work, but will want someone on the day to allow you to focus solely on your wedding experience.

Consider creating a team of people to help you and your planner, and especially to run interference for you on the actual day.

Read More →

These questions and recommendations will help focus you on what matters most for your ceremony and making sure that you are as present as possible for the moment when you say: "I do!"

1. Select an officiant for your ceremony

How much do you want to integrate faith or spirituality into your ceremony?

Who best represents your faith or spirituality? Is this person available to preside over your ceremony?

Make sure that the person you choose to pronounce you husband and husband is legally recognized to do so. Marriage laws differ state-by-state.

Consider spending meaningful time with your officiant – individually and as a couple – over the course of your engagement so he or she gets to really know you and make their words about you at your ceremony as resonant as possible.

Read More →

2. Select your wedding party

Whom would you like to include in your ceremony? Share with each other why you’ve included those you’ve included.

How would you like to include them: in your groom’s party, as readers, ring bearers, ushers, etc.?

Create an opportunity before your wedding to get together with your wedding party and share with them the significance of each person you’ve included. Take the time to enjoy this group outside of the wedding day when there will be many others you’ll want to spend time with.

Read More →

3. Start planning the ceremony

In what ways would you like to make your ceremony unique? Or, would you like yours to be a traditional ceremony? .

Spend time with your officiant to agree what you’d like said and read during the ceremony.

And, consider how the officiant words might compliment your vows.

What do you want to share with and pledge to your husband-to-be through your vows? Will you use traditional vows or write your own?

If writing your own, take as much time as you can to write and edit and rewrite and understand your vows. These are the most important words you will say to your husband. Think about how your partner has influenced and changed your life, and how your life will progress going forward. Think about what you, as a couple, will contribute to each other and your friends and family. Share intimate moments of your relationship that helped make you realize your husband-to-be was meant for you.

What are the readings and passages that most resonate with you as individuals and as a couple? These don’t have to be about love and marriage, necessarily. They could also be words that have guided you to this point, or that will going forward. Consider asking your readers for suggestions based on their experience of you.

What music most encapsulates you both as individuals and as a couple? Work with your planner or officiant to decide what to play when and determine if you want it played live or otherwise. Use your program to share with your guests how the music is relevant.

Read More →

4. Plan the rehearsal dinner

Like with your guest list, understand from each other who matters most to include at the rehearsal dinner. And, make sure you follow your same budgetary guidelines.

Consider asking selected people to toast you, and asking others to write their toast to you. This will help manage the duration of toasting. An MC for the evening can help keep the toasts moving swiftly and appropriately!

Allow yourselves ample time to greet all of your guests and, most importantly, introduce them to each other. This will help make for an even livelier reception.

Read More →

5. Select your wedding rings

Will your engagement ring serve as your wedding band or will you have a separate one for each occasion?

It is solely up to you if you’d like matching or individual bands, custom made or jewelry store-bought. Have fun exploring all of the options.

Read More →

6. Decide what to wear

In what clothes do you feel your best? In what clothes do you most enjoy seeing your husband? Do these styles match your wedding? Is it OK if they don't?

Are your styles such that you want to wear the same look? If not, what could you each wear to complement each other?

In what clothes would you like your guests to be present at your wedding?

How will you feel looking back on these outfits in 30 years? Should you consider a different style to ensure your photos are timeless?

How much effort do you want to put into getting “camera ready” shape?

Is there someone you could recruit to help you select your wedding outfits – friend, sibling, personal shopper, tailor?

Read More →

7. Select a photographer

Make a shortlist of your favorite photographers. Spend some time getting to know them as you want to select them based on their style of photography, but also on the simpatico among you. Ask yourselves if you want this photogrpaher as a guest at your wedding?

What do you like most about your favorite photos: of yourself, of yourselves, of other weddings? Share these photos and opinions with your photographer.

Consider everyone on your guest list and with whom you’d like your photographer to capture a moment among you.

All of the above applies to any videographers you might be considering.

Read More →

These pointers are intended to make sure you create the most memorable experience for you and your guests, focusing you on the fun of planning.

1. Select a location for the wedding reception

How could your reception venue add to or complement your overall wedding experience?

Are you asking too much of your venue by making it something it is not?

Make sure the venue does not inadvertently complicate the experience for your vendors by being difficult to reach, limiting the use of outside vendors, requiring additional infrastructure such as power, facilities or otherwise.

Does the value of the venue exceed the cost? Could you deliver the same experience somewhere else?

Read More →

2. Determine the reception or dinner menu

How does the experience you want to have for you and your guests influence the menu and serving style? Is a casual buffet or family-style platters more aligned? Or, is a plated dinner more in keeping with your idea for the reception?

Plan your reception prior to dinner to allow guests to mix and mingle and most importantly offer their congratulations, not to mention take the selfies.

Have fun and take your time exploring caterers and menus. And, don’t forget to work with your bartenders to create cocktails or mocktails to create an added element of uniqueness to your reception.

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3. Select your wedding cake

Like with your ceremony, how much does tradition matter to you when it comes to the cake, cake toppers and cake cutting?

Are there other desserts that more accurately reflect who you are?

Schedule tastings at least three recommended bakers.

Keep in mind that while a cake may be beautiful in pictures, it’s the flavor everyone remembers.

Coordinate the design, frosting and décor of the cake with your style and colors.

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4. Select your florist

What appeals to you about flowers? The color, a particular bloom, a scent? Start there when deciding the initial direction for your flowers.

Get recommendations for local florists that are known for their quality and design esthetic.

Provide the florist with photographs and examples of flowers and designs you love. And, do not hesitate to ask the florist to create an actual samples: of the centerpieces, boutonnieres, bouquets (if someone will be carrying one), etc. Learn what different flowers cost and the value that florals will bring to your wedding.

Read More →

5. Select décor for the event

What more does your experience require beyond the venue, menu, florals?

What personal touches could you add to your concept to make it even more personal?

Lighting is perhaps the most significant way to create a unique atmosphere for your event.

Can you make your décor a gift to your guests by allowing them to take elements of it such as the flowers, candles or other tokens?

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6. Determine entertainment and music

How do you like hearing your favorite songs played? As they were originally recorded or played live? This will help determine if you prefer a DJ or a band.

Could your budget support you having live music during your reception and dinner, and a DJ for dancing? Or vice-versa?

How might your playlist include all of your guests’ musical preferences? Make sure everyone has a song to sing along or dance to throughout the night.

Tell your band or DJ the exact songs you want played.

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7. Prepare the seating chart

Does your venue allow for you to place more and smaller tables such to create more intimate groups? Or, is a long, family-style set up more appropriate for your experience?

For each table, determine whom you’d like to see connecting with each other, whether its people that already know each other, all share a common interest or folks you think will enjoy meeting for the first time.

Do you have the time to assign individual seats or is assigning groups to table more manageable for you? No matter, work on seating over time to allow new and old connections among people to come clear to you.

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8. Prepare toasts for your reception

Whose toast deserves pride of place during the reception? Do you want people other than the best men or women and your parents to participate?

If you are to toast, make sure you prepare this gesture as thoroughly as you did your vows. Now is a time to meaningfully recognize all who have played, and will play, a role in your marriage.

Consider having an MC to keep toasts short and moving swiftly.

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