RECEPTION & VENUES
Guests in Style
When you first get engaged, the first thing people do is ask to see that gorgeous rock on your finger. The first question asked is what date you’ve selected for the nuptials. And then everyone usually wonders where you might be holding the big celebration. If you’re like most brides, selecting a venue can be a daunting process, especially if you have very little notion about all the options available in your area and are not quite sure what to consider when finding your reception space.
First of all, consider the date you actually have chosen. Did you pick a date in the middle of the summer - high season - or in the traditionally chilly time that has become more popular due to the great designs now available in the cold months? You both need to discuss what you want for your day: a hotel ballroom, a warehouse loft, a vintage barn or a swanky tent. Some of your choices may be limited due to weather if you’ve chosen a time period during the year that is not conducive to an unheated - or non-air conditioned - tent or barn. Sometimes those locations can be accommodating and can bring in either option if weather necessitates it., but you’ll have to weigh cost with practicality then.
Once your date is selected, you’ll want to book a venue that matches the aesthetic you desire as well as your estimated guest list. It’s important to realize how quickly locations book in advance. Many venues start to book two years out - so be sure to make inquiries early. You may also find it easier to select a time of year and, armed with several dates that work for your particular ceremony venue or church, go to the most popular and heavily booked locations with many options open instead of just a single date to try and match together. Or, you may not care so much about an exact venue as you do a particular caterer or service level. If that is the case, you’ll want to encompass all the properties covered by that vendor to better understand your options regarding room and capacity size as well as style.
Even if you are set with a single date, or you started a bit late and most of the locations you were considering are all booked up throughout the season, all is not entirely lost. There are many vendors, especially here in Veil Magazine, that have multiple locations with the same high level of service, food design and host in a variety of settings sure to fit with your wedding hopes in some manner. So while sometimes it is important to choose an interior vibe that best describes your personal style, when food or some other element is equally important to you, it can help to open your horizons to include other venues you may not have initially added to your list.
Remember, a reception is where you can get creative about your tastes and offer up dishes that can be a memorable part of the evening. This is also an important part of your guests’ experience, beyond the venue surroundings itself. If you choose a location that can provide a culinary and gastronomic memory, it will be something guests remember for a long time.
Therefore, once your venue and caterer are selected, you will want to go over the type of service that you’ll be providing your guests. Here’s a brief summary of your options.
Heavy Appetizers: This option for food service is best used for midday events, morning brunches or cocktail receptions. A combination of stationary food items and passed or experiential appetizers is the likely route to ensure guests have time and opportunity to get some food in their belly. Because alcohol is usually part of the event, you’ll want to emphasis having food with a bit of weight using meats and breads as well as considering vegetarian dishes as well. You can liven this up with appetizers that match your theme, colors, or even are presented in unique ways, such as on acrylic trays or in ice shooters.
Buffet: While this is another more informal way to feed your guests, you need never worry about guests being hungry later, as everyone can fill their plates with however much food they think they need. You can also create a very familiar, cozy environment with guests getting served in a ‘family style’ way at each table, which is a step up from the traditional long buffet line but still allows for bulk food options. There is a myth that buffets can be less expensive than a plated meal, but that is not true. Buffets require extra amounts of food to be bought by your caterer to ensure that they don’t run out as people fill their own plates and portion sizes cannot be controlled.
Carving Stations: This is truly a culinary experience for your guests - getting to select, point and watch as their food is being cut and served. Carving stations do not even need to be confined to meat. You can have potato bar stations, pasta bars, sauteed vegetable and seafood bars, or even an omelette bar if you’re hosting a brunch reception. Carving stations tend to end quicker, so while this is a buffet type of serving style, be sure that your guests are aware that there is an end time to the food being available.
Small Plates: A classy step up from carving stations and ‘help yourself’ bars, small plates are exactly what they sound like: small plates of pre-served food that guests can grab. There are usually several small plate stations throughout a reception room, but they can be fancier items, such as lobster, scallops, certain types of beef cuts or specialized pastas. The pates are expedited by whatever chef is manning the station, so they have the finished appeal of a plated meal but in smaller portions. This is an elegant way to still create the movement in the room you’d get with a buffet or carving stations but offers a more delectable cuisine.
Plated: This is the traditional way to serve a wedding meal. Whether you allow your guests to choose their entree table side, on the RSVP cards, or offer one single dish, plated meals are the most formal way to feed your guests at the reception. You will have several servers on hand to make sure tables are served relatively at the same time, allowing guests to dive into a fully created and executed meal with proper proportions and final design. It is still possible to have unique dining experiences with a plated meal. Offer an amuse bouche, sorbet before the entree, or have a cheese and fig course before offering cake. You are the masters of the menu at your reception: have fun, even when doing something traditional.
Remember your reception should be a reflection of your wedding style, but that doesn’t mean you are limited to a vintage venue if you want vintage flair or specific meal options. You can create that vibe with everything from the decor, lighting and the food service, so don’t feel completely edged in by your theme. Select what fits all pieces of your wedding and your personality the best and you won’t be left with any questions about your final decision.
Do you have a dedicated professional that will be working with us? Is there a back-up contact as well?
What vendors are we required to utilize, and what other vendors do you recommend?
What time frame do our vendors have for set up and take down?
What are the food and beverage minimums, and what penalties come with not meeting those minimums?
What's the cancellation policy? And, what is the last possible date that we can make changes?
The Reception Sequence of Events
Your wedding reception is the first time you receive your friends and relatives as a married couple. It is also the time to truly show off your personality and style. It can be as simple as a backyard luncheon of cake and coffee or as complex as a five-course dinner followed by a 12-piece band. It’s all about you and the possibilities are endless.
Selecting the Location
Your reception location really depends on how many people you are inviting. Yet it also reflects your personal tastes. You want the location to represent you and your dream for this special day. Keep in mind that almost any venue can be transformed into something magical, with the right amount of creativity and talented teamwork. Therefore, whether you choose to hold your reception in the church basement, an area art museum or a local banquet venue, there are certain details that need to be covered and essential questions that need to be asked.
There are special moments that make the wedding day—the Grand March, the first dance, the bouquet toss—you want to allow the appropriate amount of time for each event so as not to delay the beginning of dinner and dancing. A written copy of the day’s schedule should be given to all those involved: musicians, photographer, videographer, family and wedding party members.
Preparation for the Guests’ Arrival:
The decorations are in place, background music plays and the guest book (brought from the ceremony) is placed on a table or podium. A gift table (visible, but out of the traffic flow) is prepared with a decorative, secure container or basket to hold monetary gifts. A gift table attendant and guest book attendant may be needed before dinner. At dinnertime, gifts should be placed in a room with a door that can be closed and locked. The guest book may be left unattended. An honorary host or hostess can greet guests, help with their coats and invite them to enjoy light refreshments.
The Receiving Line:
Traditionally, guests greet the bride and groom in a receiving line at the ceremony location, but recently receiving lines are taking place at the reception site. If you decide to greet guests at the reception, one option is to go from table to table after you have eaten. This ensures that you will greet every guest while allowing more time for celebration. Make this decision early, as this element will dictate the timing of other events. An hour or more may be needed to greet 200 guests. Dinner should be announced once the wedding party arrives at the reception. The bandleader, DJ or a family member may act as the master of ceremonies introducing the couple and the wedding attendants.
The wedding party and guests are seated and an invocation or table blessing said, after which serving begins. The bride and groom and the wedding party are served first. The guests are served beginning with the parents and grandparents of the newlyweds and any table of honored guests. Serving the parents first allows them to be among the first to finish so they may begin to mingle with other guests.
Cutting the Cake:
Cutting and serving the cake comes after dinner. The couple cuts the first slice with their hands held together over the knife handle, representing their first act as husband and wife. Then the caterer finishes cutting and serving. Be aware that there may be a cost for the caterer to cut the cake. You may opt to have an honorary family member cut the cake instead. Again, the wedding party and parents are served first. After the newlyweds are finished with their dessert, they may wish to circulate among the tables and visit with guests.
The Best Man then presents the traditional toast to the bridal couple. Other toasts may be presented throughout the meal.
The first dance is reserved for the bride and groom, and then parents and the wedding party join them. Specialty dances and mixers are often included between dance sets. Plan these interludes with your music providers.
During the reception, the bride may want to toss her bouquet to the single women in the group, or the groom may wish to toss the bride’s garter to the bachelors. Tradition dictates that the recipients of these two items will be the next to marry. Some couples choose to forgo this tradition and choose to give the flowers and garter to the couple who has been married for the most number of years.
After a grand evening, the couple prepares for the great farewell. You may choose to slip away with little notice or make a grand departure, being showered by potpourri, flowers or bubbles.
There are many venues throughout Wisconsin that serve as a beautiful backdrop for a wedding reception. However, some brides and their families can have a hard time envisioning their personal styles fitting into a ready-made space. With the talented skills of the many vendors featured in Veil Magazine, brides can only be limited by their imaginations. These wedding artisans can bring a bride and groom’s vision to life by orchestrating the appropriate resources to transform a space.
By choosing the right vendors to not only but capture the spirit of your personal vision, the bride and groom can expect that the best possible options will be offered to them without breaking the bank. The following pages show just how a space can be transformed by highlighting its character, creating a distinct ambiance, and utilizing vendors who can collaborate to make your wedding day dreams come true.
Pictured here is The Seeboth, a dramatic urban special events venue located in the Historic Walker’s Point neighborhood of Milwaukee. On the surface it is both rustic and metropolitan, but what our expert artisans demonstrate is how the bones of a venue can take on new life. The design was executed by several skilled professionals, including Janelle Meyer-Brown, owner of événement planning, Emily Neubauer from Belle Fiori, Ltd., Kathy Carlson of sales development for Windy City Linen, LLC, Peggy Carollo, owner of Simma’s Bakery, and David Hackbarth, director and founder of Sound By Design’s specialty lighting and sound division. Their imaginative work with the features of this space played off of each other to create a truly unique and seamless look.
FRAME THE SPACE
Planning a design that works best with a chosen venue makes for a solid foundation in bringing a vision to life. Carlson says that she will ask the client what their vision is and select something that will show of the uniqueness of the venue as a baseline for the amazing additions to come.
Beyond the building’s framework, it is important to keep your frame of mind centered on the cornerstone of this entire day. Every wedding and every venue undergoes a unique transformation based on the personalities of the couple being wed. Make this your focal point and “Always showcase you!” emphasizes Meyer-Brown.
Lighting, florals, and fabrics can all come together to create a sense of ambience throughout a space. “It’s a statement to illuminate the most important aspects of a wedding and its design,” says Hackbarth. The remainder of your décor and design will work to accent those main features and harmonize the various elements of your space together into masterful symmetry.
Neubauer adds, “We will create custom designs based on the bride's inspirations and the best features of the venue, such as the exposed beams that flowers can hang from.”
Combining the talents of your various wedding artisans is what really brings the entire vision together. It only takes a spark of imagination to ignite the creativity within each facet of the design. Trust in your vendors to guide your unique style from a concept into a reality. It’s what they do! They all work together, hand-in-hand, to make the space become yours.
From the lighting and the linens to the delicacies you serve, every element comes together to transform a venue from a structure to striking. “The possibilities are endless,” says Carollo.
by Laura Vietmeyer
FLORAL DECOR Belle Fiori LTD.
INVITATION, MENU CARDS & CALLIGRAPHY The Blooming Quill
LIGHTING Sound By Design
LINEN & NAPKIN RENTALS Windy City
LOUNGE FURNITURE RENTAL événement lounge event rentals
PHOTOGRAPHY Front Room Photography
TABLE, CHAIRS, STEMWARE, FLATWARE & DINNERWARE RENTALS Canopies Events with Distinction
VENUE LOCATION The Seeboth
WEDDING CAKE Simma's Bakery
WEDDING PLANNING & DESIGN événement planning
Space to Life
by Rachel Chapman
PHOTOGRAPHY Manning Photography
When you’re imagining your perfect Wisconsin wedding, what comes to mind? This romantic venue overlooking the stunning Milwaukee skyline brings a beautiful wow factor to a wedding reception. Some of Milwaukee’s top wedding designers came together to bring the space to life, and the romantic, soft look will leave you longing for happily ever after.
If you’re low on inspiration when it comes to table decor, consider pulling from your wedding dress! Windy City Linen provided all of the linens, and the soft white, silver and pink will remind guests of how beautiful your gown is. Lace is a major trend in gowns, and bringing some of that delicate beauty to your linens ties everything together. The sheer white overlay in organza and the silver ornamental lace chair cap in particular bring to mind the simple prettiness of a wedding gown.
Canopies Events with Distinction provided the Saturn silver chargers and silver chiavari ballroom chairs. Kicking your table settings up a notch is a simple way to elevate a feeling of elegance for your reception. No matter how delicious the food is, eating off of an appealing tablescape will make the meal feel even more special.
Another must to add elegance to your big day? Lovely florals. Every fairytale deserves a magical garden, and creating one for your wedding reception is a breeze. Melissa at Bank of Flowers suggests tulips and roses with textural greens like bay leaves, seeded eucalyptus, or gunni eucalyptus. The flowers in these snapshots are all from Holland, and the glass stamped candles and strong patterns in the hurricane lanterns are softened by the delicate greenery. Melissa described it as an elegant French garden feel, and the gorgeous arrangements add a burst of nature to the understated color scheme. You can also consider adding florals to your cake! Simma’s Bakery provided this stunning cake, with its marbled fondant and edible rice paper flowers.
But of course, all of the stunning details need the perfect venue. At the Hyatt Hotel Milwaukee, the team will have your tables, flatware, china and glassware completely ready to go for your guests. Your friends and family can enjoy elegant meals like asiago chicken filled with bread crumbs, fresh herbs with tomato-basil cream sauce, truffle mashed potatoes and asparagus with balsamic butter. The VUE is the Hyatt’s circle rooftop ballroom—the only one of its kind in Milwaukee—offering panoramic views of downtown Brew City. The VUE towers twenty-one stories above Milwaukee and can host anything from receptions to rehearsal dinners to bridal showers to engagement parties. The 4,000 square foot room is sure to leave your guests in awe.
by Claire Swinarski
GET THE LOOK
Entrées, Lighting & Venue Location: Hyatt Regency Milwaukee
Floral Décor & Candle Holder Rentals: Bank of Flowers
Invitation & Stationery: Terri Blahnik, Veil Magazine
Linen & Napkin rentals: Windy City Linen
Photography: Heather Cook Elliott Photography
Chiavari Chairs & Charger Rentals: Canopies Events with Distinction
Wedding Cake: Simma's Bakery