Stylish Wedding Suits Perfect for Dad
Photo by Vue Photography
While guests sip on your signature cocktails, others can engage in a little friendly competition (or do both!). These outdoor games will break the ice and get everyone pumped for the exciting evening to come.
1. Custom Cornhole
You can’t go wrong with everyone’s favorite tailgate activity—especially when it’s customized with your initials and wedding date.
Stars Stripes Stardust Custom Wedding Cornhole Board, $185, etsy.com
2. Life-Size Jenga
Set up this iconic tumbling tower and see how it brings out the competitive side in all of your guests
Tumbling Towers Jumbo Tumbling Tower, $170, tumblingtower.com
3. Rustic Ring Toss
This carnival classic will be fun for guests of all ages. We love the vintage feel of this set!
Refunked Junkies Rustic Ring Toss Game, $75, etsy.com
4. Life-Size Chess Set
Say “checkmate” with this life-set chess set. Your guests will be thrilled to play on such a huge board!
Garden Chess Set, $130, tosso.com
5. Wooden Bowling Pins
Create a miniature alley during your cocktail hour with these wooden pins and mini ball. Strike!
Wayfair, Wooden Lawn Bowling Pins, $62, wayfair.com
You know you can always count on pigs in a blanket to satisfy: salty little franks swaddled in flaky puff pastry, dipped in tangy mustard, if you so desire. And if these bites start circulating during your wedding cocktail hour, you’re already nailing the appetizer game (well done, you!).
But if you’re worried these mini bundles of joy are too casual to offer at your wedding, or that the idea’s a little been there, done that, don’t write it off quite yet. Thanks to California-based Modern Catering owner, Matthew Antoun, we’re sharing two creative ways to revamp this crowd-pleasing finger food so it’s up to snuff with your special event.
According to Antoun, the easiest way to elevate a classic comfort food like the hot dog or pigs in a blanket is to use high-quality ingredients that feel a little more luxurious and elegant. Also, miniaturize any treat and it’s guaranteed to be a hit.
Check out these two gourmet, wedding-worthy pigs in a blanket apps that will bring a little upscale nostalgia to your passed hors d’oeuvres lineup.
I’m not certain about the order of events at the wedding reception. Could you please give a rough timeline of the following events: receiving line, cocktail hour, first dance, champagne toast, best man’s and maid of honor’s speeches, dinner and cake cutting? I’m so clueless!
Absolutely, good question! Here’s the basic order of wedding reception events. How long each event lasts depends on your party—is it a simple cocktail wedding reception or a seated dinner? (The average reception with full meal lasts for about four hours.) Keep in mind that you’re not orchestrating the wedding reception alone—your banquet manager, caterer, bandleader (who might act as MC) and other wedding professionals are old hands at this stuff, so they know what’s supposed to happen when. Remember too, that nothing is set in stone—there are always options, and if the timing of one thing or the other doesn’t suit your style, you can always mix it up.
The line can form at the wedding ceremony site just after the wedding or at the reception site, depending on logistics. If you think your guests will get to the reception before you (if you and the wedding party will be taking pictures after the vows), you might want to have the line at the ceremony site. Another option is to hold the cocktail hour in a room other than the main reception room. You’ll have plenty of time to get to the cocktail hour, and when the doors to the reception room open, you and your parents can form the receiving line as guests enter.
The cocktail hour kicks off the wedding reception and can last for an hour or perhaps an hour and a half. Guests arrive, greet each other and you, and generally get into party mode.
This moment can take place when you two are announced for the first time as husband and wife—just go directly to the dance floor. Alternatively, you can wait until after the salad course—it’s entirely up to you.
Champagne Toast and Speeches
The toast generally happens after everyone is seated and the first course has been served. The best man starts the toast and gives his speech, followed by the maid of honor. The couple responds (the groom usually responds to the best man, but why not let the bride say something too?), and then parents and other guests can say a few words as well.
Once cocktails are finished, the couple and wedding party have been announced, and the first dance is over (if you’ve chosen to dance before the meal), dinner should be served. Generally, not much more than half an hour should have passed since guests entered the main reception room.
Wedding Cake Cutting
The cake is usually cut during the last hour of the reception, which makes sense because it’s time for dessert and coffee as the party is winding down. Also, the wedding cake cutting generally signals to guests that it’s okay to leave soon, so don’t cut the cake too early or things could start wrapping up before you’re ready.
Place settings are a great way to execute your wedding theme, from the linen to glassware. Plates anchor each setting and are the first thing your guests will notice as they take their seats, so why not add a personal touch to them? Dish out intricately patterned or boldly colored plates, vintage china or a stack of textured servingware. Below, we share our favorite ideas from real weddings.
Spice up black linens with a metallic accent.
From the album: A Gold and Black Ballroom Wedding at the Masonic Temple in Detroit, Michigan
Colorful plates with foliage-inspired art are perfect for a whimsical or outdoor wedding. We love how this setup was topped with an adorable gold animal figurine.
From the album: An Intimate, Garden-Party-Themed Wedding at Kentford Farms in Stonginton, Connecticut
Give your place settings a classic yet vintage vibe with silver charger plates. When paired with crystal glassware, you and your guests will feel like royalty.
From the album: A New York-Inspired Garden Party Wedding at the Austin Country Club in Austin, Texas
What’s better than one pretty plate? Two, of course! Stack complementary plates, like the china and gold-beaded plates here, for a personalized setting option.
From the album: A Romantic, Neutral-Colored Wedding at McCormick Home Ranch in Camarillo, California
Mix and match plates with contrasting designs, like pretty china with shiny, modern metal, for an elegant look.
From the album: An Intimate, Classic Wedding at Liriodendron Mansion in Baltimore, Maryland
If you’re having 50 guests at a buffet, you may or may not want to give people specific seating assignments. But if you’re having 100 guests or more and serving a seated meal, you’ll want to make sure everyone’s got a specific place to sit. Why? For one, people like to know where they’re sitting—and that you took the time to choose where they should sit—and with whom. It’s also helpful if you’re serving several different entrée choices, because the caterer and waitstaff can figure out beforehand how many chicken, filet and veggie dishes a given table gets, because they know who’s sitting there. Read on for tips on how to seat neatly.
We’ve been at kitchen tables the night before the wedding (or even wedding morning) with a couple just starting their seating chart. Don’t let this be you—you’ve got more important things to think about at that point! Sure, it’s fine to make last-minute changes, but try to get the chart mostly done at least a week before the day.
Create a new spreadsheet. If you haven’t already, insert a column into your guest list document categorizing all the invitees by relationship: your friend, your family, your partner’s friend, your partner’s family, your family friend, your partner’s family friend and so on. This way, you’ll be able to easily sort the list and break it down into more logical table assortments. Now you’ll need to separate these lists into distinct tables.
If you’re feeling more low-tech, draw circles (for tables) on a big sheet of paper and write names inside them (make sure you know how many people can comfortably be seated at each table). Or you could write every guest’s name on a sticky note and place it accordingly.
A traditional head table is not round but long and straight, and it’s generally set up along a wall, on risers, facing all the other reception tables. It may even have two tiers if your wedding party is large. Usually the bride and groom sit smack-dab in the middle (where everyone can see them), with the maid of honor next to the groom, the best man next to the bride, and then boy/girl out from there. Flower girls or ring bearers usually sit at the tables where their parents are sitting, much to the relief of the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Decide to sit this way, or plan a sweetheart table for a little one-on-one time.
But you don’t have to do it that way. All the bridesmaids can sit on the bride’s side, and all the groomsmen on the groom’s. Or maybe you’re not into being on display, or you don’t want your wedding party to feel isolated from other guests. Let your wedding party sit at a round reception table or two with each other and/or with their dates/significant others, and have the head table be a sweetheart table for the two of you. (How romantic!) Another option: You two sit with your parents and let that be the head table, with the wedding party at their own tables.
Traditionally, your parents and your fiancé’s parents sit at the same table, along with grandparents, siblings not in the wedding party, and the officiant and his/her spouse if they attend the reception. But if your or your partner’s parents are divorced and are uncomfortable about sitting next to each other, you might want to let each set of parents host their own table of close family and/or friends . This could mean up to four parents’ tables, depending on your situation—or have the divorced parent who raised you (or your partner) and his/her spouse/date sit at the table with still-married parents. (Phew, confusing!)
Remember, the parent-seating question is a flexible one. Set it up in whatever way best suits everybody. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to talk to the parents in question about it before you make your final decision.
There may also be situations in which certain family members just do not get along. Maybe they haven’t spoken in years. Maybe the last time they saw each other there was a drunken cat fight. Understandably, you want to keep them as far apart as possible. Think about these kinds of relationships (or lack thereof) before you even start making your chart, so you can take them into consideration in the first place and begin by seating Aunt Hattie at table three and Aunt Lucy across the room at table 15. Trust us—they’ll appreciate it.
Again, all your college or high school friends will be psyched to sit at a table together. This especially works out well if you and your beloved went to the same school and have the same friends. It also gives them all an opportunity to catch up with each other, because they may not have seen each other for a while. But again—reception tables offer a cool opportunity to mix and match your friends and your partner’s—who knows who’ll hit it off? Consider seating friends who don’t know each other (yet), but who you think will get along exceptionally well, at the same table—and the rest is history. It can’t hurt!
The rehearsal dinner is traditionally held the night before the wedding, often on a Friday, and usually starts at about 7 p.m. This leaves time for attendants to get there from work. For a Sunday or holiday wedding, you have more options. Since the rehearsal dinner has become more of a celebration in its own right than just a formality, some couples choose to hold the event two nights before the wedding. This way, there’s more time to relax, recuperate and get ready for the main event. If most attendants won’t be arriving until late on the eve of your wedding, a breakfast celebration the morning of the wedding can be a fabulous alternative. And, of course, skipping the rehearsal meal altogether is perfectly acceptable (sometimes there’s just no way to fit it all in).
The rehearsal dinner is a great opportunity for your two families to spend time together before the wedding day in a not-so-hectic setting. Take advantage of the relaxed environment, full of happy anticipation—come wedding night, you’ll most likely be pulled in too many directions to put in quality time with anyone. The ultimate goal is to relieve some prewedding tension and make everyone feel comfortable with the upcoming nuptials, while not upstaging the main event.
Traditionally, the groom’s family organizes and pays for this fete, but you two can definitely take matters into your own hands—or both sets of parents may choose to share responsibility. While you as the honored couple may have input on the overall direction, if your future in-laws host, you should hand over the title of creative directors to them as much as you can. On the other hand, if you’re hosting, you get to make the decisions. So you’ll want to give yourselves enough time to scout venues in order to book one four to six months in advance.
At the very least, the rehearsal dinner guest list includes your immediate families , wedding party members and their spouses or significant others, and the parents of any child attendants (inviting the children themselves is up to you). You should also invite the officiant and his or her spouse to the dinner—they may not come, but it’s a polite and generous gesture to offer.
The great news? You can opt for an event that’s formal (banquet or garden party) or casual (outdoor picnic or barbecue). If your wedding is the climax of the weekend, don’t let your rehearsal dinner overshadow it—this get-together should be the sneak peek. Since the rehearsal dinner is often more informal than the wedding reception, the food and atmosphere can reflect that. Ultimately, the setting of the rehearsal dinner depends on the budget, how many guests there’ll be and what kind of party the host envisions.
A sit-down dinner at a hotel ballroom or fine restaurant are often go-tos, but there’s no reason to feel limited to that. Couples are hosting their rehearsal dinners anywhere from backyards to art galleries and even on the beach. And feel free to use the term “dinner” loosely—cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, a buffet and a barbecue are all great options. Be sure to specify on your invites so guests know what to expect and how to dress.
Turn the dinner into a fabulous welcome party. If you have family or friends that traveled far to be at your wedding, extend the invitation to them as a thank-you for their extra effort. If you’re throwing a destination wedding or a party where at least half of the guests are from out of town, show your appreciation by inviting everyone to some kind of night-before festivity. If you’re working with a limited budget, stick to a more exclusive group for the rehearsal dinner and consider having an informal welcome cocktail or dessert party for out-of-towners later in the evening.
If your rehearsal dinner will be a fancy affair with lots of out-of-town guests, you should send formal invitations. You’ll also want people to RSVP so you have a head count for the caterer. If, on the other hand, your rehearsal dinner will be fairly low-key or small (think: a party at a restaurant or an intimate gathering at your future in-laws’ home) then you don’t need to be as “official” with your invitations. You can send e-vites, use DIY invites or personally call to ask people to join you. Just make sure it’s clear to your guests where they need to be and when.
If you’re sending out invitations, get them out with or shortly after your wedding invitations. This will help everyone keep their schedules straight, book their travel plans and ensure timely RSVPs. Give far-flung attendants the basic plans way in advance so they can book flights with the proper arrival time.
A few elements are generally incorporated into the festivities—here’s what to expect:
Meet and Greet
The rehearsal dinner is your chance to welcome everyone. Walk around and catch up with loved ones and meet more of your in-laws throughout the evening, because the wedding night is often a bit of a blur.
You may hand out the bridal party gifts at this occasion, but do it subtly. No matter what, take a moment to stand and thank your bridal party for their support. Parent gifts can also be presented at the rehearsal dinner (but we prefer a more private time, if you can find it, just in case it gets emotional). The gift exchange can be a nice last moment for you to connect with them before the festivities. Some brides and grooms also use the occasion to present each other with special wedding gifts or surprises.
Traditionally, once dessert comes to a close, the toasts begin. As host of the party, the groom’s father (sometimes along with the groom’s mother) typically goes first, toasting his soon-to-be daughter-in-law and her family. Next up: The groom also toasts his new wife, the guests and the hosts, but there’s no reason both of you can’t stand up to thank everyone together.
While everyone is still seated and you have their attention, it’s also your chance to slip in a few last-minute refreshers about the next day. Before calling it a night, double-check that everyone in the wedding party knows exactly where to go the next day, what they’re supposed to bring, and when and where they’re expected to arrive to get ready. If you have a broader audience, remind guests about any activities for them the next day, as well as pickup times and locations for transportation to and from the ceremony.
If ever you or your to-be-spouse is in need of some reception speech inspiration, look no further than this very video. It’s so sweet it actually gave us goosebumps.
Lee McDowell married Katy in Ayr, Scotland, and in lieu of a traditional reception toast to his new wife, he planned a surprise that had everyone in the room—especially Katy—teary-eyed and buzzing with good vibrations.
A primary school teacher, Lee decided to write and perform a song for Katy—but since he, as he claims, isn’t much of a singer, he recruited about a dozen young ringers to help him honor his bride and bring the house down. That’s right—his students from Forehill Primary School in Ayr learned and sang (and kept secret) Lee’s special song in front of all their wedding guests. The tune is so personal and heartwarming, don’t be surprised if you find yourself giving the YouTube video a standing ovation. Seriously, someone give Lee an apple, a gold star and an A+.
With the delicious surge in food-centric media (think: celebrity chefs, the Food Network, foodie Instagram accounts, Pinterest boards and blogs) today’s couples are tapped into the food and beverage industry more than ever. For many, this means the standard chicken or beef just won’t cut it when it comes to planning a wedding menu. If you’re looking to breathe new life into your wedding bill of fare, read on! Here are 10 of the hottest catering trends that’ll wow your crowd and please every palate.
Color is a crucial element in the coordination of wedding linens, flowers and bridal party attire. So why not in planning the menu? Many chefs are coming up with unique ways to infuse color into food to match the couple’s signature hues. Don’t worry—we’re not talking about green mashed potatoes. If you’re having a black-and-white wedding, consider serving ice cream sandwiches, Oreos or black-and-white cookies for dessert. Bring this contrasting color scheme full circle with a naked or half-naked cake of rich dark chocolate and velvety white buttercream (feast your eyes on some black-and-white naked cake examples here!). If you love the complementary duo of red and green, ask your caterer if they can whip up shot glasses filled with layers of edamame and lobster trifle, or tuna tartare served in wasabi sesame-seeded wontons for cocktail hour.
Let your guests play bartender. Ask your caterer to assemble a display at cocktail hour with your drink of choice, the requisite glassware, spirits and any special mix-ins. We can never resist champagne at a wedding, so our favorite go-to is a bubbly bar. Offer champagne, prosecco and sparkling California wine. Also include a variety of liqueurs, such as Chambord, Midori, schnapps and St. Germain, plus fresh-squeezed juices like grapefruit, cranberry and orange. Lay out bowls with freshly pureed peaches, white grapes and pears (hello, Bellinis!). Lastly, don’t forget fresh fruit slices, berries and edible blooms to garnish. These personalized satellite bars are the hottest new way to serve unforgettable refreshments.
Custom cocktail bars aren’t the only way to let guests personalize their reception treats. Caterers are creating “interactive culinary kiosks” for the cocktail hour and reception. Not only are they fun and oh-so tasty, but these food stations also allow for easy guest interaction and better flow throughout your party. This type of food service is perfect for a cocktail reception where guests eat, mingle, dance or just hang out in a lounge area all night long. Taking the traditional buffet one step further, each station is attended by a chef who can plate your meal and suggest what to pair it with. One popular station is a ceviche bar, which offers a variety of fish in savory cones. If seafood isn’t your first choice, how about a fondue cart? Warm cheddar ale and balsamic gorgonzola pots with charcuterie, pickled veggies, fresh fruit and assorted bread options for dipping is delicious.
Gone are the days when hosting a large crowd was synonymous with serving heavy food like rich cream sauces, fatty double pork chops and deep-fried apps. Options for healthy and light, yet flavorful and satisfying, fare are practically endless. For the cocktail hour, think small: antipasto skewers with a grape tomato, ball of mozzarella and olive drizzled with fresh basil oil, or mini lettuce wraps with chicken in a savory Thai peanut sauce. Get that sweet-savory pop with a pecan, raisin and apple crostini speckled with honey and tangy blue cheese. Even though these bites are healthy, you might be surprised to hear they won’t break the bank; you’re actually spending less since you’re incorporating a lot more fresh produce into your menu.
As organic and sustainable ingredients become more available, brides and grooms want to have at least one green course on their wedding menus, and caterers are responding. These days, you can serve something as simple as a fresh salad made with organic greens to start, or free-range chicken with organic string beans for your main. And going green doesn’t stop with the food. Many winemakers and spirit producers are venturing into organic beverage options, so you should ask your caterer about adding organic tequilas and vodkas or even biodynamic wines to your bar menu. This is one eco-friendly trend that’s here to stay.
More couples are requesting that their reception meals be served family style to take the stuffiness out of a sit-down meal. Guests can interact casually as they pass around gorgeous dishes, which means more mingling and a better chance that everyone will have an unforgettable night. One thing to consider if you’re opting for a family-style meal is to rethink massive centerpieces. You’ll need more room for all of those serving dishes, so let the food and beautiful plates star as your décor. Not convinced? Picture heaping platters of bright-red steamed lobster, flank steak rolled with portobello mushrooms, and Emmentaler cheese nestled in magenta and white Swiss chard, along with a colorful dish of vegetable risotto.
In food, as in life, it’s all in the details. Those small yet game-changing details tend to be in the ingredients lots of caterers are using to give dishes that extra-special flair. Black lava sea salt or wasabi salt, Middle Eastern herbs and tahini sauces are being used in dishes to add a zing and richness to the flavor. And although you may not quite be able to put your finger on the specific ingredient, one thing you’ll recognize is how happy your taste buds are—that’s what will get people talking about your wedding. Even if your guests won’t remember what flowers were in your bouquet, they’ll definitely remember the exceptional food.
Tasting menus are a foodie favorite, and they’ve found their way into weddings too. So what exactly is a tasting menu and how would it work at your wedding? You’ll be served anywhere from five to seven mini courses (and even though they’re “mini,” we promise no one will go hungry). Depending on your budget, you can choose to pair a different wine with each course too. For one menu idea, start with a caramelized onion tart with Roquefort cheese, followed by herb-crusted filet mignon alongside pork loin with pear chutney. Move on to a shaved summer squash salad, then indulge in a lobster tail before enjoying cake and bite-size sweets. Just a little caveat: Despite how delicious it may be, a tasting menu will be the focal point of your reception, which means most of your time will be spent eating. So, if you’re hoping for a lively and lengthy dance party, then a tasting menu might not be for you. But if you’re self-proclaimed foodies and want a sophisticated, black-tie wedding, we say go for it.
As children’s palates are becoming more sophisticated, so are the children’s menus at weddings. Say good-bye to chicken fingers and spaghetti. Kids are having more fun eating sushi—yes, sushi!—like California rolls with soy sauce dips, chicken pot pie or ravioli in a nutty brown butter sauce. For the first course, caterers are also serving bowls of fresh fruit, and to drink, don’t forget the milk. It’s still delicious and approachable, just fresher, healthier and taken up a couple notches. What parents love about this is that they can relax and enjoy themselves at the wedding knowing their kids aren’t loading up on hot dogs and soda.
The food portion of the evening definitely doesn’t have to end once you cut the cake. Around 10 p.m., couples are choosing to serve late-night snacks. You’ve already impressed with the hors d’oeuvres and main course, so this part’s all about satisfying mid-party munchies with your favorite comfort food. If you love the sliders, see if your local burger joint will deliver. Or there’s the foolproof crowd-pleaser: warm chocolate-chip cookies served alongside ice-cold milk shooters. Not sure what to serve? Look to your families’ ethnic backgrounds for inspiration. Your caterer can also help you with this part of the evening by preparing a table of pizzas, popcorn with toppings, dumplings or an espresso bar. Place your late-night snack stand close to the dance floor for easy access: Dance, eat and repeat!
Special thanks to Connie Bolle of Levy Events in Chicago; Shai Tertner of Shiraz NYC; Andy and Rick Bott of Merri-Makers Caterers in Edison, New Jersey; and Christian O’Dowd of The Cantering Caterer in Connecticut
A delicious cocktail recipe is always the best way to kick off the weekend, but we just might be outdoing ourselves with these prickly pear tequila floats. Perfect for warm summer afternoons, the sorbet has the added bonus of keeping your cocktail chilled. No simple syrups, no exotic ingredients you’ll have to hunt down at a specialty store, and ready to sip in under 5 minutes.
See step-by-step instructions on how to make this delish signature cocktail over at TheNest.com…