Details, details...

Details, details…

By Meaghan Howard

The photographer has been confirmed. You have a venue. You’ve chosen colors, dresses, even a theme for your wedding. So how do you tie everything together and make your special day unforgettable for your guests? Simple – it’s all in the details.

It’s the details, those special touches, that will make your wedding reception stand out as a truly spectacular occasion. Once you have the basic theme, venue and colors chosen, all it takes is a little imagination and creativity.

Memorable meals

One of the main draws of a traditional reception is the meal. Instead of basic white plates resting on the tablecloth, wedding planner Karla DeLong suggests setting the stage with a charger (a large place-setting plate that stays on the table through each course, sort of like a coaster). “They add just the right touch in such an elegant and classy way,” she says.

To go beyond a basic charger for an even bigger impact, DeLong suggests layering the charger with a printed menu card so guests can anticipate the meal you have in store for them. For a wedding with multiple entrees, DeLong says she ties a bit of ribbon to the top of each menu card to assist the servers. “I indicated to the wait staff serving the dinner that the menu cards with the brown ribbon got prime rib, the menu card with the white ribbon got salmon, and the card with the gold ribbon got the kids’ meal. Everything went smoothly!”

Tables with personality

Your guests will spend a lot of time at their tables during your reception; why not make the experience even more fun and personalized by including trivia cards at each table? The cards can feature fun and quirky facts about the couple and the bridal party. Anything from how the bride and groom met, to what the maid of honor majored in during college, can be a fun read while your guests mingle between the salad and the main course. DeLong says “trivia cards, along with some black and white pictures of the couple, make for some great icebreakers at the table.”

To finish off the table, DeLong suggests letting each guest know how special they are to you by including a pretty and unique place card for each setting. “This is a good area to add some big impact,” DeLong says. A sentimental idea for smaller receptions is to place a picture of each guest as a child at each place setting. Guests will know how much you care, plus they can all giggle and reminisce about the photos. “You can even add a note of thanks to each guest for being a part of your special day,” says Juneau event planner Melissa McCormick of Creativation.

To really stand out, though, skip the boring folded cardstock name card. Instead, tie it in to your theme by choosing something like a piece of driftwood or sea glass as a cardholder for a beach wedding. McCormick suggests caramel apples at each place setting for fall weddings. Wrap the apples with cellophane, tie them off with a ribbon or piece of twine, set one at each place setting and you have a beautiful favor and place card in one.

DeLong suggests tiny pots of green grass for garden weddings as name card holders. Summery and casual weddings can tie in the season’s bounty by including fruit in the table centerpiece and carrying the theme to the name cards by setting the name card in a piece of fruit.

Grossl Photography

For your chair tiebacks, consider tucking in a pretty little something to continue your theme, like a cluster of crimson maple leaves or a sunflower for a fall wedding, a big and swirly lollipop for a dessert-only reception or a small, sea-green glass buoy for a beach wedding.

The great cover-up

To really set the stage for the event, consider making a well-known venue your own by a simple change in setting. To start, consider renting chair covers. “Chair covers make a huge difference,” says Debra George of Alaska Event Services. Chair covers can completely change the mood of the room, hiding possibly unsightly or dated chairs and transforming them into graceful perches. Choose the tiebacks to match the bridesmaid dresses, and consider tucking in a pretty little something into the knot to continue your theme, like a cluster of crimson maple leaves and a sunflower for a fall wedding, a big and swirly lollipop for a dessert-only reception or a small, sea-green glass buoy for a beach wedding. You can also personalize the tieback to your interests, like using a carabiner as a tieback for a couple that loves rock climbing.

By personalizing the reception area, you can also camouflage unsightly areas. One couple with whom George worked got married in Italy and had their reception back home in Anchorage. To tie the two events together, the couple created a Tuscan theme for their reception and draped the walls in shades of orange, rust and cranberry, creating a rich and textured look. This method of draping walls, which can be used to hide oddly shaped rooms, ugly artwork or even the work area for servers, is called “pipe and drape.”

“This may not seem like a small thing, but the price is small for the impact it will make,” she says. “You can set these right up alongside the existing walls and replace a less desirable wall with a elegant solid backdrop.” George has used the pipe and drape method to hide greasy tools for an event in an airplane hangar and often uses it behind wedding ceremony sites to create a clean background for the photos.

Fresh ideas

One final touch is to keep your guests feeling fresh throughout the evening so they’ll be ready to dance the night away. McCormick says she often places a basket of toiletries in each guest bathroom. “A small basket filled with mints, hair spray, hair pins, sample lipsticks and other beauty items are much appreciated by your guests,” she says. “Small touches will often make a lasting impression.”