Ask the Expert

Wedding Planning

Q: What should couples keep in mind when choosing their venue?

Having a tentative guest list is so important when choosing a venue. Knowing how much space you're looking for can really help narrow down your options and price point.

Q: Can you give me some ideas for wedding favors that won’t eat up my budget but aren’t tacky either?

I always suggest something edible. Favors are tricky; you want something that represents you but is also useful to your guests. Try having cupcakes in custom to-go boxes, or bottled drinks with custom labels.

Q: We’re fine with people sharing and posting photos during the reception, but we’d prefer they don’t have their phones out during the ceremony. How do we go about conveying that?

"Unplugged" ceremonies are becoming more and more popular, and chances are your guests will be receptive to the request. It's simple to add a note in your program or to have a sign when guests come in. It's also appropriate to have your officiant make an announcement before the ceremony begins.

Amy Scott, owner of Fireweed Occasions, is a lifelong Alaskan with a passion for charts and cake, which makes wedding planning a perfect fit. Visit

Q: What are key questions to ask when I’m touring a potential reception space?

When meeting with potential reception venues, make sure to ask: How long will we have access to the space? Are we able to set-up the night before? Does clean-up need to occur the same night or can this be done the next day? What is included in the space rental? (For example, does the venue space provide linens, serving ware and décor or will you need to find vendors to source each of these items.)

Q: I would love to pull together an elegant affair without breaking my budget. Are there any tips or tricks for hosting a fabulous dinner and cocktail party without burning through my budget?

Simplicity for décor can be elegant, timeless and a budget saver. Centerpieces don’t have to be over-the-top to be beautiful; you can use a collection of different bottles (sizes and colors) with single stemmed flowers along with candles in votives to create a romantic and beautiful table setting.

A nice dinner buffet versus a plated and served dinner is typically less expensive and can offer more options for your guests for their dinner selection.

Q: When is it best to DIY and when should it be left to the professionals?

If you are passionate about a project, go for it! My only caution would be: Don’t take on anything that needs to be done on the wedding day, like baking your own wedding cake or assembling your bridal bouquet. DIY favors that have a personal touch and/or a connection to family traditions are wonderful ideas and add charm to your day.

Erin Chalstrom, owner of Your Story Wedding & Event Planning, provides Interior Alaska residents and visitors with custom, creative solutions to make their wedding, convention, meeting or other event, seamless and memorable. Visit

Q: I want to plan an outdoor summer wedding, but am afraid that the weather and the bugs might ruin the party. Any suggestions?

First, you should absolutely have a back-up plan. Proper event tents are a great way to go for an outdoor wedding. When professionally installed, these tents are rated to withstand wind, rain, hail and other severe weather. Don't forget to rent the walls and tent heaters. Even in the best of weather, as the evening goes on and cools off, you will probably want to shut the walls and turn on the heaters, especially for your friends from the Lower 48!

There are lots of options for discouraging bugs. You can rent foggers and hide them around the property, and your guests won't even know they are there. You can also go DIY and make fabulous wine bottle torches with citronella oil.

Also, consider a cigar bar – an increasingly popular trend with both men and women. The cigar smoke discourages bugs and we find them to be a huge hit when you roll these out toward the end of the night!

Q: I’m planning a wedding with about 200 people for a sit-down dinner and am wondering: Do you have any suggestions for non-traditional reception set-ups – something other than the same old thing at every wedding (round tables surrounding the dance floor, etc.)?

We recommend first that you reconsider a sit-down dinner and instead have a cocktail-style reception. This is both easier on the budget because you have less tables to rent and decorate. Also, we find that guests enjoy the freedom to move around the room, eating bite-sized foods while they engage in entertainment such as lawn games, a fire pit or a photo booth.

Rectangular banquet tables are not just for the head table! If you really want a sit-down dinner, then consider replacing the round tables with 8' banquet tables. It is becoming increasingly popular to group banquet tables end to end, to create very long family style seating.

Q: We have many guests coming in from out of state for our wedding, some of them a few days before the main event. Are we expected to plan activities to keep them entertained?

It is becoming more common for weddings to be a weekend or more of full activities, so it may be that some of your guests msay expect to be entertained beyond just the wedding day. However, you need to consider what is realistic with your budget and time.

Rebecca Kopperud, owner and chief designer of La Boum Events, plans fabulous weddings and celebrations from tiny elopements to large lavish affairs all over the state. Visit