Seating plan for the wedding reception

Go with the flow

When considering your seating plan, take out your master list of guests and divide it into logical groups (your parents’ friends, his parents’ friends, friends from work, friends from high school, relatives, etc.). Guests will go so far as to rearrange place cards in order to be with “their group,” so you might as well work with this tendency, rather than trying to fight it. The separate lists allow you to see roughly how many seats you’re likely to need for each clique.

Wait until all of the RSVPs for a given group are back (including the people you have to phone to ask if they’re coming before you start assigning tables to that group). If you start early, you’ll end up reshuffling.

Handling big groups

What do you do if a group contains 12 people who accept, and a table only holds 10 people? Split the group evenly in half, six people to a table, and put them at adjacent tables. Fill in the other four seats at each table with “unmatched” people: the couple from a former job who don’t know anyone else, the cousin whose parents didn’t come, etc. The partial group will get conversation started, and there will be enough “extras” that they’re likely to feel comfortable joining in.

If you act on your seating plan while you still have a few RSVPs out (for instance, people who haven’t returned your calls), start with eight seats to a table rather than ten. The extra two seats enable you to drop in compatible people who RSVP late. If you end up leaving those two seats empty, a table of eight is still full enough to spark conversation. You are, by the way, better off with two tables of eight than with one table of ten and one of six. A half- empty table is depressing to everyone seated at it.

Seating individuals

When you encounter people who don’t fit readily into a larger group, seat them with people who are likely to be compatible. People of the same age or in similar fields are a good bet. Single people who have come alone and who don’t know anyone should be seated at tables with as many other single “dateless” people as possible. If this means your best friend from high school is seated at a “relatives” table with your three handsome, single cousins, that’s fine. Arranging people so that they’re likely to have a good time is far more important than maintaining strict protocol boundaries.

Place cards

It’s up to you whether you use one place card per person or per family (or couple). Either way, you run the risk of “losing” someone if you rearrange tables without checking your work carefully. With one card per family, it’s easy to count the people you’re moving as “one” rather than “two” or “three” or however many are represented by the card. With one card per person, it’s easy to move Cousin Mark without remembering that his girlfriend Brandy Smith has to be moved with him.

When you write out place cards, think seriously about using first and last names rather than titles. There are two reasons do be a tiny bit less “formal” with the place cards. First, many married couples with the same last name don’t really like to be addressed as “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.” Unless you’re very confident about your knowledge of your friends’ preferences, you’re likely to irritate some. Second, at least some of your guests will be seated with strangers. It’s very helpful for people making new friends to have a written name in front of them. It would be ideal if John and Sharon Smith’s table mates remembered them as “John and Sharon Smith,” not “John Smith and… what was his wife’s name? Suzy?”

Guiding your guests

To direct guests to the right table, the simplest method is to put table numbers (or names) directly on the place cards, then set out the place cards on a table. An alternative, if you’ve used the one-card-per-person scheme, is to put all the cards for the couple/family in an envelope with their family name and the table number on it. Make sure the table numbers are prominently displayed on the tables. Do not expect 200 guests to find their tables solely by checking a schematic posted in the reception hall-you’ll have an incredible traffic jam around the schematic. If you have place cards on the tables, you still need a little card for each couple/family telling them where to sit.

Put the place card table in a prominent spot near the entrance (or after a receiving line), but don’t put it directly in an entrance where it can create a bottleneck. One slow guest can create quite a traffic jam. Given a choice between a square table and a long thin table, take the long thin table! A long table presents a greater area to the guests, allowing the savvy ones to slip in, grab their seating information, and slip away.

It’s possible-and increasingly popular-to have favors that double as place cards. Some couples put the place cards in tiny picture frames. Think about personalizing favors with the guest’s name, just be sure to be obvious if you choose to do so, so that guests don’t sit down in the wrong seat not noticing the personalized favor in front of them.

Natural favors and wedding flowers

The extra touches that help define your wedding style will be simple and natural, creating a unique atmosphere of green elegance that sets your event apart from all others.

If you’ve opted for an outdoor ceremony and/or reception, the natural setting will most likely provide a beautiful backdrop for your event, making the need for additional decoration minimal or even unnecessary. When additional decoration is desired, think simple, and think natural. Use plants – both fresh and dried – and embellishments made of natural materials such as silk or cotton ribbons.

Fresh flowers traditionally provide a colorful accent to wedding decor, but unfortunately the majority of market flowers are imported from parts of the world where heavy pesticide use endangers both the environment and the health of local farm workers. Do your best to purchase local organically grown flowers, and when that is not possible look for online vendors who will ship organic flowers directly to you or your local florist. Silk flowers are a beautiful and reusable option, and may be used in arrangements and decorations as well as bouquets and boutonnieres. After the wedding, keep some to decorate your new home, or give them to friends or charity organizations.

Wedding favors are a special gift to those you love, serving as a thank-you for attending as well as a reminder of your festivities.

Here are some earth friendly suggestions for wedding favors:
◾Plantable favors – wild flowers will grow from plantable cards or favor boxes.
◾Tree-in-a-box or saplings, guests can plant a tree to offset the carbon emissions that your wedding travel creates.
◾Soy candles
◾Cards that announce your donation to an environmental organization.

Shopping for your wedding cake

When To Get Your Dream Cake

Be sure to put down a deposit to reserve the date well in advance. At Patty-Cakes, we do book up quickly and if you wait too long, you could be disappointed. If time allows, call 6 months to 1 year in advance, it is never too early to check your date.

Making an Appointment

Call to make an appointment to meet with me. If you just stop by unexpected, you may be disappointed. I do the final consultation with each bride so that I can get a feel for exactly what you want. I do not want second-hand information. I know what questions to ask, and try to sketch your cake so no details are left out.


You have probably tasted our cakes at other weddings, birthdays etc. but if you would like a sample cake, we will provide you with one. The first cake is free of charge, and any additional cakes are 3.00 each. Please call 1 week ahead to order samples.


If you have a budget, please let me know in advance. I will try to show you things that will fit into your budget. Buttercream cakes with icing flowers and designs will be less expensive than Fondant cakes with gumpaste (sugar) flowers. The more time spent and more complicated the design is, the more you should expect to pay for the cake.

Colors on the Cake

If you are having color or your cake, be sure to bring along a swatch of fabric, or piece of ribbon for us to match. There are hundreds of shades of the same color, and if you want a close match, we need something to compare.

Picking the Design

If you have a picture from a magazine, cake book, newspaper, or advertisement, bring it with you to your consultation.

Fresh Flowers

Fresh flowers can be put on cakes, but remember, fresh flowers can be treated with pestisides. Talk to your and choose wisely.

Sugar Flowers

If you would like sugar (gumpaste) flowers on your cake, you can choose them from the large selection that we have on display in the shop. Be prepared to pay extra for these flowers as they take special skill and extra time to make.

Number of Servings

We can guide you as to the number of servings you will need, but the ultimate decision will be up to you. Most brides order enough servings for invited guests minus 20%.

Cutting the Cake

Be sure to ask your caterer if they will cut your cake, and if there is an extra charge. We do not offer this service. Make sure you have a serving knife. If you are asking a friend or family member, remember that this is a messy job and maybe you are not honoring them by asking them to work at your wedding. Also, will they know the proper way to cut the cake so you get the right amount of servings?

Cake Table Placement

Take the background into consideration when placing your cake table. Remember, anything on the wall behind your cake will be in all your pictures.


You will be called the week before your wedding with the time that your cake will be delivered. You should call your contact at the reception location and inform them of this time so they can make sure that the doors will be unlocked, and the cake table is ready for placement of the cake. You should have made arrangements to have the tablecloth and skirting finished before this time.

If Something Unexpected Happens

99.9% of the time everything goes as planned. If it doesn’t, usually we can make adjustments, corrections, phone calls etc. and fix any problem. A lot of people are working to make this day wonderful for you. Because of this, something could go wrong. DO NOT LET IT RUIN YOU DAY!! If it is not life-threatening, it will only serve as a funny memory to tell your children. (It may not be funny at the moment, but rest assured, it will be funny someday).

Wedding decorations on a budget

Wedding decorations ideas – with money left over

Here are three ways to save money by looking for your wedding decorations on a budget. First, know your wedding colors will and constrain your research to those colors. Second, if a venue is less than spectacular, consider using tulle to hide the major problem areas. Third, use wedding candles wherever you can, such as wedding centerpiece candles. Everything looks better and more expensive in low light!

Wedding color schemes

When you pick out the colors for your wedding it allows you to express how you feel about this special day and the colors pull your vision together. Whether you make a lot of your decorations or find them in craft stores, thrift shops or the many DIY sites on the internet, staying with only your colors saves you time by eliminating distractions of your vision. There are many decisions to make with wedding decor on a budget, but in the end using only your chosen colors sets the tone and feel for your wedding.

Sprucing up a dull wedding reception venue – with tulle

Some wedding reception venues are less then stunning and, indeed, can be boring to the eye. Using fabric to make a room look rich and inviting for a party can completely change the feel of the room. Tulle is inexpensive and can be used on tables, hanging from ceiling to wall and around door entrances to really make a statement. Using this fabric with some balloons can enhance any wedding reception decorations, on a budget.

Wedding centerpiece candles

Candles can give a wedding reception a warm glow that would be hard to get any other way. Use tea candles floating in water at tables to set a mood. There are many sizes of candles that you can use at the head table and at locations around your reception that will make lovely lighting for romantic images of the Bride and Groom. Candles can make your decorations look more expensive then they are.

Before you spend some of your budget on the decorations check with the reception venue to make sure you know what they will allow at your celebration. By sticking with your colors, using some inexpensive fabric and an assortment of candles you can transform a simple reception venue into the party you’ve always dreamed you would have. You can have great wedding decorations, on a budget you can live with.

Ideas for wedding music

Wedding music is the issue where tradition and creativity meet, mingle, and sometimes clash. On our third date, my husband made me promise that, if we ever got married, Pachelbel’s Canon in D, Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary, and Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” would not be played. This suited me just fine, but for many people, it’s not a wedding if at least one of these tunes doesn’t fill the air.

To plan your wedding music more-or-less painlessly, it helps to start by tackling three big decisions on style before looking at sources for different sorts of wedding music.

Three Big Decisions

The first decision you must make in choosing wedding music (and often it’s made for you) is “sacred versus secular.” If you are being married in a religious tradition, it is vital that you check with the officiant or the officiant’s staff before you get your heart set on any particular tune. Some religions or houses of worship have strict rules about what sort of music is appropriate for a wedding; others have no rules at all. The only way to know for sure is to ask.

Your second consideration (and this decision is sometimes made for you too) is where you’ll use music in the ceremony. Again, it’s important to check religious guidelines before making firm decisions! Most ceremonies include a prelude and postlude (instrumental music played before and after the ceremony itself), a processional and recessional (music played during the entrance and exit of the wedding party), and one song of joy within the ceremony (between the readings, during the lighting of a unity candle, or at another convenient point). A religious ceremony may also include hymns, a responsorial psalm, a mass setting, or a sung blessing.

Your third consideration is what tone you want to set with your music. This is a decision that you do get to make for yourself, and it’s one of the most important decisions in writing a ceremony that reflects your beliefs and personalities. Do you want the pomp, circumstance, and traditional feel of the usual wedding music? What about a more light-hearted or unusual, but still classical, feel? Or a “clap your hands and sing loud in worship” mood with folk-style hymns? Or jazz?

If any of the music is sung, do you want to focus on romantic love, friendship, shared goals, commitment to God, or what? There is huge scope for personalizing your wedding music, even if you must fit your choices within the sonnet-like constraints of a strict religious format. Getting married in church does not automatically limit your music choices to “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” (a.k.a. “Ode to Joy”), “When Love is Found,” and “For the Beauty of the Earth.”

Traditional Wedding Music

Start with the University of Virginia ‘s Music Library for Weddings. This source, which covers classical music, is useful partly for the length of its list of classical themes and partly because it often supplies an album title as well as a song title. You may be able to check out the album at your local library. If not, one good way to get an idea of what the music might sound like (although you should be warned that different arrangements can sound very different indeed) is to look for the same piece in the Classical Midi Archive. You can also use the album information to order the CD from a music-selling site like or

Another quick and dirty way to find out what’s “typical” in wedding music is to type “wedding” into’s Classical Music Search. You’ll get all sorts of options, from orchestral suites to movie soundtracks. Narrow the search terms to find out if your favorite pieces are available on classical guitar or glockenspiel.

Unusual Classical Music

The Wedding Etiquette Police will not invalidate your ceremony, and the guests will not riot in the aisles, if you choose classical music that isn’t on the typical “wedding music” lists. In this project, it helps immensely to know your own tastes so you have a starting point! It also helps to keep in mind some basic “what goes where” guidelines:
◾The prelude and postlude should be upbeat but unobtrusive; they’re just background music
◾The processional should lean toward the majestic and be a bit slower than the recessional
◾The recessional can be very upbeat and faster than the processional

If you don’t feel inclined to just go through your own CD collection, the Classical Midi Archive is a fun place to start. Set aside a block of time, look up composers that you know you like, and keep a list of the tunes that strike your fancy. (The list is vital because you cannot link to midi files in this archive, so you’ll need the list to help you find your favorites when you work on narrowing down your choices, as well as when you go looking for CDs.)

If you know you want a “classical” sound, and something a bit unusual, but you’re not terribly savvy about music history, start by browsing the pages devoted to famous composers. Explore! J.S. Bach’s closing chorale from “Awake Thou Wintry Earth” would make a wonderful recessional for a wedding with an elegant feel. Portions of Beethoven’s Symphony #6 can go a long way toward setting a mood of anticipation and happiness during your prelude, while delighting guests with something other than the same-old, same-old. Take the time to try lots of tunes.

Contemporary Sacred Music

Sacred music is not limited to chorales, stodgy organ pieces, “Christian rock,” and “Kumbaya.” Armed with a good hymnal and a determined expression, you can find sacred music that adapts its tune, style, or lyrics from African-American spirituals, Irish folk music, traditional Hawaiian or Mexican folk songs, English tunes, and many other traditions.

You’re also not limited to hymns with lyrics that announce that today is your wedding day and you’re very thankful to God for all that. Other appropriate themes for your wedding music include praise and thanksgiving, providence, willingness to do God’s will, shared mission, and initiation into a new phase of life.

The place to start for traditional Jewish wedding music is a sales site called Jewish An advanced search on the keyword “wedding” brought up about a dozen potentially appropriate CDs. If you’re knowledgeable about the theology of Jewish marriage, you can probably find many more appropriate pieces of sacred music that focus on aspects of Jewish spirituality that are relevant to marriage but don’t use the m-word itself.

If contemporary “Christian rock” is an option, start with the wedding list from Use the list of artists and songs to search on a commercial music-selling site.

Popular Music, Soundtracks, and Show Tunes

When popular music is an option, couples can take several different approaches.

One option is to look for popular music that is “highbrow with a twist”: pieces like the Throne Room Theme from Star Wars or the jazzy soundtrack from the Peanuts cartoons.

A second option is to raid the current Top 40 for romantic music. Lately it seems as if every secular wedding features either “From This Moment” or “Because You Loved Me”! A word of caution: the choice you love today may not wear so well when you show the wedding video to the kids in 10 years. You may be happier in the long run with a more established popular classic like “One Hand, One Heart” from West Side Story.

The third option is to express your own unique tastes, whether your preference is alternative, hip-hop, jazz, Celtic music, or head-banger rock. Since you’re unlikely to find a convenient anthology with a title like Alternative Wedding Day, be prepared to put some time into this project… and do listen to lyrics carefully! Some of the songs with the most tender lyrics include one verse that is too risque or too depressing for a wedding day.

Whatever direction you go, start planning well ahead of time so you can choose music you genuinely like. And don’t be afraid to have fun: as long as you don’t choose Blue Octobers’ “Hate Me” as the processional and Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” as the recessional, your guests will probably enjoy whatever you do!

Questions to ask your wedding caterer

The food is one of the few aspects of your wedding that you’ll spend more money on than anything else. Subsequently, you’ll want to make sure you work with a first-rate catering service to provide a spread that’s as memorable as you and your sweetheart on the big day.

Here are the top ten questions to ask prospective catering firms before you sign the dotted line.

◾Can the caterer schedule a tasting of the specific foods you are interested in before hiring? A good, reputable caterer should arrange a tasting for you before committing to them verbally or contractually.

◾What is the caterer’s price range? Is there an all-inclusive fee per head or are costs itemized depending on the foods selected? Are tax and gratuity, linens that price or charged separately?

◾Will the caterer provide tables, chairs, plates, place settings, flatware, salt-n-pepper shakers, and other food- and dining-related items? If not, will they arrange for furniture rental? Ask to see the equipment prior to hiring to make sure it’s acceptable.

◾Who is your main contact at the catering firm? Will the same person be overseeing the catering the day of the wedding? If this isn’t the case, request to work with someone who will.

◾Is the caterer planning to work any other weddings on the same weekend, day, or even time as yours? It’s imperative that the caterer devote sufficient time to your event so you may want to pass on catering businesses that are double and triple- booking-weddings.

◾Will the caterer provide wait staff and at what additional cost? Considering the size of your wedding, how many will be working? Top caterers typically always use their own serving personnel (as opposed to the venue personnel).

◾Does the caterer have a license and proper insurance? A license will ensure the catering company has met specified health department standards and has adequate liability insurance. If alcohol will be served, make sure the caterer also has a liquor license.

◾Does the caterer provide alcohol or can you manage the bar separately? Is there a corkage fee if you provide it? Can the caterer provide the alcohol you want or can you make special requests?

◾Can the caterer provide references? A reputable Utah wedding catering firm suggests you get the contact information for at least two prior clients that had a similar menu.

◾Does the caterer provide the wedding cake or can you use an outside baker? Is there a cake-cutting charge?

About the grooms cake

For many years the Groom’s cake has served as a type of favor for the guests. It was usually a dark fruitcake which was baked in advance, cut up into small squares, and put into little monogrammed boxes. The boxes were given to the guests to take home. The time, labor and cost in doing this ultimately led to the virtual end to this tradition.

Modern Cake Designs

Today the Groom’s cake really serves as a way for the Groom to have his own special part of the reception or rehearsal dinner. The cake often hints at some aspect of the Groom’s personality. If the Groom loves to play golf, the cake may resemble a golf bag. If the Groom is a race car driver, the cake may resemble a race car. If the Groom loves Michael Jordan, the cake may resemble his basketball jersey… I think you get the picture.

Who Orders?

The bride usually orders the Groom’s cake from the same baker who is providing the wedding cake. Unless the Groom was in on the original decision, the Bride usually keeps the design of the cake a secret until the wedding day. Some grooms prefer to order the Groom’s cake themselves, keeping it a secret from the Bride. Either way, the Groom’s cake can be a fun part of the wedding celebration.

When Do We Display The Cake?

Some couples choose to serve the Groom’s cake at the rehearsal dinner as a dessert because it is often a “less serious” cake than the wedding cake. Other couples choose to display both the wedding cake and the Groom’s cake at the wedding, allowing the Groom’s cake to serve as another dessert option. Either way, both are acceptable.

Unique wedding favors

For the wedding party that wants to send their guest off with a wedding favor that reflects their unique taste and appreciation here are some unique alternatives to the traditional faire found on the reception tables.

◾Small terra-cotta pots filled with baby geraniums, miniature roses, violets or paisleys.
◾Small terra-cotta pots filled with candies or chocolates inside a colorful netting tied with a raffia.
◾Small baskets or glass dishes filled with dried and fresh fruits and, or, nuts.
◾Kodak throw away cameras.
◾Custom imprinted mugs, wines glasses, beer steins, shot glasses. (ASI source)
◾Keys holders with the motif you may have incorporated into the table.
◾Custom embossed or shaped chocolates. (ASI source)
◾Coasters with a theme pertaining to the bride or groom (ASI source).
◾Small burlap bags imprinted with the wedding memorabilia information, filled with your favorite coffee.
◾Package of unique stationary.
◾Swiss army pocket knives with the wedding date imprinted on it. (ASI source)
◾Baseball cap with a “He said…” and, or, a “She said…”

Wedding Sources for the Innovative, Adventurous and Curious. Resources for the Ideas Above.
◾Home Depot or any hardware store has a myriad of unique items that can be quite inspiring.
◾Michael’s or any arts and crafts store will provides you with great decorating resources you can reuse.
◾New York Fabrics or any wholesale/outlet type fabric store will give the inspiration to decorate colorfully.
◾Target, K-Mart, Toys R Us, Crate and Barrel, Papyrus Papers, Hallmark stores are great resources for miniatures, figurines, decorative papers, wrapping papers, candles, toys etc…

ASI Sources: ASI stands for Advertising Specialty Industry which is an industry of independent sales representatives of factories around the country that specialize in imprinting, molding, embossing, and decorating all on kinds of mediums such as mugs, tee-shirts, etc….ASI sales reps are all around the country and often all have the same competitive prices and sources.

Choosing wedding flowers

Before your first meeting with your florist, make a list of every type of flower you love, the color scheme you envision, and every floral need that might arise. Then think about how you’d like to work those floral favorites into your bouquets, boutonnières, corsages, altar flowers and centerpieces.

Go with the Pros

Even the handiest, most creative bride should hire a florist. Why? Because you don’t want to get stuck arranging centerpieces when you should be getting dressed for your big day. A good florist can help you create a stunning look for your wedding, leaving you free to celebrate and enjoy yourself.

Use the Language of Love

Your wedding day should be the most romantic day of your life, so why not speak the language of love through flowers? Most people know that the red rose symbolizes love, passion, and desire, but did you also know that the Calla Lily represents magnificent beauty, Orchids represent ecstasy, and Pansies represent the unspoken thoughts that lovers share? Your florist can help you choose the most spectacular flowers to convey all of your special feelings.

Let History Inspire You

Greek brides carried ivy as a symbol of never-ending love. Queen Victoria carried Orange blossoms as a symbol of happiness and fulfillment. Or maybe your Grandmother carried honeysuckle to symbolize the bonds of love. Looking back-at ancient history or family traditions—is a great way to choose flowers that add beauty and meaning to your special day.

Inviting the wedding officiant to the reception

I was wondering…do I send an invitation to the officiant of our wedding? We only met her once, but she is wonderful and we really liked her. I would like to have her come to the reception, or at least let her know that we are thinking about her. Do we ask her over the phone or do we send her an invitation?

Traditionally, the officiant is invited to the ceremony and reception in exactly the same way as the other guests. The invitation to the ceremony is a reminder, a courtesy, and, if she likes you too, a memento of a happy occasion.

The invitation to the reception is a courtesy to someone whose participation was essential to accomplishing the wedding ceremony. If the officiant is married, the spouse is included in the invitation as well.

If you mailed invitations to the other guests six weeks ago, then thought of the officiant, go ahead and put an invitation in the mail now. Although this isn’t ideal, the officiant will probably be flattered that you took the trouble to send a real invitation, as so many couples issue an off-hand oral invitation at the rehearsal itself.

Why is an off-hand invitation at the last minute wrong? First, the officiant is one of the most important people at your wedding. In most states, it can’t proceed without him or her. Second, if the officiant doesn’t receive an advance information, she may make other plans for the afternoon or evening.

Even though the officiant doesn’t know you well, she will almost certainly recognize that the invitation is a courtesy and a sign that you value her presence. If she is uncomfortable at parties where she knows few people, she will either stay only a short while or decline the invitation. Don’t be concerned if she declines-it’s quite possible that she simply has other plans for the time.

Your question is refreshingly hospitable and generous. Many happy couples are reluctant to entertain the officiant at the reception. When the officiant is a stranger who is hired solely for the occasion and who does virtually no ceremony planning work with the couple, they are not positively required to invite him or her-although it is still a nice gesture.

It may help to think of officiants as falling along a continuum from vendor, at one extreme, to spiritual advisor or family friend at the other. If your wedding is officiated by whatever county clerk was on duty when you showed up at the courthouse-as is possible in some states-this officiant is not invited out to lunch with you afterwards, no matter how much he wants to go. If your officiant is a family friend, your parents’ pastor, your own pastor, or someone that you have other social ties to, he or she would be invited as a matter of course. Any officiant who spends time with you working on getting the ceremony right is assumed to be an honorary friend or spiritual advisor, and would thus be invited.

If you are having assigned seating, traditional etiquette books will tell you to seat the officiant with the bride’s parents. This rule dates from a time when the officiant was almost always the bride’s parents’ pastor: they knew him and probably invited him to dinner at least once a year. While it’s still safe to follow this rule, use common sense about seating the officiant at a “good” table with people that he or she knows or might enjoy. If the officiant knows the groom’s parents but not the bride’s parents, it is perfectly correct to seat him or her with the parents he knows.