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Thursday, April 26, 2012

5 Unique Alternatives to the Candy Buffet

Candy stations and dessert buffets have been very popular over the past few years at our weddings and events. They add an element of color to the space while acting as an interactive element for your guests. They also act as a take home favor for both adults and children at your event. It's almost guaranteed these days that you'll see some sort of candy station or dessert buffet when you go to a wedding reception. It's a great idea, but put a unique spin on it to make yours different!

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S'mores Station
S'mores are a wonderful treat for summertime weddings! You can pre-package the graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows and display them for your guests with a sign letting them know about the fire pit outside. Or, you can create an indoor s'mores station with candles. Mix up the marshmallow flavors (regular, tropical, strawberry, lime, chocolate, etc...), and offer different varieties of mini-chocolate bars (milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, chocolate with peanuts, chocolate with sea salt, etc...)

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Candy Apple Station
Autumn is the perfect time for a candy or caramel apple station! Start with trays of apples on sticks. You can use all one type of apple, mini apples, or have different varieties and colors to choose from. Offer various dips such as chocolate, caramel, and traditional candy apple, and of course make sure to have nuts, sprinkles and candy to top them off! Provide take-home bags in case they don't want to eat it right away.

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Doughnut Station
What better way to treat your guests later in the evening than a doughnut station? Provide several varieties of doughnuts. You can also include dips or toppings like chocolate sauce, strawberry jam, bavarian cream and lemon curd. You can also include sprinkles, nuts, coconut shavings, candy bits, powdered sugar and cinnamon. Coffee or hot chocolate can also be served with the doughnuts!

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Ice Cream Station
 Perfect for a warm summer wedding and reminiscent of childhood! Offer a variety of ice creams and all the works; bananas for banana splits, hot fudge for hot fudge sundaes, whipped cream and cherries for the top, strawberry sauce, butterscotch topping, chocolate chips, crumbled cookies, M&M's or other chopped candies, chopped nuts, brownie chunks, and even root beer or Coke for floats!

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Cookies & Milk Station
What a great send off or "goodnight gift" for your guests! You can use all home made cookies, or a combination of home made and store bought. Pair them with jars or mini cartons of regular milk, strawberry milk and chocolate milk, and you have the perfect sweet treat for the end of the night!


Monday, April 23, 2012

How to Write Escort Cards and Place Cards

This may be one of the most common mistakes I hear on a regular basis, so I thought I'd dedicate a blog post to explaining the difference between escort cards and place cards, and the proper way to address your guests on each card.

While most people just refer to all name cards as "place cards", there is a distinct difference between the two. It's important to know the difference when you're ordering for your wedding, especially if you're ordering online!

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Escort Cards are generally at the entrance to the reception or at cocktail hour. These are very important, as they welcome your guests and tell them where to be seated. If this isn't done in an organized fashion, the guests can become frustrated immediately upon arriving at your reception, and that's the last thing you want!

Guests names on the front of the escort card, assigned table numbers on the inside.
Moulin Rouge themed wedding in Sandusky, OH
(Note: These are informally addressed escort cards that don't include titles.)
Escort cards by Amy Nixon Events

Formally, these cards should say the guests name and what table they are seated at. "Mr. & Mrs. John Smith, Table 12" or "Dr. Tom Jones, Table 2". If small children are attending, they should be included on the card "Mr. & Mrs. John Smith and Family",  and any children over 10 should have their own card with their own name.

Wine Cork Escort Cards for a Vineyard Wedding at Mon Ami Winery in Port Clinton, OH
Escort Cards by Amy Nixon Events

It's best to sort and display these alphabetically by last name (not by table). This way, the guests can easily find their names and spend less time in line at the table searching. Names should be addressed formally, same as the invitation. Include titles such as Dr., Mr. & Mrs, and military rankings (Colonel, Captain, Major, etc.. - military titles should never be abbreviated when addressing formally).

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Place Cards are at each place setting at each dining table. The place card at the table can be less formal if you wish, but titles should still be used. Each card has a guest's name, and that designates which seat the guest should sit at. Place cards can also contain a marker of some sort to let the catering staff know which dinner to serve to that guest (vegetarian, chicken, beef, etc...).

Moulin Rouge themed wedding in Sandusky, OH
Hand Folded Eiffel Tower Place Cards by Amy Nixon Events

Standard Tent Cards with Meal Markers for a 
Tented Tropical Wedding at Catawba Island Club in Port Clinton, OH
(These show markers for the catering staff signifying 
whether the guests meal should be beef, fish or vegetarian.)

5 Ways to Save on Your Wedding Budget

5 Ways to Save on your Wedding Budget!

 Wedding Ceremony at Severance Hall in Cleveland, Ohio
Everyone's on a tight budget these days, but skimping in the wrong places could lead to bigger problems in the long run! Take our advice and use these tips to save on 5 areas of your wedding:

1. Choose and use flowers wisely - Peonies may be your absolute favorite, but they're not available all year and very expensive to get at certain times. Consult with your florist on making less costly replacements for flowers that may not be in season. Another great idea to stretch your flower budget that we often suggest to our floral clients is re-using ceremony flowers at the reception. Your pew bows can decorate the buffet table, your alter arrangements can decorate the entrance to the reception or highlight your head table, and your bouquets can double as head table centerpieces or cake table decor. Your florist should even be able to move these for you (there may be a small added expense for the move, but it will still be less than ordering all those extra flowers!)

2. Choose a venue where you can have your ceremony and reception - By having all of your festivities for the day in one location, you can cut down drastically on the cost of transportation for you and your wedding party. No shuttles, no round trips, no waiting in the parking lot....this will add quite a handful back into your budget!

3. Choose a favor that doubles as entertainment or decor - I'm a big fan of killing two birds with one stone, and this is the perfect opportunity. A photo booth with a take home photo for the guests, or a caricature artist to draw the guests are both great options. A candy station (or cookie station, or mini dessert station) with take-home bags for your guests acts as an interactive entertainment feature, plus it gives them a sweet treat they can take home!

4. Choose DIY projects wisely - If you're a crafty type of bride, there are a few things you may be able to DIY to save yourself some money. If you're not, don't try! It can end up costing more and causing more headaches than it's worth! Hand made invitations always add a sweet touch of your own personality, and when done correctly they can cost much less that professionally printed invites with all the required inclusions. Favors are another thing you can DIY. Your guests will love a personal gift from you, like home baked cookies wrapped in pretty fabric and tied with a bow, or

5. Cut down on the guest list - This may be the hardest to do, but it will save you the most money in the long run. For every name you cross of the list you're saving a meal, a seat, a favor, a place card. Remove 8-10 names and you cut out an entire table of meals and beverages, a centerpiece, a linen, 8-10 favors, 8-10 escort and/or place cards, plus other items associated with each guest. In short, trimming some names from the guest list will save you in ALL areas of your wedding at once. It may be the most painful cut to make, but it will be the biggest budget saver of all!

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