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Heather Lee Archives - New Orleans Weddings - Reception, Venue & Planning

Every Single Question You Need to Ask Your Wedding Venue Before You Book It

 Etiquette, Events, Heather Lee, Wedding Planning  Comments Off on Every Single Question You Need to Ask Your Wedding Venue Before You Book It
Mar 272014

When you're on the hunt for the perfect wedding venue, forgetting to ask an important question could mean ending up with a site that's missing a key element — or a hefty charge at the end of that night that you weren't expecting! So before you sign on the dotted line, sit down with the venue manager and go over the following questions. Tip: We recommend even printing this list out and bringing it with you!

The Wedding Date:
•Is mine available?
•How many weddings will be booked that day?

•What are the rates for different days or times (Friday, Saturday, Sunday; afternoon, evening)?
•Is there a payment schedule?
•What kind of deposits are required?
•Are there hidden costs like a service charge, gratuity, cleaning fees, or overtime charges?
•What's the cancellation policy?
•What's the last possible date that we can make changes?

•Must I use vendors of your choosing?
•Is there room for a band and/or dancing?
•Does the venue own sound equipment and speakers, or will that need to be rented?
•Are there any noise restrictions?
•Are there adequate bathroom facilities? Is there a coat check?
•Is the site handicap accessible?
•Is there ample parking? Will guests be charged for parking?
•Is there a backup plan for rain or inclement weather?
•Are there any decoration limitations? Can we use candles?
•Are there restrictions for the photographer in terms of flash usage?
•When can my vendors arrive for setup?
•What time will my guests have to leave the venue?
•Who is responsible for setting up and tearing down the decor, and when will it be completed?

Food & Drinks:
•Is there an in-house caterer?
•Do we have to use that caterer? If not, is there a limitation on which outside caterers we can use?
•Do you have a liquor license?
•What is your pricing for alcohol?
•Will you allow us to bring our own liquor?
•If so, is there a corkage fee?
•Are there any consequences for not fulfilling the food and beverage minimum?

•Who will be our point person be before the wedding?
•Who will be our point person on the day of our wedding?
•Can we meet them now?

Creative Cocktail Bar Ideas for Every Type of Wedding

 Cocktail Hour, Food & Drink, Heather Lee, Wedding Style, Wedding Style & Decor  Comments Off on Creative Cocktail Bar Ideas for Every Type of Wedding
Mar 262014

The first place guests hit after the wedding ceremony? The bar! Since it's such a popular spot at a reception, it's important to make the cocktail area one to remember. Here, we rounded up five creative and unexpected ways real brides and grooms served drinks at their weddings — from a modern beachside bash to an alfresco country-club celebration.

For weddings with a rustic theme, take pointers from the DIY beer bar pictured above. The couple, Mark and Danielle, married at Saddlerock Ranch in Malibu. "Mark made it on his own with old wood we collected from pallets and construction sites," says Danielle. "He didn't have a plan, he just built it! Then he drilled his own holes for the beer taps to come through." To make your own, you can purchase beer-tap supplies from a home-brewing website (like MoreBeer.com).

preppy wedding cocktail bar

Photo: Meg Smith

For country-club affairs, this cocktail bar at a wine-country wedding planned by Northern California-based Laurie Arons Special Events is an elegant option. The grey-and-white bar perfectly complements the outdoor cocktail-hour setting and was rented through the couple's florist Kathleen Deery Design.

This oceanside bar is such a clever idea if you're getting married on the beach. Once the ceremony has concluded, your guests won't have to walk very far to get a cold beverage. You could even open the bar pre-ceremony for sparkling water as guests wait for the processional to begin.

modern and glamorous cocktail bar

Photo: Aaron Delesie

More glamourous bashes call for something statement making like this chic cocktail area featured at a Chicago wedding planned by Marina Birch of Birch Design Studio. The mirrored bar and geometric pattern accented the couple's white-and-gold color scheme and all-white reception tent.

Lastly, for a ballroom wedding with a tropical theme, this cocktail-bar idea is a way to bring the outdoors inside. The sides are decorated with bamboo and strands of white flowers, with lush palm fronds suspended overhead.

3 Geometric Wedding Cakes for the Modern Bride

 Cakes, Heather Lee, Wedding Cakes  Comments Off on 3 Geometric Wedding Cakes for the Modern Bride
Mar 242014

The options are literally endless when it comes to your wedding cake, but most brides tend to go for more classic confections featuring flowers or pretty piping. But for engaged women looking for something more non-traditional, we recommend embracing the geometric cake trend. From crisp shapes and faceted flower vase-shaped cakes to repeating triangle-and-honeycomb motifs, the graphic detail is a fun and unexpected way to incorporate a modern touch into your wedding-day décor. To help get the ideas flowing, we found three show-stopping geometric wedding cakes guaranteed to be a conversation starter at your big day.

The stunning cake pictured above was created for a couple that married at the Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago. All of the wedding details complemented the clean, spare setting — from the color scheme (all white, with pops of black) to the minimalist reception decor (centerpieces of white blooms in crisp square vessels). The wedding cake, designed by Mary Winslow at Cake Chicago, took its design cues from the couple's wedding stationery, which was letterpress-printed with the same geometric shapes that cascade down the tiers.

geometric wedding cake

Photo: Lara Ferroni

For a bolder take, the above color-blocked design by Allison Kelleher of AK Cake Design in Portland, Oregon. Kelleher was inspired by the work of artist Antonia Sellbach and created triangle and square shapes from fondant to mimic the mosaic look. Each piece was carefully hand-cut and then applied to the cake tiers.

For brides who want to try the trend, but prefer something a bit more subtle, check out this cake by Melody Brandon of Sweet & Saucy Shop in Southern California. The two square tiers look crisp and elegant, without any need for toppers or extra adornments. The jumbo-size bottom tier helps draw attention to the dessert, while the mint-colored V-shapes, appliqued in an ombre pattern incorporate the perfect amount of geometric detail.

5 Creative Ways to Light Up Your Wedding With Sparklers

 Heather Lee, Sparklers, Wedding Style & Decor  Comments Off on 5 Creative Ways to Light Up Your Wedding With Sparklers
Mar 202014
Looking for an affordable way to transform your wedding into something picture perfect? Just add sparklers. The addition of the festive wedding detail will bring an effortless hint of whimsy into your celebration. Below, we're breaking down five ways to incorporate sparklers into your big day, along with some useful tips on how to pull it off without a hitch.

The Reception Send-Off: First up is the classic reception exit (above), where guests line up outside the venue at the end of the night with lit sparklers and cheer as you depart from the party. Tip: Be sure to check with your reception site first, to make sure sparklers are allowed.

The Ceremony: A more unexpected idea would be to pass out sparklers for guests to light at the end of the ceremony — maybe during your first kiss! Tip: Don't forget to supply enough matches for all your guests.

On the Dance Floor: Have your wedding planner pass the sparklers out before your first dance; then, ask your DJ to make an announcement, asking guests to gather around the dance floor with their lit sparklers. Tip: Be sure to provide a receptacle so guests can put the sparklers out; galvanized steel pails filled with sand work best.

On the Wedding Cake: Have the servers wheel out the wedding cake adorned with glowing sparklers for the most festive cake-cutting ceremony, ever. Tip: Give your baker a heads-up about your sparklers plan so he or she can decorate the cake with them in mind.

grand exit with fireworks

Photo: Via Postcard & Pretties

The Getaway: For a finale fit for the Fourth of July, make your getaway amid a shower of sparklers and fireworks. Tip: Talk to your photographer to clue him in on your sparkler plans so he can plan accordingly and position himself in the right spot and get the perfect shot.

The Ultimate Guide to the Wedding Processional Order

 Etiquette, Heather Lee  Comments Off on The Ultimate Guide to the Wedding Processional Order
Mar 192014

The bride's walk down the aisle is always one of the highlights of a wedding ceremony, but a few other important people like the bridal party, mother of the bride, and officiant prep the runway before the girl in the white dress makes her grand entrance. The wedding-processional order can be confusing, so we're breaking down who should walk when to ensure your bridal march runs as smoothly as possible. Check out our ultimate guide below, beginning with Mom and ending with the bride:

The Bride's Mother: The mother of the bride's entrance marks the beginning of the ceremony and processional. Once she reaches the end of the aisle, she takes her seat to the left of the aisle in the first row. (In Jewish ceremonies, she and the bride's father escort their daughter down the aisle together.)

The Groomsmen: During the processional, the groomsmen can either walk down the aisle one by one (the best man should go last), or later arm-in-arm with the bridesmaids.

The Best Man: The best man walks down the aisle after the groomsmen and stands at the groom's side during the ceremony. He may also hold the bride's ring (or both rings).

The Groom: Traditionally, the groom will enter next, walking down the aisle solo. However, many couples these days choose to have the groom's parents escort him down the aisle (then, his parents would sit to the right of the aisle in the front row). Another alternative would be for the groom to enter the ceremony from the side of the venue, followed by his best man and groomsmen.

The Officiant: A very important part of the ceremony, the officiant is usually honored with a spot in the processional. Alternatively, he could enter from the side of the room, with the groom (see above).

The Bridesmaids: During the processional, the bridesmaids walk down the aisle before the maid or matron of honor.

The Maid or Matron of Honor: Before the ceremony, the maid or matron of honor assists the bride with her dress, veil, and train, making sure everything looks perfect before she walks down the aisle. She then stands by the bride's side at the altar and holds her bouquet and sometimes the groom's ring.

The Flower Girl(s) and Ring Bearer(s): The ring bearer and flower girl precede the bride down the aisle. Traditionally, the ring bearer carries the wedding rings (or decoys, if he's too little to be trusted with the real things), tied to a small pillow. The flower girl may carry a basket of petals, which she scatters as she walks, or a posy of flowers. After the procession is over and the rings are handed off to the best man, the children's work is done, and they can be seated with their parents. These days, couples are becoming more creative with the childrens' accessories, incorporating fabric signs and banners, ribbon wands, and other sweet ideas.

The Father of the Bride and the Bride: The bride's father traditionally escorts his daughter down the aisle, standing to her right. After he "gives her away" to the groom, he lifts her veil and kisses her, signifying his blessing, then takes his seat beside the bride's mother.

An Affordable & Romantic Centerpiece Idea: Candles

 Centerpieces, Flowers, Heather Lee  Comments Off on An Affordable & Romantic Centerpiece Idea: Candles
Mar 172014
Looking for a way to save money on wedding reception deécor without sacrificing style? Scale back on floral centerpieces and use candles as the tables' focal point instead. Glowing, flickering candles add a dramatic, romantic touch to your party. Plus, they're an instant mood setter, creating a warm and cozy atmosphere. (Bonus: Everyone looks better in candlelight, too!) The secret to transforming a classic candle centerpiece into something statement making is to use the lights en mass — don't hold back! Luckily, since they're so cheap, you can afford to buy in bulk. To help inspire your own candlelit reception, we rounded up a few of our favorite examples.

In the photo above, Seattle-based florist McKenzie Powell of McKenzie Powell Floral & Event Design decorated long reception tables with clusters of ivory-colored pillar candles arranged in varying heights, accented with fresh greenery and juniper berries. To achieve the unfussy yet utterly sophisticated look, Powell arranged the greenery very loosely. Also, the berries add another layer of texture and nicely contrast the white linens.

centerpiece idea with candles

Photo: Esther Sun

Above, a tall arrangement of fresh greenery is accented with loads of taper candles arranged in clear wine bottles, used as holders. The combination is so simple and striking, but still super easy to replicate. The floral design and deécor for this Calistoga, CA wedding was created by Sonoma-based Daisy Rose Floral Design.

modern candle centerpiece

Photo: Landon Jacob

The above wedding centerpiece idea, photographed by Landon Jacob, is another picture-perfect option. The modern square vases each contain a votive candle and look so elegant when they are arranged in succession down the length of the long farmhouse tables. (You could very easily purchase the white frosted-glass vases in bulk quantities online.) The place settings also echo the square theme, while the all-white elements pop against the dark mahogany tables.

The Ultimate Guide to Tipping Wedding Vendors

 Etiquette, Heather Lee, Tipping  Comments Off on The Ultimate Guide to Tipping Wedding Vendors
Mar 132014
tipping wedding vendor guide

Photo: Getty Images

When you're already stretching your wedding budget to accommodate so many expenses, it can be a little frustrating and overwhelming to think about tipping vendors on top of their already negotiated fees. But remember that tips are never obligatory — they are supposed to be expressions of thanks for especially good service. That said, unless the service was absolutely terrible, you wouldn't leave a restaurant without tipping, right? The same applies to weddings: It is customary to show your appreciation by tipping many of the people involved in making yours a success.

Here are a few guidelines to help you navigate the process:

Check your contract: Some businesses like caterers and transportation companies may automatically include the gratuity—usually 15 to 20 percent of the total bill, which you pay in advance as a condition of your contract. Read the contract carefully to avoid accidentally double-tipping.

Don't tip the owner: A vendor who's self-employed or is the owner of a business is generally not tipped. So, if your photographer owns the studio, there's no need to tip him. The same goes for bands not booked through an entertainment agency and the hair-salon owner who does your updo. However, if your (self-employed) wedding planner has designed and produced your celebration from start to finish — and pulled it off flawlessly — you might want to show your thanks with a tip (up to $500, 15 percent of her fee or a nice gift).

Reward extraordinary effort: Beyond the customary tips, when someone goes above and beyond the call of duty — the cake designer manages to accommodate the last-minute change to your guest count, the florist somehow finds a replacement basket for the flower girl to carry down the aisle after she misplaces the original one — consider thanking them with a gift certificate (no more than $50 or $100), a bottle of wine, or another tangible token.

Hand out most tips the day of the wedding. Ask your wedding planner, best man, or trusted friend or family member to pass out tips at the end of the event. A plain business envelope filled with cash is fine, but adding a handwritten note with "Thank you so much for everything!" will go along way. You'd be surprised how much it will mean to a vendor after a long day of work.

Don't forget to send a thank-you note. A follow-up thank-you note is often a valued tip in itself; consider also writing a positive online review and/or referring the vendor to your engaged friends.

Decide how much to tip. Refer to our handy guide below to figure out how much to tip your vendors!

Hair/makeup pros: 15-20 percent of the total bill
Musicians: $25-$50 each
Officiant: $50 if you're married by a judge or clerk; clergy members, in general, don't accept tips, so instead, make a donation ($100 on average) to the appropriate house of worship.

Wedding planners: $0; however, their more junior staffers should be tipped $50-$100 each.
Photographers/videographers: $100-$200 if the pro is part of a larger outfit or agency (but not the owner). Second shooters should receive $50-$75.
Catering manager: $250-$500
Waitstaff: 15 percent of the total pre-tax food bill, which should be given to the catering manager or "captain" to distribute.
Bartenders: 10-15 percent of the total pre-tax bar bill, which should be split among the bartenders. Inform the bartenders of your intent to tip after the reception, and request that they refuse tips from guests.
Reception band/DJ:$25-$50 per person
Chauffeur/driver: 15-20 percent of the total bill, which is typically presented at the end of the day.
Valets: $1-$2 per car, given to the supervisor in advance, to be split among staff. Display a sign at the valet station stating that gratuities have been taken care of. The valets should also be instructed to refuse any tips offered by guests.
Restroom/coat-check attendants: $.50-$2 per guest; calculate this total in advance and give to your reception site manager to distribute.

Delivery people: $5-$20 per person for deliveries arriving from your florist, baker, rental company, and other vendors. These staffers may also be doing the heavy lifting, on-site setup, and hauling away that come with producing your wedding — so tip accordingly.

An Unexpected Alternative to Bridesmaid Bouquets: Wrist Corsages

 Bridesmaids, Flowers, Heather Lee  Comments Off on An Unexpected Alternative to Bridesmaid Bouquets: Wrist Corsages
Mar 122014

A subtle and simple way to personalize your wedding ceremony? Instead of carrying bouquets, have your bridesmaids wear a wrist corsage full of beautiful fresh flowers. Not only is it unexpected, but the sweet alternative comes with some serious perks that benefit you and your girls. Practically speaking, wearing a wrist corsage instead of carrying a bouquet means it's one less thing for your ladies to have to remember and keep track of on the big day. Plus, you'll save some serious cash by going this route — wrist corsages require far fewer flowers than a bouquet, which lowers the cost.

If you're concerned about what your bridesmaids should do as they walk down the ceremony aisle, we have a solution. One idea would be to ask them to carry the corsage in their hands, as if they were holding a small posy. Then, during cocktail hour, they could tie the corsage onto their wrist and keep it on for the remainder of the reception.

See More: Gorgeous Flowers for the Ceremony & Reception!

To prove just how pretty and versatile a wrist corsage can be, we found four picture-perfect examples of the blooming accessory:

At the wedding pictured above, each bridesmaid wore a wrist corsage of eucalyptus leaves and garden roses, which perfectly matched the blossoms in the bride's bouquet. The soft pink hue of the garden roses also complemented the bridesmaids' coral-colored dresses.

Bridesmaids Flowers Wrist Corsages

Photo: Ed Peers

Pretty wrist corsages of lush, vibrant carnations and garden roses, combined with seeded eucalyptus, really pop against the bridesmaids' camel-colored dresses and the couple's rustic outdoor setting.
Bridesmaids Flowers Wrist Corsages

Photos: Boyfriend/Girlfriend (left); Beautiful Moments Photography (right)

A single Juliet garden rose — nearly every bride's favorite flower! — looks great when paired with a preppy orange-and-white striped grosgrain ribbon (left photo). Or, you could ask your florist to use a variety of blossoms and greenery for a just-picked-from-the-garden feel (right photo).

As these options prove, a wrist corsage fits any wedding's dress code.

It’s In the Details: Three Crazy-Fun Escort Card Ideas

 Escort Cards, Heather Lee, Wedding Style, Wedding Style & Decor  Comments Off on It’s In the Details: Three Crazy-Fun Escort Card Ideas
Mar 112014
bow and arrow escort card

Photo: Jose Villa

You put so much thought into your dress, invitations, and menu, but it's important not to forget about the little things including escort cards. To help you check a "to-do" off your list, we found a few amazing takes on the classic detail that will impress your guests as they enter the reception — and get them to their table. But first things first: Here's a quick refresher in case you're not exactly sure what an escort card is or get them confused with the all-too-similarly named place cards.

An escort card is a small card printed with each guest's name and table-number assignment. They're typically arranged in a creative way at the entrance to the reception for your friends and family to find their name and corresponding table. Place cards, however, are small cards printed with the guest's name, displayed at their reception table on the setting where they've has been assigned to sit. These are usually used at more formal weddings and indicate that the couple has put a lot of thought into the seating chart. Got it?

Now for the fun stuff: Check out three cool ideas for your escort cards below!

For the colorful and modern escort-card display above, Northern California-based wedding planner Laurie Arons commissioned a custom-made Lucite heart art installation, which was positioned on the lawn at the couple's venue in Napa. Each guest's name and table number was written on colorful paper at the end of each arrow; all of the arrows were then arranged to create a beautiful ombre effect.

This towering banyan-tree display was custom made by Blueprint Studios for a wedding held at San Francisco's City Hall. "The bride is from Thailand, so the cocktail-hour decor was highly influenced by Thai culture," explains Jubilee Lau of Jubilee Lau Events, who planned and produced the wedding in conjunction with Gloria Wong Design. The planners hired models to dress in traditional Thai attire and helped guests locate their escort cards suspended from the tree branches overhead.

hanging escort card display

Photo: Anushé Low

This hanging escort-card display by London-based stationery and decor company Eagle Eyed Bride is such a clever idea. Instead of having guests retrieve their own individual escort cards, this paper-flower display functions as a seating chart that everyone can refer to at the start of the reception.

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