Friday, December 18, 2009

Weddings 101 - The Do's and Don'ts

Now that he or she has popped the big question and the answer is yes, here are a few do’s and don’ts that may help you on your wedding day.

These suggestions are just a few helpful hints to aid you on your wedding planning journey: You get what you pay for; Hire a professional wedding planner; Know what you are really getting; Plan ‘A’ is only as good as plan ‘B’; and, most importantly, Keep it simple.

Sometimes a bargain is not a bargain at all. For example, ordering products off the internet can be risky. Give yourself enough time to return and reorder a different choice in case the physical product is not what you expected. If possible, try to get a sample before you place an entire order.

Typically, the wedding venue you fall in love with is equally as impressive as the resident coordinator. It is not likely the wedding venue will change much, but coordinators do. If you want a coordinator that will know you and what you want on your wedding day, it is better to hire one.

A good day-of wedding planner will handle the obvious details as well as the unexpected ones. Your day is much more likely to be enjoyable if you have a devoted wedding professional on your side. Large venues have one person that sells the venue, a different person or persons who will be documenting your choices, and a third employee hoping to get it all right on your wedding day. If you want one familiar face who you can trust from beginning to end, hire a day-of or month-of wedding professional.

Some wedding sites have a list of service professionals that they recommend. Be wary, however; some of those vendors pay a fee to the facility for the recommendation. Find out if the venue receives a percentage of what the vendor is charging you. Trust the recommendations from your friends and independent vendors.

When you are choosing your vendors, think about what you want. Find the vendors that you connect with. Having a great rapport with these service professionals will make your planning experience and wedding day much more enjoyable.

They say that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This also rings true in the wedding business. A month before your wedding day is the wrong time to find out that the chairs in the beautiful photographs that sold you on the venue were a $2,000 upgrade. Make sure you understand exactly what is included and what is not. If there is something you really want, make sure it is on the contract. This is especially important when planning an outdoor event. Know all the contingent plans for inclement weather, what they will provide and what you will be your responsibility. Last minute tent rentals can be a costly surprise.

Your plan ‘A’ is only as good as your plan ’B’. Plan ‘A’ may be a lovely garden wedding and outdoor reception. Even in Southern California during a ten-year drought, it can and will rain in August regardless of your wedding plans. Have a second choice you can live with. Remember Plan ‘B’ isn’t bad, it’s just different.

Try to keep the details as simple as possible. The more complicated the plans, the more stress you are likely to put on yourself and your loved ones. Do not depend on well-meaning but novice family members to replace professionals. Hire the best person possible to make sure you get exactly what you want.

Your wedding is the celebration of a commitment between you and your soulmate. A celebration you choose to share with your friends and family. The only person you should want to impress is your new spouse. Your guests will love all the choices you make. Remember they are there not to critique, but to enjoy.

The lessons learned planning a wedding are the recipes that will help you enjoy a long and happy marriage. You will learn to care about something just because it is important to the person you love. You learn to compromise. You will learn just how important a sense of humor is. You will learn how to manage money and time.

Knowing those simple pragmatic lessons can help a couple stay happy and in love for an entire lifetime. At the end of the wedding day, some things may be different than you originally planned, and, oftentimes, even more beautiful than you could have dreamed. When that happens, and it probably will, that will be the icing on the cake, the wedding cake that is.

10 Important Party Tent Facts and Checklist

The big day is coming and you know you’ll need some type of party tent for your event. There seems to be hundreds of tent rental companies and tons of information. It’s rather daunting to sift through all the information – so we have compiled a few facts and a handy checklist guide to help you navigate through this.

Tent Rental Facts
  1. Ask for an estimate prior to a site visit, but expect the price to change after the site visit, depending on the condition of the site.
  2. You’ll likely be asked to pay a 50% deposit upon securing the tent rental. Note that deposits are often non-refundable.
  3. The tent rental company will conduct a site survey to be sure the site is suitable for an event. Find out the schedule for the site survey.
  4. Once you choose a tent style (Pop-Up Tent, Clear Canopy Tent, Festival Tent, Frame Tent, JumboTrac Tent or Series 2000 Tent), choose your exact location to hold your event. Remember that some tents will need extra room for roping and staking.
  5. You must locate and mark all possible underground utilities (water, electric, sprinkler, telephone/communication, cable, sewage, septic, etc.). If you’re renting a particular ground, ask the groundskeeper or event manager.
  6. Be sure there are no overhead obstructions – such as trees, power lines, or other structures in the area where you desire to have the tent installed.
  7. Let the tent rental company know exactly the type of surface the tent will be installed upon, such as grass, asphalt, concrete, clay, stone, etc. Not all tents are staked into the ground. In the case of some hard surfaces such as asphalt or concrete, and if staking is expected, then be sure you understand who will be “filling in the holes” once the tent is removed.
  8. Remember, once the installation is in progress, it will cost extra to move the tent (in most cases it will have to be taken down and then re-installed). So be sure you know exactly where and how you want the tent set up.
  9. Most tent rental companies offer a lot more than just tents. They often will rent out staging, event lighting, fog machines, chandeliers, tent liners, etc. Ask.

Your Tent Rental Checklist:
  • How many people do you expect at your event? (How many people do you want under the tent?)
  • Will they be sitting at tables? Or will you need just chairs? Or will they be standing?
  • What else will you need in the tent?
  • Will you need a dance floor? If so, ask for recommended sizes (depends on the size of your party)
  • Who will be supplying the interior decorations? Will you rent from the tent rental companies?
  • Where will you want the tent to be located?
  • What kind of ground will the tent be installed upon? Grass? Asphalt? Other?
  • How much square footage is needed for the grounds?
  • Where are all the utilities located?
    • Gas lines
    • Power lines
    • Cable
    • Telephone/communications
    • Sprinkler systems
    • Electrical
    • Sewage
    • Water

What style of tent are you interested in?

Will you need…

Don’t forget to…
  • Find out how many days before the event your tent can be installed or set up.
  • When the take down day is and what is expected of you.
  • Ask about transportation costs if applicable.
  • Confirm inspection date and time of the tent after installation.
  • Ask about a damages or lost equipment fee structure.
  • Get emergency contact information should something go amiss.
  • Find out what permits you’ll need to get before having the tent setup on location.
  • Ask if there’s a cancellation fee and what is it.
  • Find out exactly how you can safely decorate the tent inside and out. Some do not allow hanging items from the tent material or its framing for safety reasons.
  • Get a contract from the tent rental company and read your contract carefully.

It’s especially helpful to have as much information on hand before you contact a tent rental company. Another helpful idea is to survey the site for yourself, take a few photos from different angles, and send them to potential tent rental companies. They’ll be able to give you a better estimate and offer recommendations for the style of tents for your event.

Wedding Rental Checklist

Wedding Rentals Checklist


Here’s a breakdown of the types of rental tables you may need:

Guest Tables

36-inch round tables seat 4-6 guests.

48-inch round tables seat 6-8 guests

60-inch round tables seat 8-10 guests.

72-inch round tables seat 10-12 guests.

6 ft Banquet Tables seat about 8 guests

8 ft Banquet Tables seat up to 10 guests

Cake Table(s) -

Appropriate size depends on size of cake, whether you’ll also have a groom’s cake, and whether you’ll display both cakes on the same or separate tables. A 48-inch round table usually works well

Head Table

Seats bridal party. Often consists of banquet tables placed end-to-end.

Sweetheart Table

in place of head table, small table that seats the bride and groom while the rest of the wedding party sits at guest tables.

Buffet Tables -

If you have decided on a buffet dinner, you’ll need to arrange several food stations, such as meet carving, etc. (Buffet tables may be provided by the catering company.)

Gift Table -

Size depends on the number of guests you are expecting.

Guest Book Table -

A small table for your reception guest book.


For a seated dinner or buffet, you will need to provide seating for all reception guests. For a buffet style cocktail reception you may able to get away with enough chairs for half or more of the total number of guests. You may need to rent or purchase chair sashes separately. High chairs for children should be available from rental companies.

Linens and Chair Sashes

Linens and Chair Sashes may be included with the rented tables and chairs, or you may need to source them elsewhere.

China and Flatware

For a formal sit-down reception, tables are usually set with complete place settings. At a buffet reception where guests serve themselves, plates and silverware may be located at the buffet table.


A large tent or canopy may be required for receptions held outdoors to protect you and your guests from the sun or rain.

Options: Tents and canopies come in different sizes and colors. A smaller tent (20-by-20 feet) will accommodate about 40 guests at a sit-down dinner. A 20-by-40 canopy about 200, and a 60-by-100 about 500 or more. Depending on the shape of your reception area, you may need to rent several smaller canopies rather than one large one. Contact several party rental suppliers to discuss the options.

Take pictures of the site for references for your tent rental company. Although they should survey the facility themselves before they set up the tent, the pictures are a good reference for them when you first set up an appointment.

Heaters/Air Conditioners

You may need to rent heaters if your reception will be held outdoors and if the temperature may drop below sixty-five degrees.

There are electric and gas heaters, both of which come in different sizes. Gas heaters are more popular since they do not have unsightly and unsafe electric cords. In warmer climates, portable AC units may be rented for outdoor events.

Dance Floor

The size of your dance floor will depend on how many guests you expect. They can range from 12 by 12 feet up to 20 by 30 feet or larger. Get some graph paper and make a floor plan, and bring this to you when you visit yor rental company.