So thinking about my wedding blog post this month and chatting with a venue coordinator we got to talking about the trend to have a sign for almost everything at your wedding… and well, do you really need all of those signs?! It used to be if your wedding was in an out of the way location maybe there was a sign stuck to a post with an arrow and maybe even some balloons to mark the spot… not anymore! There are signs everywhere at weddings nowadays! Direction signs, table seating assignment signs, reserved signs and more! It seems like signs have become just as much of the wedding decorations as the flowers themselves! So I thought I would put together a list of the most common wedding signs that I’ve seen the past few years and a few of my thoughts about them… Hopefully, this will give you some ideas on what you can use signs for or if you may want to scrap the idea because of time and money restraints.
1.) Direction Signs – Again if your wedding is in a hard location to find or internet maps send you in a funky direction perhaps you may need a sign at the gate or the turn off point of your wedding. Or perhaps you are having an outside ceremony located just a short distance from the venue’s reception hall and you just want to send people in the right direction when you don’t have a greeter. I can get on board with these signs as it takes away the guess work for the wedding attendees and also offers a great photo opportunity.
2.) “The Choose a Seat Not a Side” sign – Gone are the days of the Bride’s friends & family sit on the left and the groom’s on the right (at least for the guests) parents and immediate family still tend to sit in the first row of the side of the family member that’s getting married on. It used to be a fairly new idea to just have everyone pick a side. And if the wedding isn’t having ushers than I think this sign is still a good idea. Although it can also have it’s pitfalls… I’ve been at a few weddings where one side is completely over seated compared to the other side and it looks off. It’s better to have fewer guests in the back then everyone seated on one side. This particular sign is one that I think you can forgo all together if you have ushers. A great reason to consider using ushers is so they can even out the seating especially if you are not having people pick a side. Also a “reserved” sign on the front row reminds guests that those seats are for immediate family.
3.) Reception Seating Arrangement Signs – Sometimes a seating arrangement is an absolute necessity, especially if you are doing a plated dinner and the catering staff has to figure out where each meal goes. Most people can figure out where the seating chart is, but if you are doing something elaborate, for instance a rock with everyone’s name painted on it. Then it helps to have a sign next to your seating cards to explain how the seating is going to work.
4.) Guest Book Sign – A sign telling your guests to please sign your guest book is not needed as most weddings have some sort of guest book to sign and people expect it… unless you are doing something unique like asking for guests to give marital advice, or put their thumbprint on a tree. Also it helps to have a designated person to sit next to the “guest book” as your friends and family enter the reception to help them to know what they are suppose to do… especially, again if you are doing something out of the ordinary.
5.) A Place for “Cards” Sign – Again this is one that I think is completely unnecessary because if your card holder is sitting on the gift table it’s implied, but nevertheless can be cute! Especially if you are using a non-conventional card holder like a suitcase or a bird cage.
6.) Food Labels & Menus – I thought I would lump these two together… Does there have to be chalk board sign stating that there is a candy bar located on this table? Probably not. It’s self-explanatory. Does the chicken need to be labeled in a buffet? Again these are some of the signs I feel like you could skip. Is it nice to know what’s on the entire menu before you go through the line, yeah, but again not a necessity unless you know a lot of your guests have food allergies or special considerations for what they can eat. A chalkboard sign can make another cute detail for photos, but it’s one of those items I feel can be left off the list to save money.
7.) Signature cocktails & Beverage Lists – If you plan on doing a signature cocktail for your guests than I think a sign explaining what is in it is a great idea. This will help the bartenders from having to explain to each guest what’s in each drink and thus taking them away from getting those drinks made for everyone. Also if you spent a great deal of money purchasing the specific liquors that go into your special concoction than you probably want those drinks to go first before people break into the other liquor. A beverage list of all that is available from the bar is also nice, but again not a necessity.
8.) The wedding Hashtag # – It’s still going strong! And one of those things that’s still fairly new to society and may have to be explained to your parents and grandparents. If you have one then by all means make a sign for it, put it on your wedding website, or wedding program, but make sure it gets out there because if people don’t know about it than they won’t use it!
9.) Favors & Thank You Gifts – If you purchased a wedding favor for each of your guests I believe the best way to distribute those gifts is to place them on each and every person’s place setting because this ensures everyone has seen them and will remember to take them with at the end of the night. If that’s not very practical because let’s say you bought a bottle of wine for everyone and you want them to take it home and not drink it at the table then putting a separate table by the door with the favors is a good idea along with a “Help Yourself” Sign.
10.) Other signs – Poems, Love Stories, Bible Verses, Etc. – These signs fall into the completely non- essential category. These would be purely for decoration, to remember a loved one or to share how you and your fiance’ met. And while they are completely for esthetics rather than a pragmatic reason they really do give you a sense of the couple’s identity. Whether they are loving, funny or religious… they are just fun to have! If it’s not a “saying” that you plan on displaying on your wall after the wedding choose a really nice frame that can be used afterwards to display some of your wedding photos after the big event!
1.) Purchase Wedding Insurance – I’ve mentioned this in one of my other wedding ideas posts, but thought it was worth mentioning again especially for weddings being held in the colder months in Colorado. What if a blizzard hit our state and nobody was able to get to your venue! You’d probably want to be able to reschedule your event and good insurance would help with that. Make sure to go over all the terms and conditions to make sure your insurance would cover all scenarios and know the cancellation policy of all your vendors.
2.) Do something unique for guests that goes along with the Season such as hay or sleigh rides, provide a ski weekend, or Snowcat rides! Think memorable activity for a wedding that guests will really enjoy!
3.) If you are going to try and still have an outdoor ceremony in Fall or Winter provide blankets for guests to cozy up in and/or umbrellas in case it rains or snows.
4.) Provide warm drink options such as cider or hot cocoa! – A cup of hot chocolate welcoming you as you come in from the cold is always welcomed… instead of a candy bar do a hot chocolate bar with a bunch of different toppings!
5.) Plan your event around the Christmas holiday and save money by using the venue’s decor and how they decorate for holiday parties! This would be great for someone who really loves the color red or just Christmas in general!
6.) Speaking of the holidays… You can even do holiday themed guest favors such as an ornament with your name and wedding date on it, or snow globes, or how about personalized coffee mugs to go along with the hot cocoa bar!
7.) Provide transportation to and from hotels where you have rooms blocked for your guests. While it’s always nice to provide this service to keep guests from drinking and driving, it’s even better to not have to worry about driving on yucky Winter roads if you don’t have to!
8.) Plan indoor back-up spots for photographs in case the it’s too cold outside to do very many photos. A nice fireplace makes for a great background or other architectural features. Also use holiday lights to your advantage for some creative night shots!
9.) Think cold weather items when planning wedding party gifts… Matching scarves, gloves, muffs and shawls work as great presents and will look great in your wedding photographs.
10.) Don’t be afraid of the snow! Some of the advantages of an off-season wedding is that some vendors might offer discounts. Snow is pretty cool (pun intended) looking in photographs and at least your wedding party won’t be sweating in a tuxedo in the hot Summer months! And you can always take off someplace warm and with a beach for your honeymoon!
A wedding we did at the Timber Lodge in Keystone, Colorado was just published on Borrowed & Blue’s blog. To see it check it out by following the link below:
1.) The day goes by so quickly and afterwards you will look back on it and say “What just happened!” While photos are a beautiful memento to hang on your wall (and being a photographer I totally understand the appeal) the only way to remember all of the details in living sound and moving pictures is through video coverage.
2.) It’s a great way to share your event with friends and family who could not attend. Most video companies also will now provide a highlight clip to share via the internet so you don’t even have to worry about getting your copy back from grandma!
3.) To view things that happened behind the scenes. The couple usually choose to get ready in separate rooms. Family and friends are maybe doing all of the decorating while you are getting ready. If you truly want to see what’s going on in areas you wouldn’t otherwise be present during then hiring a videographer or two videographers (to make sure you see the preparation of both the groom & the bride) to capture your event will ensure every moment gets covered.
4.) Capturing special people in your life on film! I’ve been married long enough to know the benefits of having had a videographer at my own wedding. Having footage of people who have passed on or who were young children, but are now all grown up is amazing. It’s truly a way to bring the memory of someone special back to life.
5.) Having a Pro shoot your video helps to make you the Star that you are! We know the right angles to shoot at, what events must be included, and not to mention professional editing gives it a more finished look like a cinematographic movie! I’ve also been the photographer at events where “Uncle Bob” was doing the video… sometimes it can work out, more often than not though issues happen… and here are some that I’ve seen: Oops, I forgot to charge my camera battery, didn’t bring the camera cords, don’t have a tripod so the camera is hand-held through the whole ceremony which gets really shaky, or when the reception starts Uncle starts to drink and forgets to film parts or most of the reception. I think it’s better to put this job in a professionals hand so you’re not mad at Uncle Bob for the rest of his life!
6.) Actually hearing the speeches, toasts and more that were made in your honor. Again, I will mention how quick the day goes by and sometimes these go by in a blur and they are hard to remember. Having the actual voice of the person speaking along with the laughs and tears of those listening to the speech is priceless.
7.) Getting to see the wedding from another point of view. Wouldn’t you love to be able to see the expression on your father as he walks you down the aisle. You will be focused on just making it to the alter without tripping and on the face of your beloved. Seeing the wedding as others got to see it is also pretty amazing!
8.) Being able to show your children how mom and dad’s life started out! Not to mention it’s a pretty good reminder of how much in love you were when the relationship gets a little rocky. A video is a great way to share this special moment with those that don’t exist, yet or to rekindle a romance!
9.) The number one regret of most couples after their wedding is not having hired someone to video the wedding. When sites like The Knot, Wedding Wire, etc. poll brides about their regrets after the big day they always mention how quickly the day flew by, how busy they were, and how much they didn’t realize they would of loved to be able to sit back and watch the day all over again. Try to prevent this regret by incorporating it into your budget early on!
10.) Video is one of the few items that you actually get return on your investment. Will people remember if you provided a wedding favor? Ahhh, probably not unless it’s a really over the top gift. Or if you had fancy chair covers on all of the seats? Not really. If cutting some of these items from your wedding makes room in your budget for a videographer than go for it! If you want to be able to re-live your wedding again and again video truly is the only way to go!
1.) Rent a Tent for an All Outdoor Location
If you are planning your wedding to take place where shelter is not readily available the most sensible idea is to plan for the worst by renting a large tent where both your ceremony and / or reception can be held. Even with great weather a tent provides shade for you and your guests and protection against wind and other elements.
2.) Consider Wedding Insurance and Keep a Phone Number of a Restoration Clean-Up Crew Handy
An event like a wedding can get quite expensive and while emergency situations don’t happen often they do happen! A few years back when the Platte River overflowed it’s banks here in Colorado quite a few wedding venues in the vicinity of the river lost their structures and or access to their venues by bridges washing out and more. Lots of couples ended up rushing to find new locations to hold their event since many guests had already bought and paid for their plane tickets to attend. Event insurance would alleviate the stress of coming up with money for new deposits on locations, because not all venues are quick to refund money in a timely manner. I also attended a wedding once where the entire facility flooded due to a quick and large rain storm. The groom had just happened to work for a restoration company and called his boss to have them come and clean up the hall so the party could continue. They had the whole facility cleaned up and back up and running for dinner and dancing in under an hour! Wow! While I know not everyone might have the same sort of pull with a restoration company, keeping a number of one near your venue close just might come in handy.
3.) Contingency Plan Information
If you have a back-up indoor location planned for if the weather is bad, it’s important for guests to have that information in advance. Including that information with the invitation is a great idea especially if the location is not on site to your original wedding location. If the venue doesn’t have an indoor location for a ceremony ask them for suggestions for places to use as a back-up plan nearby. Some ideas are non-denominational churches, clubs like Elks, VFW, or even a hotel with a nice lobby area. Paying a small fee to reserve a back-up location might be worth it even if you don’t end up using it.
4.) Write Out a Delayed Timeline of Events
Be sure to schedule enough time for each event planned that there is a little wiggle room for delays. Colorado is notorious for quick rain storms that blow over in a short amount of time. Write out a delayed time-line that maybe skips some reception events that are not overly important to you so that you can have a little extra time if a ceremony has to start 30 minutes late due to a rain storm. Give this timeline to someone in charge of helping so you can relax on your big day.
5.) Make Your Make-Up Rain Proof
Use waterproof mascara which will not only help keep your face looking fresh in bad weather, but in case you get a little teary eyed! Ask your make-up artist and hair stylist if they are flexible and can stay for touch-ups even if it’s just for some quick touch-ups right after the ceremony before you do your formal photos. I know most couples only allow for a short amount of time to do photos between the ceremony and reception so ask the make-up artist to stay and apply touch-ups where you are doing the photographs at rather than have you go all the way back to the “getting ready” room. It may not seem like a lot of time, but doing this can save 20-30 minutes of time.
6.) Scout Out Some Locations to Do Photographs If it Rains
Overhangs with decorative elements, Indoor staircases and more all work great for spots to take photographs if the weather isn’t cooperating. Be a little flexible with your photography timing as well. If for instance it starts to downpour right after you say “I do” and everyone goes rushing into the reception hall take a moment to go greet your guests while you wait for the rain to subside and then venture out to do your photos when the clouds have passed and maybe opt to do all the family group photos indoors so grandma doesn’t freeze!
7.) Bring Items to Help Facilitate an Outdoor Ceremony & Outdoor Photos in Bad Weather
Umbrellas make for cute props in wedding photos along with colorful rain boots. Some rental companies might even rent a lot of them for all of your guests. Ushers can be in charge of handing them out if dark clouds are looming. Have the men in your wedding party be gentlemen and let the ladies wear their suit jackets (also makes for a cute photo). If you are concerned about your dress getting dirty bring a white sheet or white plastic bag that can be tucked under the dress after it is fluffed out for photographs. Also include a tide pen in your bridal emergency kit to get out mud stains (I had to use this at my own wedding!) If your wedding is more of a “do it yourself” type of event make sure you bring a pile of towels to wipe down chairs if one of those quick rainstorms passes through and assign someone to help coordinate helpers to do that should you need it.
8.) Smile and Don’t Despair!
Cloudy skies make for really even lighting for photography. Guests don’t have to squint in photos and dramatic clouds, rainbows and more can add a depth to your wedding photos you wouldn’t otherwise have had. If you are flexible there will almost always be a time when the rain stops long enough to get some amazing photographs! And hey, they say it’s good luck if it rains on your wedding day!!
Another lovely small wedding held at Stonebrook Manor that I photographed for another photographer. This early Spring event was moved indoors last minute due to the colder weather, but we still had an opportunity to take some beautiful photos outdoors utilizing some of the decorative features of the venue. Great couple who were fun to work with… I felt pretty creative this day even though we ended up doing a lot of photographs indoors.
I photographed this wedding back in January for another photographer… Just thought I would share it as it’s a great representation of what an indoor wedding at Stonebrook Manor in Thornton, Colorado looks like. One of the smaller events I’ve seen held here because it can hold quite a large number of guests. Enjoy!