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NY wedding designer - a la carte v packaged

Photo by: Tiffany Joyce Photography 

If you are in the process of deciding whether to plan your wedding A La Carte or whether to go for a Package deal but don’t know where to start today’s post is for you! I am discussing some of the points that you should consider when making your decision.

A La Carte

Personalization – One of the many reasons that many couples choose this option is because of the flexibility when it comes to including specific details in your big day. If you have visions of a draped ceiling for your reception, a vintage truck full of flowers to greet your guests and a specific floor plan – most of the time a less traditional venue with a la carte offerings will allow you to bring this vision to life.

Location, Location, Location – If getting married in a hotel or restaurant ballroom is not your style, choosing a venue that is simply just a venue, allows you the flexibility to host your special day in whatever setting you desire.  Whether it be a barn, an industrial warehouse, botanical gardens, a summer camp or a cottage on the lake…as long as you are fine with taking on or hiring someone to help you with the design and execution…your dream wedding at your dream location is possible.

Cost Analysis – Budget for an a la carte wedding can be either more or less expensive…the benefit is that those decisions are in your control. The first thing to look at besides the cost of the space rental fee is the amenities that come with the venue. Most venues will have restrooms, lighting and will be accessible however if you choose to wed in an old barn, a woodland forest or the beach then these may all be additional items that you need to think about bringing in yourself to make the venue accessible and comfortable for your guests. The second part of the analysis lies in your design choices and whether you want it all or are willing to compromise on some items to stay within a certain budget.

Planner, Designer, Time Keeper – This rule does not hold true 100% of the time but for the most part you’re a la carte venues are not always going to have and on site coordinator or someone who can make sure that you have thought of everything. Don’t worry there are other professionals that you can hire to help you. If you have the time, energy and desire you can take on the planning and design of your day and then hand it off to a professional the month before to make sure that you have everything covered and to help you execute your vision without the stress on your actual wedding day. If you want the planning and design left up to the professionals then hire a planner and a designer to take your vision and make it a reality without you having to expend your valuable time.


More for your money – If you have a decent budget and don’t want to have to worry about flowers, food and rentals on your own then a package deal might be the best way to go for you. As with anything when it comes to the budget a package wedding has thought of everything for you and included that in a price that of course can then be upgraded depending on number of guests and personal style. Typically they include use of the space, all of your rentals, on-site caterer, cake, bar etc. Because they have everything on-site and are not sourcing other vendors your price per person will typically start off lower than an a la carte alternative. You should however make sure that these base packages have everything you need as upgrades can easily put you in a higher price bracket.

Low stress – Typically venues with packages have an on-site coordinator. (Note than an on-site coordinator is not, nor do they take the place of an event planner/designer) This person is employed for the venue. They will be able to present you with the packages and options available as far as linens, food and cake and they will show you several pre-arranged floor plans that work for their space depending on the number of guests. If you like this plug and play method of planning than a package option would be a good lower stress option for you.

Rules, Rules, Rules – Let me preface this by saying that every venue is going to have rules! For example, if you choose an old barn that does not have an on-site coordinator they may not allow you to have a bonfire outside after your reception as a safety precaution. Traditional venues however often have other restrictions that you should consider. For example may do not allow anything to be hung from the walls or ceilings, they may have a preferred vendor list from which you must choose your photographer and other vendors and there may be tighter time restrictions as multiple events may be held in one day.

seating chart, table number

Photo: Tiffany Joyce Photography

1. “The Standard Size Problem”. Everyone is enjoying a cocktail and Hors d’oeuvres when you are invited to be seated for dinner. There is a line at the bar but you and your date hop on the end of the line to grab one more drink before you sit down. You enter the dinning room and realize that there is no seating chart and the only seats that are available are singles. Now what do you do – separate from your date? Or ask someone to move?

2.Event Flow. In the end it is faster and it keeps your wedding flowing smoothly and on time. A seating chart ensured that your guests will not have to spend 15 minutes trying to figure out who to sit next to and whether there are going to be enough chairs and place settings at that table.

3. People Expect It. You might think that you are doing your guests a favor by not having a seating chart however they really do expect it! Unless you are having an all cocktail reception with no seating – your guests will thank you.

4. Keep Down the Drama. If you know that there are some family feuds among some of your guests, seating charts help keep down the drama because you can stick those individuals as far away from one another as need be.

5. Make Everyone Comfortable. Most likely you are going to have a guest or two that is coming by themselves and/or who does not know anyone else at the wedding. A seating chart allows you you to group them with other guests in their age group or with their same interests, making everyone feel more comfortable.


Reception tables are the ultimate statement because EVERY GUEST gets to enjoy them for a much longer time than any other detail at your event and they combine combining both practical and creative details. Here are a few rules of thumb to consider when planning a tablescape for your next event.


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1. KEEP IT INTERESTING. Use different shapes, mix + match patterns and textures. Also use layers! Just as you would when getting dressed yourself in the morning, layer your linens and dinnerware to make things more interesting.


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2. HEIGHT. Vary the height of items on your table. Using short items such as votive candles with taller items such as candle sticks creates interest for the eye to follow. Keep in mind that while height is important and tall statement pieces can be gorgeous, you want your guests to be able to see each other across the table without too much interference.


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3. SIMPLICITY. Sometimes simple is best. You do not want your table to look cluttered. Sometimes all  you need is a few simple items displayed properly to make the necessary statement.


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4. UNEXPECTED DETAILS. Include things such as favors, succulents, personalized notes or custom napkins to make it unique and most memorable.


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5. RULE OF THREES. Grouping items in sets of three, five, seven etc. creates visual tension and keeps your eye moving. Believe it or not your table will actually look more balanced when grouping in odd numbers instead of using pairs.

Hey guys today I just wanted to pop in and discuss some non-traditional outdoor wedding locations that you may have never thought of! I LOVE weddings and receptions with an outdoor component. A lot of traditional wedding venues do have outdoor spaces that they make available to their brides however if you are looking for something a bit more unique here is a list of some spaces that might be nice to consider.

Park Wedding Parks. Where can you get married in a park? Many local and state parks allow for events and are budget friendly! When you are doing your research you want to keep in mind the park rules, the hours, whether there are other events going on at the park on your proposed wedding day, any restrictions on decorations/food/alcohol etc. Keep in mind that parks are open to the public so you will not completely be able to control other people from looking in on your event. Also find out whether there is a pavilion on site or if they allow for a tent to be set up in case of inclement weather.

Garden Wedding

Gardens. Do some research to see if there are special gardens in the town where you are looking to get marries. Whether it is a Botanical Garden, a local rose garden or a gorgeous garden in someone’s backyard, the location would make a great place for a wedding. If it is a specialty garden, you want to make sure that the peak season for the blossoms matches up with your proposed wedding date. Having gorgeous blooms as a natural backdrop to your event can save you money in your flower and decor budget.

Camping Wedding

Campgrounds. Campgrounds are essentially a park however it may provide more flexibility in the hours that your guests can stay to celebrate with you. It also provides the opportunity to forego the hotel rooms and have your guests camp out with you for your wedding weekend. Camping does not have to mean pitching a tent (although that is always fun). Some camp grounds provide small rustic cabins that your guests could rent. Just make sure that you research the options and make sure that there is something available that is suitable for all of your guests.


Waterfalls. Do your research. This can make for a lovely and intimate setting for your wedding however make sure that you check out the waterfall first and determine that it is accessible for you and your guests.


Barns. They provide a great blank canvas for you to get creative with and can be dressed up for the most formal occasion or can go back to their farm roots with the rustic, natural beauty. Once you set on a location, visit it often to get a feel for how it looks and feels during different times of the day. Also take into consideration whether the barn has lighting, running water and bathrooms. Remember that this is not only about your wedding and vision but it is about keeping your guests comfortable while they celebrate with you.

Handmade and crafty details completely transform an event to your personal style with meaningful touches that will guarantee your event will stand out from another.  The “details” include things such as your cake, flowers, decorations, attire, invitations, favors and other quirky features of your event.

Whether you are doing all of the details yourself or working with an event designer it is important to choose a few base details that are most important to you and build from there depending on your ideas and budget constraints. It does not matter whether your details are expensive or not but they should definitely be meaningful and should reflect who you are because that is what people will remember most about your event.

The details are a labor of love. Not only to dream up but also to implement however not only will they have an impact on your guests but they will also be captured in your photographs. After your dress has been preserved. After the cake has been eaten. After the flowers have wilted. After the rentals are returned. There will still be evidence of the hard work and labor of love that was translated from your vision to reality through the details of your event.

details, event design

Winter Wonderland//Galentine’s Day//St. Patrick’s Day//Rustic Wintry Wedding