Consider this your invitation to Something New: The Independent Wedding Fair.
This Nov. 14 from 1-4pm, join a hand-picked selection of more than 25 of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area’s most talented and passionate wedding vendors at The Varsity Theater in Dinkytown, Minneapolis.
And from noon-1pm at the Varsity, we’ll be hosting a “Not So Real Wedding” — a full wedding day condensed into an hour of amusement. We’ll begin with a cocktail quarter hour, then a ceremony, and end with a reception featuring cake cutting, dance instruction, and more.
Besides the opportunity to meet and talk with a variety of wedding professionals, the Independent Wedding Fair will offer “Ask the Experts” discussions to give you a chance to ask questions about planning your day. As the Star Tribune wrote, it’s an “alternative to the wedding mega-fairs that are impersonal, high-pressure, unimaginative, and unnecessarily opulent.”
Still not sure? Join us for some amazing snacks from Chowgirls Killer Catering, Sweets Bakeshop, and Jessica’s Cakes, or just chill out in the lounges and take it all in. We’ll have live music from two local bands, food and cake samples, and more.
For tickets and more information, visit the website.
To help spread the word about the Fair, we’re putting a $150 gift certificate to Corner Table on the line. Here’s how to enter:
1. Post a comment at the bottom of this story, using a valid name and email address.
2. Your comment should be a tip for brides and grooms about wedding food or drinks — the thing you wish you’d known, or great ideas that you’d like to share.
Tips can be ways to save money, add style, or just enjoy the day.
We’ll use the best ideas to create tip cards that we’ll give out at the wedding fair, and one tip — drawn at random — will win the submitter a $150 gift certificate to Corner Table.
Contest deadline: Drawing will take place midnight, Sunday, Nov. 7.
Heavy Table contributors and Something New vendors are not eligible to win.
Featuring local, seasonal foods cooked to the height of their potential, Corner Table describes itself on its website as …
“… a restaurant that listens to the fields, farms, pastures, and seasons that surround us. That source of inspiration guides our creativity and our entire menu, which is crafted from foods sourced locally and in season from responsible family farms. This approach is completely sustainable, and it’s grounded in our respect for our history, nature’s perfection, and our place in the world.”
Give extra food to family’s hosting out of town guests!
Our caterer allowed us to keep all the leftovers from our wedding lunch. My aunt and uncle had a full house for the weekend with grandparents, cousins and other family members. We gave them most of the leftovers to feed everyone lunch the next day. We wanted them to know how much we appreciated them and how much it meant to have our family all there! There was also enough for my new hubby and me to take some for our lunch the next day!
I don’t know that hotels/event centers will let you do this, especially if you are paying per person- (we used a private caterer who charged a lump fee for everything) but you can always ask!
My tip is to use a smaller locally-owned caterer. Our caterer has more flexiblity in helping us. We were able to customize our menu and add some personal touches at no additional cost. In addition, the food is all locally grown. Win win situation!
Instead of favors for each guests, make a donation to a charity in the name of your guests.
As the event manager at a facility, I can tell you that I’m much more willing to give deals or “extras” to couples that are polite, friendly and not aggressively demanding. You’d be amazed how few of those couples I actually work with.
have a late-night dessert or munchies table (pizza, etc), people get hungry after lots of dancing!
Instead of a traditional, expensive, and usually not-so-good tasting wedding cake, we had a dessert buffet with cakes and cookies from an amazing bakery. It was significantly less expensive, and the guests loved it. Four years later people are still talking about the banana cake at our wedding.
Also, if you’re doing buffet or stations, ensure that the catering manager has a plan to avoid long lines. There’s nothing worse than missing all of the dinner conversation while you’re waiting at the carving station.
Friends from Pittsburgh introduced me to their city’s tradition: a cookie table! This is for noshing before dinner (yup, dessert appetizer). You know, cause who doesn’t love cookies, and who doesn’t get hungry waiting on dinner while the bride and groom are taking photos. This is great for the guests, and a great way for family and friends to contribute when they ask what they can do to help (answer: bake cookies!).
Have pizza delievered toward the end of the reception. The inebriated guest will really appreciate it.
In between the ceremony and the reception, I suggest having a cheese and dried fruit platter available for guests during the cocktail hour. A good selection of cheeses along with sliced bread and dried figs and dates is not only easy to assemble but also is a great way to tide over the appetites of guests who are drinking in case photos take longer than expected or there are any hiccups with the dinner timing.
As for dessert, a friend forewent the traditional wedding cake and instead had chocolate covered strawberries as the dessert. It was much tastier than a cake would have been and was just enough sweetness to complete the meal before the dancing started.
If the venue has included a “mandatory gratuity” of 17-18% — then INSIST on NO TIP JAR at the Bar (if applicable). If you’re already paying the gratuity, DO NOT allow them to make extra $$$ off your guests.
If during your wedding you notice a tip jar — ask the host/coordinator to take the receipts out and subtract those from your total bill at the end of the night. Then make the jar go away.
Heavy passed apps are far superior (and cheaper!) than a sit-down meal.
Also, focus your money where it counts to YOU. Don’t care about decorations? Don’t spend a ton on them. Do care about a nice bar? Dump your money into that.
Look at having your reception in a great restaurant space. Ours allowed us to customize a menu and guests were able to choose at reception what they wanted rather than 3 months ahead of time.
Consider having an amenities kit in the restroom at your wedding and reception – a basket containing useful things like an emergency sewing kit, bobby pins, hairspray, spray deodorant, tissues, condoms, lotion, comb, anti-bacterial hand gel.
Host a 7 p.m. wedding ceremony on a Friday and save yourself the expense of a Saturday wedding while cutting the cost of a dinner. Host instead, a dessert buffet with a coffee bar at a location you love. Skip the decorations and favors – no one cares/remembers them. In the end you’ll save tons and your guests will thank you for not consuming their entire weekend. And remember, it’s your day, do it your way!
Make sure that your reception venue or caterer includes plates, silverware, linens, and stemware. Or at least know that you’re going to need them from somewhere and that they add up quickly! :)
You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to have a lovely wedding. Do you what matters to you, it’s your day!
Instead of either an Open Bar, Cash Bar or Keg of Miller High Life and table options for alcohol, opt for a more personal drink program at the reception. An example would be stock the bar with Johnny Walker Black (his choice) and Tanqueray (her choice) as well as a few bottles of intagibles – Dark Rum, Vodka etc etc. Choose a sparkling/champagne/prosecco that both the bride and groom enjoy as well as an affordable red that both agree on.
If beer is more your forte splurge on a nice keg of something like Peroni and then put together a supplemental craft beer program (the more local/regional the better).
Going with either of these options personalizes the drinking aspect of the reception as well as simplifies the reception planning logistics as well.
Buy your own wine & beer. We weren’t happy with the selections the caterer had (and the price we would have paid for crappy Chardonnay) so we worked with them to buy our own stuff from awesome local wine shop and they charged a pouring fee. It didn’t really cost us any more, and bonus, we got to keep the leftovers. Our guests loved having variety and seasonal – we got married in October and offered Oktoberfest beers, cider (surprisingly super popular), and other fun bottle beers. We chose a few wines that we personally really liked as well as a Prosecco instead of champagne. People still talk about digging the drink options and we still drink our favorite white wine and remember our wedding.
I’ve been photographing weddings the last few years and one thing that has struck me was the choice of venue and its cost.
Find a venue that fits your budget but is also meaningful – and be more open to other ideas of what that venue could be.
Last summer I worked with two couples who relocated their weddings from the city to rural family property – one was on a beautiful farm and the other on lakeside. Not only did they save a great deal of money, it was stunningly beautiful. The guests all enjoyed the change of scenery while the family members were honored to be part of the big day and were able to relax in a familiar setting.
A pre-ceremony cocktail hour gives everyone a chance to mingle, catch-up, (or be a little late without missing anything) and have a drink, and snack and some fun before the ceremony. A nice way for everyone to loosen up and relax!
If you’re having pictures taken between the wedding and the reception, make sure there’s something for the guests to do, especially out of town guests. And if the reception isn’t “immediately following,” put a time on the invitation.
Long a Wisconsin tradition, late night sandwiches have saved many a partygoer from going from the funny drunk cousin to the embarressing drunk cousin. Ham on a buttered bun, also known as a church basement sandwich, is all it takes.
If you surround yourself with the people you love, your day will be *perfect*!
We had 2 receptions – one at the church following the service and one at our formal reception location with the music and drinks. The church reception was where we did the wedding cake things that everyone expects along with some cookies (we made), nuts, candies, and coffee. It was served by family and friends, low cost, and provided a way for those who didn’t want/could not attend the full on reception to spend some time with bride and groom. It also allowed folks with kids to get them home (for a babysitter) so that they could attend the full reception later.
Have appetizers and some late night nosh, people are hungry! Order the food, beer and wine you as a couple enjoy and source locally to embrace your wedding location. Taste all menus items before the big day so there are no surprises.
Put one of your friends or a member of the wedding party in charge of getting you out of conversations with chatty guests! Kind of like how a politician has an aide that helps move them along if someone talks too long — I would have LOVED to have that at my wedding. Just a quick signal and your friend could swoop in and tell you that Aunt Myrtle is leaving and you have to say goodbye or some other excuse to get you back into action. :)
Late night pizza or snacks. OR better yet. Charcuterie
If you are having a sit-down dinner and are giving your guests options for their meals, be specific about what they’ll be getting. As a guest, being offered “chicken or vegetarian” doesn’t tell me anything about what I can expect from my dinner. I’m always tempted to ask, “Is the chicken going to be dry and boring? Is the veg option just a giant bowl of fettucini alfredo?” When faced with options like that on a reply card, I always respond with, “I’ll have whatever you’re having.”
If you do hors d’oeuvres at the reception, have a server pass them. It’s a nice touch that doesn’t cost an exorbitant amount, but adds a bit of class. You may also end up saving on the quantity of food ordered.
Different colored lights under white spandex on the head table if there is one…..looks amazing.
Remember: People who have incredibly expensive and lavish weddings are just as married as the the people that have a pot luck.
We had a fall wedding (Oct 29th) and my favorite thing at the reception was the coffee and hot chocolate bar that we rolled out at the end of the evening. We had to-go cups, 3 different flavors of cocoa, 3 different kinds of coffee… creamers, chocolate shavings, chopped minds, nuts, whipped cream, chocolate espresso beans,etc… and everyone got to leave the wedding on a cold night with a warm drink.
Forgo the fancy wedding cake for either cupcakes or a dessert buffet. Way more memorable and often cheaper. Locally, Cocoa and Fig does some fabulous small desserts!
Yum, I love corner table! Doing great, unique invites really sets the mood for the wedding and they don’t have to be done expensively.
Forget about the calories. Weddings are a time to induldge. Make sure you choose the food you want.
My friends had an amazing and beautiful Sunday brunch wedding- ceremony at 10 am followed by brunch at noon and a mimosa toast to the bride and groom. After brunch- activities and fun for everyone at the park across the street all afternoon. There are probably a lot of locations that are much cheaper on a Sunday am then a Saturday night.
I just got married and well we did it our way. Don’t listen to what society says is a wedding do what you want and how you want it. Remember the day is about you and not what society tells you it should be.
We had planned an outdoor wedding but it rained and stormed. 30 minutes before the ceremony, we called the restaurant where the reception was to be held and asked if we could get married in the bar. It worked out better than I could have imagined. Our guests enjoyed cocktails during the ceremony … it was fun, relaxed and we felt very close and connected to our friends and family.
Our wedding reception featured simple cut fruit and homemade chocolates. It was simple, yet elegant, and inexpensive. (Thanks to the generous help of the extended family, it was actually free for us, but the cost to them was certainly low compared to a catered dinner.)
Instead of a boring guestbook that you’ll eventually throw in a box and never look at again, use a cookbook as a guestbook. Guests can sign and write messages near recipes that sound good/interesting/awful and then as you use the cookbook, you’ll be delighted to find notes from your friends and family.
Save money on decorations by collecting flower vases and other table pieces from thrift stores. Buy flower arrangements at the farmer’s market to fill them.
I have been to several weddings in the recent past that have offered post “main meal” food. In the heat of dancing and drinking, trays of home made “sliders”, cookies and doughnuts and in one special case, a taco truck, were a huge hit with the guests.
My advice to any bride to be is to simplify. At the day, a wedding isn’t about the flowers, the food, the color of the table cloths. Leave time to gaze into your partners eyes.
We had dancing after dinner, and when the band took their break more food was served — fruit and chocolate and salty snacks. It was nice to have that break to get a drink and something to munch on. Second tip — have something nice for the vegetarians. We had eggplant parmesan and I had several vegetarian friends tell me how great it was to eat something more than just pasta & salad. Third tip — have stain-remover sticks handy, especially if your menu involves chocolate and/or tomato sauce.
Instead of having an expensive sit down rehearsal dinner have a cheaper activity that can include more guests especially those from out of town. For our wedding we had a bowling party with pizza, beer & cupcakes. My sister had a beach shrimp boil at a local dive bar before her get-away wedding in Florida. Everyone enjoyed the casualness & it gave people a better chance to know each other before the wedding.
Don’t forget to eat!
Collect vintage or fun drinking glasses and goblets prior to the big day and let your guests choose their own glass. They can drink from it and take it home as a durable, inexpensive party favor after the big day.
For out of town guests, put together a list of things to do in the Twin Cities so they can enjoy any extra time they may have here. Send it to them in advance, with the save the date, so they can play their trip appropriately.
Make sure to offer your guests snacks and beverages before the reception officially begins as they wait for the bride and groom to finish pictures and arrive. The idea of food stations allows the bride and groom to mingle more easily with their guests, making guests feel like you have acknowledged and appreciated their presence. If the reception includes dancing, having additional snacks available for the evening is a good idea. Finally, you have to accept that even with immaculate planning, things do and will go wrong. Focus on the main reason you are there – to marry the person you love. Weddings are short lived in comparison to marriage.
We did not have attendants for our wedding. We had our parents sign the marriage certificate as witnesses. All of our friends were in attendance but they saved money by not having to buy bridesmaid dresses and rent tuxes. We saved money because we did not have to buy additonal flowers or gifts for attendants. I did ask one friend to help me get ready. I asked another friend to take care of gifts after the reception as well.
We did a wedding brunch instead of dinner, and that saved us a lot of money on both food and booze. Just a bunch of champaign instead of beer and liquor. And who doesn’t love brunch.
When it comes down to it, people will remember that you had a nice drink selection and the food really doesn’t get remembered as long as it’s not rubber.
Focus on what’s important to you, and don’t sweat the rest. For us, that meant good beer, cupcakes, and a lot of friends.
Sample your food choices. If it tastes good to you, put it on your menu. If you can’t afford it, don’t have an open bar. Your friends and family are going to have fun as long as you do, and by your first anniversary you are the only ones who will remember what you ate and whether or not there was an open bar. Plus, people who can afford to drop $50 on a Saturday night at the bar can drop the same at the bar on your wedding day. Last thing…if you don’t play Shout by the Isley Brothers, your wedding isn’t official.
We had a pasta bar that offered a lot of options so folks could customize their dinner (different sauces, toppings) as well as the chance to go back up for seconds. Got some good feedback on that.
Make sure you have tasty food at your wedding, it’s what everyone remembers the most (in my opinion). Also, I like the idea of donating to charities instead of wedding favors, but I see someone has already mentioned it. Another idea is to have a bonfire and give away marshmallow roasting sticks.
I got married last weekend! I would say the most important thing is to make it your own. Don’t feel bad about ignoring customs that aren’t ‘you’. We walked down the aisle together, I didn’t wear white and we had no bridal party or bouquet toss. It was the most beautiful, lovely and special day. People loved it. And super fun!.
If you’re going to do free beer and wine at your recepation, be sure to go with at least two beer selections; one light beer and one “more refined” selection. While light beer is more universally palatable, a wedding celebration certainly deserves a better tasting option. The cost for a couple kegs of Summit won’t be much more than the watery stuff, but many of your guests will appreciate it.
Remember at the end of the day its about the two of you and nothing else.
As an alternative to a big wedding cake, you can do individual cakes or pies on each table. This can also get people up and mingling after dinner if they want to sample other flavors!
Make sure your caterer truly understands any particular food allergies or sensitivities that you are trying to accommodate. Get specifics on what options they’ll have available.
Although not the most important thing about your weeding day, the food is one of biggest costs and if horrible, WILL be remembered.
Make sure to take your time in determining what food best fits your needs and SAMPLE the food before your wedding day. Also, ask a lot of questions and make sure that the venue will not be substituting a “similar” dish on your big day.
Look for a venue that will allow you to bring in your own cake. Then head to your favorite bakery and buy your favorite cakes. Fresh fruit and flowers work as beautiful garnishes.
Early in the planning process, when considering venues, keep in mind that those without kitchens on-site will most likely have food cooked elsewhere, held and brought over in a hot box. If this is the case, consider food that can stand up to “hanging out” for awhile. Also, take advantage of a tasting ahead of time. If the food is bad, TELL THEM! You may need to scrap your menu and go back to the drawing board, especially if you can’t choose your caterer due to site restrictions.
Save money and embarassment by not having an open bar and using drink tickets. Make the tickets classy by using business card-sized tickets. Most local print shops will design them and run them in color and they are cheap without looking cheap. We distributed 400 (2 per guest, 3 to family/attendants at their place setting) and guests redeemed less than 200.
Let a couple 10-year-olds have a camera for a while. They will run around and get quirky shots from new angles, bringing a lot of atmosphere to the entire photo album.
Consider hiring a favorite local food truck to provide a late night snack or dessert to guests. With so many great food carts entering this market, it could help expose them to new potential customers as well as show off the couple’s favorite foods.
Consider having the meal served family style (large platters of food placed on each table, with guests serving themselves from their table’s platters) rather than via individual service or buffet. Guests get their food much faster, and passing the platters around helps break the ice for guests who don’t know each other.
Talk to the caterer and have them designate 1 wait person to bring a sampling of any appetizers and a drink to you and your husband while you’re greeting your guests. My husband and i were able to focus on saying hello to everyone during the cocktail hour while still getting to enjoy the tasty food we picked out.
Try using a caterer that focus on sourcing food from local farms and growers! Some good examples in the twin cities area are : http://www.createcaters.com/ or http://www.goodlifecatering.com/
Wedding cakes are overrated! We’re actually having a small private ceremony just for family and close friends and couldn’t be happier to be serving crisps with locally grown fruit. Easy, cheap, and can be prepared in advance and just popped in the oven.
At my cousin’s reception this summer, the dessert was ice cream wrapped in crepes, served with berries. The ice cream was just slightly firmer than normal so the dessert stayed together, almost like eating a roll, but sweet and delicious. It was the perfect finish to the meal — much, much better than a conventional wedding cake.
The Corner Table has a sweet corn and sea salt ice cream that I think would be absolutely spectacular wrapped in a crepe. If it’s available in bulk from somewhere, I think sea salt and sweet corn ice cream crepes would be a magnificent reception dessert!
Steph’s suggestion is a good one. Another alternative to wedding cake is pie. Cheaper and tastier and if you overpurchase you can give the leftover pies to people who helped out. In particular, cream and meringue pies look nice when decorate with flowers and placed on pedestals of different heights. I did this at my wedding and it was very well-received.
I really enjoy it when non alchoholic beverages are provided for the toast. It saves me, as a guest, a lot of awkwardness. You never know who may be trying to stay sober or in early pregnancy.
My brother had a nacho bar right after the wedding before the dinner that was very popular. It allowed the guests to take the edge off their hunger while the wedding party took photos.
Our wedding was 42 years ago. At that time, the bride and groom were not to see each other before the wedding on their wedding day, which meant all the pictures of them together were taken after the wedding. Unfortunately, our reception was in the church basement immediately following the wedding, so the guests were there for quite some time waiting for us to show up. So I definitely suggest planning better than we did.
Another suggestion I have (after attending some recent weddings) is for the wedding party to not drink too much – they’ll want to remember the great time they had, as will the guests.
My family has large weddings, and one thing that has been helpful for the large receptions is to separate out the food lines. It all doesn’t need to be one long row — consider a sandwich station, a sushi station, a vegetarian station, a beverage station, etc. People can pick and choose without having to stand through the entire line at once.
If you don’t want to pay the outrageous prices for kegs of beer and bar-poured drinks, find a reception location where you can provide your own alcohol. Then work with someone at your local liquor store who will put together a liquor package for you. They usually have a person who does this as part of their job, and they know how much wine/beer/liquor/soda you will need for your attendance levels. Also, they will usually deliver to the reception site, and buy back anything you don’t use. Then you just get a bill after the fact. Most of the time you still have to pay for the bartender, but your alcohol and soda costs will be greatly decreased.
Congratulations to Tappity (3rd comment from the bottom) for winning the Corner Table gift certificate.
Please visit http://independentwedding.com to learn about our next fair, which takes place this Sunday, Nov. 14, at the Varsity Theater in Dinkytown!
People don’t remember center pieces, favors, programs, invitations, or the dress, they remember the food and drinks.
The food, entertainment, and drinks do not matter if the timing of the party is wrong. If people have too much time between drinks and food, they get upset. If the cake is served too late, no one eats it. If people have too much time between food and entertainment, they leave. If there are too many drinks late into the party without food being offered, people start to get out of control and other people leave.
Timing is the most important aspect of having a great party.
Comments are closed.