The Expert Advice & Tips is an interview series with local wedding professionals. We talk about trends, ideas and advice to make wedding planning easier for the couple.
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When planning a wedding, you have a lot of details to think–and stress–about. Ellen and Cassie, from the Clarion Highlander Hotel, share tips and advice so you can stress less.
Together, Ellen Hemphill, Catering Sales Manager, and Cassie Penyak, Sales Manager-Room Division, draw on over 4 years each of hospitality and wedding knowledge to create an exceptional experience for the wedding couple.
Cassie offers this advice to couples planning their wedding: figure out what’s most important to you and focus on making that one thing great. If the venue is your top priority, take the time to choose the perfect place.
One of the wonderful things about the Clarion Highlander Hotel is that it’s so customizable, says Cassie. Whether it’s the flowers or the food that matter most to the couple, that can become the focus of the planning.
Once you find a reception location that you love, lock it in so you don’t lose it. Popular dates, like away football game weekends, can fill fast. Find out what deposit is needed to secure your date and check on cancellation policies.
The all-inclusive aspect of the Clarion makes wedding planning easier. In addition to the reception space, you don’t have to worry about catering, dishes, tables and chairs because they are all included. Plus you can do your rehearsal and gift opening brunch all at one location. Hotel receptions have an added benefit for guests-once they arrive, they don’t have to leave. A typical wedding may have 40-50% of the guests staying at the hotel. The benefit to the couple is that the Clarion is very transparent about their fees and services so there are no surprises. There is no upcharge for a Saturday wedding. They have one price for all days so every couple gets a fair deal, says Ellen.
Ellen says couples should have a clear vision of what they want for their wedding day and share that with everyone. It helps her to meet- and hopefully exceed- those exceptions, which can be hard to do if the couple hasn’t expressed them. Her client-focused approach includes working with the couple from start to finish, from the initial, full tour all the way through being on site on the wedding day. This allows her to be a part of the couple’s process.
No matter which location you choose to have your wedding, whether it’s the Clarion or somewhere else, make sure you personally connect with them, says Ellen. “It’s your big day and you’ll be spending a lot of money. You want to make sure you get what you want, that they “get” your vision.”
A planned schedule that is the same for all the wedding vendors will help the day run smooth. Ellen suggests including the wedding party and every wedding vendor’s contact information on the schedule. This is helpful if the unexpected happens on your big day. For example, if the cake is late arriving to the reception, Ellen is able to contact the baker to help with directions if they got lost.
Current trends that Cassie and Ellen see include “barn chic” and the rustic look. Staying up-to-date on trends happening elsewhere around the country through social media and trade publications is important to them. They are excited to see the trend of more causal receptions without the formal dinner coming in the year ahead. Cocktail-style receptions and decorating with a theme are big on the east coast right now, according to Ellen. They would love to see more decorations and uplighting at receptions and also think photo booths add a fun detail to weddings.
“Don’t be afraid to break free from tradition,” says Cassie. “Put personality into it.”
DIY verses leaving it to the professional:
Save yourself the stress and hire a professional to do it!
A’s to my Q’s:
You should never get married without something blue.
To have an unforgettable wedding, sometimes you have to take some advice from your family.
Electric slide or the chicken dance: Electric slide.