Smart Reception Tips

Smart Reception Tips
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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“You need to have passion and love what you do when working with weddings.”

Kerry Brewer, catering sales manager at the Cedar Rapids Marriott Hotel, has that passion and is excited to help brides and grooms have the best reception possible. With almost 26 years of experience, she enjoys seeing dreams come true and making people happy. Today, Kerry will share some tips to help you plan a beautiful reception.

An important detail that is helpful to know before you even start looking for reception sites is the number of guests you will be inviting. Kerry wants to make sure that you’re getting the right sized room for your wedding group. If your guest numbers are way off, you may reserve a room that ends up being too large or too small, either of which could negatively impact the atmosphere of your party.

Getting RSVPs from guests is still really important for your wedding budget. This is a step many couples would rather skip, but one Kerry says can save you money. “You don’t want to pay for more meals then you really need to.” Kerry suggests you contact wedding guests that have not responded to RSVPs before you give your final guest total for meals to your caterer. The Marriott certainly doesn’t want to overcharge you for meals you don’t need, nor do you want to waste food.

A question Kerry gets asked most often would be about the order of events on the wedding day. To have a successful wedding reception, Kerry talks through the day beforehand with couple and creates a schedule of events. The Marriott helps to keep the day running on schedule since the entire staff, including the banquet captain, knows the order of events. The bride and groom don’t even have to ask to have things done–everyone knows the timeline and helps the day flow.


Kerry likes to encourage the couple to get to the reception within an hour of the ceremony ending. This allows the reception to keep moving and guests not waiting for the fun to start.

A wedding tip: Kerry suggests that when you arrive to the reception, take a minute to look around the decorated room. In the rush to get the party started, couples forget to enjoy to cumulation of all their efforts. Look at the tables and the cake. Fully take in all the details you have worked on over the past few months. The day goes by so fast, relax and enjoy it.

One thing wedding couples may not know is that it’s best to cut the cake before dinner. Since the staff cuts the rest of the cake and gets it ready to serve while guests are eating, there is no lull between dinner and dessert. To help dinner run smoothly, the Marriott suggests wedding toasts be done during dessert. Since some wedding toasts may get long, this allows dinner to be served hot and lets guests eat during toasts and speeches.

The biggest wedding trend Kerry sees happening right now is many brides going simpler with wedding design and decorations. “Also, there are no rules in weddings anymore,” she says. “If you want apple pie for dessert, you can have apple pie.”

A trend that Kerry would love to see more of at weddings is getting guests up and moving. Fun things like photo booths, and “action stations” for food, such as a pasta station or fajita station get guests up from their tables. “It creates more of a party atmosphere,” she says.


There are many details to consider when planning your reception. Luckily, when you have your wedding reception at the Marriott, it is stress-free because the hotel can take care of most everything for the wedding couple. In addition to the room and catering, Marriott offers linens and dishes, extra tables, centerpieces, lighting, “pipe and drape,” dance floor, and even a microphone and sound system. Since they provide so many options that they can do for you, this is less worry and stress for you.

Kerry’s patience and the fact that almost nothing stresses her out is an asset to her wedding clients. In fact, most of the staff at the Marriott Hotel are seasoned professionals, meaning there’s a lot of experienced people working with every wedding. And that is the easiest way to have a stress-free wedding reception.

A’s to my Q’s: Kerry says…
Weddings and love go hand in hand.
You should never get married without a diamond on your hand.
Electric Slide, Chicken Dance or watching from the bar? Electric Slide

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About Becky Appleby

Becky's clients rely on her easy creativity to make them look good, while her attention to details give them one less thing to worry about. She's a freelance writer and blogger for businesses at For over 15 years, she has also run Appleby Photography, photographing hundreds of weddings and creating gorgeous albums for her brides. Visit her websites to learn more.