Tips And Trends For Wedding Receptions

Tips And Trends For Wedding Receptions


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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Picking a location for your wedding reception is an accomplishment. It solidifies your wedding date and commences the real wedding planning.

Tazia Heyl with Shores Event Center shared the trends she sees happening and her tips for a great reception. She loves her role in helping wedding couples choose the perfect location for their party. As the full time event manager at Shores Event Center, her experience with weddings extends to even before she came to Shores, with decorating wedding cakes.

The unique event space of Shores Event Center is in the historic, downtown Cedar Rapids building that once housed Shores-Mueller Co, a catalogue order company. The fresh and modern renovations to the building still showcase its old, industrial charm. Tazia works directly with almost every bride and groom. This strong customer service is an asset to the couple since they know exactly who they will be dealing with throughout the entire wedding planning process, even on the day of the wedding, she says. “We are huge on making sure couples are getting what they need from us.”

Before a couple starts looking at reception sites, it’s important to have a good estimate of their guest list, says Tazia. Every location has a capacity. Knowing how many people you would like to invite can help with choosing the location large enough to hold everyone. Or, if the spot you love is smaller than your guest list, you’ll know if you have to limit the number of guests.

wedding reception location shores event center cedar rapids

Images provided by Shores Event Center

An important question to ask when looking at any reception site is if there are additional, “hidden” fees, such as cake-cutting and cleaning fees. Also, taxes and gratuity can raise the rate you expect to pay. This can make the rental rate look good on paper, but leave the couple spending more than they may have budgeted. Shores Event Center does not have additional fees, says Tazia.

Couples wanting flexibility to select the vendors they work with for their wedding, such as the caterer and D.J. should check if the reception location has a “preferred vendor list” that you are required to choose from. This would limit their choices and could possibly add a fee if they use a vendor not on their list. While Shore Event Center recommends vendors, couples are free to choose whomever they prefer to use and don’t need to use Shores’ list.

Tazia’s best advice for the wedding couple is to write everything down. Details as little as having silverware can become a big deal if you forget. “Anything you can think of, write it down. It feels nice to get the big stuff done, but the little stuff will sneak up on you.”

To help the wedding day run smoothly, finalize details and delivery times with all the wedding vendors 2-4 weeks before the wedding. Have clear expectations. Know what your vendors will do for you and for what fee. Make sure all their schedules match, that the DJ has the same schedule as the caterer. “This will relieve a lot of stress.”

shores event center wedding reception location

Images provided by Shores Event Center

What Tazia loves about weddings is that “no two receptions are the same. “It’s 100% your wedding. Don’t stress about whether there is enough free drinks or if the guests will like the entree or the dessert. It’s okay to make the day about you.” I can’t stress enough how important a “go with the flow” attitude helps the couple enjoy the day, she says. “If kids are at the wedding, let them run around. It will be fine. Kids love weddings.”

A popular trend that Tazia loves are buffets, or “bars,” as they are often called, such as snack, popcorn and dessert bars. She likes that couples are making sure the guests are well-fed throughout the evening. Three tier cakes are on the decline in their event space. Instead, couples are opting for cupcakes, candy “bars” or other desserts.

DIY verses leaving it to the professional:
For the bride that has time and wants to DIY, centerpieces are great. While she noted that floral centerpieces for the tables are also on the decline, couples are using more creative options, like photo frames, repurposed wine bottles, wooden slabs, cupcake stands, and vases filled with lights, ornaments or wine corks. One wedding even had beta fish as their centerpieces, later allowing guests to take them home. Tazia loves to see how the bride’s vision and style transforms the space. And having seen many weddings, she is happy to make decorating suggestions and help them as much as they want.

A’s to my Q’s:
Electric Slide or the Chicken Dance? Electric Slide
To have an unforgettable wedding, sometimes you have to: Let loose!
Weddings and Chaos go hand in hand!

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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.