Money and Time-Saving Reception Tips

Money and Time-Saving Reception Tips
The Expert Tips & Advice 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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It’s valuable to get wedding planning tips from someone who has smart experience to share. Today, Ruth Dunlevy from A Touch Of Class Banquets and Convention Center talks about wedding receptions.

Ruth has been A Touch Of Class’s event coordinator for almost 5 years. She helps plan and set up wedding receptions, private parties, as well as their off-site catering. Ruth loves being a part of the team that puts together memories and celebrations for families. “A Touch Of Class makes sure that every bride, groom and wedding guest feels welcomed,” says Ruth.

Not every couple is looking to have a “barn-themed” wedding these days, yet the desire for a casual, outdoor wedding is still popular. One of the special things that sets A Touch Of Class apart from other facilities is their private, on-site park. The gazebo, surrounded in lush green, is a perfect place for couples to get married. They then have the option of an inside or outside wedding reception. With the outdoor bar, volleyball court and playground, this location is different from other reception settings.

Touch of Class reception park and gazebo for weddings

A Touch of Class has been a unique, full-service location for weddings since 2000. Their newly-redone reception facility, with large dining rooms, full-service bars and hardwood dance floors, has a simple, stylish look that works with any wedding theme, from sophisticated to laid-back. It is only nine minutes from downtown, and while still in Cedar Rapids, is surrounded by a natural, woodsy atmosphere. In addition to the amazing private park with a beautiful gazebo and large pavilion, they offer off-site catering, including to places such as the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Celebrations Farm.

The biggest catering mistake couples can make:
“Padding,” or overstating, the number of guests brides and grooms tell their caterer will be coming to the wedding is unnecessary, yet many couples do it.

Why is padding the number of guests a mistake? Ruth says the biggest reason is it wastes money. You’ll end up spending more on food you don’t really need. It also wastes food that doesn’t need to be made and won’t get eaten.

Also, an artificially inflated guest list means that you’ll have empty tables at your reception. This takes up floor space and makes it looks like you have guests that didn’t attend. Stick with the number of RSVPs that you get three weeks before the wedding to use for your caterer.

Following a timeline is another step couples miss when preparing for their wedding.
Have someone experienced with weddings help with planning the timeline to make the day run smoother. Knowing how long the events of the day will take affects everything from photography to serving dinner.

Ruth suggests you make sure to plan the right amount of time for photography and that your photographer respects your scheduled dinner time. For example, an inexperienced photographer might not be concerned with being 45 minutes late for dinner because they took longer at the photo session, but that can make a huge difference in the quality of the meal being served and to guests waiting for the married couple. A Touch of Class wants to serve your guests a delicious meal, but that can be hard if the wedding party is late.

The catering menu at A Touch Of Class is specially designed to the wedding couple. Nothing is pre-made, it’s all made from scratch. Because they have their own garden on the property, they even grow their own herbs and organic vegetables to use in their food. Once a couple knows their budget, A Touch Of Class can work within that realm to create a fabulous dinner menu.

Trends that are big right now are “rustic,” DIY, and quality, simplistic decorating that’s not over done, according to Ruth. Trends she would love to see more of are live music instead of a DJ at the reception and more appetizer stations that allow for social interaction between the guests.

Whether you would like an elegant or casual wedding, A Touch Of Class Banquets and Convention Center is the perfect choice.

Touch of Class reception elegant bar and catering

DIY verses leaving it to the professional:
Ruth says to have fun with all the DIY wedding projects you see online. “Save money with ideas that you find on Etsy or Pinterest. Use the money that you save on decorations and spend it on better food because that’s something you want your guests to remember well.”

A’s to my Q’s: Ruth says…
Weddings and celebration go hand in hand.
To have an unforgettable wedding, sometimes you have to: Let all the little surprises on the wedding day happen–they can be the best memories!
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.