Planning Your Outdoor Or Indoor Wedding Reception

Planning Your Outdoor Or Indoor Wedding Reception
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.

Coralville Marriott Hotel & Conference Center | | Ad & Contact Info | Facebook

Brown Deer Golf Club | | Ad & Contact Info | Facebook

Whether you want unique ways to make your wedding theme more striking, an outdoor ceremony or just a fantastic view for your cocktail hour, Coralville Marriott Hotel & Conference Center and Brown Deer Golf Club is your answer.

Planning a wedding is a huge endeavor, so having experienced professionals to help is important. I talked with Molly Horton, Director of Sales, and Shannon Arnold, Director of Events, about weddings at Coralville Marriott Hotel & and Brown Deer Golf Club, both in Coralville. They help brides and grooms with wedding receptions, as well as ceremonies, bridal showers, and reserving hotel rooms for out-of-town guests.

Coralville Marriott Hotel & Conference Center

Planning Your Wedding

Molly loves working with weddings and feels that their level of service is what sets Coralville Marriott Hotel and Brown Deer Golf Club apart from their competition. For many couples, a wedding is the first event that they have planned. And since these couples are not professional wedding planners, she wants to make the event stress-free for wedding clients. Serving as an advisor to the couple, Molly has a good rapport and lot of experience working with many other wedding professionals in the area, so she’s able to offer great referrals for wedding services.

The Marriott will walk the couple through the planning process and make it easy. Molly’s advice is to share who you are and what you want the day to be like. “Communicate with your event planner from the beginning what your expectations are for your wedding so they can be met.”  Experienced professionals will know what questions to ask you. “They’re there to serve you,” says Molly.

Trust them to guide you through the planning process.

They’ll have ideas to share about how to decorate and plan your wedding and they will ask you about your ideas. Molly suggests, “Ask to see their Pinterest page and share yours.” The Coralville Marriott is able to show photographs of their decorated event spaces to help paint the picture of what your event will look like and can let you know interesting ways to make your event special.

Molly shared some of her ideas about wedding decor. She says she would love to see more attention to details, with couples sharing pieces of their story, so guests feel like they know the couple more after they’ve attended the wedding. Also, she says visual elements, like uplighting, can really transformer room. “I love fun chair covers-not just traditional bows, but interesting elements, like ruffles!” Along with the wedding trend of sunset colors, like rose gold, Molly says lace and rustic is on the way out. “A lot more sparkle and glam has returned to wedding decor.”

Brown Deer Golf Club

Molly’s tips for a couple planning their wedding:
  • To make your reception better, incorporate special, personal details that show your personalities.
  • Be realistic with your timeline. Know how long your ceremony will be and allow extra time for travel and photographs.
  • Give yourself a time cushion for the unexpected delays. If your timeline is little off, it’s OK.
  • Having a cocktail hour is good for filling the lag between the ceremony and the reception. If you won’t be having a cocktail hour, make another place that your guests can go.
DIY vs Leaving it to the professionals:

Centerpieces are a great thing to do yourself, but leave set up and teardown to the professionals to save you time and headache.

What should I splurge on versus saving money?
Splurge on what you’re passionate about, whether that’s food or photographs. Also, something couples may not know before they meet with the Marriott is that being flexible on your date could save you money. “Having a Friday or Sunday wedding you can get a better deal. If you’re open to being flexible about your date, let us know.”

Brown Deer Golf Club

From Inside To Outside Events: Marriott vs Brown Deer

Both the Coralville Marriott Hotel & Conference Center and Brown Deer Golf Club provide excellent options for weddings. Both are conveniently off interstate 80, serve the same food and offer guests comfortable hotel rooms for their stay. The Marriott even provides shuttle service for guests to Brown Deer Golf Club.

Planning Tip From Coralville Marriott
“When reserving a hotel room block, you don’t need to overbook. A good rule of thumb is that 10% of your guests will stay at the hotel on the night of the wedding. So, for 250 guests, 25 rooms is a good place to start for your room block.”

The question they get asked most often is about customization. “You’re never stuck with a package. We’re there to help you add special touches to your day and customize your event, from the decor to even how the tables are set up for seating.”

The Brown Deer Club House is located on a golf course and is perfect for receptions of up to 175 guests. Its ‘wood lodge’ feel is open and warm, with windows that look out over the hills of the golf course. “The ‘wow’ is the view,” says Molly.

The Marriott, on the other hand, is a sophisticated and elegant hotel. They have a formal ball room that would be considered more traditional. Their outdoor space can seat 200 to 300 guests for a ceremony that includes a view of the water. The outdoor space can be also be used for cocktails, dinner and even kids games or nighttime seating during your dance. The Marriott is great because you can transform the room to make the decor stand out, especially with your centerpieces or seating. “Seating does not have to be just limited to round tables,” says Molly. Different seating styles, such as square, serpentine, and kings tables are visually interesting and can add to the ambiance of the room.

Coralville Marriott Hotel & Conference Center

The unique bi-level brick terrace at the Marriott overlooks serene wetlands and has the ability to hold the wedding ceremony, cocktail and reception on different levels. “The location provides a beautiful natural backdrop that does not require much else in the way of decoration,” says Shannon. “However, incorporating additional natural textures such as flowers and wood are a wonderful enhancement to the natural beauty.  Be sure to choose heavy-weight items in the event of a breezy day.

Tips For Surviving An Outdoor Summer Wedding

Having your wedding or reception outside may need a few extra considerations in the summer. “Choose a time when the terrace will be shaded,” suggests Shannon. In case of warm weather, she says the best way to keep guests cool outside is to offer cool refreshments. “Have water bottles on ice for the ceremony, ceremony programs that double as fans, and think about splitting the cocktail reception between the indoor foyer and outdoor terrace.” That way, guests can step inside to be in the air conditioning if it’s a really warm day.

Choosing Brown Deer or Coralville Marriott for your wedding location means you’ll get the best of both worlds, outdoor locations with indoor comfort and style!

A’s to my Q’s: Molly says…
Weddings and love go hand-in-hand.
You should never get married without an expert event planner.
Electric Slide, Chicken Dance or watching from the bar? Electric Slide AND Chicken Dance!

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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.