Tips & Trends With Reception Planning

Tips & Trends With Reception Planning
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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Your wedding reception is an important part of your wedding day. You want it to be fun for your guests and easy for you. Today, we chat with Tami Mysak, Banquet Sales Manager of Best Western PLUS Longbranch, to get some tips and advice for engaged couples in the planning stage about how to do just that.

Many couples have already done some beginning research online before they visit venues. They’ll have an idea of the date they want to get married, as well as the type and size of venue that fits with their vision for the day. The important next step is to go look at the venue in person.

To make sure that your reception runs well, trust your venue staff. Tami works with all events, from corporate to weddings. Along with her almost 20 years of experience, Dan Sobolik, as Longbranch’s banquet manager, has 38 years of experience. They aim to take care of everything for the couple. “Couples need to trust that the staff will take care of them. For example, The Longbranch makes it simple for the couple, making it easy. A good banquet manager will stay on top of time, letting you know when to cut the cake or checks to see if more pretzels need to be put out. Trust The Longbranch to take care of the evening.”

Tami’s favorite aspect of weddings is meeting with brides. “They’re excited because they just got engaged.” She loves to research weddings, share ideas and chat about the latest trends. She’ll even spend personal time on Pinterest, looking for fun ideas to offer couples and stays on top of current wedding trends by attending bridal shows and researching online at websites such as The Knot.

A great tip Tami offered to help the wedding day run smooth and to save time when you set up the ballroom for your reception: “Keep your decorating, such as centerpieces, simple!”

reception room decorated for wedding at the longbranch hotel in cedar rapids iowa

Images provided by The Longbranch

Because The Longbranch has been serving Cedar Rapids for 50 years, couples may be surprised how modern their ballroom looks. “It’s all fresh and new,” Tami says. “Couples need to come visit to see how great it looks.” The Longbranch’s ballroom accommodates 150 to 350 guests. The beautiful, open foyer is a perfect spot for the cocktail hour before dinner. And a fun benefit of having your reception at the Longbranch is their on-site lounge, which is open until 2 AM. If you want the fun to keep going after your reception, you can just hop right on over there.

What makes a wedding memorable? “Good food and great service,” says Tami.

Sampling menu options in advance, or “tastings” are huge right now with catering. An easy way to taste-test the delicious options on The Longbranch’s menu is to have their brunch, which includes many of their catering options.

Wedding trends that Tami is seeing: “I’m seeing more wedding coordinators helping couples with their wedding planning.” On the way out: “Rustic, barn decorating was big last year, but it seems to be going away.” Tami would love to see more personalized wedding decor and hopes cocktail hours become more popular, because she thinks it’s a great way to entertain guests before dinner.

wedding reception ballroom at the longbranch in cedar rapids iowa

DIY verses leaving it to the professional:
Tami says to leave it to a professional: “This will save you time!” Tami likes to recommend Spielman’s Event Services. “They know The Longbranch’s ballroom well and they do a great job with reception decoration.”

If you’d like to check out The Longbranch, they are putting on a bridal event that is open to everyone on Sunday, February 26, 2017 11 AM to 3 PM. This Wine and Wedding Planning Event will feature a bridal fashion show by Heart to Heart Bridal, and includes socializing, wine and appetizers. This is free to attend and there will be plenty of time to meet and chat with other area wedding professionals, such as photographers and florists.

A’s to my Q’s: Tami says…
Weddings and The Longbranch go hand-in-hand.
You should never get married without being in love.
To have an unforgettable wedding, sometimes you have to relax and embrace the day.
Electric Slide, Chicken Dance or watching from the bar? 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.