Your Go-To Wedding Guide
By Klein Aleardi

Pulling off the perfect wedding can be a challenge. From out-of-the-box flowers and fancy food to Pinterest rabbit holes, you’ve got a lot on your plate. Luckily, we’ve rounded up the best tips from South Jersey’s wedding experts so you – and your guests – can focus on making the big day memorable. 


Wedding Planners:  A Bride’s (Not So) Secret Weapon 

Planning a wedding can be a huge undertaking, but couples don’t have to go it alone. A wedding planner can be the bride and groom’s secret weapon to pulling off the perfect big day – starting from day one.  

Most brides’ favorite wedding planning tool is Pinterest, where they can find thousands of centerpieces and hundreds of ideas for bridesmaid gifts at their fingertips. But Katlyn Mogavero, director of catering sales at The Grand Hotel of Cape May, warns brides of falling into the “Pinterest rabbit hole.”  

“Sometimes Pinterest can be a bad thing, because there’s so much on there,” she says. “A wedding planner is familiar with the industry and can help a bride navigate all the wedding boards. If a bride does start having different themes and ideas, it’s nice to talk it out and figure out what is important.” 

But pre-wedding responsibilities aren’t the only time a wedding planner can help ease the burden. Mogavero says the day of can be the time when a planner can be the most helpful.  

“When it’s your big day, the only thing you should be focusing on is the person you’re marrying,” she says. “When you have a wedding planner to take care of those last minute details and make sure everything from the ceremony to the reception runs smoothly, the couple can focus on each other. And that’s really what having a wedding is about.” 


Handling the Parents & In-Laws 

Some couples love having their in-laws around to lend some extra hands during the chaotic planning process. But when family starts to over-step, how do you tell them it’s too much?  

Mogavero recommends couples approach these conversations with caution, since it can be a touchy subject if their parents are covering the bill. But an easy way to avoid the awkwardness is to ask your wedding planner for help. Mogavero has taken on the role of the “bad guy” for many of her couples.  

If that conversation doesn’t work, try delegating. She recommends handing out short to-do lists with tasks like making place cards or blocking off hotel rooms. Make sure they’re big enough tasks that your parents or in-laws will feel useful but aren’t necessarily visible on the big day.

“That way, the parent will feel they’re contributing and taking stress off the couple, but will leave all of the décor and big decisions to you.” 


10 First Dance Songs to Wow Your Guests  

“Just the Way You Are”  – Bruno Mars
“The Way You Look Tonight”  – Frank Sinatra
“Perfect” – Ed Sheeran 
“Make You Feel My Love” – Adele 
“Love on the Brain” – Rihanna 
“Your Song” – Elton John 
“At Last” – Etta James 
“If I Ain’t Got You” – Alicia Keys  
“Die A Happy Man” – Thomas Rhett 
“I Won’t Give Up” – Jason Mraz 


3 Do’s & Don’ts for Guests on the Big Day   

1. Don’t Leak the Look

Social media can be the perfect way for a couple to remember their big day – and make sure they didn’t miss a moment of the fun between first dances and mingling. Many wedding planners suggest using a hashtag to collect all the memories in one place.  

But social media can also come with some risk, and it’s important for guests to understand the etiquette of using social media during the celebration, says Samantha Serenkin, wedding specialist at The Mansion on Main Street.  

She adds that if you absolutely have to post a photo, make sure it’s of yourself and other guests – or at least ask the bride and groom for permission before posting a photo of them.  

“You don’t want to post a special moment before the bride and groom do or put up a photo they might not have wanted out there,” says Serenkin. “And any photos of the bride taken prior to the ceremony or reception should never be shared on social media until the bride walks down the aisle. That’s a big deal.”   

2. Do Stick to the Registry

Unless you’re family or know the couple very well, your best bet is to stick to the registry when it comes to choosing a gift.  

And before you bring your carefully chosen gift to the wedding, check with the couple, says Serenkin. “These days, lots of couples have been forgoing the traditional gift table for a smaller set up or just a card box. If you’re planning on bringing your gift to the wedding, it should probably be just a card or small gift,” she says.  

Larger items from the registry can usually be mailed to the couple. If you can’t make it to the big day, protocol is to still send the gift you would have given them or at least mail a card expressing your congratulations.  

3. Don’t Wear White 

Some things never change, like the rule of never wearing white as a guest to a wedding. That’s set in stone.  

“The bride is the star of the show,” says Serenkin. “That’s what she’s supposed to wear, not you.”  

Serenkin also recommends staying away from wearing ivory, cream and even light pink – anything that might distract from the bride isn’t welcome. And if the dress code is confusing, she says to remember that you can never be too dressy.  


4 Ways to Create Out-of-the-Box Flowers 

Michael Bruce of Michael Bruce Florist knows a lot about making jaw-dropping floral displays for a bride’s big day. He shared his favorite ways to guarantee a one-of-a-kind wedding arrangement. 

Give Your Florist Some Freedom
When picking the right florist, Bruce says trust is key. One of the best ways to get the most memorable flowers is to give your florist a starting point and let them put their own spin on it.  

“You don’t want to go to your florist with nothing and say, ‘Show me what you’ve got,’” says Bruce. “Start with a theme or a color or even a favorite flower, then ask your florist to come back with a few ideas. You might be surprised by how fantastic they will be.”  

Add Something Sentimental
You don’t necessarily have to wear your something borrowed on the big day. Try finding something that could spruce up your bouquet with a sentimental touch.  

Bruce says some of his favorite styles have been when brides have a locket, a note or a newspaper article from a grandparent or close friend that they’ve incorporated into the bouquet. “It’s a nice way to make your flower arrangements unique and special at the same time,” he says.  

Step Away from Classic Flowers
Step out of the typical wedding flower box and try some of the latest trends hitting the bridal scene.  

This year, many couples are opting to use dried flowers like lavender or strawflower, giving their florals a rustic feel. Others are adding succulents to the mix. But Bruce’s all-time favorite is adding plants that have a slight smell. 

“I’ll put a little bit of dill or mint in the bouquet,” he says. “It doesn’t smell up the room, but my brides love giving it that extra dimension.”  

Check the Photos
Bruce has seen it happen time and time again: a bride says she wants a big bouquet and is horrified with how it looks in the wedding photos. That’s why he has each of his brides come in a few days before the wedding to take some test shots with the flowers.   

“We not only see what it will look like when it’s photographed to make sure it isn’t overpowering the photo,” Bruce says, “but I also show them how to hold the bouquet in photos to make the perfect portrait look that will last.”  


The Food Trends You’ll Love to Feast on 

When your guests leave the reception, they might remember your centerpieces and they’ll probably gush about your first dance, but you can be sure that the first thing on their minds will be the food – for better or worse.  

One of the most exciting ways to create a menu guests will rave about is to put a spin on time-tested favorites. Laura Reese, director of catering and sales at The Madison, says her favorite new trend is bite-sized foods served in unique vessels, like mini cups of individual hummus with vegetable dippers or tomato soup shooters with a slice of grilled cheese.  

“If you put out a big soup tray and grilled cheese, no one would eat it,” she says. “But this way, you have a unique twist that doesn’t pull people away from the dance floor for too long.”  

Another favorite swap Reese loves seeing is when couples trade a traditional cake cutting for a dessert bar. “Not everyone loves cake, so dessert bars are a great way to accommodate all of your guests,” she says. “However, I always think it’s nice to have some type of small cake for the traditional aspect.”  

Dessert bars can cover everything from popcorn and ice cream sundaes to fried Oreos and donuts. And if you want to be even more daring, you can opt for butlered desserts to keep everyone partying. It’s easy to keep dancing with a milkshake shot, cupcake or even a chocolate-covered frozen banana in your hand.

September 2018
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