Different types of wedding ceremonies and receptions have different levels of “formality”; Black Tie, Formal, Semiformal and Informal are the terms used to guide your guests in what the expectations are for the day’s attire
What you, your spouse-to-be and your wedding party wear also hinges on your wedding’s overall level of formality, an important bit of information that should be indicated in your invitations. If you and your partner are usually on the casual side, having a black tie wedding may not be comfortable or fitting for the day. On the flip side, this may be one of the rare moments in your life when you want to splurge and crank up the level of Black Tie. A helpful hint: selecting elements of your wedding within the same level of formality will help to meet your expectations for the day, so that the rest of your day will flow with ease and style.
Traditionally, “Black Tie” attire marks a very formal event — one that takes place in a house of worship or an upscale venue, has an elaborate sit-down dinner at the reception and features at least 150 guests and a large wedding party. Black tie weddings don’t have to be in the evening, though. Your wedding can begin in the late afternoon and still be very formal.
Brides and bridesmaids wear elegant, full-length gowns (with train and veil for the bride), and grooms and groomsmen wear black tailcoats and pants, white stiff shirts and white ascot ties and black socks and shoes.
A “Formal” wedding is typically held in a house of worship or upscale venue, starts in the afternoon or evening, has a sit-down dinner or buffet at the reception and features at least 80-100 guests. The bride and groom each traditionally have between three and six attendants.
The bride at a formal wedding wears a full-length gown with a sweep or chapel train, and a fingertip veil. Bridesmaids match in full-length dresses, while the Groom and groomsmen wear tuxedos: black coats, black pants, white shirts, black vests and black ties.
A “Semiformal” wedding can be held in a house of worship, but you can also have one in a home, an outdoor location or another spot. It traditionally starts in the afternoon, has a simple meal or refreshments at the reception. The bride and groom each have between one and three attendants.
The bride wears a full- or cocktail-length gown with a short train or no train at all and a fingertip veil. The groom and groomsmen wear matching tuxedos or dark suits, and bridesmaids wear matching full- or cocktail-length gowns.
An “Informal” wedding is usually held during the day in a home or another location that is not a house of worship. It has a simple meal or refreshments at the reception and be for any number of guests. The bride and groom typically have only one attendant.
Informal brides may wear a knee- or cocktail-length wedding dress with no veil or anything from a pantsuit to a linen sundress. The men might wear suits and ties or shorts and flip-flops, depending on the occasion.
Happening morning, noon, and night, there are so many wedding reception options that will work with any budget!
If you envision getting married earlier in the day, then you’ll want to have a brunch reception. Traditionally, menus include brunch classics like Quiche, Frittata, and Eggs Benedict. A great idea is to have stations where guests can get food, like Omelettes, made to order. Light salads like a Spinach and Strawberries salad, a Fresh Tomato and Bocconcini platter lightly drizzled with a balsamic vinegar and olive oil round out a great brunch menu. For a touch of elegance, consider adding Smoked Salmon, Caviar, or a carving station with Ham, Turkey or Roast Beef. Or spice things up with Bloody Mary’s, Bellinis, and Mimosas. And don’t forget the coffee!
Pros: It’s less expensive; people will drink considerably less alcohol, and the types of food served are typically cheaper as well. If you want to get a jump-start on your honeymoon, a brunch reception perfectly allows you to leave the same day.
Cons:Consider your guests, especially those who live two hours away. They’ll have to get up very early to make it to your wedding. Also, you won’t have as long to get ready in the morning.
A New Twist: A cocktail-style brunch. Have your caterer reinvent brunch classics into hors d’oeuvres such as Mini-Eggs Benedict, bite sized French Toast, and mini Crepes filled with delectable treats.. Keep those Mimosas and Bellini’s flowing!
Have your heart set on a sit down dinner and your budget and/or timing won’t allow it? Compromise! Have a sit down lunch! Food portions might be smaller than a dinner; however, people aren’t as hungry, during the afternoon. Especially during the summer! Lunch menus tend to be a little less expensive but this also depend on what menu options you offer your guests.
Worried that your alcohol bill will be higher than your food bill? Well, guests tend to drink less, during the afternoon. However, if you are still worried because you are inviting a lot of drinkers, there are many different options to put a cap on your bar bill. Sit down with your coordinator, before your wedding, to discuss the many different options. If you don’t want to serve alcohol, it is perfectly okay! Offer your guests soda, coffee, decaf coffee, hot tea, lemonade, and iced tea.
Pros: It allows you to serve some of the same favorite dishes that you would at a dinner reception, without the high cost of a bar bill for a dinner reception. The venue may be less expensive, since the more expensive time slots are in the evening. And, you still may be able to leave for your honeymoon the same day!
Cons: people aren’t ready to get up and party as they would during the evening!
If you don’t leave for your honeymoon that same day, you’ll have to figure out what else to do with the rest of your wedding day!
A New Twist: A picnic/BBQ reception! This is a fun and casual option that works well with the lunch timing. The lower mainland has many wonderful parks that you can reserve space. You can also get married, take your photos and have lunch all in the same area. This also works great for a backyard wedding. Be a bit cheeky, and serve Long Island Iced Teas along with the other tea offerings.
This is a great option when you want the families to mix and mingle a little more than usual. It also works well if your dream venue can’t quit accommodate the number of guests coming to the reception. Cocktail receptions can be elegant and stylish, and allow your guests to really mingle and meet each other. They tend to be a bit more relaxed than a sit-down meal, and often feel like a great party.
There is still an elegant buffet set up but the meal is rounded out with a larger number of appetizers being passed around to the guest. This way people can continue talking and getting to know each other as half of the meal is delivered to them. Various appetizer stations also add a touch of elegance to this option. Carving stations, Stir Fry, Sushi or Slider Stations, the options are endless and can be very creative.
There are many ways to control the bar as well! My favorite is offering your guests several signature drink options. Make it fun! Offer martinis that fit your wedding theme and/or color scheme!
Pros: If your venue is small, cocktail receptions allow you to have more people. They’re typically shorter than a sit-down meal, and they allow you to really circulate and enjoy the party. Families and friends that haven’t had a chance to meet before the wedding are able to really talk and get to know each other.
Cons: While you might anticipate that a cocktail reception would be cheaper, your guests will likely drink more than at a dinner reception. Elderly and the more traditional guest will have a harder time understanding the meal format. And since some people won’t be seated, some guests will have trouble seeing events like the first dance.
The most classic and formal type of wedding reception, a sit-down or buffet dinner allows you time to really celebrate your wedding, treat your guests, and still have everyone up on the dance floor afterwards. Start with a cocktail hour, and proceed into an adjoining room for dinner, followed by dancing, cake cutting, bouquet tossing and more.
Often the public believes that buffet options are less expensive and affords their guests more selections and food. This is not completely correct! From my experience, because you are offering more options and food, the menu price could be a little more expensive than a sit down meal.
Pros: Your guests will feel like you really went all out, and feel special. You won’t feel rushed or hurried.
Cons: Typically, this is the most expensive type of wedding reception. You might also feel a little sad that your wedding night in the hotel room is starting so late! (wink).
A New Twist: After an hour or two of dancing, your guests might have worked up an appetite again. Serve a “surprise” treat at midnight of packages of donuts, an early breakfast, or even fast food.
Every great wedding has a theme. This could be dictated by a colour, an era, or even centred on the venue’s own style. You really need to look closely at what you want the feel and experience to be at your wedding. A great wedding doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg but it does need some serious thought and potential effort to come together.
Whatever you choose for your wedding theme, help is on hand from The Butler Did it Catering to make it perfect!
Here are some of our favourite options:
This wedding trend is still going strong, and can be as formal or casual as you want them to be.
There is something that feels so romantic about adding treasured items to your big day. Consider vintage frames, suitcases and vases to give a timeless feel to your special day.
Homespun weddings, filled with branches, lanterns, and nature-inspired décor, are more popular than ever.
#3 West Coast Bling
Adding a hint of sparkle to the decorations can be a bonus to the big day. Combining some of our west coast’s natural items with a touch of sparkle and bling will help to make your wedding naturally elegant. We can help with a nautical twist with drift wood and silver candelabras or even a west coast forest feel with large wood rounds and clusters of crystals.
#4 Color Pop
Out with understated pastels and in with bright blocks of colour! A big emerging trend for summer 2015 weddings, some will take it right down to the groom’s socks!
#5 Garden Elegance
Having your wedding in the garden is another sophisticated trend for the 2015 weddings. Live flowers for centre pieces and flower seeds for your guest favours keep the love growing strong.