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Rehearsal Dinner and Out of Town Guests

Posted in: Uncategorized, Wedding Planning Advice
Rehearsal Dinner and Out of Town Guests

Last year, in the spring, my fiancé and I went to South Carolina to attend one of his cousin’s wedding. We drove quite a long way and got there the Thursday before the Saturday wedding.  Since the Bride’s family was mostly from Pennsylvania, almost the entire side of her family had traveled to be there.   Of course, on Friday night she had her rehearsal followed by a rehearsal dinner at a local restaurant.  My fiancé, my son and I,  along with his parents were not invited.  His Grandmother (also the Brides grandma) and her companion were.  I remember my fiancé’s mother being upset that they were excluded from the rehearsal dinner.  But, as I explained, our lack of invitation was not meant as a slight or disrespect. We simply had no business being at the rehearsal dinner. After all, we were wedding guests, we were not members of the bridal party or the Brides immediate family (brother, sister, grandma and parents).

What exactly is the purpose of a rehearsal dinner?  As The Knot elegantly put it, a rehearsal dinner is an intimate setting for the two families (immediate families that is) to mingle before the big event.   It’s often what immediately follows the rehearsal (hence the name, right?) where the wedding party works out the order in which they will walk down the aisle and where the parents of the Bride, Groom will be during the processional, ceremony and recessional.    A lot of times there are a few toasts and it is often the time when couples give gifts to their attendants as a thank you for being such an integral part of their day.

Intimate is the key word here.  Even in weddings where half, or even the vast majority, are traveling from out of town to attend, inviting more guests to the rehearsal and thereby the dinner immediately following, removes the whole “intimate” feel and intent.  Having a full room of almost all the guests makes it, well like having two weddings in one.  Then there are the costs.  Weddings are not cheap affairs.  Many couples today are footing the bill themselves for their nuptials and so adding additional guests adds to their costs.

Some of my brides are at a loss, feeling obligated to entertain guests that travel to be a part of their day and many ask me how to handle the entire rehearsal dinner invite issue.  So, here are some guidelines on who to invite, when to invite out of town guests and what to do with those guests that do travel but aren’t invited to the rehearsal dinner:

1.        Those who should be at your rehearsal dinner are

  1. Your Parents
  2. Your Siblings (and their spouses)
  3. Child attendants and their parents
  4. Bridesmaids
  5. Groomsmen
  6. Grandparents (it has become typical to have them attend)

2.      Exceptions to the rule – I would say that there are exceptions to the rule of only inviting the “immediate” family.  For example, if you have an out of town family member who is staying at the residence of the Bride, Groom or their parents, then indeed they should be invited.  It’s awkward for that person to then be left at the home alone.

3.  What to do with out of towners

  • If you have a lot of out of town guests, you might want to leave them a little package at their hotel when they check in that has a list of your favorite local restaurants in town (making sure to list some affordable options – just in case they are traveling on a budget) or suggest activities they may be able to participate in and enjoy around town or during any down time when wedding activities aren’t taking place.
  • If you really feel that you want to have something that includes your out of town guests, you could have a post rehearsal cocktail get together at a local restaurant or bar. Schedule it for a time after dinner and perhaps have a few finger foods available for guests.

I can assure you that the vast majority understand they are not there for the rehearsal dinner, but there for the big main event.


At the Ballroom we go above and beyond just your reception. We consider the entire downtown district of Jim Thorpe part of our venue and can help you make arrangements for out of town guests, suggest rehearsal dinner venues, wedding ceremony locations and much more! To schedule a consultation with our planner call us today at 484-629-5070. 

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Why Weddings Cost More

Posted in: Uncategorized, Wedding Budget, Wedding Planning Advice
Why Weddings Cost More

If anyone understands tight budgets, it’s me.  I have often blogged and given advice on how and where couples can save some money on their wedding.  With the Ballroom, I’m very aware of costs and how it effects couples.  It is why we don’t charge things like cake cutting fees or champagne pouring fees.  Each facility has their own reasons for charging those things, but I couldn’t justify it for the Ballroom and so I don’t charge it. I even allow for a ceremony at the facility for no additional charge.

As small business owners and wedding vendors, we often find ourselves having to defend our prices. Understandable in a tough economy.  A good vendor will know the value of the service they offer and will be able to convey that to their perspective couples. Today,  I felt compelled to justify pricing  when a recent article was published on Huffington Post which talks about how venues and vendors often charge more for a wedding than, say a family reunion or any other party.  It even goes so far as to suggest that you not tell your vendor that you are looking to book a wedding. I’m not going to deny that weddings do , indeed, cost more than booking  a straight  party. But, what the article fails to mention is why weddings cost more. And the simple explanation is that weddings are a lot more work with a lot more involved than in an any occasion party.

First, from a venue’s point of view,  there is an extra staffing requirement because the couple often require special and focused attention as the guests of honor. That extra attention also applies to their wedding party. For example,  a couple takes their cocktail hour to take photos in and around the facility with their wedding party while guests partake in cocktails.   As a result, the coordinator and/or one of the staff members will stay with the couple and the bridal party to fetch them drinks and  food to keep them happy.    This attenton is often given throughout the entire evening. There is also more coordination involved because a wedding has many elements that do not exist with other parties that includes the couple and bridal party entry  , champagne toasts, first dances, special dances, cake cutting and bouquet and garter toss.  Food and staff movement must be coordinated around these series of events (for example, champagne must be poured and ready at the right moment for the toast after the bridal party entry). These elements simply don’t exist or require attention during  a family reunion, sweet 16, anniversary party or dinner party. There is also much more detail involved in setting a room for a wedding vs . a general party.

The same also applies to photographers and DJ’s.  Weddings are simply more work. There is a more detailed list of shots that must be taken by the photographer as opposed to just general photos.   Often times the photographer will be very mobile with the couple to get as many beautiful shots in the wedding surroundings as possible.  They must be sure to capture all those moments in a wedding party.   As for DJs, they are tasked with creating , along with the couple, a special play list that must be played at the right times and during the right moments. It’s not a simple matter of putting on the music and getting people to dance. They create the atmosphere and flow (along with the coordinator) of all the elements involved that do not exist for other types of parties.

So, yes, weddings do cost more but with good reason.  Vendors are not charging more to take advantage of you, they are simply charging more because there is more work involved and a higher level of service is required and expected than with other events.   Being dishonest with your vendor when you call to get a quote for your event will only get you  inaccurate pricing as well as a mismatch in your expectations and the vendors.  Another area wedding  planner wrote a very good blog about talking to Wedding Vendors that  addresses the issue of pricing.  It’s some really good advice and perspective worth a read.


Looking for a unique and beautiful location for your wedding? The Mauch Chunk Ballroom offers flexibility and service.  Call our planner today at 484-629-5070 to learn about our different packages for your special day. 



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Avoiding Wedding Day Disaster Series: When It’s Truly Unavoidable

Posted in: Avoiding Wedding Day Disaster Series, Uncategorized, Wedding Planning Advice
Avoiding Wedding Day Disaster Series: When It’s Truly Unavoidable

Let’s face it, not every disaster that occurs at weddings is avoidable.  There are things that even the most well prepared Wedding Planner just can’t avoid.  A google search of wedding disaster pulls up a pile of things that I just can’t think “what would I do to avoid”.  They range from a twisted ankle, to the reception hall burning, to being robbed ( from People magazine article)

So, what happens when disaster strikes and your best laid plans are foiled?  Here are a few pointers on how to deal that apply to just about any scenario:

  • Take a deep breath! Okay, so you’ve just had this disaster happen and your day isn’t going as you had envisioned it.  Before you have the complete melt down that’s building, find yourself a quiet corner and take a few cleansing breaths.  No. Seriously,  the oxygen will calm you . Inhale, hold for a few seconds, then release. Do this a couple of times until you feel your heart rate slow down.   You may even have a revelation about how to handle it.  Decisions are better made with a calm demeanor than panic.
  • It can either be a disaster or a memorable moment that makes your wedding unique! Yes, I just said that. But think about it.  How many weddings have you gone to in your lifetime, and how many of them do you remember?  Yours will be unforgettable for sure.  And, as long as it isn’t a tragic disaster, you’ll have a funny story to tell the grandkids someday.  Family members and guests will sit around at family parties and reminisce about their experience at your nuptials.  Sometimes, unplanned disasters could be a gift in disguise.  Whether it is a happy memory or a bad memory depends on what you decide to do with the moment and the perception or spin you put on it.
  • Your wedding day is only one day out of the rest of your life! You’re not doomed, nor is your marriage or relationship.  Actually, how you react with each other and to each other in the moment is more the tell tale for the fate of your relationship.  Life is full of unexpected moments, and so is a marriage.  Try, really hard, to find the humor in it.  Laugh with each other or even take a moment to cry with each other!  It’s not the end of the world, it’s just one day.
  • The day will end with you as Mr  & Mrs and that was the point anyway right! This following quote says it best from one couple in an article that I found on People magazine. They found themselves robbed on their honeymoon with irreplaceable sentimental items stolen from them.

“Their sad adventure “felt very cool and newlywed,” says Nat, 29. “It was like, ‘You and I are in this together, and we’ll deal with this ourselves.’

It may be difficult when wrapped up in the moment, but remember this; you have people that love you and the rest of your life ahead of you.  And, through any scenario that may occur, smile and they will smile with you!

For more tips and advice , read our Avoiding Wedding Day Disaster Series.   Call our planner today to schedule an appointment to see the beautiful Mauch Chunk Ballroom!


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Avoiding Wedding Day Disaster Series: Momzilla!

Posted in: Avoiding Wedding Day Disaster Series, Wedding Planning Advice
Avoiding Wedding Day Disaster Series: Momzilla!

We’ve all heard about Bridezillas.  They even have their own TV show.  But Momzillas are just as bad, if not worse, than a Bridezilla.  This could be your very own mom, who wants to have HER dream wedding she never had or your future mother-in-law that you don’t quite get along with or that has her own vision for your wedding day. Dealing with these moms is not easy. There are expectations and potential to hurt feelings or to alienate.  No one wants to start out their marriage or have that hanging over them on their wedding day.  So, how do you avoid that drama?

Often times Momzilla’s just don’t randomly appear. You know your mom and your fiancé knows his mom, so you know the potential for any drama that may circulate around them.  While you know the potential for a zilla, the actual behavior can sneak up on you.  Here is some advice in how to nip it in the bud before it starts and what to do after it starts;

  1. Before you start planning the wedding, talk to each other about what you want – Some women have dreamt of their wedding their entire lives, others have not.  Most men haven’t.  It is very important that you sit down with each other and decide what you want and what you don’t want for your day.   Make a list and rate how important each of the items are to you and your fiancé.  If you’re clear, then it leaves little room for “suggestions” that could potentially be the exact opposite of what you want.  This can help avoid the turn down of ideas that may offend.
  2. Share your decisions with your family. So, you’ve agreed to things and shaped your day together by agreeing to what you want or don’t want to happen. Now, you need to make it clear to your parents what you want and that you  talked it over and worked it out together . Stress the importance of all of this to them. It is important that you take a united front and not waiver. If, under a moment of pressure when you have been cornered by a Momzilla,  you feel the urge to cave,  discuss it with your significant other before you show the crack in the seam to the momzilla.
  3. Don’t immediately say no to input from Momzilla . Your knee-jerk reaction to what you deem to be interference is to say a quick no.  That no might put the Momzilla on the defensive. My suggestion;   tell the buttinsky Mom that it sounds lovely, that you will think about it, talk it over with your fiancé, and get back to her. Then, do just that. Give her input some careful consideration, talk it over with your fiancé and , if it doesn’t fit into your day as you envisioned it, tell her , as gently as you can, that you appreciate the suggestion but that it just doesn’t fit in with how you have shaped your day or into your vision.
  4. Be willing to compromise a little. This is a big day for your parents too. Some have probably dreamt about this day since you were born or even before.  If the request from the Mom is not too outrageous, then make the compromise.  It will make the mom happy.  And, if it’s your mother-in-law that is interjecting ideas, it will win you points and lay the foundation for a solid relationship with her.  Compromising might be a little more necessary in circumstances in which the parent is footing the bill.
  5. If she’s getting too crazy, let her know gently. Sometimes it builds up and you just want to explode.  But, if your mom or mother- in- law to be is causing you stress, take her out to lunch or sit her down and tell her calmly. Don’t do it in a fit of anger because you don’t want to say anything you’ll regret later.  Tell her what you are willing to compromise on, but also lay your foot down where it is really important to you.  Tell her you love her ideas and that you’ll incorporate some (if you really intend to), but that you and your fiancé have your own vision of your day.
  6. If she is super insistent, and it’s all too much for you to fight, just suck it up and let bygones be bygones. I know you shouldn’t have to, but think about your future.  If it’s your mom, this is par for the course and you know best how to deal with her (rebel or give in for peace sake).  If it’s your future mother in law, think about the rest of your life as a couple.  There are things you’ll absolutely have to put your foot down about in the future (like when it comes to your kids, etc.)  But, is this one of them?  It might be better to appease the dragon, than slay it on this one.

The most important thing out of all of this is that you and your fiancé be on the same page at all times. After all, two is better than one, right?  Remember that your momzillas love you and just want you to have the best day possible.  It may not seem that way, but it does come from that place of love.

  Call our wedding planner today to view the beautiful Ballroom and receive your very own wedding planner included in our per person price!

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Wedding Music Selection Tips : Make it personal!

Posted in: Wedding Planning Advice
Wedding Music Selection Tips : Make it personal!

This past week I sat in on a meeting between my clients, Heather & Tom, and  their DJ to go over the music that they would want playing for various points during the reception. We went over who was going to make a grand entrance after cocktail hour and in what order, their first dance, the special dances, and all the music in between. Music, of course, is very important to a reception. You want your guests to be out on the dance floor moving and shaking! The right music can leave a lasting impression on your guests and make it a party they will not soon forget.

How many times, when put on the spot about a song title, do we all seem to magically forget and can’t think of one?  Happened all the time to me when I ‘d go out to a Karaoke bar.  So, when the DJ was asking my clients what songs they want playing for their entrance or the entrance of their parents, grandparents , etc.,   they were at a loss.  I then asked them questions to help them come up with some selections ;  what kind artist or style of music do their parents like or what was their wedding songs? Immediately the bride began to laugh and say that her parents , and particularly her mother’s , favorite artist was kind of embarassing;  Engelbert Humperdinck. She then told the story of how she dragged her poor father out to see him and snag an autograph.  And so, I suggested that they choose an Englebert song for her parents introduction. She thougth it was a fantastic idea and that her mother would love it and probably wouldn’t believe that the DJ was playing it.  I told them to keep it a secret  so that she would be surprised and the rest of the family would get a good laugh at the song selection, especially if they know how crazy she is for him.

Another one of his groomsmen goes by a special  nickname in which there is a theme song  associated ( I don’t want to give it away till after the wedding!) , so I suggested that song for his entrance. Since everyone at the wedding knows him and his nickname,  it too would get a good chuckle.   I carried the same idea over to the other portions of the night where a special song is selected to accompany the moment.  For example, since the groom’s grandmother is the only surving grandparent on either side, he wants to dance a special dance with her following the cake cutting.   I suggested that he find out what her favorite artist or song is, or even what song played at the first dance at her wedding to his grandfather.  And, yes, the Bride and Groom went home with some homework assignments from their wedding planner!

Personally, and from past experiences, these little moments are what makes a wedding so memorable because it really reaches down and gets personal for  the Bride & Groom as well as the family and friends that have joined them in their special day. Songs can conjur up so many wonderful memories or  inside jokes, and playing those songs will leave a smile and even a tear of joy in your guests eyes.  Showing parents and family members that you were paying attention and know their favorite songs or first dances makes them feel special and loved by you.  And, as long as there is nothing offensive in any of the song titles choosen, nothing is off limits.  Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind when selecting various songs for different segments of the evening at the reception:

  • For your parents introduction you may want to think about what their favorite song or favorite artist is.  If they have obscure, off the wall tastes that is even better!  Any good DJ, particularly those that work with digital files, should be able to get it.
  • What special song represents an inside joke for you and the bridesmaid/groomsmen , friends or family?   Think of  events in your life or any memorable moments; a night out at a club, a song you would always rock out to together, or road trip sing-a-longs. Think about what music or songs  you have associated with those moments.   You can have  it played when they are introduced.  Other examples;  your favorite song or artist you worshipped when you were like 12!  Or an artist that he/she was obsessed with.  The cheesier, the better.  Nostalgia is always a winner! And, if no one gets the selection other than you and the person you are playing it for, well that makes it a special *wink* moment; a private joke  between you and your bridesmaid/groomsmen.
  • If introducing your parents as a couple, what was their wedding song?  This may require some investigation on your part,but it would be worth it.
  • What are the wedding songs of some of your guests, particularly Aunts, Uncles or Grandparents?  You could have their song played sometime in the evening and  have the DJ give them a nod by mentioning that it is their song and how many years they have been married.

Of course, these tips don’t only apply during introductions or special moments, but these questions can help you decide what songs to play throughout the night during what  is called the “free dance” period.  And , of course, think of all the songs that mattered to you as a couple;  think about what music/artist or songs reflect your journey together so far and where you want to go.  Ask each others friends and family members what songs, artists they used to like as kids and have them put on the “play list” . For  a little added umphf, surprise each other by having those songs from their childhood  added to the playlist in secret. You can even tell the DJ to make some sort of announcement to “dedicate” this song to the other with a little anectdote, if there is one attached to the song/memory.

I say go ahead and make it personal!  Create your own soundtrack for the evening as if you are in the movie of your life together and enjoy it all!

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