Offer Variety. “Having a variety of rooms to mingle in, food to eat, and tables to visit, keeps your guests entertained.”
Let Them Mingle. “Creating a setup that allows your guests to mingle with each other is key to them having a good time. If a guest can be on the dance floor, go out on the deck and have a drink, or sit with one group and then another, that can make for a much more enjoyable evening.”
Get Organized. “Keep on top of the details and your day will go a lot smoother. It is easier for everyone to do their job well if you are organized.”
“We try to customize every wedding by first getting an in-depth understanding of what the bride and groom are looking for,” says Randy Polo, general manager of Smoke Rise Village Inn. “We invite them to dinner and ask them to describe their vision. That allows us to brainstorm new ideas and talk about what we can highlight.
“For example, our venue has a rustic feeling, with its stone building dating back to 1892 and its cobblestone courtyard, and our renovated interior also has a modern elegance. So once we see which aspects of our venue best fit their wedding vision, we can work with them and also recommend vendors who specialize in the look they are trying to achieve.”
Keys To Success: Reception Style, Variety, & ...
One bride might want a more cocktail style reception, while her parents might want a more formal sit-down dinner. “So we would create a package representing what both want, perhaps an extended cocktail hour, but one which also includes several specified tables for older guests and for the bride and groom’s immediate family.”
This approach can also save money. “On the larger tables, you can have standard size centerpieces, while on the smaller tables you can have a simple floral centerpiece or even just one candle. Less money is spent on elaborate centerpieces when they’re not required on all your tables.”
Variety, especially with food, helps create an exciting and memorable cocktail hour and reception. “Most couples want classic cocktail hour stations, like pasta and carving stations. But we recommend variety by suggesting, for example, a risotto station instead of a pasta station. We also take into account what foods are in season, suggesting heartier selections for the fall and lighter items for summer menus.”
... Budget & Attention
“A great selection of food does not have to be the most expensive option and we always take into account the couple’s budget,” says Randy. “For example, an extensive raw bar, while very popular, is often very expensive. But there are less expensive options that can be just as popular. At a recent wedding, for example, we had a simple Peking duck station that was very popular. Of course, the chef’s preparation of the food is crucial.”
People often feel a buffet meal is less expensive. “That’s not exactly true,” says Randy. “Having many items on hand can be much more expensive than serving a specific menu, because with a set menu we can hone in much tighter on what we’re offering. When a couple has a limited budget, sometimes we offer them a better scenario based on plated dishes. We will say, ‘Here’s everything we can do. Disregard pricing for a minute and pick the perfect world of what you would want.’ Then we see what we can do inside their budget. We also do only one wedding at a time, so we can focus 100 percent of our attention on that one wedding.”
Weddings: What's New
Randy tells us that more couples are asking for a cocktail style reception. “They’re also using the entire venue right from the start, rather than having a sit-down dinner take place in just one room. These new cocktail-style receptions still have elements of the traditional wedding, including cutting the cake, the first dance, and throwing the bouquet.
“DJs and bands are also now providing extensive lighting options,” says Randy. “The technology has changed a lot from the big black light that radiates so much heat, to LED lights which can be adjusted with the slide of a laptop to give you any color spectrum you might want.”
For Randy, the most exciting aspect is seeing the wedding go how it was supposed to, “and if there’s a small item that needs to be changed during the wedding, it’s great to see the transition go smoothly.
“It’s incredible when you’re walking the bride and groom out the door and they're singing praises of the day, the food, and the service we provided. It’s such a great feeling to know we've helped them achieve their vision.”
Smoke Rise Village Inn, 9 Perimeter Road, Kinnelon, NJ 07405