SONGS OR MUSIC YOUR CHOICE!

Gone are the days when your only option for your grand entrance was a bridal march. While this traditional piece of music still has its place, today’s wedding music selections are extensive. Songs do tend to have their own expiry date, with favourites like Beautiful Day finishing every ceremony in one wedding season. A great combination of songs can make or break a wedding, the lyrics setting the tone for the celebration and reflecting you as a couple.

Where do you start if you don’t have a special song that means something to you, the one you both listened to when you first met or a tune that reminds you of a key milestone in your relationship? We often suggest our clients think about what songs they’ve heard at other weddings that stood out. Perhaps there’s a special song your parents had at their wedding. You can search Top 20 wedding songs on the internet and, while you do risk generating lists from everything including Celine Dion to Elton John, there is plenty of inspiration out there to help with what’s current.

Another important thing to consider is whether the music is appropriate for the style of your wedding; does it fit your personalities and who you are as a couple; are the songs long enough to get everyone down the aisle or do you need two separate pieces of music?

There are usually four key pieces of music selected for a wedding:

• The bridesmaids’ and bride’s entrance – a meaningful and slow piece is usually chosen. There can be two songs if the bride would like her own entrance song.

• Signing of the marriage licence – often two songs at least due to the length of time taken for everyone to do the officials.

• Procession at the conclusion of the ceremony – this should be upbeat and set the tone for forthcomnig celebration.

• First Dance – well, there are no rules for this one – it all depends on what magically choreographed routine you’ve managed to perfect!

Some couples also opt for a song announcing their arrival at the reception, however this is not always a must have.

FIRST DANCE

If a choreographed first dance is good enough for Justin Timerblake, surely you should consider it, too? Just like Justin, you can keep your lessons a secret from everyone else … and then blow their socks off on the big day!

Sophie Day, author of The Secret Quintessentially Weddings Guide, said at the time that Timberlake could revolutionise the stereotype of a quick shuffle around the floor for first dances.

“While even the likes of President Obama and even Mick Jagger have been described as ‘dad dancers’, a little coaching can get your groom up to Timberlake standard in no time,” she said. “It’s all about confidence and the best way to grow confidence is with lessons.”

Karen Hardy, Strictly Come Dancing champion, put together the following top tips for grooms looking to avoid ‘dad dancing’ and err on the side of smooth.

• Move naturally and with confidence to start with. Don’t risk your more unbridled moves until the cheers say you should.

• A drink or partner in one hand is often useful as then you only have to think about the one other flailing.

• If you’re going for natty older rocker, think Bruce/The Boss rather than Jagger for tight shoulder shrugs, standing with your legs slightly apart in an upturned V shape, and tap alternate legs. Perhaps lace it with the odd hip wiggle and nod of the head.

• Footwork should be sophisticated and light, but not fey. When you get to the point where you want to add a flourish, go with a subtle spin with your right foot tucked in front of your left, and propel with the balls of your feet. You want Astaire rather than Fagin here.

• Keep your core strong, and your knees relaxed to stop you looking too rigid.

If in doubt at any time, just think “what would Tom Ford, George Clooney or Bryan Ferry do? ”

VOWS

VOWS Perhaps the most important words the bride and groom will ever speak out loud, in front of witnesses, are your vows. Make them personal, make them about you!

Do you want traditional vows that see you taking each other for better or for worse, or would you prefer something totally unique? If you’re writing it from scratch, treat it as you would a short story … have an introduction, a middle section and a closing. Start with your partner’s name and what they mean to you. The middle is where you can talk about why you love them. The closing will be your promise to your partner going forward.

THE SCENE Have you planned your reception and ceremony completely? There are endless checklists for these available on the internet … lights, music, cars, photographer, flowers, cake ….. no doubt you have a few that you’re already ticking off.

On the day, appoint a few close friends or family members who can welcome your guests, get them a drink if appropriate, or usher them to their seats. If your parents aren’t assisting you with dressing, they often love getting involved here. If you’re doing a rehearsal, make sure all those who will be involved are in attendance – ushers, greeters, etc.

Consider guest comfort, particularly if your wedding is standing-only, say at the beach. Standing for long periods of time can be tiring on elderly relatives, especially if it’s hot. Always provide a few fold up chairs!

There’s fashionably late … and then there’s LATE!

Our final note is this … once the day arrives relax! You’ve done all you can to make the day special, now you need to chill and enjoy it. Talk to friend who have married and they’ll all tell you the same thing : the day goes by in a blur. Take time to savour precious moments, try to spend a little time chatting to all your guests, find a quiet corner where you and your newlywed can be alone for five minutes.

Reflections of love

Reflections of love

Mirrors are a wonderful way of adding a little extra sparkle to special occasions. You can use them as the base to centrepieces, allowing them to reflect light if candles are placed on them. Even outdoor weddings have been known to benefit from the addition of mirrors … and this Barlow mirror has beautiful tones that will tie in with any theme.

Once home, the bronze tones would look fabulous as an addition to just about any colour scheme.

Going Zen

These Stoneleigh & Roberson Zen Candle has a heavenly gardenia fragrance. The organic ceramic pot and muted grey and white colours will suit rustic weddings as easly as a more contemporary setting.

Plus, with a burn time of 50 hours, they’ll be sure to last for home use long after the wedding!

Going Tropo

Wanted a Fiji wedding, but logistics said no? Bring the beach to your wedding by placing a few of these Mini Palms around the venue.

At just under a metre in height, they’d look amazing at the start of your aisle, or on either side of your bridal arch.

Apart from adding a tropical touch, they could be used to screen unsightly areas of the venue.

At home, they can be used in the living, bedrooms or office … they’re easy maintenance with just a light dusting now and again.

Table Talk

The Sawyer side table is the perfect accompaniment to Moroccon-themed weddings. Imagine a fringed marquee overhead, ornate rugs underfoot, lavish lounge pillows and beanbags in abundance, richly toned candles and a fire pit nearby …. simply divine!

At home, they’re perfect for living spaces or as bedside tables.

Light things up

We’re always on the lookout for new ways to showcase tealights … and we love this set of three Vela candle holders in varying heights. Clustered in a group, they’d make a sensational addition to your tablescape, their soft green and white tones matching any florals.

Scented Genius

Aromage Scented Diffusers come in a variety of fragrances. Choose your favourite to dot around the wedding reception venue. After the party, just pop the reeds out, seal the bottle and they’ll keep perfectly until you get back from honeymoon. The aromas in your home will softly remind you of your fabulous wedding day for weeks to come.

Serve them in style

This Finn serving board would look fabulous laden with cheese and crackers at your reception.

It could also be used as a base to your centrepiece, dotted with flowers, candles, luscious fruit etc.

On show

Many couples dot photos of their premarried life around the reception, some using them as table identifiers. They’re also a fabulous way to having a deceased family member present on the day!

Chances are you’re going to need a few photo frames for your favourite wedding pics … and some like to give filled frames as gifts to family as a momento of the wedding.

Rack it up

Cool weather weddings will see guests wearing jackets and coats. If your venue doesn’t offer somewhere safe to hang them all, consider a coat stand or two to place near the entrance to your reception.

After the wedding, they can be used near your front door for your own jackets and coats, and even in the bedroom or walk-in robe for handbags. They’re also fabulous in bathrooms or near the pool for towels!

Hanging Out

If your venue has rafters or beams, try these Liam hanging pots (come in a set of two). Fill them with a draping plant such as ivory, and then add battery operated bud lights for a real touch of magic.

At home, they’ll do hours of duty in the kitchen if filled with herbs. Or keep the same ivory going and hang them in the bathroom. They can also be utilised outdoors, so don’t forget the patio or balcony!

KIDS’ TABLES WEDDINGS

Keep the little ones entertained with some forethought … and you’ll have a far more relaxed wedding.

Colouring books and crayons, drawing pads, chalk boards and colourful chalks are all great ways to keep kids amused. Family friendly restaurants often have paper tablecloths that kids can draw directly onto … get them all scribbling away and you could end up with a work of art!

Stack up a variety of board games, the type obviously dependant upon the age of the kids. Jigsaw puzzles could also be appropriate for slightly older ones.

If there are only a few kids, you could personalise a play pack for each one, including games and activities that are age sensitive, or perhaps apply to specific hobbies you know they love.

How about thinking outside the square with a personalised “I Spy” or treasure hunt game. Sure, it will take you a little while to think of things that you know will happen during the day (the first kiss, a specific toast, a certain song playing) for your I Spy thriller, but it will keep their attention fixed on what’s going on. For the treasure hunt, you’ll have to know the venue, perhaps visiting the day before to set up treasure tokens. How about a dispoable camera each to snap the I Spy moment, or the treasure hunt clue.

Keep them happy with kid-friendly food. Don’t expect three year olds to enjoy the fine dining adult fare! Hotdogs, burgers, skewered fresh fruit, sandwiches – these are likely to go down a whole lot better than suckling pork! And don’t forget to provide healthy beverage options – too much fizz and you could have a miniature John Travolta on the dancefloor!

If you have a photoboth, allocate kiddie props, too … and perhaps even allocate a set half hour or so for them to go crazy in it.

Activities like hula hoops, life size chess or Jenga, croquet or petanque have the added bonus of attracting adults on and off over the course of the day.

FLOWERS & YOUR STAR SIGN

Decorative flowers are one of the most pleasurable parts of every wedding, with an array of shapes, forms, colours and aromas that create the perfect backdrop for a declaration of undying love. The only problem is, with such great variety, how do you select the right blooms? Perhaps it’s time to look to the zodiac for answers!

Brides and grooms like flowers that make bold statements! Daffodils certainly represent this fresh and vibrant Aries energy. Characterised by their physical and mental fortitude, these rams (their symbol) are confident and fierce, dynamic and full of energy. Tiger lilies are ideal for those in this sun sign, as are flowers from thorn-bearing trees/shrubs such as roses. If you’re looking for a wedding flowers for your Aries, daisies are a sure bet as they generously reflect the enthusiasm Aries tend to generate and the colour of passion.

Taurus the bull is reliable, sensuous, and ambitious. Taureans love lilies for their sensual appeal. If you’re looking to make a Taurus blush, send a vibrant bouquet of the Stargazer lily, which are just big, bold, and romantic enough to make her feel like she’s your one and only star. Even though they’re best known for being as headstrong and fierce as a bull, there’s an indisputable warm heart in Taurus; they appreciate nature’s exquisite beauty with flowers that appeal to their full range of senses, and the lily’s dramatic form and fragrant perfume will indulge their romantic, sensual side. The rose would be the classic choice, with its delicate petals and magnificent scent. Its stems are also strong and sturdy, just like Taurus.

Getting a Gemini to the altar isn’t always easy, as the people born under this quick-thinking sign are known for their love of freedom. Start with beautiful peonies, if possible, whose double-lobed leaves and delicately fragrant aroma represent Gemini’s inborn duality and fresh outlook on life. Witty and inquisitive, lively and communicative, it’s no surprise that Gemini’s have highly sociable and playful personalities. Geminis like to have a peaceful balance in their lives, for which calming lavender is always a perfect. Gemini’s also enjoy chrysanthemums.

The showy Leo is going to need flowers that stand out, and none can do that better than the flamboyant ranuculas. Bold, colourful and sturdy, choose the orange and red varieties to remain true to Leo’s solar heritage. If that’s not enough to help Leo make a brassy floral statement, there is always the expressive sunflower! These strong, bright flowers certainly help to convey Leo’s bright and fiery energy. Roses are a great romantic choice, as they have by creativity and drama. Leos are passionate lovers, with confidence and strength as well as their unfussy, loving spirit.

The hydrangea would be a wonderful way to express Virgo’s multi-level manner of thinking. From a distance, these attractive blooms look like large balls of feathery colour. Up close, one can note the delicacy of the petals and the intricate design. Calm your Virgo with hydrangea – the blue version, of course. Send your Virgo a bouquet that includes asters, which symbolise daintiness and love. The Daisy-like asters have that wildflower beauty, starshaped flowers and lush texture.

Wedding flowers will have to be, like Libra, “perfectly beautiful.” Libra will love the calla lily, with its bloom’s elegant lines supported by long, sturdy stems. The calla lilies are so profoundly proportioned and graceful; it looks like they could have been created by one of Libra’s favourite fashion designers! In fact, your Libra’s refined tastes will actually prefer a bouquet of red tulips to roses for Valentine’s, something to keep in mind for other giftgiving occasions, too!

Sexy and exotic, this provocative-looking flower has quite a lot in common with the average Scorpio! Scorpio wants to be the best at everything. In the same sort of quest for excellence, gloriosas use tendrils at the ends of their leaves to climb over other plants and grab their fair share of sunshine. The powerful Scorpio is known for intensity and passion. They’re perceptive and focused, when buying for a Scorpio, bold is best, and gardenias with their intensely seductive fragrance are a great match as their boldness is matched by their sweetness.

Sagittarius will search far and wide for adventure, and most have travelled at least part of the world – if only through books, movies and travel websites. They are also lively, bright and vibrant much like the parrot tulip. Get a bunch of these flowers together and it’s hard not to think of “fun” – the core of every typical Sagittarius’ personality. Generous, open-hearted individuals, Sagittarius are associated with travel and expansion. They can be compulsive or impractical at times, but these people-lovers are always great gift givers. If you’re shopping for a Sagittarius, you have a tough job because the gifts they give are always so right! Try purple flowers: they’re elegant and original, a true favourite for all occasions.

When Capricorn makes the march down the aisle, the atmosphere must be elegant and tasteful. They must make the Capricorn statement: “I have arrived!” Rare and mesmerising, hellebores would certainly fit the bill. They are also known as the “Christmas rose. Capricorns have a witty sense of humour, are go-getters, ambitious, stable and shrewd. While you may at times find them rigid or materialistic, they’re dedicated souls who will always come through. A symbol of success and good cheer, the poinsettia is an ideal winter gift for your Capricorn, but don’t be surprised if her home is already adorned with them! If you’re trying to catch the attention of a Capricorn, bigger is always better, so be sure to try bold shades like red, orange, and blue.

Every Aquarius makes the claim of being one of a kind, so the flowers that surround this strange bird’s nuptial rites must reflect the spirit of the individual. As it happens, amaryllis would be the perfect bloom for this role, as there is only one species of this plant. Its coloration, usually white with crimson veins, makes it unique, as well. Because it also flowers at a different time from most other species, it’s known also as “the naked lady.”

The orchid fragile, yet awe-inspiring in its beauty would be the appropriate flower to appear at a Pisces wedding. Like the acrobatic twin fishes, the orchid displays the ultimate in flexibility. Its stems contain no fibre, and the plants are adaptable enough to grow from one stem or a series of adjacent shoots. Pisces are romantic, emotional, and affectionate souls. With the fish as their symbol, it should come as no surprise that Pisces feel comfortable with plants that grow naturally around water, like bamboo, in their home or office, though their emotional sides perk up with bright daffodils around.

BIRDCAGES

With their interesting shapes and ornate details, birdcages are no longer just for birds. Whether they are made of wood or metal, newly painted or rusted and bent, these stylish floral receptacles instantly create a display and can showcase anything from indoor plants and freshly cut blooms to books and nests.

Vintage cages tend to be more decorative and visually interesting than today’s mass-produced pet store versions, and are typically the style used for decorating. You can also find good reproductions that mimic the style and details of their vintage forefathers, but which aren’t an actual, working birdcage.

As an alternative to your standard floral centrepieces, birdcages add a tasteful element and project a sense of order and refinement. They also provide some height.

You’ll find them in various shapes and sizes and, if purchasing them, you can paint them to tone with your theme.

Small floral arrangements can fill up the space inside most adequately, but let your imagination run wild. Think votive candles, wedding favours, a seating card or advice cards for the new couple.

To take this idea a step further, you could try using cages of alternating heights or sizes, but keeping the colour uniform in order to hold the overall look together. A long row can make a striking presentation at your reception, and they’re sure to be great conversation starters.

Hang them off trees to decorate an outdoor area, from the ceiling or rafters, and even a marquee … picture cascades of flowers oozing through the bars.

By simply adding ribbon, candles, florals, signs and other accents, you can make a boring birdcage into a fun and creative addition to your special day – stylish centrepieces that won’t break the bank. A handful of roses placed inside and trailing ivy spilling through the bars can instantly turn an empty birdcage into a work of art with little effort.

Finger food

There’s a lot to be said for plated menus … no queuing at buffet counters, and the food is beautifully presented just the way the chef envisaged. Between courses is a good time to have your speeches, ensuring the evening flows according to your timetable. It’s also a more formal dining option, harking back to an age of grace and elegance. However, it should be said that this is by no means the only option.

FINGER FOOD vs CANAPE

Finger food is designed to be just that – eaten with your fingers. Your guests won’t need a knife, fork, spoon or chopsticks. Finger foods often include miniature pies and burgers, spring rolls, petit, sandwiches, little pizzas or skewers, arancini, tarts etc. They’re generally fairly filling items, often around two to three bites, ensuring your guests feel like they’ve eaten rather than just nibbled.

If dinner and dessert aren’t being served, you could include ice cream cones, small pastries, cookies or other sweet items to be served in the last 45 minutes of your event. This also helps to signal the winding down of your event – as does turning the lights up, music off and opening the front door.

CANAPÉS

Canapés are usually more refined than finger foods, smaller and more formal. Traditionally served on a toasted bread base, there are a huge range of bases that can be substituted – rice cracker, rosti, cucumber rounds or wonton crisp. However, it is a single delicate bite where you can let your imagination run free. Use a small shot glass for soup sips, a Chinese spoon for a petit duck salad or a rosemary sprig to skewer prawns.

Because canapés are generally created as one-bite morsels, it’s very easy for guests to indulge while still holding their glass of bubbly and a napkin. Your canapé dishes could include little tartlets, delicate cigars, savoury cones, blinis, or a host of bite sized delicacies!

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BOWL – CARTON – FORK FOOD

Bowl food is not just soup. Commonly described in the industry as walk‘n-talk food, these dishes can be served in bowls, baskets or boxes. The dishes themselves are obviously more filling – they’re mini meals – and guests will usually need some sort of utensil to eat them with, although something like fish and chips can be nibbled using the fingers.

Your bowl food dishes could include a salad, pasta or noodle options, soup or gazpacho, risotto or a variety of seafood dishes. You can either individually portion these dishes as we would or, for ease of service, salads can be served on a large platter for guests to help themselves or a hot wet dish like curry or tagine can be placed on low setting in a slow cooker for self service.

CARVERY STATION

A simple way to fill up later in the evening is a carvery station. This can consist of a glazed ham, a roast sirloin or leg of lamb kept warm in a very low oven, then carved and served with warm rolls, salad fillings, accompaniments and chutneys. To compliment the carvery, we often serve small salad cartons for the vegetarians, gluten free guests or those wanting a lighter option.

PLATED

For a more formal level of guest service, plated dinners are a natural choice. You endeavour to create a pop-up restaurant where a full meal is served in courses to seated guests. The meal may consist of a set menu where the guests are served any number of courses pre-chosen by the host, or the host could offer their guests a limited choice of dishes per course. Offering variety to guests can slow down the service slightly as the waiters will need to take the orders and the chefs will need time for plating the dishes. However, this does allow for speeches or other formalities of the evening to take place between courses, if desired.

An alternative is to have an Entrée Trio to start. This is a tasting plate of three small choices of entrée, offering your guests a visual sensation and a variety of tastes while removing the need to take orders.

Plated events generally increase costs over the cost of a buffet event due to additional staffing requirements for on-site meal plating and for service to all of your guests at the same time.

BUFFET

When catering for larger numbers, the old adage of ‘less is more’ is worth bearing in mind. A well-planned buffet is more appetising than lots and lots of different contrasting flavours and foods. Think about flavour combinations and avoid clashes, as people often pile a little bit of everything onto their plates.

The standard buffet generally includes a compound salad, a hot vegetable dish, a starch and up to three main dishes, with condiments and dressings. A bread selection can either be served at the buffet table or on each individual table. A selection of desserts may either be served at a separate station or served once the mains have been cleared.

At a wedding the top table would be served at their table followed by each table being invited to the buffet in a pre determined order (generally family first followed by the remaining tables).

One alternative is to have themed buffet stations, which is a full meal where menu items are served in various areas of your venue at several tables in a buffet style. Often, each station has a specific theme. This can be so much fun, as the station themes are endless! Stations can also be combined, with a Chef to prepare items to order.

This type of menu style often allows guests to enjoy a wider sampling of menu items compared to a standard buffet. Your guests are also likely to circulate more, often leading to a talk / mingle atmosphere.

INDIVIDUAL TABLE BUFFETS

Individual table buffets are fast becoming a favourite. Guests are served central platters that generally consist of two mains, a salad and a vegetable dish, placed in the centre of each table.

This is a more formal style than a buffet, as guests are not required to stand and move to a get their meal. It is a very interactive form of dining and helps break the ice, promote conversation amongst guests who may be unfamiliar with each other as the platters are passed around the table.

Desserts can either be served in the same central platter style or on a dessert station if you would like your guests to stand and mingle at this stage of the evening.

This is a more cost effective option as fewer staff members are required than a would be for a plated meal, and the meal is easier to portion per table.

Centrepieces

Centrepieces featuring herbs such as sage, rosemary and parsley can channel the aesthetic of the Italian countryside. Rustic potted plants convey comfort and intimacy when they’re used as table arrangements at your reception.

Perfect decorative centrepieces for a beach wedding are glass vases filled with sand and seashells, or even a gold fish in its very own bowl.

Garden weddings can take a cue from the same concept, but with colourful stones or fresh lavender instead. Children and kids-at-heart are sure to enjoy these unique centrepiece options, which can double as party favours.

Candles can be reused, and they always reflect romance and add ambiance. With so many styles of candles to work with, wedding candle decorations provide an easy way to craft that specific look you’re after. Never has it been so affordable or simple to design and enhance your wedding décor with candles … and let’s not forget the wonderful fragrance they often emit!

If you’re looking to use what you already have to create centrepieces throughout the year, start saving as many glass jars as you can. In every size and shape; they can be reused for just about anything. Simply remove the labels and clean thoroughly (in a dishwasher if you have one) and dry before reusing. Yes, I’ve actually brought a jam or pickle just so I can use the jar when empty!

Don’t just use your jars for flowers – consider putting a photo of you and you’re beloved into a jar and placing them on the guest tables. Just slide the photo in and turn the jar upside down and display for all to see. You can fill jars with items of your choice … reception candles or battery operated lights. You can also paint them or glue fabric or coloured paper to the outside to match your colour scheme or festive decor.

Decorating your table with picture frames adds an elegant look, especially for weddings and other receptions. Table numbers, family photos, menus or place cards are just a few items to place in old picture frames.You can transform old frames into chalkboards, write messages or names on them and place them around your home or at place settings. Remember: you can paint the frame any colour you choose.

These are just a few ideas that can be quite easily transposed from wedding to home. And, if you do still want to add a few florals, perhaps consider a sprinkling of rose petals on the tables.

KNOWING THE DIFFERENCE

So, you’re about to decide on your catering options, and you’re bamboozled by the range of menu items on offer. The team at The Difference Catering explain your options and help you work out what will be best to serve to your guests.

It’s worth remembering these points before you get started:

• Provide a variety of foods to please all appetites and tastes.

• Check with guests regards food intolerances – do you need gluten free options?

• Try to provide a mix of hot and cold food.

• How long is your function and what time of day is it?

• Is your event formal or informal?

And remember – you are not in the kitchen at your own event, so preparation is a key ingredient.

The amount of food you require per person depends on how long your guests will be milling before the main meal, whether there is indeed a main meal to follow, and whether that main meal is light or more full. As a general guide allow 3-4 canapés per person for pre-dinner drinks of an hour’s duration or four pieces of finger food per person per hour for a cocktail or standing event.

A popular option, if you do not have the time or space for a sit down meal, is to have a standing or grazing menu consisting of a combination of the following styles eaten over the duration. This allows guests to mingle, encouraging a fun and fluid atmosphere.

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