Posts Tagged ‘wedding planning tips’

When choosing a table plan for your wedding reception, try to think about what is going to work best in the space that you have to work with. Ask your venue for a floor plan of the reception room so you can figure out visually where and in what formation you are going to place your guests. As well as the room layout, the seating format you go for will also depend on the dining option that you choose (buffet or a seated dinner). To make the task a little bit easier, I have outlined below a range of different wedding table plan options with both advantages and inconveniences of each when appropriate.

  • U-Shape: The U Shape table plan is ideal for a seated dinner at a small wedding. The U-shape formation can be set up around a dance floor. The wedding party are usually placed facing the open end of the U-shape. The U-Shaped table plan is also great if you are planning on having any performances at your wedding as all present will get a great view.


  • Canteen Style: This sociable seating formation is ideal for large groups if you need to pack a maximum number of people into a space. The Canteen Style table plan can work well with both buffets and seated dinners. However, if you are really struggling for space, then a self-service buffet might be a little problematic as it could be a bit of a tight squeeze for guests getting out and back to their seats.

Canteen Style

  • Banquet Style: The Banquet Style seating arrangement allows guests to circulate freely between tables and works well for both seated dinners and self-service buffets. Banquet Style works best using round tables with a maximum of 8 people per table. Between 6 and 8 is the ideal number. Any more, then it becomes difficult to communicate. Banquet Style is also great for padding out large spaces, and making the room feel full and atmospheric. With Banquet Style, there are 3 different options in terms of the Head Table (where the wedding party are seated): 1. a long rectangle, 2. the Bride and Groom have their very own private head table, 3. the wedding party has a round table the same size as all the others in a prime spot.

Banquet Style 1

Banquet Style 2

Banquet Style 3

  • Ambassador Table & Royal Table: The Ambassador Table and Royal Table formations group all guests together on one huge table, oval for Ambassador and Rectangle for Royal. This table seating plan is really only advisable for small, intimate seated dinners or buffets.

Ambassador Table

Royal Table

  • T-Shape: The T-Shape is another good table formation for intimate seated dinners or buffets and is composed of a horizontal Head Table and a vertical table for guests.


  • Dinner Dance Style: The Dinner Dance Style is similar to the Banquet Style with the difference that the tables are arranged around the dance floor. As with Banquet Style, 3 different options are possible for the Head Table. A long head table tends to work best however for the Dinner Dance seating formation.

Dinner Dance Style

  • Hollow Square: Although the Hollow Square table plan is more synonymous with board meetings, this table formation can work as a particularly sociable seating arrangement for a wedding.

Hollow Square

  • Cabaret Style: Cabaret Style is a great alternative to Banquet Style if you intend on having a live band, a dance performance or any other type of entertainment on a stage. Cabaret Style works best with either hexagonal, octagonal or round tables.

Cabaret Style

  • Chevron Style: The Chevron Style seating arrangement is another great space saver and can be used as an alternative to Canteen Style for both seated dinners and buffets.

Chevron Style

If you have decided on one of the table plans above which necessitates a head table (otherwise known as a ‘top table‘), you might be wondering who should be included on this all important table. Traditionally, the top table is composed of the wedding party and is arranged as follows:

Traditional Head Table

However… today, many families (like mine) are fragmented and re-composed following separations and divorces so the above top table plan may not at all work for you. There is therefore no reason whatsoever why you can not organise your top table in any way you please and include brothers, sisters, cousins, grandparents and close friends if you wish.

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I came across a good article in French wedding magazine Le Mariage de Céline today which talks about the pros and cons of the different dining possibilities at a wedding. I have summarised the  important bits in this post adding my own flavour of course!

  • Seated Dinner

The seated dinner is the most traditional of the different dining options you could pick for your wedding. The Bride and Groom carefully formulate a table plan which gives each guest a place on a particular table (usually denoted by numbers or a fun name) and guests are served a 3 or 4 course set menu.

Advantages: Your guests do not have to worry about choosing people to sit next to as you take care of this for them. The food service is easy to organise and execute.

Disadvantages: You run the risk of ruining a few appetites if you don’t get the table plan just right. Your guests might not necessarily like or be able to eat what you have chosen for the menu.

Handy Hints: Give guests a few options of dishes for at least the main meal (if you can for the starter and dessert then even better). Be sure to ask all guests about any dietary requirements before you set the menu with your caterer. Avoid any exotic combinations and stick to well-known dishes. Don’t separate couples and don’t have tables with only single people on. Try to think about putting people who share common interests on the same table and mix up personality types. Group together children and adolescents on their own tables. Keep the table plan a surprise. Try not to have tables bigger than 10 to facilitate communication.

  • Buffet

It is often thought that buffets are cheaper than seated dinners with set menus, however this is not always the case as a caterer must always make more food than will be consumed so as never to run out. Buffets therefore can create a lot of wastage. The money is actually saved by reducing the number of service staff needed from approximately 1 per 20 guests to 1 per 30 guests. On a buffet, all courses are served on different trestle tables from which the guests are invited table by table to help themselves. There is usually no table plan at a buffet dinner. Approximately half a bottle of wine is allocated per table and is left for guests to help themselves.

Advantages: A buffet enables you to offer your guests a large variety of dishes so there will always be something that everyone likes. A buffet provides natural opportunities for guests to interact in an informal way.

Disadvantages: Certain guests can find themselves a little isolated if nobody chooses to sit with them. The food service can be a little chaotic and people can end up waiting a while to eat if certain guests tak a lot of time to choose their dishes and hold up the queue.

Handy Hints: Really go for making food look appetising with nice decorative elements on the buffet tables. Present each dish in a different, interesting way using different crockery and serving utensils. Combine cold and hot dishes with finger food options and verrines. Include some cooked-fresh options where a chef prepares food on the spot in front of guests e.g. sushi, BBQ or wok dishes.   

  • ‘Cocktail Dînatoire’

A ‘cocktail dînatoire’, literally translated as a ‘dinner cocktail’ is in reality a dinner consisted of substantial finger food and canapés. I am not 100% sure if we have a name for this type of dinner in English so that is why I have written the French word. If anyone knows the correct English term, then please leave me a comment at the bottom of this article. Food is usually served by waiters on silver serving platters or placed on buffets and high-tables for self-service. Guests are not seated at all but there are usually a few tables and chairs around the reception venue. The ‘cocktail dînatoire’ is a concept enjoyed particularly by young couples at weddings where socializing, drinking and dancing the night away are priorities before wedding tradition. A  ‘cocktail dînatoire’ is usually accompanied by an open bar from which guests can help themselves to drinks. Savoury finger food and canapés are served first followed by sweet options later on into the evening.

Advantages: The  ‘cocktail dînatoire’ is a great space saver as no tables are required so this is a great dinner format for small venues. You don’t have to worry about a table plan because there isn’t one. The  ‘cocktail dînatoire’ allows people to interact in an informal, relaxed way. You will be able to offer a huge range of different culinary delights. The ‘cocktail dînatoire’ can work out cheaper than the other two dining options (not aways though – it depends on the menu of course).

Disadvantage: For certain guests, standing for such a length of time might be uncomfortable.

Handy Hints: You should count between 15 and 30 food items per person along with the wedding cake. Why not vary the finger food options with inspiration from round the world such as mini pizzas and burgers, spring rolls, humus with vegetable dips, sushi, tacos and fajitas, ‘foie gras’, crepes, smoked salmon bellinis … Include a few extra substantial options for larger appetites such as breads,  cheeses, cured meats and mini soups. For the sweet options you could make it fun and offer toffee apples, cotton candy, Haribo sweets, cupcakes and ice cream cones.

  • Mix ‘n’ Match

If you can’t decide which one to go for then why not take bits from each dining concept. You could start with your appetizer / starter in ‘Cocktail dînatoire’ style, followed by a seated dinner set menu for the main dish and a self-service dessert buffet to end the meal.

All this talk about food is making me hungry!

Bon appétit!

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Wedding planners generally offer between one and four different service packages.

  1. All inclusive: for want of a better term, the ‘all inclusive’ wedding service includes the consultation, conception, planning, execution and follow up of your wedding.
  2. À la carte: an ‘à la carte’ service would be for those seeking a wedding planner simply to access a few different weddings suppliers. In general, a couple seeking this kind of service would intend to take care of the overall organisation of their wedding themselves but the wedding planner would be their one point of contact for all suppliers booked through the wedding planner.
  3. Coordination only: in this instance, the wedding planner would be employed to be on-site for the day of your wedding (usually with a support team) to ensure that your wedding runs smoothly. They would request a list of the suppliers that you have hired to work on your wedding with contact details in advance of the wedding to be able to formulate and manage an appropriate schedule for deliveries, set-up and de-rig.
  4. Consultation only: for a consultation-only service, a wedding planner may share a list of recommended suppliers, wedding planning tools and local knowledge with a client during a face to face meeting. It would then be up to the couple to contact suppliers and take care of the organisation of their event.

To find out about the wedding planning services I offer, please contact me by email on kerry@my-riviera-wedding.com.

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Wedding planner billing methods can vary greatly as with a wedding planner’s fee structure. You may either be invoiced directly with the individual supplier that you select with the help of your wedding planner, or alternatively all billing may pass through the wedding planner. On one hand some believe that it is more practical to pay only one bill to one company (the wedding planner) or on the other hand others feel more comfortable settling with the supplier directly so that costs are controlled more easily.

In the case that a wedding planner charges a management fee, for time spent or earns their fee through commissions, your wedding planner could give you the option either to pay suppliers directly or to pay one bill to the wedding planner who will in turn settle with suppliers.

If the wedding planner is using the ‘mark-up’ method, it is highly unlikely that they will give you the option to pay suppliers directly.

To find out about the wedding planning services I offer, please contact me by email on kerry@my-riviera-wedding.com.

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Wedding planners on the French Riviera, as anywhere in the world for that matter, can generate their income in a number of different ways. Detailed below are four of the most common fee structures employed by wedding planners. Be aware that it is possible that a wedding planner may use a combination of all of the below methods or they may operate using one or two only. Make sure you are aware of your wedding planner’s fee structure and billing process from the beginning so that there will be no nasty surprises.

  1. Management fee: a fixed percentage of the total cost of the wedding. The total cost being sum of the purchase prices from all suppliers.
  2. Margin / mark-up: some wedding planners mark up on each item purchased from a supplier therefore the price presented to you will include a hidden mark-up charged either as a percentage or a fixed amount.
  3. Time spent: many wedding planners charge for the time they spend on the preparation in advance of the wedding and the time spent with the client on site during the actual wedding celebrations. Usually the cost for onsite time is greater than the preparation time and time is charged either per day or per hour. Each wedding planner sets their own rate depending on the fixed charges they need to cover in order to make a profit (office rental, salaries of employees, taxes and social charges etc.).
  4. Commissions (AKA Kick-backs): revenue from commissions is a real phenomenon in the South of France in a range of different sectors. By commission I mean being given a golden “thank you” for the referral of business to a supplier in a similar way to how an estate agent takes a commission as a percentage of the overall sale price of a given property. If you are either going to be billed directly by a wedding supplier or if a wedding planner bills you for any given service, either way there may be a commission for the “business bringer” integrated into the price which will be billed back after the payment of the service. This can be a rather strange concept for Anglo-Saxons as referrals usually do not come with a price tag in the UK or US, however this is very common business practice on the Cote d’Azur so don’t be alarmed

To find out about the wedding planning services I offer, please contact me by email on kerry@my-riviera-wedding.com.

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The French Riviera is not the cheapest place in the world by any stretch of the imagination and wedding planner rates are no exception to the rule. However, since the economic crisis, the weddings and events sector in the South of France has become much more competitive and wedding planners have learned that they must in turn be competitive in terms of price to win business.

The amount earned by a wedding planner in fees can equate to between 10 and 30% of a total wedding budget. I have however heard of some cases where this amount has been much higher! It is worth keeping in mind that self-employed, independent wedding planners may work out cheaper than larger wedding planning companies due to the fact that they do not have as many fixed costs. Governmental charges for business are extremely high in France as is office space rent in the towns along the Cote d’Azur. An independent, freelance wedding planner on the Cote d’Azur will most likely work from home or in an office share situation and will certainly has a great deal less charges to pay.

By obtaining quotes from a few different wedding planners, you will be able to compare prices and make sure that you are getting maximum value for money.

To find out about my wedding planning services and rates, please contact me by email on kerry@kerrybrackenweddings.com or visit my website www.kerrybrackenweddings.com.

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Lavender field in Provence, FranceI plan on writing a series of articles with different themeing ideas for weddings on the French Riviera for which I will use the South of France countryside as inspiration. For my first article, I didn’t want to go for the typical Cote d’Azur coastline as my point of reference so I have chosen Provence and it’s picturesque lavender fields instead.

I have chosen a series of images that illustrate different ways in which you could incorporate the colour lavender into the themeing of your wedding. I am by no means suggesting that you use all of them at once, as that could be a little too much of a good thing, but subtle touches of lavender here and there combined with a complementary colour such as olive-green can create a lovely, pulled together effect.

lavender wedding 1

Lavender bouquet

lavender wedding 2

Lavender dress

lavender wedding 9

Lavender invitations & 'save the date' cards

lavender wedding 4

Lavender wedding favours

lavender wedding 11

Lavender lighting

lavender wedding 7

Lavender Champagne

lavender wedding

Lavender balloons

lavender wedding 12

Lavender wedding favours

lavender wedding 10

Lavender draping

lavender wedding 6

Lavender seat covers

lavender wedding 14

Lavender Crème Brulée

Lavender cup cakes

Lavender cup cakes

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