Large events like weddings and family reunions can create such amazing memories! All the work that goes into them really is worth it in the long run. If you are starting to panic about all the tasks that need to get done, you can take a deep breath! You have found the checklist to make it all manageable! Read Part 1 of our LBI Event Planning Guide before scrolling down to Part 2!
Planning the Food for Your LBI Event
This really is several decisions rolled into one task. Considering that catering is usually the largest expense in a large event, often up to half the total budget, some of these decisions may already be made. Here is a short list of what you should consider.
- Decide between a full meal or just hors d’oeuvres
- Choose a plated, served meal or a buffet style dinner
- Do you want the food choices go along with the theme of the event
- Cater your event or have it potluck style (and by who)
- Available entrée options (it’s good to have at least, one meat, one fish and one vegetarian/vegan option)
Some of these decisions will be determined by the style of your event and some will be determined by your budget. These decisions need to be made earlier on so that you can either do a few restaurant tastings or assign different dishes to a few attendees to bring for the potluck. I suggest having at least one vegetarian or vegan entrée option. Depending on your guest list, it’s also a good idea to consider having at least one dairy free or gluten free choice. If you want to do a plated meal, all of these decisions will need to be made before you send out invitations, in order to include the food option card for the entrée count.
What it can look like: My sister-in-law had a low budget wedding but wanted exquisite food. She opted for a large selection of appetizers from several of her favorite restaurants. She was able to have a wide selection and everybody ate more than a meal worth of appetizers. She was sure to have a variety of protein options, vegetables and tasty grains!
Dessert Decisions are Part of Your LBI Event Planning
We had to list this separate from the food because it truly is a beast all unto itself. Probably one of the best parts of event planning is taste testing the dessert options! If you are planning a wedding, consider having dessert options aside from the wedding cake. You can go in so many directions with desserts, from a grab bag candy bar to a 7-tier cake! A fun trend is to have cupcakes situated together to look like a cake, but are easily pulled apart to serve. Some people opt to do the dessert baking themselves, but I strongly recommend not taking one any extra tasks that must be done last minute.
What it can look like: I have a friend who wanted a very specific look for her wedding cake, a square cake with offset tiers and an edible printed picture of Santorini on one side. She could not find any bakery that would put it all together. She ended up hiring a bakery to use Styrofoam squares, stacking them, covering them with frosting, and doing the basic decorating. She then went to a different bakery that had a printer for the edible picture and took it back to the first bakery to put on the Styrofoam cake. They used the groom’s cake for the cutting ceremony and had sheet cakes to serve the guests.
The Entertaining Side of LBI Event Planning
Nobody wants a dull event to suffer through 5 hours of chit chatting, stuck at a table. One of the best parts of an event is the dance floor! Whether you want a string band playing classical versions of songs or a DJ spinning your favorite rock ballads, it can affect the entire mood of an event. One thing is for sure, an MC is necessary! The DJ can play this role or you can assign an extended relative, but having somebody keep the pace and announcing what to expect is vital!
What it can look like: One of my coworkers got married to her high school sweetheart and wanted to relive the fun they had when they were a bit younger. They opted for a DJ and focused the playlist on songs from their glory days. They even had a choreographed dance with the entire wedding party and everybody had an absolute blast!
Planning “Save the Dates” and Invitations for your LBI Event
Getting the word out for your event is when you really can get excited. By the time you are mailing out invitations, the date is set, the location is set, the food is set. Not all of the big tasks are done, but you few of the biggest are behind you! And as you tell people, their excitement for you will only multiply your excitement! Typically a “save the date” goes out 4-5 months ahead and an invitation goes out 1-2 months ahead of the event. This obviously can vary but be aware that if you are expecting people to travel a long distance, more time to plan and prep can ensure you will have as many guests as possible.
What it can look like: A friend got married and decided she wanted to save some paper and postage costs by mailing out only 1 item to her guest list, instead of the usual 2. She decided to include a hyperlink to her “wedding website” on the “Save the Date” and as decisions were made that would typically be included on the invitation, she loaded the details to her website. She completely bypassed the invitation mail-out and still had a huge turnout to her beautiful wedding!
Relax and Enjoy the Planning Process!
Just take a deep breath and remind yourself that your event will come together! It will be fun and all the work will be worth it! Keep trucking along and check out a few of our favorite LBI Events Vendors as you continue the planning checklist!