Choose the Perfect Wedding Venue with These 5 Tips

wedding venue lancaster pa

This venue was the perfect location for a fun, laid back wedding!

Rustic and chic. Elegant and formal. Bohemian and wild. Whatever your style, there are endless options for you to choose the perfect wedding venue. Most couples have an idea of what they would like the venue to look like, but there’s also some other things you should have in mind before you book that dream venue.

We’ve listed out five different categories to give you some ideas on how to close the perfect wedding venue!


Costa Rica destination wedding venue

This venue (in Costa Rica!!!) had nothing included so we had to source vendors for tables, chairs, linens, catering, etc. It turned out fantastic though!

First thing’s first: will your venue be for just your reception, or are you planning on hosting a cocktail hour and/or your ceremony on-site?

Some venues have pricing for an all-inclusive package, including your ceremony, cocktail hour and reception. Others allow you to add items a la carte depending on your plans. It doesn’t hurt to ask a venue if they will lower the price if you aren’t planning to host your ceremony or cocktail hour onsite. Venues tend to be more flexible with non-Saturday dates, so keep that in mind when searching. The more flexible you are, the more flexible venues can be on their pricing.

When you are inquiring, keep in mind some venues have additional or extra charges for certain services. Common extras are:

  • Trash Removal
  • Heaters or Fans/AC units
  • Day of Event Insurance for the Couple
  • Tables, Chairs, Linens and China
  • Reception Lighting and Decor

Make sure you get everything in writing from all of your vendors, including the venue!


Lancaster Wedding venue

This couple loved candles, check out the fireplace mantle!

Every couple has something they deem as necessary for their wedding to be complete. Some venues, though, have restrictions on certain things based on their rules or location or township. Make a list of your must-haves at the wedding and ask the venues about them before you book. Here are a few examples of common must-haves for the wedding:

  • The Wedding Date
  • Music End Time
  • A Band versus a DJ
  • Sparkler Send Off
  • Candles in the Reception Space
  • Alcohol in the Getting Ready Spaces
  • Pets at the Venue


wedding venue Philly

This venue was the perfect size for their guest count and was able to accommodate their table set up with both round and farmhouse tables.

There is no point falling in love with a venue if they won’t be able to accommodate all of your guests comfortably. Always ask about maximum occupancy and if maximum occupancy still allows for guests to be comfortable.

Some venues have stipulations on the set up depending on the size of the guest list. For example, if your guest count is at the maximum, you may not be able to have a buffet or photo booth/lounge in the reception area because they will not have enough room for tables. On your venue tour, ask to see a floor plan mock-up if you’re concerned about space.


Costa Rica destination wedding venue

This couple really wanted a private island wedding…I got them pretty close!

Whether your guests are from near or far, making sure the venue is easily accessible is important. When you are trying to choose the perfect wedding venue, take a note of whether or not it’s confusing to find. Ask about whether the reception venue provides parking attendants or venue signs to help guide people to the parking area.

If you have older guests or guests who will have a harder time with mobility, make sure you ask venues what their protocol is for these situations, especially outdoor venues. Some will have shuttles or golf carts to assist guests.


wedding planner

Make sure you can bring in any vendors you might have your heart set on before booking a venue. Some venues have restrictions, some even have restricted lists of wedding planners you must choose from (we’re honored to be on most of those local lists!).

Unless you’ve worked in the wedding industry or helped to plan another wedding, you may not know that there are two types of venues: those that are have exclusive venue lists and those that are open to all. Some venues require you use certain caterers, djs, or planners while others are more flexible. If you’ve already fallen in love with another vendor and know you will be using them, make sure your venue is okay before you choose your perfect wedding venue.

There are so many things to think about when it comes to planning a wedding. It’s not an easy task to choose the perfect wedding venue. While our Stylish O Team offers day-of planning, we also can help you take your event from start to finish, walking you through all of the steps. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at all of the things you have to think about to make the wedding day go perfectly, give us a call. Our Stylish O Team can help you!

Wedding Welcome Gifts Guests Will Love

No matter what, the people that surround you on your wedding day are the most important part of the day. Some come from only a few minutes down the road, some travel in for hours via car, and some will even have to take quite a long flight to come see you tie the knot. Ensuring they are comfortable and taken care of when they arrive at the hotel is a must! We have put together some ideas for wedding welcome gifts your guests will swoon over!

DIYing your own welcome bags chock full of goodies will be easy if you follow these steps.

beach wedding guest welcome bagStep One: Think About Your Theme

The way you decide to present your wedding welcome gifts is really up to you, but you can make it easier on yourself by thinking about the “feel” of your wedding. If you’re getting married on the beach, go with a more sun and ocean feel; if you’re hiking out on a trail to your ceremony spot, go with something useful for that setting.

You can go the practical route with the welcome bag: food, bottles of water, aspirin for the potential hangover or car-induced headache, or you can venture into a more creative realm by including items from the local area or items to be featured in the wedding.

wedding guest welcome bagStep Two: Pick The Vessel

There is no written rule anywhere saying you have to pick a box or paper bag for your welcome items! When we give our couples ideas, it’s always nice to think local: who do you know locally that could make a container to represent your style wedding? Or use a seller on Etsy who hand makes items. It’s always good to support small business!

  • Check with a local printer to see if they can custom print a bag with your names on it. Better yet, get a wedding logo made to represent your unique style as a couple!

  • If multiple guests are staying in a suite or a room block, look into who locally sells baskets or woven bags so you can do less of them, but stuff them more fully! A woven fiber basket or bag that is reusable is ideal for wedding guests.

Having a garden-themed wedding? Go with a cute little watering pail or a galvanized bucket!

wedding guest welcome boxStep Three: Select the Goods

Just as we were stating above, your wedding welcome gifts should be helpful and fun! Here are some items we recommend for any wedding:

  • bottles of water
  • gum or mints
  • sunscreen/bugspray if having an outdoor wedding
  • mini bottles of champagne
  • an itinerary for any necessary to-dos (rehearsal dinner, shuttle runs, etc)
  • a thank you/welcome noteYou really can get creative with what you include! Here are some unique items you can add on:
  • We haven’t met a wedding guest yet that isn’t fond of food. Check the local orchards for some fresh fruit that is in season, or if it is winter, purchase some small jars of their local honey or jam.
  • If you’re having a bunch of out-of-town guests, helping them navigate their way around is crucial. If you’re a local to where you’ll be getting married, create a list of must-do things for your friends and family. And if you’re not a local, don’t sweat it; the hotel concierge should be able to point you in the right direction.
  • Practical is always a winner, too. No one wants to think it will rain on their wedding day, but if it looks like it might be a downpour, invest in a few clear ponchos for guests or a few umbrellas would be worth the money!

Make it easy on yourself, and have your bridal party help with the stuffing of the bags.

Your wedding welcome gifts help to set the tone of the weekend. Go as formal or as casual as you would like because the wedding is about you! If you need suggestions, our team is always happy to help. We work with many small businesses in and around the local Lancaster, PA area we are happy to support!


Duty Calls: The Responsibility of Groomsmen Before and On the Wedding Day

groomsmen wedding

Photo: PhotOle Photography

We’re willing to make a bet that you’re not enlisting your bridal party the same exact day you get engaged. Believe it or not, selecting the bridal party can be a point of stress for couples. While you know and trust your partner, you may not be sure about who he is thinking of having stand by him on that day. Or maybe you are, and his groomsmen selection has you a little worried…

Groomsmen can really make or break a wedding – “bad behavior” during photographs can put you behind schedule, and a little too much Jack Daniels before a ceremony can cause some major headaches (to say the least) – this goes for bridesmaids as well!

To help your groom out and also calm your nerves, this list goes over what the groomsmen are responsible for before and during the wedding. Feel free to cut the top of this blog post off and hand it out so everyone is on the same page!


groomsmen Ryan Merriman wedding

These groomsmen backed up the groom while serenading the bride! Photo: Jeff Benzon Photography


Lock Down Your Attire: Like your counterparts, the bridesmaids, you’ll have to shell out some money for your wedding attire. Be sure to take the time to get a proper fitting – a good-looking suit is worth the money and time. The couple will appreciate that you’re looking your best for their wedding! If everyone lives farther apart and can’t make it to have their suits fitted at the same time, there are online programs that make the process extremely easy!

Bachelor Party Planner: While the best man usually takes the lead on planning the bachelor party, more heads are better than one; bounce ideas off of one another on what the groom would like, what everyone can afford, and something that will be a great time for all involved. Don’t feel like you have to plan a destination bachelor party, there are plenty of fun things you can do more locally.

Respond to Invitations: You may receive invitations to an engagement party, the bachelor party, the rehearsal, and of course the wedding day. Be sure to send in those RSVPs so that is one less person the couple has to chase down as the day approaches! (You’d be surprised how many people do not send in their RSVPs!)

Attend the Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner: Once the wedding day is practically upon the couple, you’ll most likely be asked to attend the rehearsal. Do the couple a favor and show up on time and focus while at the rehearsal! The sooner everyone focuses and listens to the officiant or wedding planner, the quicker everyone can leave and get to the rehearsal dinner.

Gift It: Go in with another groomsmen or two to create the perfect wedding gift for the groom and the couple. Think of their style and what they would like or what they need, and you’ll hit a homerun!

groomsmen wedding

Photo: Jeff Fransden Photography


Show Up On Time: Be sure to arrive to the getting ready site when the couple tells you to (or preferably a few minutes early).

Help Quell the Nerves: Even for the most cool-headed groom, the emotions of the day can quickly become overwhelming. Help him out with staying calm. Sometimes, nerves can drive people to drink a bit too much before the wedding – help him steer clear of this potential disaster, too!

Go in for the Assist: Your overall job on the wedding day is to help out wherever possible. Moms of the couple need a cooler carried? Check. Groom needs you to assist with his tie? Check. Whatever the wedding day throws at the couple, help out in any way you can!

Usher in the Love: About an hour out from the wedding ceremony, many couples appoint a handful or all of their groomsmen to assist in guest seating. Depending on religious beliefs and traditions, seating will differ. Elderly guests should always be seated first.

Be Prepared to Give A Toast: Usually the best man and maid/matron of honor are asked to give a toast during the wedding reception but sometimes additional bridal party members are too. If you are asked, be sure to prepare something in advance.

Help Clean Up: At the end of the night the wedding planner and caterer will pack everything up, but groomsmen can be a big help by helping to load the extra alcohol and decorations into someone’s car so that the groom does not have to help.

groomsmen wedding

Photo: Jeff Fransden Photography

While this list isn’t exhaustive of what the groomsmen can assist with, it’s a great starting point! It never hurts to have more hands on deck the day of your wedding to organize the bridal parties.  Our team members at Stylish Occasions are experts in “herding” bridal party members and ensuring the timeline is adhered to as closely as possible. Give us a call if you want to talk about our packages and how we can help you with your wedding!

Wedding day hair

You’ve put a lot into planning your wedding, from the wedding dress to the wedding cake, and everything in between. As your big day approaches, you want to look perfect from head to toe. The toe part is easy – get a pedicure! Here are some tips for the head (aka – hair) part!

  • Decide if you want an up-do or if you want to let your hair down. Look through magazines and websites to see what you like.
  • Check with your stylist to see if they specialize in wedding styles. If not, then you may want to do research on some other local stylists. Get a referral from your stylist as well as referrals from friends or your wedding planner.
  • After you find a wedding stylist have them do a trial run. Take along pictures of the style you’ve found that you like. A trial run is very important for several reasons. First, to make sure the stylist you chose can do the style you want. Second, the style may look good on the model in the magazine, but once you have it done on you it may not look right with your face shape or with the neckline of your dress. It’s better to find this out a few weeks before the wedding rather than the morning of the wedding!
  • When you go for the trial run take several pictures with you – your first choice and then a second (and possibly even third) choice. Any good stylist should be able to tell you up front if your first choice of hairstyle will look good on your face shape or not.
  • Take your veil and accessories (earrings, necklace, etc.) along to your trial run to make sure the style works with them.
  • Take lots of pictures at the trial run so you and your stylist can remember exactly what it looked like.
  • If you’re not happy with your style, tell your hair stylist as soon as possible. Don’t hide it from them. It’s your big day and they want you to be happy. Most likely they can do a few little tweaks and get it how you want it.
  • Whatever type of hairstyle you choose to go with, make sure you are comfortable with it.
  • After your trial run, if you can, try on your dress to make sure the whole look works!


Here are some tips for your wedding day:

  • Wear a button down or zippered top on your wedding morning when you go to get your hair and makeup done. This will be much easier than pulling a shirt off over your hair. There’s nothing worse than trying to maneuver out of a small neck hole while keeping your tresses intact!
  • If you’re getting an up-do, don’t wash your hair that morning. Hair that is a day or two old will hold styles better. Freshly washed hair won’t hold curls as well or tease as well.
  • If the rest of your look is simple, consider using a hair accessory such as a flower or sophisticated headband. This can add some high drama to your look. However, don’t go overboard. If you are wearing a statement necklace or an elaborate dress, skip the hair accessory as it may draw attention away from the other piece.

Now relax and have fun during this special time! Happy planning!

Wedding Tips for A Blended Family

blended family second marriageMost people know they’ve fallen madly in love when they’ve spent enough time around their partner to feel comfortable, safe, and loved in return. But what happens when there are other feelings to take into account other than just the two of yours? A blended family may face certain challenges other relationships won’t, including how to take the next step in the relationship when you’d like to tie the knot!

First, let’s cover what a blended family is. A blended family is a couple who is together who also has children from previous relationships and perhaps the current relationship.

The Stylish Occasions team works with a wide variety of couples, and we want to celebrate the blended families we’ve worked with. If you and your partner are working to weave together your families seamlessly, we’ve compiled some advice for what to do when creating your unique wedding ceremony. 

We’re assuming by this point, you’ve either met your partner’s kids or you’ve introduced your partner to your kids (if not, check out this helpful article on how to meet your partner’s kids).

Keep the Kids in the Loop 

Nothing will make the kids feel more left out and alienated than not being included in the wedding plans. They need to be made to feel secure and valued, and that includes on the wedding day. It’s a busy, stressful day for everyone, including them, so be sure to clue them in to what’s going on and what their role will be the day of the wedding.

Document Your Love (ALL of Your Love!)

blended family second marriage

This couple decided to give puzzle piece key chains to their kids during the ceremony to commemorate them coming together as a new family.

Depending on how old the kids are, ask them to be a part of your engagement photos. Have fun together as a family goofing around and taking photos. When you get your proofs back, pick one and order a print (or several, or better yet: create an album together!) to hang up in your home. It will serve as a constant reminder you’re all in this together and excited for the future. Share your photographs in real life with your loved ones!

Let Them Shine

It can be easy to get caught up in the love you have for your partner and your excitement at starting a new life together, and that is TOTALLY acceptable! It is your wedding, and you should be throwing in some elements that feel like YOU.

Just don’t forget to let the kids have some time to shine on the day of the wedding!

Here are some simple ways to let the kids creativity shine to create a perfect blended family wedding ceremony:

  1. Let them contribute to the playlist! They’ll love hearing their song come on during the reception and getting to dance to it.
  2. Get them to help you DIY your decorations. Put your kids to work if they are the crafty-type!
  3. Let them pick a piece (or all) of their attire for the wedding day.
  4. Let your kids pick some menu items if they are foodies! We’ve seen some weddings do a late night French-fry bar for guests, and it was a huge hit with young and old.

There’s so many ways to make sure your kids are included on the day of the wedding. Get creative!

Acknowledge Your Blended Family During Your Ceremony

blended family second marriage

This couple had a sand ceremony with sand for each of them as well as the groom’s son to pour during the ceremony to signify them blending together.

Depending on the ages of the kids, you’ll have to get creative with how you incorporate your blended family into your wedding ceremony. If you have an older child, maybe put him or her in charge of the rings. Some of our families have had a family prayer circle during the ceremony, or have planted a tree as a ceremony to show unity in their family. Pick something special to you, your partner, and your kids.

Through the planning process, don’t forget to carve out time for just the two of you. It’s important to invest in one another so you can invest in your family.


The StylishO Team wants to hear from you! Do you have a blended family? What suggestions would you give to those getting married who will be bringing together two families?