cocktail-hour-tango-weddingsWhen I began my career, so much about weddings were different.  The bride and groom were usually sequestered in a room, not able to be seen until the beginning of the reception.  Once in the reception, they just walked around, talked to friends and family, collected envelopes and generally didn’t have much fun.  But how times have changed.  With the exception of one or two a year, most couples are joining in the fun of their cocktail hour, the purpose of which is to create anticipation of the celebration that is to follow.  And if you get to visit with most of your guests during the cocktail hour, you won’t necessarily feel the obligation to visit their tables during the reception.  But you need to move through the pre-function room with grace and agility to avoid spending too much time with one person, in order to be able to see everyone equally.  During our meetings, I usually advise my brides and grooms to do; what I have humorously named “The Cocktail Hour Tango”

  1. You must stick together as you greet your guests.  If you get divided, then you are conquered,  and may tend to spend five or ten minutes with people which eats up your time.  A loving tug or head flick will signal the other that it’s time to move on.3-steps-cocktail-hour-tango
  2. The tango consists of three steps;  (kiss-kiss)…(“Thanks for coming”)…(“we’ll talk more later”).  Then move on.  You can change the middle comment to (“it’s great to see you”), or (“you look great”) or (“please save a dance for me”), but it will allow you to end the conversation quickly and move to the next family member or friend.
  3. I have observed that people seem to ask the same questions…”Can I see your rings?” / “Where did you get your dress?” / “Were you nervous?” / “Where are you going on your honeymoon?” / “Where are you going to live?” / and the dreaded…”When are you going to have a baby?”.  Most people will understand your desire to see everyone and not be put off if you greet them and move on.
  4. Make no mistake, I am not and never will advocate for being rude to the friends and family that all came to help celebrate your wedding.  And there may be some more traditional guests like grandparents or elderly aunts that would expect a table visit during the reception.  However through the years I have seen the couples evolve into ones that want to be interactive and be a part of their reception and enjoy it.  The time goes so fast and my goal has always been to have my brides and grooms love their wedding and have the fondest memories and the best times.
  5. You should also make it clear to your maître ‘d about your expectations of service during cocktail hour.  If you want to be left alone to visit with your friends and family and let them get drinks and food for you that is fine.  But there should be a server assigned to take care of you and can supply you with periodic drinks and plates of food upon request, without being too intrusive.
  6. The best news is that if you find yourselves making it through the entire guest list, then you will be free to do what you want with the people you choose.


Eat, Drink and be Merry…Your Way!



Find out more on how you can start planning your dream wedding with Clarks Landing! Click here  or Call us for a free tour at 732-899-5559


We’d love to hear from you!

If you were a bride or couple who has advice on making sure you see everyone but still enjoy your own reception,  for future brides and grooms we’d love to hear from you. Just comment below! 


floor-plan-follies-clarks-landing-wedding-venue-njA key ingredient to the success of your wedding is the wedding reception floorplan, or, where your friends and family are sitting.  There have been a few snafus of late, so I thought I could shed some light on this stressful, but not impossible subject. So here are some things to think about when you are planning your wedding floorpan.

1. Your guest list, the venue floor plan, and your escort cards must all be the same.  This is up to you, or your wedding planner, or in some cases the parents; but it is essential.

Your Guest List – If you number the invitation responses before you send them out, then you will know who did not respond OR who responded without filling out the response card.  Also if someone responded with a guest or their children and they weren’t invited, then someone has to make the sometimes awkward call to notify them, that unfortunately your budget did not allow for guests and/or children.

The Venue Floor Plan – We use a great program called  “”  to create your event, invite you to it, and then you can download your guest list to  “ drop and click” to make your tables.  You should always follow the venues format for size of tables, location of tables, and any forms that need to be filled out.  We are all trying to make your wedding a magical, stress-free day; but I need the tools to do it.

 Your Escort Cards or Escort Board – in either case, they should be in alphabetical order.  Everyone looks for their name, but no one will look for their table, obviously because they don’t know where they are sitting.  Individual cards should have the name of the invited guest on the top line, and the table number below it.  Fonts should be large, bold and easy to read.

2. Every venue has its own policies about seating, floor plans and room set up.  If you trust your venue, then understand that they have been through this hundreds of times and know their space the best.  Don’t change table numbers, move tables around, assign too many people to a table, without clearing it with your venue.

3. Check before you provide table numbers.  You may have 15 tables, but that doesn’t mean that they will be sequential at the venue.  A big part of our service is that we always know where each table is, and the numbers don’t change.

4. At some point there WILL be changes…people drop out for various reasons, family who couldn’t come originally, plans change and they can now attend.  Communicate frequently with your wedding planner or venue to keep them up to date.  It astounds me how many people bother the couple with their personal problems just days before the wedding.  At some point you will need to let it go and don’t worry about less people at a table if someone cancels.  I feel so bad for brides that walk in the day of their wedding with place cards, hastily written, for last minute adjustments.

5. If you are savvy with technology…great.  But if you are a tactile person, that has to see and touch things, you can get piece of poster paper and draw squares on it.  As your responses come back, write the name in a square with pencil.  As responses come in, you will begin to see the tables forming themselves as you write names of people that are related, or that will naturally sit together.  When a square reaches the maximum you want or allowed by the venue, then start a new square.  Don’t even look at the floorplan until all your squares are filled with all the people on your guest list. Then assign a table number to the square.

You can always avoid the Floor Plan Follies with a little time and effort.

Happy Planning!



Find out more on how you can start planning your dream wedding with Clarks Landing! Click here  or Call us for a free tour at 732-899-5559


We’d love to hear from you!

If you were a bride or couple who has advice on your seat planning for future brides and grooms we’d love to hear from you. Just comment below! 


oh-say-can-you-etsySites like Pinterest uthornd Etsy have opened up a new world for couples that want to personalize their weddings.  Every type of favor or knick knack can be personalized and monogrammed to suit your theme and the sky is the limit for do-it-yourselfers and your imagination.  But there’s a caveat that comes with so many extra details to be taken care of, and that is to not let the extra details and their execution get in the way of the basics that your vendors need to make your wedding run smoothly.

I have received actual pictures with measurements and placements of pictures, sign in books, signs, etc. only to find that the floor plan was different from the guest list, which was different from the seating cards.  Lack of song lists and picture lists hamper the dee jay and photographer to know what you want and results in last minute scrambling or leaving important decisions up to us.

Most top notch venues and vendors will provide you with tools to help us make your wedding run right and they are as important to your wedding as where to place favors, or pictures, or monogrammed coat hangers, to name a few things.  We all want your wedding to be the day you dreamed of that’s stress-free and enjoyable for your friends and family, but most important assuring that our couples are happy too.

If the details are beginning to make you feel like you are under the wave, it may be time to hire a wedding planner, or confide in your venue that you need help.  That’s what we are here for.


Happy Planning!


Find out more on how you can start planning your weekday dream wedding with Clarks Landing! Click here  or Call us for a free tour at 732-899-5559


We’d love to hear from you!

If you were a bride or couple who chose to use ideas from Pinterest or Etsy we’d love to hear from you. Just comment below! 

The New Trend – A Weekday Wedding or The “Off-Day” Wedding


Finally! A wedding trend that actually saves you money! 

The new trend according to people magazine, the New York Times, and abc news, weekday weddings are the new thing in the wedding industry! Before you think we’re absolutely nuts, consider this – Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden, Kerry Washington, Nnamdi Asomugha, Eddie Redmayne, Hannah Baghshawe, Ashley Tisdale and Christopher French all got married on a weekday! Abby Larson, the founder and editor of Style Me Pretty, a popular wedding resource website, sees these celebrity decisions as part of a larger wedding trend: the “off-day” wedding.

The truth is, a weekday wedding is so much more affordable then the traditional weekend wedding. Many couples have found they now can actually have their dream wedding at their dream location/venue if they opt in for a weekday wedding. Most wedding venues offer discounted rates on weekdays and lower minimum attendance, which means less out of your pocket book!

A weekday wedding might not be as inconvenient as you think. In fact, as many adults, especially millennials, are moving away from the traditional 9 to 5 work schedule and seeking out more flexible schedules, the work week has changed dramatically and so have wedding expectations. Weekday weddings are becoming less and less ‘rude,’ as they’ve been called in the past. Many now see them as a nice reprieve and for many – a break from the normal work week. Any excuse to take a few days off of rest and relaxation (can we say mini vaca!) especially for out of town guests. It makes it a true “off day” for everyone.

Always remember, it’s YOUR wedding, and while you want to make things easy for your guests, in most situations it’s you and your partner who are paying the bill. In reality, if you’re truly looking at it from a strictly cost savings point of view, flights and hotels for out of town guests are much much cheaper during weekdays and almost all vendors offer lowered weekday rates if you ask.

If a weekday wedding is something that you are looking into, look no farther than Clarks Landing for your weekday dream wedding!

We were recently noted in an interview by new Jerseys radio station 101.5 by one of our brides Kaitlyn Foster who chose a Thursday Wedding, you can read here .

Find out more on how you can start planning your weekday dream wedding with Clarks Landing! Click here  or Call us for a free tour at 732-899-5559


We’d love to hear from you!

If you were a bride or couple who chose a weekday wedding we’d love to hear from you. Just comment below! 


The Honor Of Your Presence

I came across an old wedding invitation the other day and focused on the parents of the bride requesting the “Honour of Your Presence” to attend their daughters wedding.  I wondered how the host and hostess of a wedding feel when they look around at the tables of guests, knowing they have paid a lot of money for them, and worked on a seating plan to have the perfect mix of people and personalities; only to see a good amount of  people texting, watching sports games, talking on their phones, and playing some sort of game.  [Read more…]

Wedding Professionals?

I always give a suggestion for our couples to look at our recommended wedding professionals.  They were hand selected by our management team as those we like to work with, that like to work with us, and are gracious and fair to our brides and grooms.

But there are plenty of other wedding professionals that do wonderful services here.  And when you are not a familiar face to us, I would think you would do your best to make a great impression, which is not always the case.  With wedding season winding down, here are a few things that have really bothered me over the past 10 months.

-While it’s great that you bring a freshly cleaned suit or tux to work in, I would think the least you would do is throw the hanger, twist ties, plastic bag(s) in the trash and not leave them hanging up in a stall where a guest will eventually go.

-The vanity basket that the brides provide are for her guests.  I am astonished when I see a vendor opening chewing gum, using spray, or taking mints that are in the basket.

-Your work area should be left the way you found it.  Glasses, dishes, silverware should be given to a server who will take it to the kitchen, not left on a window sill or floor.

-We are not your garbage truck.  Papers, discs, tape, and worst of all batteries are left all over the table or floor.  We will get you a bag to dispose of it all.

-I would not go to your house and stand on, or move your furniture and I do not expect you to do it in mine.  It’s ironic that a photographer or videographer run around with a thousand dollar camera, and yet can’t invest in a $20 step stool.  And if you do move furniture, which you should only do with the venue’s permission, have the decency to move it back to it’s original space.

-I don’t know any job where you can drink while on the clock and yet sometimes I have to take alcoholic drinks away from vendors.

-Photobooth debris should be picked up, ink cartridges, broken props, picture shards, feathers, etc.  Again, you should leave your work area the way you found it.

We try to treat our wedding professionals respectfully and I believe we are all there to give the bride and groom the best service they will ever receive in their lives and make their day an unforgettable one.


Wedding Killers

We’ve all seen it; both as guests and as wedding professionals.  The party is going full force…music pumping, dance floor full, lights blazing and then all of a sudden…like someone let the air out of a balloon the party fizzles out.  Well, here are two reasons why:

1) The bride and groom leave their party.  Friends and family look to the bride and groom and their wedding party to lead them in the dancing and festivities.  If they can’t see you on the dance floor, chances are they won’t go out on their own.  If you smoke, run out for a quick puff, but don’t spend 20 minutes outdoors socializing while your reception on going on in another area.  This is your day, and you ARE the center of attention.  It goes so fast, savor every moment by staying in the venue with your family and friends.

2) Group pictures.  Nothing kills the momentum of a party like 40 or 50 people leaving the room all at once to go take a picture.  Insist on getting these done during cocktail hour or after the ceremony.  They are rarely used in your album, so consider eliminating them altogether.

Weddings have a life, a birth, a beginning, a middle and an end.  Make sure you nurture your wedding with your presence and some good planning.

Is Your Wedding “Wearing You?”

I’ve learned a lot from those ladies on “Say Yes To The Dress”.  They talk about the bride wearing the dress and the dress not wearing the bride.  I have been thinking about that this season as I see couples hire a dee jay with 6 people, a photographer with 4 assistants and a videographer with 4 assistants.  In a massive venue with a lot of pre-function space and vast ballrooms, it seems to work.  Clarks Landing from the start was designed as an elegant seaside mansion that would be yours for the day to celebrate your wedding with your friends and family.  As our “Best of the Best” recommended professionals would attest; I normally don’t interfere with them doing their jobs, because they have been selected and “fit” our venue.  But over the past few months I’ve had to ask a videographer to move;  who was laying across the aisle such that the bride and groom and the wedding party had to step over him to walk down the aisle.  I had to ask a photographer to move as she was taking pictures of the bride and groom during the toasts…who was totally blocking the best man and maid of honor giving the toasts.  I made a photographer move when I saw the mother of the bride standing on a chair to see her daughter dance with her father because the photographer and videographer were standing in front of them.  Four of six entertainers were in the rest room changing and using the brides vanity basket items that she had provided for their guests.  Later, they were getting a soda at the bar during their break, totally blocking the guests from getting access to the bar while they were hanging there.  And each time, they got annoyed and made me feel like the bad guy.  With 14 plus professionals, I began to feel that the bride and groom and their families and friends were being swallowed up.  Everywhere you turned, there was a camera, a light, a video, a dee jay or dancer in your face.  These types of professionals are fine for a large expansive venue, but really become burdensome for a smaller, more intimate one.  My advice?  Make sure you know how many of each professional is coming with each additional service you book.  Consult with your wedding professional at the venue for advice, because we truly have seen it all.  Make sure that YOU are the only stars that shine on your wedding day.

Cigars & Weddings…Smokin’ Hot or Better Not?

A lot of Dads and Grooms supply boxes of cigars or have a cigar roller for their weddings lately.  The idea of a celebratory cigar is not new but there is some controversy as to the execution of it.  I really loved the time a cigar roller was in our lobby during cocktail hour and provided cigars is varying scents and flavors, all tied up in a neat little favor bag for both men and women to take home. He even had a special flavor in honor of the bride and groom.  But here is the controversy…when all the men decide it’s time to smoke their cigars…they all go outside the building; light up and stay out there for an extended time it takes to finish the cigar.  This takes a significant amount of the male population out of the reception at one time and for a long time.  This causes the dance part of the party to be compromised as well as everyone from the girlfriends up to the bride becoming annoyed that they are outside smoking instead of being inside at the reception.  Given the usual 4 hour life of a reception after the cocktail hour…to be gone for 45 minutes to over an hour is a lot of time to spend.  I have been trying to talk my couples into putting the cigars in the lobby on the way out, so there is no chance to smoke them until after the reception; and that seems to solve the problem.  Just wondering what the feeling is in the public eye?

Marsala…to drink or to wear?

So we attended this amazing wedding conference in Washington a few weeks ago put on by the incomprable and learned that the trending color is Marsala.  Of late I seem to have seen deep purples, vibrant magentas as trending colors but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a color like this.  I am an old fashioned traditionalist that loves bright colors to pastel hues, yet I find a black and white wedding totally elegant.  What are peoples thoughts on this brownish color, or is it a deep wine?  Not sure.  And yes, I’m a guy writing this with limited fashion sense, in case you’re wondering.