Trending Now: Your Gut! Use what we call The Disney Effect To Plan Your Wedding

clarks-landing-blog-weddingtrends-disney effect-wedding planning njThis time of year, we are inundated with every wedding and bridal site telling us what the current trends are.  Everything from the colors, foods, style, music are dictated to every wedding professional, bride and groom.  And many of them are great suggestions.  However, my golden rule is to rely on your gut for the true wedding that you want to have and dreamed about.  For instance; I am seeing that strapless gowns are “trending” for 2017.  But if you’re a full figured lady, you will spend the entire night doing what I call “The Jersey Yank,” where you insert a hand in the front of each side of your gown and yank it up.  Paperless “save the dates” and wedding invitations are becoming popular.  But if you have older friends or relatives, they would be expecting a paper invitation, especially if they are not tech-savvy. All the decision mixed with trends make brides to be feel overwhelmed and lost on what to do. I recommend using the Disney effect.

When you try on a dress, there is usually one that makes you feel like a Disney princess and makes all the people that went with you start to cry.  That’s your dress.   There are many beautiful venues in our state with great food and service, but when you are shopping venues, there will be one that will immediately start your imagination of seeing all the plates and forks dancing and performing a Hollywood show stopper like Beauty and the Beast’s “Be Our Guest”.   Shop your photographers and get the feeling of which one’s style and personality suits yours.  You should view their work and imagine yourselves in the poses you are viewing. You might love club music and a dee jay may have every song you like, but a great entertainer will play to all of your friends and families tastes.  Can you deny your grandparents some Frank Sinatra if they wanted to dance?   It’s a thin line at times because you want the day of your dreams but you are also playing host and hostess to all of the people who are special to you, and you want to give them what they want as well.

The Disney Effect is your gut feeling.  We often discount our gut feelings and try to work towards a logical practical solution, but that’s not what your wedding day always is.  Follow all the trends to be fashionable and current, but follow your gut and be happy and have the wedding of your dreams.


Did you have a decision you struggled with while planning your wedding? But decided to use your gut? We’d love to here from you, Comment Below.

Are you a Vendor…or a Wedding Professional?

vendorThe end of a busy wedding season always brings reflection. I thought about a conversation I had with a good entertainer friend who said that he didn’t like to be called a “vendor”; that made him sound like a machine that dispenses music. I took that to heart because everyone involved with a successful wedding works so hard, so I have been trying to change my reference to “wedding professionals.” Our “Best of the Best Wedding Professionals,” are, in my opinion, the finest in the industry and I love working with each of them and always encourage our new couples to check them out. After 130+ weddings this year I don’t always see our preferred professionals and I am compelled to ask…”ARE YOU A VENDOR…OR A WEDDING PROFESSIONAL?”

I always talk to our professionals to see what we can do to make their experience here more efficient or what we can do to help them work better. And I have some notes about things I’ve seen, none from our professionals, that would make a much more positive impact on the wedding and each of our experiences with each other.

  • I would not come to your house and move the furniture around and I expect the same consideration in mine. We really want you to get the most perfect pictures you can and almost always give the ok, but sometimes certain pieces are antiques or have some special conditions to be addressed before pushing them out of the way. Also, move everything back to where you found it. We do not have time to follow you around and straighten up after you made a mess of our setting. And this particular pet peeve of mine involves standing on my chairs to take pictures. Buy a $25 step stool from K-Mart for gosh sakes. Can’t tell you how many times a guest sees the photographer just get off their chair and recoil that they have to sit in their good clothes on the seat you stood on with your dirty shoes or smelly socks.
  • Setting up and breaking down is hard work, but if you are in view of guests, professionals should be dressed. I faced this problem myself so we got black crew tee shirts for the staff and now they look good serving or setting up. It really sets a cheesy tone when, as the last song is played, everyone rushes and changes into the most ragged tee shirts, ripped jeans, and torn dirty sneakers. When we are “on stage” we should remain “on stage” until all the guests have left. Work attire is a dicey topic, but I feel that if you want the title of professional, you should dress the part. Again, I see the best of the best rolling around on the ground or standing out on a dock in dress slacks, shoes and looking decent the entire night. Jeans, torn clothes, worn sneakers, and unkempt hair are just unacceptable attire for me.
  • During the ceremony it’s not only about getting “The Shot.” I view my preferred professionals, out of the way, at the end of the aisle filming or taking shots with cameras with the appropriate lenses, and I work with the best. Then there the ones that stand with their camera in the couples face, blocking parents and a majority of guests view of a special part of the celebration, pushing them out of the way to get “The Shot”. There should be consideration for the parents especially, and the friends and family to be able to see the ceremony, dances, and toasts.
  • Leave your workspace the way you found it. It astounds me how much trash like batteries, water bottles, coffee cups, tape, ink cartridges, photo clippings, etc. is left on tables or floors. Recently after a band left, it took one half a large trash bag to clean their area.
  • One of the most offensive things I see is that some vendors feel that they are allowed to drink. I don’t know many jobs where you are allowed to drink, unless you are a beer or liquor taster! I don’t drink when I am at work and neither should wedding professionals. We should always strive to be at our best, sharp looking and sharp thinking. Pilots, doctors, train conductors all have strict provisions about drinking and I believe what we do for our couples is as important to them as that.
  • In return, We try to treat our professionals as guests. I will amend my schedule to accommodate a sunset, or photo request. We serve a meal the same quality as a guest would get. I will always let a band or dee jay, play that extra song or two. I invite you to join the cocktail hour if time permits.

I am so looking forward to an exciting 2017 and working with all the wonderful people in the wedding industry. Let’s all continue to make magic.


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 are one of our Best Of The Best Wedding Professionals, who has advice for other professionals we left out… 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! 

Keep Calm and Enjoy Your Wedding

I think generally, friends and family feel honored to be invited to a wedding and come acting appropriately.  But there are those select few, like younger people who have never experienced an open bar before, or older guests with a known alcohol problem, or someone with an axe to grind that come with the specific intention to overindulge.  There is no wedding that I would like to remember that was defined by an incident that took place during the reception by an invited guest.  We are very sensitive and committed to not only holding up the states liquor laws, but also the integrity of your reception.  I really appreciate when a couple or their parents make note of a potential problem and communicate it to us discreetly.  Nothing has to be said, or noted to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but a few extra eyes on a situation can often prevent a scene from occurring.  Our managers, mixologists, and many servers have been through professional alcohol management classes and trained to notice such things.  Don’t be afraid to speak up to your wedding professionals.

My “Weekend”

So every Friday, most of America gets up with excitement because they only have one day, eight hours left until the weekend begins.  For them it might be some leisure time, time with the family, getting chores done, etc.  My Friday is like most peoples Mondays.  I get up knowing that I have three plus weddings to run.  Three times to make couples dreams come true on the most important day of their lives, here at the Jersey Shore.  When I walk into Clarks Landing Yacht Club, I never cease to marvel at how beautiful the lobby, cocktail room and ballroom are.  I get a view of the Manasquan River and see sunsets that most people have to come here to see.  So while many people look at working weekends as the biggest drawback of the wedding business, I see it as a great honor to be entrusted to usher these fine couples from single to married life.  I am truly thankful and blessed to be a part of this amazing, wonderful part of the tradition in America.

Don’s Tip- Remember…nothing is perfect and there may be something that will go wrong on your wedding day.  Put whatever incident it is into perspective; will it affect your marriage and your life together?  Probably not.  You can deal with it at a later time, enjoy your day.


Please Be Seated

Seating assignments or “escort cards” as they are called, seem to cause a lot of unneeded problems.  Here are a few hints…

-Your guests don’t know where they are sitting, but they all know their names; so escort cards should always have the name of the invited guest first and foremost and the table number underneath.  So many times I set up an escort table and see a sea of table numbers with the names underneath.  I know, it will take twice as long for friends and family to navigate the sea of numbers to find their name.

-Flourishy fonts are beautiful, but in a dimmed venue, it makes them impossible to read.  Choose a large, easy to read block letter when possible.

-When handing in escort cards to your venue, alphabetize them by the last name of the invited guests.  I see so many times, that the couples group the guests by the table they are sitting at.  As I said in the earlier comment, everybody knows their name, but not many know their tables ahead of time.

Just a few thoughts to make your wedding planning easier!


Many of our brides and grooms have gotten pets together long before children, and long before they are married.  Many want them to be a part of their special day.  Unless you are having an outdoor ceremony, many venues will not allow pets because it violates health and sanitation laws.  If you are outside, you have to know your pet.  If they are not used to crowds, how will they react when paraded in front of 150 plus strangers?  They can get nervous and soil your dress or tuxedo.  If someone is assigned to walk them up the aisle as either the “ring-dog” or “Dog of honor”, they should be promptly removed to avoid barking, soiling, or crowd reactions.  Do you have any guests that are afraid of dogs?  They would be very uncomfortable if one was running around.

Some cute things I have seen at Clarks Landing is to name a specialty drink in honor of the dog and put his or her picture on the sign displayed at the bars.  Some dogs can be captured in ice if you are having an ice sculpture.  You can make a donation in lieu of favors to a Humane organization.  My favorite was a display of little boxes with dog biscuits in them.  They had a sign made with the dogs picture and an offer to all guests with pets to take one with them for their pet.

Remember, logic prevails.  The fact is that the dog won’t know if they were at the wedding or not, and it’s always best to consider the comfort of your pet over theatrics any time.

Timeline Trauma

Since starting hosting weddings, I have seen a lot of changes through the years.  One major one, and I think it’s a good one, is that the bride and groom are more interactive with their reception.  Back in the day, the couple was kept away for the cocktail hour, made a grand entrance, danced, then visited tables.  It was over before they knew it and frankly, didn’t have any fun.  Now, they join cocktail hour, using that as a way to say hello to everyone, still make a grand entrance, dance, but then they party with their friends and family.

I know the timeline is done differently in different parts of the country, but I am committed to the opinion that all introductions, first dance and parent dances, blessings and toasts should be done in the beginning of the reception.  Reason being is that most of the guests are full from cocktail hour and can digest their food and relax before the main meal is served.  They are seated and pay attention to what is going on.  I think the first dance and parent dances are very special parts of the reception and when they are done later in the night, many guests are drinking, milling about and want to dance.  It takes so much time to stop the party and get everyone’s attention and you lose valuable dance time and stop the pulse of the party.

The bride and groom should have a pleasant but firm chat with their best man/maid of honor about the toast.  It’s a toast and not a roast.  “Roasts”, with their long speeches, props, powerpoint presentations should be done at the rehearsal dinner.  “Toasts”, which is a best wish for the bride and groom’s happiness should be short, sweet and to the point, and always end with a raised glass.

Are Sunday Weddings the New Return To Traditional Family Dinners?

I risk dating myself here, but I remember when Sunday was family day…stores were closed, few people worked and we spent the day visiting or hosting family dinners.  The world has sadly gotten so much more complex, but I have been feeling lately that couples choosing to have their weddings on SUNDAYS are providing somewhat a return to those traditional family values.  Usually everyone will gather at church or a designated ceremony site, then travel to a reception venue where fun times are shared with family and friends.  Because of our magnificent sunsets, our weddings usually occur earlier anyway.  And if you end at 9:30 or 10:00; your guests will have plenty of time to get home and receive a good nights sleep before work on Monday morning.  And if you have the right combination of venue and entertainment, you will have the feel of a Saturday night.  Sundays usually tend to be the most affordable days for weddings, which is like the cherry on the sundae, so to speak.  Call us and arrange for your visit to Clarks Landing Yacht Club and watch us make the magic that is your Sunday Wedding!

Saying yes to the dress?

This will be a touchy subject to write about, being a guy.  I understand from thousands of weddings how important the gown is to the whole day.  I’ve watched a significant amount of “Say Yes To The Dress” segments to further understand.  Back in the 60’s it seemed like the brides and grooms were more like a cake top couple…they didn’t dance much or eat much, but rather walked about the room receiving their guests and talking to people.  The music was a lot different then as well.  There was much more slow, touch dancing, even to the current music of the day.  With the onset of Rap and Club music, there is also a new style of dancing, much more fast, requiring much more movement; and most brides and grooms of today want to enjoy their weddings and party with their friends and families.  After the ceremony, pictures and the bustle is done; the gown attention should minimize.  But I am seeing it become the center of attention for a different reason…it keeps getting in the way of the bride having fun and dancing.   The bustle gets torn off or ripped, the tuille gets torn and stepped on and I often observe the bride hanging the train over her arm, or just letting it hang, uneven and ripped as she dances and goes through the customary parts of the wedding.  And with the expense of a gown, if and when the bride changes into a cocktail party style dress, I feel like all that money was wasted to purchase the gown, or worse if she just takes a sisscors and hacks the bottom off, it’s ruined!  And you know what?…I don’t have an answer for this so I will throw it out there for discussion.  Is it time for a new genre of bridal gown to emerge?  Should gowns be sold as a set…one for the ceremony, one shorter for the reception?   I doubt you will be able to talk a bride into not dancing or having fun at her wedding, but I really feel bad when the bride has to go fix her dress multiple times, or just hacks it up taking so much time away from the celebration.  I’d be interested in hearing some comments on this one!