Picking The Right Reception Dining Service Style For Your Day!

Hello lovelies!

Photo Credit: Jillian Rose Photography

The New Year is in full swing and many of our clients are in the midst of nailing down the details of your wedding meal. We’re kind of foodies over here at Marisa Nicole Events and LOVE a good meal, so we’re here to help make sure that yours is super yummy and a wonderful experience for you and your guests. As you start finalizing your overall wedding vibe, guest experience, counts and financial figures, one of the items you will need to determine is the service style for your wedding feast. There are a few different options you can choose from, each having their own elements to consider depending on how formal you want your reception to be and your budget. Here are some pros and cons to all dining styles to make sure that your reception is full of delicious food and fun!

Photo Credit: Hello Studios


If you are on a tight budget, buffet is typically the way to go for your wedding meal service style as it tends to be the most cost effective. One thing we really like about this service style is that your guests have the option to put whatever they desire on their plate. Guests with allergies or food intolerances can avoid food they do not want and overload on what they love. Another element to consider is that your guests will need to get up to get their meal and try as we may to control the flow so the line isn’t super long, there is almost no way to completely avoid people standing in line waiting. Therefore, if you are having a relaxed reception and want people moving around, a buffet might be just the ticket. However, if you’re looking to create a formal affair where your guests are spoiled and their every need is attended to, then a buffet would not serve the overall vibe of your wedding day.

Photo Credit: Cami Takes Photos


This is a spin on a buffet, but where different food items are available at various locations throughout the reception space. Depending on where you are getting married, this is often a more expensive option than a traditional buffet, as you need more food and more chefs to execute. As with a buffet, we love that guests get to choose what is on their plate. Also, it gets people up and moving, creating a casual dining environment. However, since the stations are spaced out throughout the reception, you don’t have to deal with the big buffet line that is often a wedding meal downer. Another thing we really love about stations is that it provides a bit of a wow-element as the guests interact with the chefs as they prepare their food live. I mean how fun it is to choose exactly what you want on your pasta, or to choose your own cut of meat from a carving station!

Photo Credit: Jillian Rose Photography


Having a plated meal is typically the most formal option, as guests are served their meals restaurant-style right at their seats. Additionally, since the catering team is present within the dining area throughout the meal, your guests will receive more table service to help attend to their food and beverage needs throughout the evening. Plates normally include a protein, starch and vegetable. One thing to consider is that it will require for you to request guests to indicate their meal selection ahead of time on their RSVP card, which you will then have to indicate on each guests’ name card for the catering team. Unfortunately, sometimes guests forget what they ordered and this can create confusion or shortages (even with well indicated and well displayed place cards). Another thing to consider is that since guests do not have access to the food that goes on their plate directly, they will be stuck with whatever is in the meal he or she ordered and won’t be able to go back for seconds. However, this is the go-to for most weddings, and is often considered the most classy way to go.

Photo Credit: Iris & Light Caterer: Tres LA Catering


This service is a formal option as well, and tends to be the most expensive service style… and of course, we love it the most (we are gals with fancy taste, what can I say…). Part of the reason why family-style has become so popular over the past five years is because it combines all the pros of the other service styles. Like buffet and stations, it allows guests to choose what is on their plate, but without having the guests get up to load up their plates. Servers will still bring all the food to each table, but because guests need to pass platters back and forth, it encourages a friendly environment between guests.

Photo Credit: Braedon Flynn Photography

Whew, now that we have walked you through each of the major wedding meal styles, we hope you feel equipped to determine what would be best for your celebration. Each service style has their own sets of pros and cons, and financials are just one of those components. Remember that each caterer will price their meals and service styles differently, so the data in this overview is just a general idea how things typically breaks down. And in the end, whatever style you choose, as long as you are happy with your choices and your caterer serves quality cuisine, your guests will be content and ready to get up and shake it on the dance floor!

Photo Credit: Iris & Light

Resolutions for 2017 Brides!

Hello there, lovelies!

The New Year is just about peeking over the horizon, and we’re all dazzled up with excitement to welcome in 2017! With all the glitz, fizzy drinks, and resolutions, there’s no shortage of anticipation for good things to come… including a fabulous wedding day! For those of you who will be tying the knot in the coming year, we want to give you a few little tips going into 2017…  Here’s our 5 Bridal Resolutions!

Resolution 1: Accept the help!

Many times brides will turn family and friends down when they ask if there’s anything they can do to help with the big day. Let people help you if they offer!  Many hands make light work in making your wedding a success, and you’ll be glad you did. Delegating jobs, tasks, DIYs, and roles will make your life much easier (plus keep picky mamas or curious aunties busy and feeling important)!

Photo Credit: Brittany Griffin

Resolution 2: Be you on your wedding day.

Many brides go into the wedding process with big plans to be “sweating for the wedding”. We’re all for staying healthy and fit, but making any kind of drastic body change right before your wedding is never a good idea. And by drastic, we mean extreme workout regimens, dieting, a new hair color, or visits to the tanning salon. Otherwise, years down the road, you’ll look back on photos and either be pining for your crash dieted body or wonder what you were thinking when you got that spray tan. We get that you want to look your best, but you also want to look like yourself. Be beautiful you!

Photo Credit: Kim Fox Photography

Resolution 3: Go easy on yourself.

As humans, we tend to be quick to compare ourselves to others, and we totally get it. It’s very easy to compare your wedding planning and design to what you’ve seen on Pinterest, Instagram, wedding blogs, at the weddings of friends, etc. Don’t be too hard on yourself if something doesn’t come out as fantastic as you pictured.  We want you to remember that in the end, it’s going to be you and your sweetheart’s wedding day, nobody else’s… which leads into our next resolution.

Photo Credit: Lin & Jirsa Photography

Resolution 4: Keep your eyes on the prize.

The most important resolution is to not get so caught up in the planning, prepping, and coordinating that you forget who you’re marrying. Don’t let creating the most beautiful wedding in the world get in the way of your relationship with your fiancée. Remember that the goal here is to be married, not have a wedding. In the end, it’s all about you two together.

Photo Credit: Iris & Light

Resolution 5: Enjoy it!

Making decisions, working with family, and planning complications can get stressful, but just be in the moment. If you’re not having a least a little fun during the process, it’s time to take a deep breath and a step back. You can never get back this exciting time of preparation, so try to be present and enjoy each moment.

Photo Credit: Jillian Rose Photo

We hope that you will remember these tips going into 2017, especially if your wedding is just a couple months away! Cheers to your very special day coming up very soon, and to ringing in the New Year!

Photo Credit: Emily Millay Photography

Let’s Get This Party Started: Picking the Right DJ For Your Day

Good morning friends!

A wedding is about celebrating two people joining their lives together and telling the story of their love (I know, sounds cheesy, but it’s true). It is a time to celebrate, which often includes plenty of dancing (I mean who doesn’t love good music and letting loose on the dance floor). Although we love a good band, many couples opt to hire a DJ for their dance party for one of two reasons: they prefer for the music they choose for their day to be heard in the specific format in which they first fell in love with the song and/or it is a better financial fit for their budget (as a DJ is usually about a quarter of the price of a live band). With that being said, the style of the DJ you select will set the tone of your entire party, so it is important that you choose the right one. To that end, today we’re sharing a few guidelines on what to discuss during your entertainment consultations to help you find the perfect DJ for your celebration.  Your first step is to compile a list of potential DJ’s to consider for your day. We usually send these out to our couples, but if you don’t have a planner, then do some research, get some referrals, and then choose two to three DJ companies to meet with for consultations. During those meetings, be sure to cover the following items! Without further ado…

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Photo Credit: Iris & Light

Music Selection

Be sure to talk music with each of your potential DJ’s! Let them know the kind of music you are interested in playing at your wedding and get a sense of what they are drawn to. Try to determine what kind of musical chemistry you have. The vibes for any party is determined by the music that will be played throughout the night. The idea is not to hire your musical soul mate, but that you choose someone that gets what you are going for, is happy to take your music taste into consideration and is excited to execute the kind of style you are looking for.

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Photo Credit: Iris & Light

Communication & Process

Communication is important in every relationship, even one with your DJ. Understanding how they would like to be reached and what their expectations are prior to the event can help alleviate a ton of stress in the final stretch of your wedding planning process as you are communicating your song selections and musical desires for your day. Don’t forget to inquire regarding how much freedom they tend to like in terms of the actual music being played. Some DJ’s are happy for you to choose just about every song that is played, while others see what they do as an art and (other than the songs for specific moments like your ceremony and first dance) want you to allow him or her choose the music throughout the party based on the general genres that you like. Take some time to consider your own personality and how intense you are going to get when it comes to choosing the specifics of your dance party music and be sure to choose a DJ whose process will work well with yours.

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Photo Credit: Dennis Kwan Photography


Prior to your DJ consultations, be sure to think through in which areas of your venue sound is needed and then share this info with each prospective DJ. Most DJ’s will offer different packages that come with different items and speaker set-ups. When choosing a DJ package, make sure to gain an idea of what equipment comes with each option (such as the different kinds of mics they have, how many speakers, lighting, etc.). Some DJs also offer extra rentals such as up-lights, draping or dance floor lighting. Be sure to identify the equipment and rental options you are super interested in (and the ones you can do without), along with the number of speaker systems needed so you can get a strong price point at the end of your meeting (see far below for more on this).

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Photo Credit: Booth Photographics

Master of Ceremony Services

Don’t forget that your DJ company will serve as the voice of your wedding. He or she will be the one to communicate any and all important information to your wedding guests! Some couples want a DJ who is more communicative, making jokes and hosting the night throughout. While others want a DJ who will talk only when absolutely necessary. Most couples want something in between the two extremes. Take some time to think through the kind of personality and style you would like your DJ to have. Be intentional about getting a feel for the personality of the DJ you are considering. You need to have a good “gut” feeling about their style so that you can make sure they would be a good fit for what you want in an MC as well as a DJ. Side note – we at Marisa Nicole Events like to avoid the overly talkative DJ and go for the one who communicates with party goers in a clear, strong, concise yet friendly manner. We think it is important that your DJ be remembered for the good times he or she provided throughout the party and not for their charisma or wit.

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Photo Credit: Lukas & Suzy VanDyke Photography

Packaging, Pricing, Logistics

When looking at the packaging options, look for how many DJ’s come with each package and how much equipment is offered with the package. To help figure out what you will need, talk through the layout of your venue and what you will need from them. This way, you will know what package is suitable for you by determining if everything you need is included in that package. Keep in mind that every DJ’s hours of operations can be different. Some will charge by the hour, while others will charge for the day. So check and see how this will fit into your DJ package.

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Photo Credit: Iris & Light

When picking your DJ, the most important thing is to make sure you feel confident that he or she will be able to keep the party going the way you want it to. With these tips in mind, you will find the right DJ to help set the tone of your party and keep the celebrations going all night long! Once you find the right company, book him or her right away or the DJ you have come to love could end up getting scooped up by someone else!

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Photo Credit: Kim Fox Photography

Budget Beginnings – Tips On Determining How To Appropriately Allot Your Funds

Hi Lovelies!

When planning a wedding, Pinterest and all those lovely wedding blogs inspire big dreams and make everything look possible. But before you start delving into your next DIY project or hand over half your wedding budget to book that vendor you simply must have, it is important to get all your financial ducks in a row so that you know how much you should plan to spend in each area. Throughout the planning process, money can prove to be your best friend or your worst enemy. If you spend too much in one area early on, your budget can be in some serious trouble later when you still have five more vendors to book and very little funds left to do so. To help you figure all this money stuff out, this week we want to give you a few tips and tricks to tackle the daunting task of appropriately budgeting funds for your celebration.


Step 1: Determine Your Total Wedding Budget

You’re engaged, congrats! After the champagne has been poured and the well wishes have been bestowed, before you make a single plan for your day, you need to connect with the people who will be helping you throw this shin-dig to find out how much money you have to work with. It is super important that you have a firm idea of what your total budget is for this celebration prior to creating your guest list, determining your venue, or booking any vendors.


Step 2: Utilize the Marisa Nicole Events Percentage System

You have a number (or a range) of how much you and/or your families are able to contribute to your wedding. Huzzah! Once again, we beg you to hold off on booking anything! Take your overall budget and apply the guide below to your finances to determine how much you should plan to spend in each area. You will notice that we are giving you percentage ranges, not hard numbers. In this system, our base numbers equal 100%, however, we know that every couple is distinct and will choose to value certain sections of their wedding more than another. It is for this reason that we have kept our breakdown fluid, so that you can choose to spend more or less in an area depending on where that section lands in your hierarchy of wedding priorities.

  • Hair & Makeup: 2-3%
  • Transportation: 2-3%
  • Cake/Dessert: 2-3%
  • Lighting & Sound: 4-5%
  • Dress & Accessories: 5-7%
  • Tipping: 5-7%
  • Venue Rental: 5-10%
  • Entertainment: 5-10%
  • Video & Photo: 8-12%
  • Flowers, Linens, Decor: 10-15%
  • Planning, Design, Coordination: 10-15%
  • Food, Beverage, & Functional Rentals: 40-50%
  • Extra Cushion: 2-3%


Step 3: Pick a Venue That Fits Your Budget

To pick a venue that fits within your budget, we encourage you to evaluate the total costs of the venue location fee, food, beverages, and rentals. If these items combined equal less than or equal to 50% of your budget, then having a wedding at the location are you considering is a viable option for your budget. All venues set up their packages differently. Some will come with the caterer and all rentals, while others will come with nothing. Before you book, it is important to glean an estimate of what these costs will be so that you can determine if this venue is in or out of your budget. Once you have selected a venue and evaluated these costs, you will be ready to create a more detailed, line-item budget for your wedding.


We’ve only scratched the surface on the inner workings of budgeting for a wedding, however, with these steps we know you will be well on your way to a fantastic day that actually fits within your budget!