14 Stories
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Weddings Redefined

Travel Guide: The Breakers in Palm Beach

We stayed in the Imperial Suite at the Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Florida and had an amazing experience at this property. The Breakers is a historic, Italian-Renaissance hotel located on Palm Beach with sweeping views of the Atlantic. It's one of the most extraordinary hotels in the entire country. 

As you drive up to the property you can immediately tell that the architecture and design is unparalleled. As you walk through the lobby and experience the architecture of the property your eye is drawn to the incredible detail work and extraordinary care that the team does to maintain this beautiful aesthetic. Our stay in the Imperial suite was absolutely exceptional. This is truly one of the nicest suites in which we've ever stayed in in any hotel in the world (and you can imagine that we've stayed in some exceptional properties). The balconies overlook the Atlantic and provide dramatic views that any couple would be thrilled to wake up to. 

There are numerous numerous wedding locations where you can have your ceremony and reception throughout the property but none are more extraordinary, in my mind, than the Circle Ballroom which is a nice size for 100-200 guests. The wedding team at this property know the property inside and out and have planned some very elaborate parties! I led them in a short training to help prepare them for same-sex weddings and know they'll do a great job with yours. We can't wait to bring couples here to experience the Breakers service. Your whole friends and family would enjoy every second of your gay wedding on this property. 

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Bernadette Smith
Using Your Home for the Wedding
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In theory, there are some nice advantages to planning a wedding at your home or another private residence. The home could have a special meaning to you. You could save on a venue rental fee. You are not limited by an eight hour rental period and can set up and break down at your leisure. The party could go all night if you want. 

But don’t be blinded by the advantages and think through these potential obstacles before making your final decision:

  • How is your septic system? Can it handle 50 or more guests? Do you have 2 or more restrooms that guests can use? Will you have to rent portapotties or a luxury potatpotty trailer? 

  • How is your parking situation? Is there enough parking for all of the vendors in the driveway. What about the guests? Will you have to hire a valet or rent a lot and provide shuttle service? 

  • Is the home big enough for everyone to be inside for dinner and dancing? Or will you require a tent? Are you prepared to deal with the damage that tents (and the tent delivery truck) cause to the lawn? 

  • Is there a good spot on the property for a wedding ceremony? What if it rains? 

  • Are there any noise ordinances in the city or town where the wedding would be held? Are there nosey neighbors or neighbors who would call the cops to complain about noise? 

  • Is there a large kitchen onsite? The caterer will have a lot of food to warm up or prepare and will need plenty of counter space and ovens. If you can’t offer that, the caterer may have to set up a catering tent and/or rent convection ovens. 

  • How many amps of electricity does the home have? Are there some circuits with available power? If you are bringing in a tent, the lighting and heating of the tent requires significant power. If you are bringing in a DJ or band, they require significant power. So does a nice portapotty. Find out if you have enough power to provide or whether you will need to rent a generator. 

  • Is the home in an area known to have poor drainage in the event or rain? Is it especially buggy in the summer and if so, can the property be sprayed? 

In general, unless it’s a very well equipped property or a wedding smaller than 50 guests, I advise against holding a wedding in someone’s home or on their property. The logistics can get very complicated and I would definitely suggest that you hire a wedding planner to make sure that all of these details are covered. 

Please use a caterer for your wedding in a private residence. Don’t rely on your friends, family or let alone, yourself to prepare food. If you need to, you can prepare the food in advance and rent wait staff and bartenders to serve it – but please outsource at least some of this for your own sanity! 

Are you planning to get married in a private home?

Bernadette Smith
Building Your Wedding Team
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Planning a wedding is an extraordinary team effort.  In fact, the average wedding has 43 different vendors.  That's a pretty big team. How can you tell if a vendor is the right fit for you?  In addition to the obvious (LGBT-friendliness), pay attention to the following things when you're meeting with them:

  • Does the vendor listen more than talk?

  • Does he or she seem flexible or rigid?

  • Does he or she support your ideas or shoot down your ideas?  

  • Your gut instinct.  Do you just click?

Many of my clients' weddings require vendors to think outside the box and be creative.  Some vendors are always used to doing things the same way every time.  I like to push the envelope as you can see from the work above.  One of our favorite "team" members is Ladyfingers Letterpress who designed the beautiful invitations you see.

What do you look for when hiring a wedding vendor?

Bernadette Smith
Imaginative Wedding Entertainment
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I was sitting with clients recently and we were talking about the flow of their gay wedding in New York.  I have this four page questionnaire I go through a few months before the wedding with our big wedding clients.  The conversation went something like this:

Me:  Are you having a first dance?
Them:  Nope
Me:  Are you having anything tossed?  Garter and bouquet are the typical things.
Them:  No
Me:  Are you dancing with your parents at all in any formal, announced way?
Them:  No
Me:  Are you cutting anything on the dessert display (this wedding has no wedding cake)?
Them:  No

All of these are fairly common answers when we're planning a gay wedding, though.  After all, those are traditional elements and many of our clients love the opportunity to be non-traditional and reinvent what weddings should look like!  And you completely have permission to do so!

The problem with those answers is that when we take out so many things, there is a lot of dead space and time.  The guests get bored and heaven forbid, the wedding ends early.  I believe it's very important to add things back in that are conversation starts and memory makers...

Here are some examples that we've experienced, have recommended or are recommending:

  • photobooth (the obvious example)

  • drag kings/queens 

  • some dance performance (fire dancer, salsa dancers, tango dancers, burlesque etc) 

  • caricature artist 

  • casino  

  • psychic (see above photo by Kelly Guenther Studio) 

  • cigar bar (if the venue allows it) 

  • aerial artist

The experience doesn't have to detract from the wedding or all the time spent dancing.  If it's a performance, keep it short, 1-2 songs MAX and keep it upbeat and appropriate.  

What are you doing to add some conversation starters and entertainment to your wedding?

Bernadette Smith
A Cocktail-Reception Style Wedding
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Cocktail party style weddings are very trendy right now, particularly with couples who want to do something nontraditional. While sit down dinners are great, they are not for everyone. This style of wedding can work extremely well - or it can be a disaster. Keep these tips on mind to avoid the pitfalls of such a wedding.

1. Feed your guests - a lot. Just because it's a cocktail party style event doesn't mean you can skimp on food. Whether you have passed hors d'oeuvres all night or some good stations mixed in, keep the food flowing. Your food budget will probably not be less than a typical sit down dinner, so get that idea out of your head!  Your guests may be drinking more of the hard stuff since there's no tableside wine service with dinner so you have to keep them well fed. The last thing you want is guests bad-mouthing you because they had to go out for pizza on the way home from the wedding.

2. Provide enough seating. I suggest seats for at least 50% of your guests. These seats can be lounge seats, small cocktail tables, bar seating, picnic benches or whatever floats your boat - but at some point each guest will want to sit so don't leave them hunting for a chair.  If you have many guests over the age of 60, then provide even more seating.

3. Provide adequate flow. Just because it's a cocktail party doesn't mean there shouldn't be a first dance, toasts, a cake cutting or other forms of entertainment. You may have some wallflowers in your group who need conversation starters and those elements do just that. Don't let anyone get bored or the party will end early. I promise.

4. Be aware of time. Most wedding venues rent for a 5 hour reception.  Your guests will start to lose steam at the 3-4 hour mark unless there is dancing - but many cocktail party style weddings don't have dancing.  Don't tell the guests this, but plan for a 4 hour reception and make a game day decision to keep the party going if guests are still having a blast. Tell your vendors that this could be a last minute decision and assign your wedding planner or friend to make the call so you don't have to worry about a thing.

5. Communicate with your guests. Let them know it's a cocktail party rather than a sit down dinner by using the term 'cocktail reception' on your wedding invitation. This sends a signal that they may get less food and that they may want to wear more sensible shoes because of all the standing around. Help everybody by managing their expectations.

Are you planning to host a cocktail reception instead a formal dinner?

(photo by Kate McElwee)

Bernadette Smith