Alternate Sites

Outdoor Reception

When a bride asks about ideas for a non traditional wedding site, before we offer suggestions, we ask how flexible she is.  Planning a wedding at an outdoor site requires arranging two sites.  One is the prime location and the other is an alternate.  The weather has been known to ruin many original plans. Don't let that discourage you from having the wedding you want, but do have backup plans in place. An outdoor site can be a perfect spot for those of different religious faiths.  It is a perfect choice for couples who love the outdoors or have families with extensive gardens or grounds.  Often outdoor sites are less expensive than closed venues.

The intimate setting of a chapel, beach, park or backyard offers the freedom to add personal touches to the ceremony.  The location will set the theme for your wedding celebration and once selected make many subsequent choices easier.  Canopies, tents and gazebos may be rented and needed.

Once you have secured Plan A and Plan B. other plans and decisions will flow more easily.  Decorations, food, refreshments, entertainment and guest list will all be governed by the location decisions you have made.

It is good to have another viewpoint and advice on the unusual celebration that you have in mind.  Give me a call at 815-979-7214 or email at



Centerpiece Choices


Seen at current weddings - a variety of centerpiece options which complement the theme of the wedding and/or reflect the couple's search for "something unique"! For fans of the traditional floral arrangements, there is the assurance that given the right color combo and size, guests will feel right at home with the idea of flowers on the table that complete the look of elegant special occasions.  Flowers work beautifully as long as the arrangements are either low enough (under 12-14 inches) or high enough (at least 30 inches) so that guests can converse across the table - or at least see each other.  Formal arrangements in glass or silver containers send one message, while daisies or sunflowers in canning jars send another.

With the changing view of wedding cakes, many brides are opting to make dessert the centerpiece of guest tables.  Cupcake trees, lollipop cakes, cookie and dessert bar assortments and miniature versions of the bridal cake make perfect centerpiece options.

Guest favors artfully arranged on glass trays work well when accompanied by thank you notes from the bride and groom.

Candles of varying height and shape arranged on mirrors make a wonderful centerpiece for each table and their accumulated impact is wonderful.  However, be sure to check the reception venue's heating and cooling system.  If a lot of air is going to be blowing over the tables, your candles won't last long.  If your reception is in a tented area, think about LED tapers that look almost real.

Some brides have made the wine being served with dinner an integral part of the centerpiece.  With some greenery and/or wrapped cheese miniatures the different bottles make an intriguing focal point.

Collect a variety of glass serving pieces and fill them with beverages (or water) the theme color of the wedding.

Photos of the bride and groom as children framed and grouped in the center of the table, work well as centerpieces and conversation starters.

For more good ideas, give me a call at 815.979.7214 or email me at


Rehearsal or Not?

Wedding Chairs

Unless you are planning to elope or get married by a judge in his/her chambers, you and your wedding party are going to participate in a wedding rehearsal.  Even if you have been a bridesmaid in six weddings of friends, this is your wedding and you will want a run through. What are the things you will want to cover:

  • The order of the processional and recessional: who goes with who and who stands where and for how long?
  • Where the photographer and videographer will be located as well as any musicians who may be part of the ceremony.
  • What music will be played - when and for how long.
  • Who will cue the wedding party to enter and exit.
  • The officiant's instructions and cues for vows, reading, music, and movement.
  • The duties of the flower girl, ring bearer, best man and maid of honor.

Who will run the rehearsal?

  • It is usually handled by the wedding planner you have been working with and/or the wedding coordinator from the church or synagogue where you will be married.
  • The officiant will have input and the final word.
  • You may want to ask a family member or friend to oversee the rehearsal to make sure all the questions are covered, but be careful not to choose someone who could be at home on a battlefield.  These are not orders to be given, but friendly and caring requests.

You are about to star in the biggest "show" you've ever been in.  No show goes to Broadway without weeks of rehearsal.  You are only asking for your bridal party's attention for one hour or so and then they will be fed and thanked at your rehearsal dinner.  Make both parts of the evening festive.


Contemporary Traditional


DO these two terms seem contradictory?  At one time they may have, but more and more couples are looking for ways to place their personal stamp on their wedding plans.  The term “unique” is heard more and more as brides search for ways to make their weddings memorable for them and their guests.

We have a lot of ideas on how to do just that so contact us about ways to personalize your wedding ceremony and reception.

  • Consider replacing the traditional bachelor or bachelorette party with a get together that combines both events.  Consider a hike, beach party, bike ride, cook-out, softball game or evening out at a skating rink or bowling alley.
  • Rather than hold the rehearsal dinner at a typical restaurant’s party room, book an art museum, a university facility, a park or a historical building to serve as a special setting for your event.
  • Supplement your florist’s handiwork and creative reception décor with native wild flowers, leaves, twigs, fruits and herbs from a local grower or farmer’s market.
  • Some brides have decided to let their bridesmaids select their own gowns based on a color scheme and degree of formality.  This works well when you admire their taste in clothes.  It is wise to get some guidelines – degree of coverage desired, tailored or fluffy, plain or elaborate, length, etc.  But within those parameters, maids, can choose their own wearable outfits.  Many bridal salons have several designers who can work to truly individualize a bridesmaid’s gown within the “look” of the wedding.
  • If you have a unique reception venue chosen consider hiring a local chef you admire or a culinary school to put a special spin on your reception menu.  Think about including family food traditions that may be important to both the bride and groom.  If you can’t afford a sit down dinner, there is nothing wrong with having a desert reception or a small plate limited cocktail reception and wedding cake.


Your GREEN Wedding


More couples are choosing to have an Eco friendly wedding.  And while the idea seems appealing, many do not know how to go about staging such an event.  We have some EXCELLENT ideas to share with our brides who want to “go green” on their big day.

  • Plan to stay local.  Choosing a venue that is closest to the majority of your guests enables a maximum number of people to save gas and commuting time while helping you to celebrate.  If you also work to utilize one location for ceremony and reception, you can save even further.
  • Check with a Certified Planner (Accent on Events) for help in identifying Eco friendly venues.  We will know about energy efficient locations that practice recycling and other green procedures.
  • Search out organic, local catering firms that specialize in serving season foods and beverages.
  • We can also assist you in locating organic gardeners who specialize in locally grown flowers and greenery.  Choose in season flowers and consider re-purposing the floral pieces you’ve chosen for the ceremony site and using at the reception.
  • We can help you choose Eco friendly print items.  We have resources that specialize in 100% recycled paper and use non-toxic inks.
  • A number of wedding gown designers have included Eco friendly fabrics in their designs.  Fabrics like organic cotton, bamboo and peace silks are available and lovely.  Some brides lucky enough to have access to heirloom gowns are choosing to wear them and updating them with headpiece and accessory items.
  • Many couples are choosing natural gift items for favors.  Currently popular are tree seedlings, organic bulbs and plants.
  • Wedding gift registries are showing gardening, lawn and recycling equipment in the couple’s choices.
  • Even wedding rings can express concern for the environment.  Many couples are seeking the origin of the engagement diamond – refusing to purchase stones that are from areas that practice unsafe mining or which export “blood” diamonds.

Please contact us to offer you plenty of ideas to help you marry in green.

Inspiration Boards, Weddings

Be A Good Guest


An invitation is coming your way from a family member or a good friend or both.  It is an honor to be selected to help those close to you celebrate a wonderful part of their life.

If you RSVP with a positive response, you become an official guest at this party.  You will no doubt bring an appropriate wedding gift, but did you know that another gift you could give the couple is the knowledge of how to be a good guest, and the wisdom to use that knowledge.

Here is a checklist of do’s and don’t that can follow to insure that your behavior will not cause the couple to grimace on their 10th wedding anniversary as they recall events from their wedding.


  • Make sure to send your RSVP in a timely manner.
  • Arrive at the wedding at least 15-20 minutes before the ceremony is to begin.
  • Stay standing at the back of the church if you are going to be late.
  • Keep your cell phone on silent.
  • Dress appropriately.
  • Have fun dancing but do not call attention to yourself or your partner.
  • Respect the couple’s wishes even if they aren’t what you would choose.



  • Change your mind about attending.  Don’t cancel and then show up anyway.
  • Sit in a front row.  That is for immediate family only.
  • Text, tweet or blog during the ceremony.
  • Wear jeans or sweats unless requested by the couple.
  • Get in the way of the professional photographer doing his job.
  • Take ceremony or reception photos unless the couple approve.
  • Trash talk the couple’s choices.



Music to Celebrate


Selecting the music for a wedding ceremony and reception is an important consideration.  Music should frame the ceremony – not dominate it.  Picking the music should be an important aspect of the planning process. Make an early meeting with the officiator a must.  Churches tend to have constraints imposed on the kind of music allowed.  It is good to have that information early in the planning process.  Some churches limit the options by presenting the bride a list of music from which she must choose.  Others may opt to screen her choices.

If the bride wants a certain music that is important to her and/or the groom, and the church can’t /won’t play it, she has the option of diplomatically asking if she can bring in her own musicians.  More and more brides are requesting instruments instead of the “old” organ.  Some brides want to be lead up or down the aisle by bagpipes.  Others prefer the sounds of a string quartet.  Allowing sufficient lead time to clarify any issues around music is a smart move.

Brides must remember that music needs to be selected for the prelude, the processional, the ceremony and for the reception.  Musicians need to be chosen and booked early in the process.

Many budget conscious brides are opting to use MP3 players or other electronic media for their cocktail hour or as background music during dinner.

The bride should spend time researching her music.  Screen pieces, listen to CD’s and take advice from musicians you know.   Audition any musicians before hiring them.  Check references.  Volumes of advice and suggestions are available online.  Think about your personal preferences and music that matters to you both as a couple as you assemble your “must play list”.

Many couples are creating a CD of their favorite music and making it available as a thank you gift to their guests.

For other ideas about the role of music in your wedding, please feel free to contact us for assistance.


A Few Dont's


As society changes, so do the social amenities that prevailed.  But class is class and something we see done in the name of the “princess bride’s wishes” remain in poor taste. A bridal store reported having a bride ask how to let her guests know that she wanted all of them to dress in black or white or a combination of both.  Her wedding theme was that of a black and white ball and she didn’t want it ruined by someone in a blue suit or a colorful print dress.  The store gave her good advice – “You can’t.”  One doesn’t tell people what to wear anymore than one would tell a hostess what kind of food to serve.  The bride can control the dress of the wedding party, but that is all.  Shad heard the phrase, “It’s the bride’s day”, but had to learn that it didn’t mean everyone must bow to her wishes.  Friends can spread the word but no demands must be made.

Another store reported dealing with a bride who wanted 250 guests to attend her wedding but she planned to walk away from the ceremony and to save money, meet 45 of her favorite guests for a sit down dinner at a restaurant.  The advice to her was Don’t Do It!  She was advised that it would be far better to serve light refreshments to all guests following the ceremony.  This would give everyone a chance to extend their best wishes to the couple and socialize with others in attendance.  If she wished to celebrate with a special group of friends, she should do it after the official reception.  The guiding principle here is that a couple should never do anything to show preferences to one guest over another.

The same advice holds for brides who insist on adding corner copy to their wedding invitation that reads: Cash Gifts Preferred.  Granted, more and more couples would prefer cash as a help for a down payment on a house for instance, but that does not mean that it is ok to include on the invitation to the ceremony.  That kind of news needs to be spread by word of mouth by the bride’s family or friends, or may be included in the website if one has been created.  This kind of request is known in some circles as doing a “Kardashian”.

Let us help you solve puzzles and questions as they arise in the course of your planning needs.


Reception Trends


Reflecting both economic issues and generational trends, we are seeing some shifts in the wedding sites being chosen, the foods served and the size of the wedding itself.  We meet with brides who are asking for ideas for their “smaller but tasteful” weddings. These are some of the key ideas brides are embracing as they plan receptions.

They are trimming the guest list.  After creating a rough draft of all the possible guests and multiplying that number by the caterer/reception venue chef’s estimate per person costs, couples are balancing the guest list with their budgets.

Budget conscious brides are selecting other days and times than Saturday evening.  By selecting a morning or afternoon wedding and reception, there can be up to a 25% reduction in reception costs for food or beverages.  If the couple were to select another evening other than Saturday, the savings can be approximately 10%.

We are also seeing a change in foods served at evening weddings.  We are seeing trends toward smaller portions.  More couples are choosing to serve passed hors d’oeuvres and appetizers instead of a sit down dinner.  Couples are choosing finger foods – foods to eat while walking around and talking.

While couples will still have a wedding cake for pictures, it tends to be much smaller than those previously ordered.  In place of the large wedding cake, they are serving cupcakes, cake bites, cake pops on sticks and push cakes – all part of the “finger food” trend.

In some areas, dessert “stations” remain popular additions to the centerpiece wedding cake.  Brides have chosen cheesecake stations, chocolate stations, pie stations and sundae/frozen yogurt stations that feature mini root beer floats and ice cream sandwiches along with various toppings.

If interested, please contact Accent on Events to give you many more ideas to create the wedding that is smaller, more intimate and more reflective of your life style.


Gift Registries


Newly married couples have been given gifts for centuries. At one time, after the couple furnished their home, they were expected to return any practical gifts they received but did not use. Today’s couples are congratulated by gifts from friends and family and the gifts they receive help the couple stock up on the items needed to make a house a home. To truly value and enjoy the gifts that a couple will receive, we suggest that they make excellent use of bridal registries.

Don’t hesitate to register. Your guests really want to buy you something you want and will enjoy. Registering saves your guests time and keeps you from having to return duplicates. Don’t feel like you are “begging” for gifts. Rather, you are in fact, providing a welcome service to your guests.

Don’t wait until the last minute to register. Many of your guests will want to buy gifts well before the actual event. Some buy engagement and shower gifts from the registry as well.

Include your partner in the selection process so that the registry includes things that you both will enjoy.

Register at two or three places. This gives your guests a range of options without overwhelming them. Pick at least one specialty store, a mid-price supplier and an inexpensive retailer. It is recommended that your list include an equal number of mid-priced items and lower cost items and smaller list of big-ticket items.

Our experience has shown that brides who are planning large weddings should register for a lot of items which those who have smaller guest lists might consider registering few items.

You may wish to list your registry locations on your web site. But never, never, never, include them in your paper invitations.

For answers to more questions, contact us. We can guide you through the process and make very helpful suggestions.