Whether it's planning the rehearsal dinner or the reception, there is one pervading consideration: cost.
Before the bride and groom decide on a theme, a venue or level of formality, wedding planner Jill Waldman, owner of The Main Event, recommends setting a budget.
"Always start with a budget," she said. "Once you know how many people and how much you can spend, then you can start planning."
The rehearsal dinner
Far from being an antiquated tradition, rehearsal dinners still are a mainstay of weddings. What originated as an opportunity to rehearse the ceremony has grown to be a pre-wedding party, a family-to-family meet and greet or just time to relax as a group before the big day.
"Rehearsal dinners are great because people from both sides of the wedding party can get to know each other in an informal setting," Waldman said. "It makes for a more intimate, warm wedding."
The cost of the rehearsal dinner traditionally is the responsibility of the groom's parents, though sometimes it is borne by the bride and groom.
What it entails is determined by the budget. It can run from $10 to $100 a person, Waldman said, depending on whether it is a cocktail party, finger-food only, barbecue, buffet or fancy dinner.
Originally, rehearsal dinners included only the wedding party and close family. Now, Waldman said, the sky's the limit. She's seen rehearsal dinners attended by the entire guest list.
"It's customary and very nice for the family to provide wedding guests something to do before the wedding," Waldman said.
Most restaurants in Craig and Steamboat Springs can accommodate a rehearsal dinner. Book well in advance to ensure room is available and to discuss pricing and menu options.
There are four musts for every wedding reception, Steamboat Springs wedding planner Lindsey Grannis said. They are flowers, music, food and drink.
"If a person has a drink in their hand, food to eat and music to dance to, that's all that matters," she said.
The wedding reception has three main components: the cocktail hour, dinner service and the formalities. The cocktail hour is about one hour, during which guests arrive at the reception site. If the ceremony and reception are held at the same place, guests are escorted to the cocktail area. This time period allows the bride, groom and wedding party to finish their photography before beginning the evening's formal activities. Guests typically enjoy passed or buffet-style hors d'oeuvres, hosted beverages and light musical entertainment. From the cocktail hour, the guests are escorted into dinner. After they find their seats, the formal, traditional festivities are ready to begin. The festivities may begin right away with a grand entrance and continue throughout the meal and remainder of the evening.
There are several traditional components of a reception:
The Grand Entrance into the reception is done at the beginning of the evening and typically while the guests are seated in the dining area before the meal service begins. Traditionally, the bride, groom and entire wedding party are introduced. However, the current trend is to introduce only the bride and groom.
Toasting may take place during the cocktail hour, if the bride and groom are present, before dinner or throughout the evening. If you are serving multiple courses, toasting between the courses is a nice way to keep the party in motion.
The bride and groom traditionally do the first dance. The first dance may be done immediately after the grand entrance, after the meal or at any other time during the evening. After the first dance is over, the dance floor is open to any others who would like to dance.
At some point in the evening, guests usually expect to see a father/daughter dance. The bride and her father take the dance floor for a song.
Often done later in the evening, the cake cutting no longer is done to signal the end of the evening but rather the start of the party. The bride and groom cut the cake together and usually feed each other a bite of cake.
Bouquet and garter toss
These two traditions are being cut from the modern wedding reception, but should you choose to do it, the bouquet usually is tossed first with the garter to follow. The entertainment and photographer lead the bride and groom through these activities. Some brides toss the bouquet just as they enter the limo for the grand exit.
The cost of the wedding reception generally is covered by the bride's parents or the bride and groom.
When planning the reception, Waldman starts with the budget and number of guests and then determines the details. She recommends that the venue provide as much as possible "for budgetary and convenience issues."
The same location options exist for the rehearsal dinner and the reception. Either can be held in someone's home, a hotel, a restaurant or outdoors.
"There is more flexibility with the rehearsal dinner because it's not a wedding, it's a party," Waldman said.
Steamboat Springs caters to "destination weddings."
In Craig, although there are several locations, there are few that do not have to be catered. The Holiday Inn is one.
The hotel and restaurant can accommodate approximately 225 people for a full-plated dinner.