Add a Personal Touch to Your Wedding with a Slideshow


PC via Mark Alison on IG: @markalison

Planning on your reception being memorable and special? Of course you are!  But, the details and planning of how the guests will experience it brings up many questions and is vital to the overall success of the day. If they arrive before cocktail hour, what will they do?  What will they do during the down time before the arrival of the wedding party? How can you share memories of yourselves with new family members? A slideshow can be your solution to entertaining and connecting family members and friends with you and your spouse through funny and meaningful photos of you two throughout your lives.

What You’ll Need

When you are searching for wedding venues, ask the venue if they have a projector and screen you can use for a slideshow. Most do have a projector that either comes with the venue rental or requires a rental fee. However, knowing if there are extra costs will help you plan out when and where the show will be displayed. This will also help you figure out what other materials (extension cords, table, screen, etc.) you will need. You will also need a laptop to run the slideshow, so make sure you have access to one and definitely make sure you have the right adapter—no one wants to be running to the nearest Best Buy at the last minute to buy an adapter!   

Once you have the projector, computer, and screen ready to go, it’s now time for the fun part—getting together all of those photos of you and your future spouse! You can put this task on a few people since going through pictures may require legwork, but your family and friends will be happy to help you. You could set up an evening with some family members and family members-to-be and have a picture party. Grab some pizza and wine and you have an instant bonding sesh! Involving family and friends in this process will give them the opportunity to contribute!  PLUS – it will be a good conversation starter at the wedding when they see the photos that they picked up on the screen.

What Kind of Photos

As far as what photos to choose for the slideshow, side-by-side baby photos, school/graduation photos, prom photos, etc. are a fun way to show you two growing up and changing. You can also use candid photos, awkward pre-teen photos, family photos, engagement photos, photos of you and people in the bridal party, and basically anything that would connect to family members and friends. Bonus points if you include photos of you and people who will attend your wedding!

How will you arrange your slideshow? You can use iMovie to arrange the photos and layer music in the background, and be sure not to use funky transitions that could be overwhelming! Choose a couple songs to play in the background—make sure the songs aren’t too slow or too fast, because that could be distracting as well. Aim for 5-7 minutes (which won’t be too short or so long that it starts to drag.

How to Get It Right

On the technical side, don’t forget to make a backup file in case one gets damaged. Store these on a flash drive or a cloud storage system like Dropbox, Google Drive, or iCloud. Test-drive the slideshow while you’re setting up the day before if you have access to the projector then. Designate someone to run the slideshow—often DJs take this responsibility because they will be playing the music/making announcements at that time. Do not put the responsibility on anyone in the wedding party or yourself—you won’t have time!

After you have done the legwork in getting the slideshow put together, then you can rest easy knowing that your reception will have one personal touch. Guests will love to see photos old and new on your wedding day.  After all, the day is about connecting with new family and friends and old.  Slideshows are also a great way to start that union with bonding over memories! You and your guests will remember it for years to come.

 

Looking for other fun ideas?  Check out our post on fog screens!

5 Steps to Top Notch Event Lighting

Choosing colors is always a fun step in planning your wedding, but deciding how that will look in the final product can be intimidating.  Do you use colorful flowers?  Or maybe incorporate lighting?  Are your tables bold, while bridesmaid dresses are subtle?  We are here to help!  You can use them all.  Here are our expert tips for achieving perfect event lighting:

Lighting

Black Tie

Red

5 Steps to Achieve the Perfect Event Lighting

1)  Decide what color scheme you want for your event:

This is easier said than done!  Deciding what colors you want to use for your big day can be tough, but relaxing and having fun will make the process completely manageable!!  First, remember colors invoke mood, theme, and feelings, so keeping that in mind as you decide will be a great guide for your “gut”.  Choose 2-3 colors that you think reflect the mood you are going for (and make sure they complement each other), then choose an additional 1-2 colors that will help make the palate well-rounded.

 

2)  Decide if you want your color choice to be the main color or just an accent:

When choosing a color, or color palate, you must decide what the main color is going to be and what colors will play the “supporting role”.  You can choose BOLD as your main color with a soft accent or vice versa.  Do you want Dramatic or Calm?  Glamorous or Casual?  Striking or Elegant?  So many choices!  Below are a couple of examples to help you get your creative juices flowing:

A Romantic night in Paris with Royal Blue as your Lead and Gold as an accent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tickle your guests Pink and go with something more feminine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Classic Black & Silver (Black & White or Black & Red) for a sleek and sophisticated look

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have seen a wide array of color palates (even some unexpected choices) and they all seem to come together to dazzle the wedding guests in the end.  Don’t be afraid to try colors that are a little unconventional either!  Have fun with this – choosing your color is Stage One for planning your Special Day!

 

3)  Choose table settings:

Now that you’ve chosen which colors are going to work best for your them, you’ll be able to start the decoration process!  Before you choose your lighting color, you’ll want to design your tables first. This is another fun way to let your personality shine through for your guests to enjoy your celebration!  Huge flower arrangements, vintage photos, or simple candle stands, are all option you get to consider!  While you are the director of this show, out talented team is happy to make suggestions that will enhance your decision process.

Many of our clients choose table cloths and slip covers for the chairs – accented by glamourous table decor, while others prefer a tablecloth with a simple big bow around the back of the chair.  What’s your style?  Tuscan Night or Cadillac Cowboy?  Black Tie or Jeans and Cowboy Boots?  This is your special day, make it your own! Plate chargers are available in a variety of colors and styles, as well — Have fun with this process!!!

 

4)  Light Up Your Night!

Blue with silver or gold?  Black with champagne or white?  Eggplant with ivory?  Fuchsia with orange?  Red with black?  Perhaps all the colors of a Fall Bouquet?  There are endless possibilities!

Now that you have chosen your 4-5 colors and designed your table around them, it’s time to think about lighting.  Lighting can make or break a reception and venue space!  Do you want the color to immerse the room in emotion, or are you feeling confident in your table settings?  You can add a lighter color to keep the room feeling clean and fresh, or you can complement your color choices by doubling down on your theme!

 

5)  Test out the intensity against your design:

This is where you get to see the final product!  Bringing all your choices together for a Sneak Peak at your creative genius!!!  Don’t like the tall vases, bring them down a notch.  Think the orange is too much with the purple?  Change the accent color.  Want a softer look?  Add some warm lighting.  Our Design Consultants can help you achieve your goal.  So get started and choose your colors!  Then let your dream wedding take flight!

 

Happy Planning and remember, we are here to help!!! 

Reserved vs. Open Seating at a Wedding

 

 

Do We Need a Guest Seating Plan? What are the pros and cons of reserved seating vs. open seating at a wedding?

We get asked these questions all the time. Our answer to the seating plan is always, YES, unless it is a small intimate wedding. Let me explain why. We know it sound stressful and like a lot of work to assign every single guest to a table, but our experience shows us that the guest experience is much better when there is a plan and feelings don’t get hurt.

 

You may ask, “If we rent the exact number of chairs as our guest count, why would there be any problems if we just have open seating?” One of the first things that comes to mind is that “people will be people”, and everyone is afraid of missing out on what they perceive to be the best table. We’ve seen the mad rush happen too many times into the dinner reception room, and if your immediate family is taking photos, they may end up sitting in the corner. Secondly, it never works out when there’s open seating for large weddings unless you pay to have a few extra-decorated tables. The reason is because families come in odd and even numbers; if a family of 7 sits at the last open table, and there’s a family of 4 left standing who can’t fit seats together, they will complain that there is nowhere for them to sit, even if there are seats available at several other tables. Make sense?

Elaborate Guest Seating Poster

A seating plan will ensure that couples, friends and families who want to sit together, can. Elderly guests will also thank you, as they may not want to sit close to the speakers or far from the bathrooms; they also appreciate sitting where they can see and hear the formalities. Although some guests may not get to sit exactly where they would have preferred, assigned seating will greatly reduce the amount of unhappy guests and create an overall better guest experience. Keep in mind, that guests can always move around if they please or squeeze in a few people from another table too.

 

 

A Sweetheart Table or Large Head Table For The Entire Wedding Party?

More often than not, your wedding party members will have spouses, dates or families they would like to sit with during dinner. This is why so many couples choose a sweetheart table over a large head table that only includes their wedding party. A nice alternative is to have the sweet heart table in the center, and tables on each side of it assigned to your wedding party and their significant others. This option keeps everyone close by the married couple, and gives the wedding party the opportunity to enjoy their families also. Believe it or not, the married couple does not sit at their dinner table very long. Typically the couple gets bombarded with loving guests who want to congratulate them; they will then eat, and eventually get up and begin visiting each table fairly quickly.

 

However, many brides have dreamt of a large head table with their entire wedding party on each side of them. If this is something that is very important to you, it is absolutely your preference to choose this option. A long, beautifully decorated head table is always a wow factor and main focal point of the reception room. It’s your choice.

 

Family Seating at a Wedding

 

Families come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s not uncommon for divorced parents to want their own tables. This is another plus for creating a seating plan. Every couple’s situation is unique. If both of your parents are friends, they may want to all sit together in front of your table. If they are close to the officiant, and there are several grandparents, you may choose to have two or three tables near your table. It’s best to work this out with your venue and draw up the floor plan at least a month prior to your wedding to begin thinking this through. The farther in advance you start thinking about this, the less stress you will have as you approach your big day. Get your Mom’s involved, if it becomes too stressful, they will be thrilled to be involved and help you with your seating plan.

 

 

How to Assign Guests to Dinner Reception Tables

 

As for the rest of your guests, it’s always best to put people together who know each other, or who have common interests and would enjoy sitting together. The main thing to remember is that the dinner segment doesn’t last all night. Eventually your goal is to get your guests up and on the dance floor or actively involved in your celebration, so don’t stress too much about the seating arrangements. Set a plan, and remember there may be some guests sitting with people they may not know very well. It will be ok! If your table is centered in the middle of the room, everyone should have a great seat. If your head table is at the far end of the room, it will be more challenging to keep the guests happy who are at the back of the room. Keep this in mind before choosing a venue.

 

 

Seating Plans for Children

If you have children yourselves, you may want to seat them with you at your table. However, many times they have more fun sitting with cousins and grand parents since you will be pulled in many directions. Although the idea of a kids only table, with coloring books and fun activities sounds like a great idea, most of the time children won’t remain at that table when dinner starts. It’s sort of like Thanksgiving where they want to sit at the “big table.” Most children want to sit next to their parents instead of at a kid’s table in the corner. This doesn’t mean they won’t visit the kids activity table at some point in the night to draw or do activities, so it’s not a bad idea to still have a kids activity table.

 

Seating Chart, Place Cards or Escort Cards?

Once you’ve gotten your final guest count completed and figured out where to put everyone, all you have to do is decide how to guide guests to their seats.

 

A Guest Seating Chart or Poster

One of the easiest ways to do this is with a Guest Seating Chart that is placed in a highly visible place during the cocktail hour.

 

Usually displayed alphabetically near the entrance of the reception, seating charts provide a large visual of all guests’ names with their designated tables. This option is the least stressful in our opinion, as it doesn’t require you to type out every guests name on a card and figure out where they will sit at their table. We provide a template for our couples that they can fill out, and then we send it off to our local printer for them. We display it in the cocktail reception on an easel, and the guests simply read their name on the chart or poster and look for their table number. You can also choose to make this a DIY project and create your own. The venue director or DJ/Emcee will inform the guests how the table numbers are arranged before they begin seating everyone.

Guest seating poster_Bella Sera

Guest seating chart DIY

Place Cards

These tented cards can be used along with an escort card or alone. Displayed in alphabetical order on a table near the entrance of the reception, they usually include the guest’s name and table number. Once at the table, guests can select their own seats.

Escort cards at platinum bella sera wedding

 

Escort Cards

These are the most formal, and take the most work. Used in the most formal seating plans, escort cards usually contain the guest’s name on the outer envelope, and their table number on the inside card. Place cards will then be placed at each place setting at each table, designating their seats.

 

 

Before creating your seating plan, ask your venue coordinator for the floor plan for your total guest count. You can experiment with various arrangements before making your final decision for where to seat everyone. When in doubt, trust your instincts. Anticipate some last minute changes to happen, as this is just part of planning an event of this magnitude. If you haven’t received all of your RSVP’s by the date requested, plan on calling those guests. It will save you a lot of stress and frustration if they were to call you at the last minute and tell you they are coming. On the flip side, you don’t want to pay for guests who don’t show up. Your venue and caterer will need your final numbers by a specific date, and most times that number cannot be changed without a change fee.

 

 

Written by Elisabeth Montoya Co-owner and Lead Designer of The Bella Sera Event Center

www.TheBellaSera.com

Feel Inspired by the Holiday Season

If you ask me, it’s hard not to feel inspired by the holiday season! Even though I love summertime, winter and holiday inspired weddings make my heart sing. There is just something about the sparkle of an icy blue winter wonderland wedding and the shimmer silver and gold that will leave you breathless.

I think that when you take your wedding day, one of the happiest days of your life and let the Bella Sera designers help you feel inspired by the most wonderful time of the year (the holidays of course!) you can only have amazing results!

There are so many different ways to incorporate this amazing season into your special day. You can have a full blown silver and gold celebration that will truly highlight the beauty of these two metallic tones with dashes of holiday red for an extra festive feeling. Or you can immerse your guests in a magical winter wonderland that is full of beauty, sparkle and icy blue wonder. Either way your guests will be in awe!

So, enjoy this time of year, let the holidays inspire you, and hopefully if your are planning a holiday wedding you will let the Bella Sera team create a magical setting and experience for you and your guests!

Created by The Following Wedding Professionals:
Wedding Photography: Mark Alison Photography  / Wedding Venue: The Bella Sera Event Center / Packages: Bellissimo /  Wedding Designer: Elisabeth Montoya-Bella Sera/ Décor: Bella Sera Event Center

A Grand Head Table

There are a handful of wedding style elements or focal points that, when done right, can transform the entire dinner ballroom experience. Showcasing a custom designed Grand Head Table with flowing sparkle organza fabric is certainly one way of creating that focal point. This is why Bella Sera’s Lead Designer Elisabeth Montoya custom designed this gorgeous head table linen with lots of bling and romance as part of the Italiano Ultra-Platinum Wedding Package. This ornate linen can be fitted to a head table for 2 or for 22 such as is seen in this beautiful wedding.

By decorating the head table more ornately with bouquets, bling and sparkle, and sitting the wedding party only on one side of the table to observe the guests, it signifies the importance and the head position of the newlyweds.

At the head table, the bride traditionally sits at the groom’s right, with the maid of honor on his left and the best man on the bride’s right. The rest of the party follows suit in an alternating male/female pattern. However, it is very common to see all of the bridesmaids sit on one side and the groomsmen sit on the other also.

Couples are searching for a much more unique wedding design that reflects who they are as a couple, and the head table is a wonderful place to express their unique style. Bella Sera’s design team is constantly creating beautiful decor to help customize each and every wedding.
Venue: The Bella Sera Event Center
Designer: Elisabeth Montoya, Lead Designer Bella Sera
Package: Italiano Ultra-Platinum Wedding Package

Hanging Wedding Cake

A hanging wedding cake is the Bella Sera’s latest twist on a tradition that is part of nearly every wedding celebration. The design team at the Bella Sera is always finding new ways to amaze our couples and delight their guests!

After a bit of brainstorming, the Bella Sera design team decided to get to work and not long after a beautifully decorated table was suspended from our high ceilings. Shortly after its installation, the hanging cake table was put to the test with a four-foot tall cake as its first showpiece!

When the baker arrived to assemble one of the most beautiful and intricate cakes that I have ever seen, and we told him it would be hanging from the ceiling, I’m fairly certain he thought we were crazy. But after proving the strength of the table, the assembly of the cake began and it was nothing short of amazing.

To say that the hanging cake table simply amazes guests is quite the understatement. At each event you can truly see how excited the guests are about such a unique design element. It blows them away. The hanging cake table is such an amazing way to highlight your wedding cake and make it truly something that will leave an impression on your guests!

At the Bella Sera we are designers and event producers. This is why brides and grooms choose us. We are leaders, innovators and always creating for décor elements that are one of a kind!

 

Created by The Following Wedding Professionals:
Wedding Photography: Mark Alison Photography / Wedding Venue: The Bella Sera Event Center / Packages: Bellissimo /  Wedding Designer: Elisabeth Montoya-Bella Sera/ Décor: Bella Sera Event Center / Bakeries: Elegant Bakery – Das Meyer Fine Pastry Chalet – MulBerries Cake Shop – Bella Sera Cakes

Personalizing Your Wedding

There are no two alike, not snowflakes, not fingerprints and certainly not weddings! Every year there are more than 2.2 million weddings across the United States and after being in business for more than ten years and hosting countless celebrations, we can confirm that there have never been two weddings that were the same. Personalizing your wedding is something we have become experts at!

Every person, every couple and every family has its own unique story to tell and we feel so privileged to be a part of the tale. One of the things that we are so proud of at the Bella Sera is our endless effort to get to know our couples and their story. It’s important to us because it guides everything that we do. Walking couples through the process of finding those special characteristics that are unique to them and then helping them use those things to transform their wedding celebration into a truly unique and tailor fit event is what makes coming to work everyday so exciting!

 

We have helped couples incorporate the way that they met into their décor, into favors that they have given to their guests, and even games that have been played during the wedding reception. We have helped groomsmen and bridesmaids with a special surprise for the couple and we have even helped the bride and groom with surprises for each other!

We encourage every couple to really think about what things are special to them, to think about their story leading up to their engagement and to let us help them create an event that reflects that in every way possible! Personalizing your wedding with special detailed touches is truly what we love the most! Check out more ideas on our weddings page.

Created by The Following Wedding Professionals:
Wedding Photography: Mark Alison Photography / Wedding Venue: The Bella Sera Event Center / Packages: Bellissimo /  Wedding Designer: Elisabeth Montoya-Bella Sera/ Catering: Bella Sera Catering /  Décor: Bella Sera Event Center /

Dramatic Wedding Lighting

Simply stated, dramatic wedding lighting creates a mood and leaves a long lasting impression with your guests. There is so much more to the lighting at your wedding reception than a dimmer switch.

 

At the Bella Sera we have a state of the art lighting system that completely floods the walls with the color of your choice. This is what creates the dramatic wedding lighting within our venue! Our designers are experts at helping you choose the right balance of colors between linens, centerpieces, floral accents & lighting, within your color scheme.

Depending on whether you are looking for a romantic feeling or something a little more fun and eclectic, lighting can help your guests connect emotionally with the flow of your event.   A soft amber glow during your ceremony can create such a wonderfully romantic ambiance! Or even allowing your guests to enjoy a candle lit dinner and then surprise them with a splash of a bold color all around the room during the festivities of the reception! Using  lighting as a fun accent color to make something special stand out is another way to excite and draw the attention of your guests, whether it is behind your cake or even a candy table, it can really make a special display stand out!

Lighting can be such a powerful element of the overall design of a wedding! Don’t forget to create a mood and leave your guest with a long lasting impression with lighting at the Bella Sera!

 

 

 

Beautiful Fall Wedding Ceremony

The leaves are falling and the air is crisp and that can only mean one thing, Fall is here and it is time to bring all of that magic inside for a beautiful Fall Wedding Ceremony!

The bold reds, burnt oranges and golden yellows aren’t just meant for the crunchy fall leaves that are scattered about the sidewalks right now. These  stunning colors are just a few of my favorite from the vast autumn color palette. In any combination, these colors simply exude romance.  A beautiful burnt orange alone may not be impactful. A beautiful burnt orange sash tied neatly around a warm ivory chair cover can add just the right amount of coziness to your ceremony room at the Bella Sera. Deep red, orange and plum colored flowers are just the right touch of rich accents to let your guests be completely immersed in the feeling of all things fall! Fall colored leaves make beautiful accents. They can be floating in tall water filled vases with just a touch of candle light!  O they can even be tossed out of a cutely decorated basket by a sweet flower girl!

Finding the inspiration for a beautiful Fall wedding ceremony at this time of year never seems to be complicated. A quick stroll down any street, sidewalk or trail just leaves our imaginations swimming with good ideas for our next extraordinary fall wedding ceremony!

Congratulations to Julie & Joshua, we wish you both many years of happiness!

Thank you to our team of experts!

Venue: The Bella Sera Event Center

Photography: Mark Alison Photography

Décor: Bella Sera Designer Elisabeth Montoya

Catering: Bella Sera Catering

Mekella and Jake – A Modern Romantic Dream Wedding

It took over a year to plan, teams of wedding professionals and a handful of special effects to produce, but the dream wedding that Mekella had envisioned, became a reality.

hanging cake, crystal chandelier, dramatic draping for a wedding

When Mekella came to Elisabeth Montoya, lead wedding designer at The  Bella Sera, she had a good idea of what she wanted. She wanted a hip, modern, romantic wedding celebration. Most of all, she wanted to amaze her guests. Over the next year, Elisabeth and Mekella spent countless hours pouring over choices and exploring options until, indeed, they had planned Mekella’s dream wedding celebration.

The twin ballrooms at The Bella Sera, magically transformed, took on the look and feel of a very VIP nightclub. From the 14’ ice bar with dual martini luges, dry-ice drinks, indoor  and outdoor lounge areas, cool blue LED lighting, a hanging cake and the ever changing fog wall, every piece came together to transport Mekella and Jake’s family and friends to a completely different world.

ice bar with custom decoration for a wedding

The night began with the guests seated, awaiting the bride’s entrance in a  ballroom dripping with crystal chandeliers, candle light and flowers. The magic began when Mekella and her  uncle appeared through a curtain of glitter on the fog wall. The fog wall itself is a thin curtain of fog that the pros at Bella Sera projected blue glitter on. The glitter appeared to float on air until they walked through and the curtain parted around them. It was a truly magical moment. The Bella Sera is the first event venue in the United States to have this technology.

bride makes entrance through wall of fog

After the romantic candle light ceremony they moved to the reception ballroom and the magic continued. The cool blue walls highlighted the dramatic draping, multiple crystal chandeliers and stunning ice bar. The table top decor, from Vickie’s Flowers was tall, white, dripping with bling and picked up the sparkle of Bella Sera’s specialty lighting perfectly.

Suspended from the ceiling on a floating platform of flowers sat a magnificent 4’ wedding cake from Elegant Bakery. The cake composed of red velvet, white and chocolate tiers along with the display were the hit of the night.dramtic grand wedding cake on hanging table

After feasting on a sumptuous 3-course dinner of Chef John’s Italian masterpieces from the Italiano Menu, DJ Done rocked the house. Elisabeth and the team at Pure Energy Events created a lounge area in front of the DJ for the dancers to congregate. For those looking for a more laid back feel Mekella created a outdoor lounge complete with firepit and LED furniture.

Outdoor Lounge at The Bella Sera

Also entertaining was the fog wall. The guests congregated in the mist of fog all night trying to catch the shooting images as they danced and swirled in thin air!  Everyone took home a memory from the photobooth

Fog Wall at The Bella Sera

A wedding like this doesn’t come together without a lot of time, work and a host of professionals but working with Mekella and Jake was a blast. They are an adorable, gracious, creative and talented young couple. We wish them all the best in their new life together as husband and wife!

A special thank you to Mark  Alison Photography for all of the gorgeous photos…as usual!

Vendors:

Mark Alison Photography

Video by Adam Fusion Films

Cake by Elegant Bakery

Flowers by Vickie’s Flowers

Ice Sculpture by Icesculpture.com

DJ- DJ Done (Joe)

Lounge Furniture by Pure Energy Events

Catering by The Bella Sera Event Center, Chef John Montoya

Design, Decor, Wedding Planning and Coordination by Elisabeth Montoya

Dry Ice Drinks, Liquor and Bar by The Bella Sera Event Center

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