Set Your Tables and Set the Tone

Five Wedding Tabletop Trends for 2015

Wedding receptions are as unique as the couple that’s marrying. And setting the right tone begins with your table decorations. “When your guests enter the reception area, how do you want them to feel? What mood do you want to set?” asks Wendy Brown-Haddock, CPCE, director of sales and catering for Monona Catering. Whatever you have in mind—from jaw dropping elegance to rose petal romance—your table decorations will help you get there.

So where do you start? Brown-Haddock offers five trends she’s seeing in 2015.

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How to Choose a Sustainable Venue


Many organizations require that their events meet certain environmental standards. And even if organizations don’t set standards, planners often do. “Ten years ago, planners were not concerned with or even considered greening their meetings—now it’s a more frequent occurrence with folks wanting to meet in a ‘green facility,’” explains Laura MacIsaac, director of sales for Monona Terrace.

Still, some venues are more equipped than others to host a sustainable event. What should you look for when choosing a greener location? Start by asking these five questions.

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So You Said Yes. Now What?

Image courtesy of SVHeart Photography

SVHeart Photography

Congratulations—and let the planning begin! We’ve helped hundreds of brides and grooms make their big-day dreams come true at Monona Terrace. So we put our heads together and developed a list of the first five things to do after you get engaged (besides celebrate). Follow these suggestions and we’re sure that the start of your wedding planning will be as smooth as buttercream frosting.

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Three Lessons From an Experienced Event Planner

Michelle Eggert, CMP, CDS
Michelle Eggert, CMP, CDS 

If your event planning approach is anything like mine, I start contemplating how to improve my next event even before the current one is over. So you can imagine after 20-some years in the event planning business (but who’s counting?), I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks that have served my clients well. I thought I’d share my top three—plus a bonus tip—whether you’re new to the profession or you’ve got 1,000 events on your resume.

Let’s get started! Read on.

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iPod, Band or DJ: What’s your perfect fit?

Music is one of the most important aspects of your wedding reception. It helps set the mood, keeps energy high and encourages your guests to step outside their comfort zones and onto the dance floor.

Monona Terrace Blog

Photo Credit: Ueda Photography

So when it comes to planning the score for your big day, don’t overlook this important detail. You have three options to give your reception a vibe that your guests will remember long after you say, “I do.” Whether you choose to make playlists on your iPod, hire a DJ or bring in a live band, each route is sure to enhance your reception.

Not sure which one to go with Read on.

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It’s said that brides plan their weddings their whole lives. But even if you can imagine every last detail—from your bridesmaids’ signatures on the bottom of your shoes to the pearl monogram on the top of your cake—you still may harbor a touch of insecurity about planning the big day. A wedding planner helps you avoid nightmare scenarios, but what if you’re arranging your wedding on your own?

For some friendly advice, we turned to John Hosek, owner of Surroundings Events and Floral in Verona, Wisconsin. John has coordinated about 50 weddings hosted at Monona Terrace.

Monona Terrace (MT): Everyone talks about planning ‘the perfect day.’ Is there such a thing?

John Hosek (JH): Well, yes and no. Usually everything in the bride’s mind is perfect—she been imagining it that way forever. But the event will be perfect only if she and her partner have realistic expectations. That’s where a budget comes in. Estimate the dress. The headcount. The flowers. See if the totals are fitting within the budget. If they don’t, eliminate or change things so that the numbers work. Staying true to the budget helps you avoid disappointment and get closer to perfection.

Download a budgeting checklist here

MT: Is there one area where you shouldn’t skimp?

JH: You can trim back just about anything. In some cases, enhancing simple ideas makes them look more special. For example, maybe your budget allows for only one single red rose bud per table. Instead of just sticking a flower in a vase, you could cut the stem short and float it in a bowl surrounded by a few tea light candles. That’s a simple yet beautiful look—and inexpensive.

MT: Besides minding a budget, what’s the most important piece of advice you can offer brides who are in planning mode?

JH: I’ll answer that question by telling a story. I was helping a friend with a wedding and the bride insisted on an outdoor ceremony. But she refused to have a tent as a backup in case the weather turned—it just didn’t fit with what she had imagined throughout the years. Partway through the ceremony, you guessed it. The skies parted and the rains and wind came. Flags were blowing horizontally and so were her and her bridesmaids’ dresses. Surprisingly, she didn’t move. But most of her wedding party and the guests sure did—and fast, too, because they were running for cover. Some people laughed, but a lot didn’t, and her dream turned into a nightmare.

MT: Moral of the story: Always be prepared for the unexpected.

JH: It’s the single most important thing. When we plan weddings, we create a line-by-line, blow-by-blow timeline of what is supposed to happen and when, and a back-up plan in case things don’t go perfectly. Most of the time, if something goes wrong, it’s just because people haven’t thought everything through.

Download a wedding day itinerary guide here

MT: What do you tell your brides as they’re planning their event?

JH? Make it different. Make it unique. Make it you.

MT: And what do you tell your brides when that big day finally comes?

You’ve been looking forward to this day a long, long time. It will be wonderful. These are the memories you’ve been waiting for.

For details on wedding services and coordination, contact Breanne Chase, Social Sales Manager at Monona Terrace, at 608-261-4093.

Photograph courtesy of Maison Meredith Photography

Can’t-Miss Catering Trends of 2015

Monona TerraceLet’s face it. One of the most important parts of any event is the food. Great dishes can make a good event an even bigger success, and distinctive offerings can set the tone for your gathering. Much like fashion and music, catering trends change with the seasons. So, what can we expect for catering trends in 2015? Monona Catering is current on the great food and beverage options that will appear this coming year. Continue reading

The Sweet Spot: The Need-to-Know New Trends in Wedding Desserts

No one can deny that a wedding cake is a beautiful tradition, and for many, an essentialMonona Terrace Dessert part of the reception. But for many couples, there are fun alternatives for starting out marriage on a sweet note. Continue reading to learn about four desserts that can stand up to any six-tier wedding cake. Continue reading

Outdoor Meetings: Get outside your head, and the office

Monona TerraceRelocating your typical meeting to an offsite location is a great way to infuse new energy and amp up creativity for an otherwise predictable event. But have you ever thought about taking your offsite meeting to another level? Fresh air can do wonders for morale and meeting efficacy. Physically moving part or all of these gatherings outdoors may be that extra push a team needs to come up with the next great idea, solve a problem or simply introduce an unexpected new element. And with the right venue, indoor back-up space allows a seamless transition to moving the event inside in the event of rain.

Monona Terrace is one such venue. With its recently updated outdoor function space – the William T. Evjue Rooftop Garden – Monona Terrace provides the versatility for both an outdoor or indoor meeting. Warm and slightly cool weather gatherings on the Rooftop Garden are enhanced by a 360-degree view along the horizon. A giant fountain, new tables and colorful umbrellas offer eye-pleasing amenities. Lake Monona and the downtown Madison skyline make for unique and majestic event backdrops. Continue reading