Bride-to-Be Blogger Danielle: Packages vs. à la Carte

Tim and I have are blessed with an abundance of friends and family, which means we’ve been to an amazing number of weddings. We’ve been to an estimated 20 celebrations together since we met, and at least another 10 each prior to the fateful day we laid eyes on one another (incidentally, at a wedding). Once you’ve been to this many weddings, you can’t help but pick up on details; you notice what the bride and groom have done to personalize their Big Day — and what elements are part of the “standard package.”

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a judgmental post meant to put down couples who opt to not go à la carte. Wedding packages can be incredibly convenient. You pick a price point that fits within your budget and things such as your menu, bar choices, even table linens and ceremony décor, are laid out on the pages of your contract in black and white. And some vendors do a great job making the elements of their packages unique to avoid the “cookie cutter” look that is stereotypically associated with the standard Silver, Gold or Platinum options. For many couples they are a great option.

However, when we first started planning, Tim was extremely concerned with the menu and the bar. What was included? What required an additional cost? Can we substitute another passed hors d’oeuvre for the soup? Who wants soup at a beachfront wedding anyway? (Unless it’s gazpacho shooters … Yum!)

In the end, we did not have to worry about packages or substitutions, because the venue, The Indian River Life-Saving Station, had a wealth of approved caterers from which we could choose. We looked and researched and discussed and had conference calls until we were satisfied that the caterer we chose, Nage Restaurant, allowed us the ability to put what we wanted on the menu, customize the bar, and even made recommendations how to work in more expensive selections like lamb lollipops and crab cakes without breaking the bank. Tim is very excited that fate is in our own hands.

While I do care about food and drink, I also was concerned with the look and feel of the ceremony and reception. Since our venue is a raw space, we have to bring in our own rentals, also from a list of approved vendors. After a lot of nerve-wracking Q&A about insurance, sand delivery, and the merits of chairs versus benches (and with a lot of help from our attentive catering director), we finally chose Dove Rent-All Tents & Events as our rental vendor. In addition to having executed countless events at our venue, I’m thrilled to report that we will have a lot of options, should we desire, to personalize the tent, linens, chairs, ceremony décor and tableware — all the way down to flatware with little shells on the end as an added detail for our seashore wedding. So the á la carte route is paying off, because I bet we couldn’t have gotten those with the Silver Package! (Hmm, maybe at an additional cost….)

Did you choose a convenient wedding package, or did you opt to create your menu, bar and table décor á la carte? Why? If you haven’t decided, are you struggling with the pros and cons of each option?

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