by Dustin Jayroe
Wedding and engagement season is upon us once again. For couples involved in the prenuptial bliss comes a blended mixture of emotions ranging from complete and utter excitement to the near maximum levels of stress that one can feel. Planning a wedding is no small feat, as anyone engaged or recently married can attest.
When planning a wedding, whether by yourself or with the assistance of a planner, every decision is up to you, with your chance of unique personalization at every level; from something as minute as the style of silverware, to the grandiose like the appearance of the venue.
One of the most important choices that engaged couples are tasked with making is that of the reception. First, they must choose the location of where the after-ceremony events will transpire. Then, no matter if the reception is a full-fledged event with liquid spirits flowing all night, or just an intimate get together with closest friends and family, the possibilities and planning choices to be made are endless.
Few are as expertly knowledgeable on all things related to weddings and receptions than Tonia Griffin, the designer and owner of Cross Iron Cottage wedding venue in Malvern.
Prior to the venue’s creation, Griffin spent many years helping brides plan and coordinate their weddings, while also designing and building residential homes. “This field of work sparked my imagination and creativity,” she says. “Inspiring me to unite both my passions together and design and construct Cross Iron Cottage, a fairytale venue where couples can create their own lasting memories as they celebrate the first day of the rest of their lives together.”
Griffin notes ten distinct trends that have become extremely popular for weddings and receptions this year that those in the midst of planning, or soon to be, should take for inspiration:
1. Bringing nature indoors with lots of greenery, branches, and fresh flowers hanging from above.
2. Fabrics and sheers.
3. Videos and drone footage to go along with photography.
4. Mix and matching china and crystal for place settings for receptions. Some are even using their grandparent’s china for an added personal touch.
5. Mixing silver, pewter and gold tones for decorations.
6. Small plates and grazing boards or tables, which are perfect for not only receptions, but also rehearsal dinners.
7. Specialty food stations or food bars.
8. First looks for a groom and father of the bride are becoming extremely popular before the ceremony for picture perfect memories.
9. Naked wedding cakes or cakes with fresh flowers, dessert bars and donut walls.
10. Sparklers, ribbon wands, flower petals or bubbles for a magical way to celebrate the end of your reception. All of these choices make for a beautiful send-off.
She also has some priceless advice for newly engaged couples, to ensure the planning of the wedding and reception goes as smoothly as possible.
“Make sure you have interior and exterior options in case of bad weather. Decide on an approximate guest count before calling venues. The number will help determine the price and the size of venue you will need,” she shares. “Remember, you cannot even book another vendor until you have booked your venue so you need to know the exact date. We [at Cross Iron Cottage] are already booking into 2021. Most venues, wedding planners, DJs and photographers can only book one wedding event per date, so get those four vendors booked first.”
When speaking to the locale, there are few better options in Arkansas than that of Griffin’s creation at Cross Iron Cottage.
Cross Iron Cottage is designed to look like an English Cottage, which, as she says, “makes our guests feel like they traveled back in time to England.” Griffin spent a countless amount of time researching English country design in order to perfect this vision of hers.
For receptions, the Cross Iron French Country Barn is an immaculate choice. It features heavy French wooden tables, Gold Chiavari chairs, two built-in bars, as well as an assortment of tables purposed for serving and display.
Griffin also allows outside catering from any vendor, including food trucks (which is another popular trend on the rise). This is another important caveat for planning couples: some venues only allow preferred vendors for food and drink catering, limiting your potential options.
If your desire is to host your ceremony and reception at the same location, Cross Iron Cottage is built for that. There is an open chapel in the middle of the pasture on their 100-acre lot that is a magical place to say “I do.” Griffin also designed a Moon Gate that is made of stone and brick for couples to walk under. It is considered a blessing to walk under a Moon Gate after your wedding, as it represents eternal love.
There is also the Cross Iron English Bridal Cottage on site, for the bride and her bridal party to use at their leisure.
Wherever you choose to host your wedding reception, and however you choose to make it; have fun. Enjoy the planning, and relish those moments at the reception after the knots are tied, for memories like that do not come around very often, if at all.