It’s finally here!  Our first official Q + A with Valley and Co.!  You guys came up with some seriously awesome questions last month.  I’m sure it was tough for Aleah and Nick to pick just three!  If you’re in the middle of planning an event (wedding, birthday party, reunion) and could really use the help from two awesome professional event planners then make sure you leave a comment below with your ultimate wedding planning question!  Aleah and Nick will be back in November with a brand new Q + A post!

Next autumn I’ll be celebrating a milestone birthday, celebrating with a party in a field (and planning on surprising guests with a renewing of vows). I’d like to know your recommendations for adding seasonal elements for a memorable event. This will be more fun & funky than formal since we’ll be in a giant field.



Hi Angie!

Your birthday party-turned-surprise vow renewal sounds like a fantastic fête and what a way to celebrate both with your nearest and dearest! For an autumn celebration that’s in a field, consider using the best in fresh ingredients mixed into your table top décor. Incorporate apples in apothecary jars of staggering heights, artichokes and kale mixed with dahlias and fresh fall colors, and utilize wheat and harvest elements.

Serve up a completely localized menu by working with your butcher, fish market, and fruit or vegetable stand to design an epicurean menu your guests will savor. Pair that with a wine truck or bring in asommelier that can sit table side with your guests and explain the wine pairings with your menu; talk about a refreshing experience.

Be sure to provide shawls or blankets if you live in an area that has crisper fall evenings and, if so, dish up later-in-the-night spiked apple cider with cinnamon sticks or hot toddies to keep your guests warm and jolly.  The eclectic mixture of seasonal food and environment will be one of comfort and will encourage your guests to stay and visit all night!

Green apples and pods create a bright fall centerpiece. Photo by Jeremy Leffel for Valley & Co.

We have a venue that can only sit 105 for a sit-down dinner…we would love to have 150 since we want to invite our close friends and family.  Is it better to limit the guest list and not invite some of our friends or to invite everyone and make it a more casual buffet/mingling reception… it seems strange not to have a seat for everyone but the venue is so great! Thanks!

Hi Chicagochic!

This is a great question and one that often weighs so heavy into the planning of your wedding. The guest list can be a stress factor as so much depends on it: the budget, the venue, and the feeling of the evening. Consider what’s truly important to you and your fiancé. If you can’t imagine your wedding celebration without those 45 guests you want to invite, then paint the picture of a fun mingling evening with a mixture of soft seating, benches and cocktail tables, and a handful of 42” round tables with several chairs at each table so older guests can have a seat and eat.

Create a delightful ambiance and define a flow by offering guests gourmet food stations as opposed to a long buffet where guests would have to stand in line or pile their plates high with food. They’ll be well-fed with this style of service if you map it out so that each station has an abundance of small bites and is themed around a region or cuisine you both enjoy {think imaginatively like Guinness milk shakes alongside heartier two-bite corned beef sliders, a fresh Pan Pacific raw seafood bar, or a Mexican street taco stand}. Serve up dishes in creative and easy-to-hold vessels like take-out or Bento boxes and classic comfort food like decadent 5-cheese macaroni in mini ramekins.

The bottom line: the more the merrier! Create a beautiful wedding celebration where you really can enjoy all of your friends and family in an environment that they’ll surely never forget.

Tasty bites. Photo by Sarah Rhoads for Valley & Co.

Hi there! Our reception dinner will be held at a villa inside a narrow ballrom. We wereplanning on having long rectangular tables lined up in two rows (approximately 70 people willbe seated in each of the 2 rows). My fiancé and I have been struggling to determine the bestway to have our guests find their seats. Any creative ideas? Thanks!!

Hello Elle! The villa sounds wonderful, as does the long royal court-style seating for your reception dinner. With this style of long seating it could be challenging to create a smooth and quick method for your guests to easily find their seats – the last thing you want is for them to circle around and around the tables! But we envision an escort display outside of the ballroom that lays out the two long tables in an artistic diagram {do you have artist in your family who could paint something beautiful?} but also breaks them up into three sections {or “tables”} in each.

In essence you’ll have 6 “tables” and can now easily designate place settings with beaded place cardsthat drip from wine goblets, dinner menus atop gilded chargers with each guest’s name handwritten,with a pressed leaf penned with a scrolled name in gold, or a pleated fabric patch stitched with the guest’s name. Another idea we love is to welcome guests to their place settings with vintage print press-stamps – in your case since you have so many guests this could be hard to come by, so use stamps topress out lovely lettered note cards with a monogram.

Signal the mark of each “table” with ornately detailed frames with a hand-painted table number inside the frame. This will definitely cut down the time it takes for your guests to find their seats and will also help the serving staff speed up dinner service as they’ll be working with smaller pockets of guests at each “table” versus two long tables.

An ornate frame and a long court table broken into multiple sections. Photos by Amore Studios for Valley & Co.

Thank you so much Angie, Chicagochic and Elle for your fabulous questions!  I hope you share your amazing-sounding events with us!  And a HUGE thank you to Valley and Co. for some of the most thoughtful, innovative advice I’ve ever read.  I can’t wait for the next Q+A in November!  Remember to leave a comment below with your ultimate event planning question and tune in next month!

Valley & Co. is a member of our Little Black Book. Find out how members are chosen by visiting our FAQ page.
Valley & Co.