The Twin Cities offer myriad wedding hotel choices, from the new and trendy—W Minneapolis-The Foshay, Graves 601, and Hotel Ivy in downtown Minneapolis—to the grand dames—Saint Paul Hotel, Grand Hotel in Minneapolis, and St. James Hotel in Red Wing. One of the newest venues, and well worth a tour, is the Westin Edina Galleria. We're checking it out for a photo shoot this month, and we think you should too. Here are some smart tips for working with your hotel's catering director, courtesy of Westin catering director Julie Broders:
Think big picture: Decide on the type of reception you prefer, and then create a realistic budget based on your style, Broders says. For example: formal dinner or buffet, daytime or evening, DJ or live band.
Get a taste: Your tasting is one of the most important meetings of the planning process, she says. Be sure your catering director shows you a fully set table, with chairs, linens, china, and stemware. Ask to have your tasting in a similar atmosphere as your reception. During the tasting, the chef should be present—this is your chance to ask about preparation, ingredients, dietary needs, and food allergies.
Name a point person: Give your hotel catering director and your wedding planner one contact name—but not yours—for the big day, Broders says (e.g. mother of the bride, maid of honor). This is the go-to person for the reception, so you can enjoy your moment, and your guests. Broders also advises couples to give the catering director all of their vendor contact information, such as the photographer, florist, band or DJ. If you're the organized type, create a reception-day timeline for the hotel staff. Your catering contact will distribute this to all of the hotel's operations staff, so everyone knows the following: band set-up time, flower delivery schedule, and cake arrival.
Direct your guests: If you'll tie the knot elsewhere, provide the venue name, address, and directions to the wedding ceremony site. This is one of guests' most frequently asked questions, Broders says. Don't forget parking information for the hotel. If your guests are young and wired, post this on your wedding website or Facebook page in advance, with a map link. For grandma and great-uncle Bob, however, include the directions in your invitation or welcome bag.
Open or closed bar? We find that an open bar can be the biggest money pit at the reception, and it's not necessary. If you insist on the bar, however, Broders suggests posting a sign that lists open bar hours at each bar. A more cost-conscious alternative is the beer-and-wine open bar. If you go this route, post the wine and beer list on the sign. If there are prices for cocktails and other beverages, list those as well. Another great suggestion from Broders: Tell your caterer about any drinks for special friends or family members. For example, if dad only drinks Glenlivet, serve it at no charge to him. If your vendors have a drink tab—the band, photographer, etc.—let your catering manager know who they are and if there's a limit.
For more info, visit Westin.com/EdinaGalleria.