The Pros And Cons Of Intimate Weddings

​If you read about celebrity weddings, you probably hear about weddings with hundreds of guests that cost thousands of dollars. In reaction to the large wedding craze, some people decide to have small, intimate weddings with just close family members and friends.

But intimate weddings come with their drawbacks  as well as their benefits. Consider the following information before deciding on the size of your guest list.

Benefits of Intimate Weddings

If you dream of sharing your wedding day with just a small group of loved ones, an intimate wedding may be the right choice. Here are a few reasons to limit your guest list.

You'll Save Money

The more guests you invite, the more money you'll spend for food and favors. If you invite fewer guests, you can pocket the money you've saved and invest it towards a new home or other costs of starting a life with your spouse.

You Can Give Your Guests More Attention

With a large wedding, you may not have time to say hello to every guest. Even your most honored guests can feel lost in the crowd. With an intimate wedding, however, each guest will feel important and special. Every guest can have a role in the wedding, whether it's helping set up decorations or giving a toast.

Your Wedding Might Be Easier to Plan

With a small wedding, you'll potentially reduce your planning workload. You won't have to coordinate as many travel plans, and you might not need to hire as many vendors. Less planning means less stress for you and your family.

Drawbacks of Intimate Weddings

The most significant drawback to an intimate wedding is the possibility of offending some of your friends who don't get invited. Plus, narrowing your guest list might not be as easy as you first thought. Should you invite the couple who invited you to their recent wedding, even though you don't consider them close friends? What about your aunt who you haven't seen in years? Would it cause a family scandal if you didn't invite her?

It's important to think about these factors before settling on an intimate wedding.

Other Wedding Options That Are Similar to Intimate Weddings

If you still want an intimate wedding but worry about how it's going to work,consider these other options.

  • A small ceremony and a large reception: You could invite just close family and friends to the ceremony, and then invite more guests to the reception. To do so, include just the information for the reception on the wedding invitations. Create insert cards with the information about the ceremony for those you plan to invite to the ceremony.
  • A medium-sized wedding: You could still include all your family members and friends on the guest list, but you don't have to invite all your co-workers and acquaintances. Narrow your guest list to include fewer than 200 people. If people ask why they weren't invited, you can let them know that you were going for a smaller, family wedding.
  • A post-wedding party: If your heart is set on a small, intimate wedding, there is another option to help all your friends feel included. You could have your intimate wedding event, or even a destination wedding. Then, about a month later, you could invite your friends to a casual housewarming party or another post-wedding celebration.

Whether you decide to go with a small wedding or another option, make sure you choose the right-sized venue for your guests. The venue should provide enough table space for all your guests and sufficient room for them to spread out. If you're looking for a beautiful outdoor setting for your intimate wedding, consider Rolling Meadows Ranch

Getting Hitched A Second Time? 7 Do's And Don'ts To Make It A Perfect Day

​Planning a wedding is a big job with lots of pitfalls,and planning a second wedding can be just as difficult...but with some new challenges. What, you may wonder, is the appropriate size and style when getting remarried? How can family be involved? And what should you--or shouldn't you- -feel obligated to do?

Here's a short list of remarriage do's and don'ts for any couple.

DO Have the Party You Want

In the past, second marriages often came with more low-key wedding celebrations and receptions...particularly if one or both parties had a large first wedding. However, this isn't the case anymore, and you shouldn't feel obligated to tone down your festivities. If you want a big party with 300 of your closest friends, go ahead and plan it!

On the other hand, some brides and grooms want to forgo all the extra planning that accompanied their first nuptials. That's okay too! It's your day, so let yourself throw the event you really want in a venue that makes you happy.

DON'T Rehash Your First Wedding

Whatever you decide is right for your new marriage ceremony, don't focus on what went wrong or right at your first one. Trying to fix past mistakes or recreate happy memories of a different wedding is a path to unhappiness in your current one. Instead, look for ways to personalize this wedding to your relationship and lives as a couple. Let it reflect who you are now, and the future you plan together.

One of the easiest and best ways to personalize your second ceremony is to write your own vows...especially if you're joining two existing families.

DO Pay for it Yourself

If you had parental help paying for your first wedding, be prepared to pony up the money for your second. It's reasonable to expect that you and your partner will be paying for most or all of the wedding this time around. If you receive monetary gifts from family members, be grateful. Otherwise, look on the bright side...footing your own bill allows you to freely ignore anyone else's wishes about planning your wedding!

DON'T Forget the Formalities

There are only a few legal differences between a first marriage and a subsequent remarriage. The biggest difference is that you will generally need to provide a copy of your ex-spouse's death certificate (if you're a widow or widower) or a copy of the divorce decree. This means that you can't say "I do"until you have those legal documents in hand. And because the legal system can be unpredictable, you may want to hold off on planning until everything is finalized.

If you truly can't wait until the formalities are completed, you could always turn your wedding ceremony into a less formal commitment ceremony or something similar.

DO Feel Free to Wear White

The tradition that second-time brides shouldn't wear white no longer limits modern choices. If you want to wear a big, white ball gown, feel free! Or, you may want to take advantage of the many varieties and colors of today's wedding dresses and have some fun instead. It's up to you.

DON'T Skip the Honeymoon

As busy adults with jobs, kids, or other obligations, you may be pressed for time when getting married. But don't skip the honeymoon just to save time or money...and especially don't skip it because you already took one. You likely need a honeymoon just as much or more than younger couples.

DO Include the Kids

Including family in remarriages is a great way to soothe any tension and start things off on a good foot. How can you include kids, both younger and adults? You could include their names on the invitations or have them host the ceremony. Invite them to walk in the wedding party or read a passage during the ceremony. Light a unity candle as a family. Plan a family first dance or include a surprise toast to welcome all the kids into your lives. There are a myriad of ways to make kids and other family members feel like you're all one big happy family, so plan at least one in both the ceremony and reception.

Your second wedding should be a time of new beginnings and great happiness, and following these simple do's and don'ts will surely help you reach that goal. ​

3 Food Stations That Are Perfect For Rustic Summer Weddings

​​There are so many different trends in wedding food that it can be difficult to choose what suits you best. But considering the season can help you narrow it down. Food stations - basically mini-buffets - allow you to mix and match your favorite ideas and are perfect for a rustic-style wedding that may be held outside or may be less formal than a traditional wedding. Take a look at some food stations that will fit in perfectly at a rustic
wedding in the summer.

Brunch Buffet

If you're going to have an outdoor wedding, you may want to do it in the morning when the light is bright but the temperatures are less punishing than they would be later in the day. But at an early event, your guests might not be in the mood for a heavy dinner. Why not serve brunch instead?

You can go with a few simple stations - one for fruit and yogurt, one for eggs and omelets, and one for breakfast meats, for example. On the other hand, you can get creative with fun country breakfast options. Consider a flapjack bar, with different syrups and toppings for the pancakes, or a biscuit station that offers different gravies, sauces, and varieties of butter for the biscuits.

Serve morning-friendly cocktails like mimosas, bellinis, and bloody Marys, and include a coffee bar with all of the fixings to keep energy levels and spirits high. Your brunch buffet will be a hit for its tasty treats and unique atmosphere.

Locally-Sourced Stations

If you want a food display that's both visually appealing and eco-friendly, locally sourced food is a great way to go. Using ingredients that are in-season and available locally means that your food will be fresher and look fresher as well.

Find a caterer that will shop local farmer's markets and butchers. Make sure that some of your tables display local the local produce in all of its glory. For example, consider a simple but elegant fruit and cheese station with berries and artisanal local cheeses and a salad bar stocked with fresh, local greens and crudites.

Consider including regional dishes and specialties in your menu as well. For example, in Ohio, you may want to serve sauerkraut balls (made from sauerkraut, ham, bacon, and pork) at your appetizer station and buckeyes (chocolate-covered peanut butter fudge on a stick) at your dessert table. These local additions will give your menu an authentic flavor and delight both native guests and visitors who want to try the local fare.

Fun Foods

Will your guests want food they can munch on while they walk around and visit with the other guests? Foods that come in disposable containers, even simple ones, like a brown paper bag, are good for a reception when you want to encourage mingling.

A fun idea is to turn one station into an old-fashioned popcorn stand. Give it a rustic look and feel by using wooden barrels for stands and wicker buckets with metal scoops so that your guests can fill their popcorn bags.

To complement the old-world look, make sure to include some modern flavors. In addition to plain popcorn and buttered popcorn, offer shakers with flavors like white cheddar, caramel apple, and chili lime, along with old standards like kettle corn flavoring. Include baskets of peanuts, chocolate candies, and peanut butter candies so your guests can add a scoop of their favorite to their bag of popcorn.

Don't forget to include a display of popcorn balls as well. These make a great treat for any children who are in attendance, and your adult guests are likely to enjoy them as well.

The right venue will give you plenty of control over the setting so that you can create the rustic wedding reception that you've been dreaming of. Once you've found the perfect setting for your wedding, your reception planning will begin to fall into place.

6 Lighting Options to Create a Stunning Wedding Day

​Lighting up your wedding and reception correctly is a quick and easy way to take an ordinary event and make it truly stunning. But, many bridal couples fail to give their lighting plan the time and attention it deserves while working on the myriad other details of the big day. 

The right lights, though, can make it easier to develop a theme or style and carry it out in a way that wows your guests. To help you find the perfect lighting ideas to spice up your ceremony and reception, here are six great options.

String Lights

Strings of tiny white or colored lights can be used in many different ways. You could string them overhead to create a "starry night" motif on the ceiling. Or, turn down the overhead and perimeter lighting, and wrap poles or trees in the venue to give a soft, romantic glow to the guest area. Drape them around and behind the ceremony space for an excellent backdrop. The versatility of string lights is one of your best decorative assets. Bistro Lighting, which we offer for rental is also a great option.​


Candles can be a necessary practicality or a decorative choice. Outdoor venues that may lack sufficient electrical outlets-such as a picturesque, rustic ceremony space-may call for candles as a power-free option that looks romantic and creates a soft glow. Even if you have plenty of other lighting alternatives in your reception venue, candlelight is the ultimate in romantic lighting. Use floating or grouped candles in table centerpieces, on the sweetheart table, or lining the guest entry.

Pendant Lights

A spectacular hanging or pendant lamp can make a fantastic focal point for any important spot in your venue. Hanging a vintage chandelier above the ceremony area is an easy way to achieve elegance. You could also hang an eclectic or antique pendant lamp over the cake table, in the entryway for guests, or above the sweetheart table. Any hanging lights used should be large and bold enough to be a statement piece, but be careful not to use too many and dilute their effect. 


Uplighting can fill your venue with colors . . . even rotating colors! Shining a colored bulb (often LED lighting) onto a certain focal point makes a fantastic addition to evening weddings and can even transform indoor reception spaces. Having an outdoor wedding? Place colored spot lights on the ground that face upward into trees and flower beds. Getting married indoors? Color wash walls with carefully placed uplights hidden near the wall bases. Work with your wedding venue's coordinator to determine the best ways to use uplighting in their space.


An outdoor wedding can be rendered magical with a newer lighting technique called "moonlighting" or down lighting. To accomplish this, place a very low watt LED lighting fixture at least 20 or 30 feet high in one or more trees. Face the light downward and at an angle until it projects just the right filtered glow through the leaves and branches. You'll quickly see why this technique earns its romantic name. 


If you want a fun and modern vibe to your wedding, lighted letters and marquee signs are a popular choice. You can often find vintage marquee letters and signs, or you can even have them custom made to your own specifications. Adding the bride and groom's initials or a word (such as "love" or "I do") creates the perfect backdrop for photographs or as a show-stopping focal point in the reception space. Make lighted letters stand out by lowering the lighting around them. 

Any one of these gorgeous lighting options can take your wedding to the next level, and a combination may be even more beautiful.  Before deciding on a lighting plan, though, consult with your wedding and reception venue's operations team for assistance. In addition, you'll likely want to visit the space at different times of the day to find just the right lighting for the entire day. The result will surely be an even more magical day!

Four Simple Ways To Use Music On Your Wedding Day

​​"If music be the food of love, play on,"says Duke Orsino in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Years after Shakespeare's day, music continues to be one of the most memorable ways to express love and affection-including at a wedding.

If you're a groom- or bride-to-be, you may wonder how you can incorporate music into your wedding day. Here are a few ideas.

1. Sing a Duet With Your Spouse

If you and your fiance are both comfortable with singing and performing, why not perform your wedding song together? You could perform your song as part of the ceremony, at dinner, or as entertainment at your reception.

If you don't yet have a song in mind, consider these well-known love duets:

  • "Endless Love" by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie
  • "I Need You" by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
  • "They Can't Take That Away From Me" by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
  • "Lucky" by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat
  • "Unforgettable" by Nat "King" Cole and Natalie Cole

You could have a musical friend accompany you on piano or guitar, or you could play a karaoke-style accompaniment. In either case, coordinate with venue staff to make sure you have the right sound equipment for your performance.

2. Perform a Dance

If you and your fiance are more comfortable with dancing than singing, you could perform a dance in front of guests on your wedding day. A dance is a great way to both celebrate your love for each other and entertain your guests.

If you have a friend who's a whiz at choreography, you could ask him or her to choreograph a dance that represents your love story. You could even include your family or your bridal party in the routine.

3. Hire a Musician

Playing music over a sound system is simple, but it's not as intimate and unique as hiring a musician.

Choose a musician and instrument that fits the theme of your wedding. For example, if your wedding is a classic country theme, you could hire a guitarist and country singer. For an elegant, princess-style wedding, hire a harpist or a classical pianist. Have the musicians perform while guests talk, eat, and mingle.

Make sure the musicians can perform a sound check before their performance. They should make sure all sound equipment is ready to go and that they have the right sound level for the venue.

4. Hold a Dance

Holding a dance allows your guests to let off steam and celebrate your beautiful day. Hiring a band or a DJ is the easiest way to go. Alternatively, you could create your own playlist and play it over the sound system. To please all your guests, make sure to play a variety of music from different time periods and genres, with a mix of slow and fast songs.

If you plan to hold a dance, make sure your venue has adequate dancing space for all your guests. Coordinate with the managers of your venue to make sure you'll have sufficient dancing space. You may need event staff to move tables and other furniture to make room for the dance.

No matter how you plan to use music on your wedding day, make sure you coordinate with venue managers well ahead of the wedding day. You don't want to be rushing on your wedding day to clear space for a dance or to find the right sound equipment for your musicians. Let event staff know exactly what you plan to do and what you need, and they can make it happen.

Finding the right location is just as important as choosing the right music. If you're looking for a rustic country setting for your wedding, schedule with the Rolling Meadows Ranch

Wedding Budget Basics for Beginners

​For many newly-engaged couples, the first few hours and days of bliss and happiness are quickly dashed when they realize what it involved in actually planning a wedding. One of the most daunting aspects of the wedding planning process is creating a budget. 

If you've never created a budget in your life, or had to figure out the logistics of planning this type of event, chances are you don't know where to begin. Here are a few simple tips to help you create a realistic budget for your dream wedding:

Talk with Your Fiancé About Finances

Even though it's not the most romantic topic, it is vital to speak with your spouse-to-be about your finances. For example, how much does each of you have in your savings account, and what percent are you willing to put toward the wedding? It's also important to discuss how much you both feel comfortable spending on the wedding.

Getting a general idea of one another's expectations and dreams is a great way to start planning a budget that you can both live with.

Additionally, as a couple you can think of creative ways to start saving money. Here are a few easy ways to save money before the big day that will help you create a healthier wedding budget:

  • Cut back on luxuries. If you spend a small fortune on cable television or your cell phone each month, consider downgrading your services to save money for the wedding.
  • Stay in more. Instead of eating out every Friday night with friends, learn how to cook or introduce each other to your favorite movies.
  • Earn extra cash. When cutting back isn't enough, look for clever ways to earn extra money. From having a yard sale to walking dogs or taking extra hours at work, there are several ways to make a little more cash. 

With some careful planning, you can find the money you need for your wedding.

Create a Timeline

Believe it or not, one of the best ways to craft a successful budget is to create a realistic wedding timeline. However, before you assume that you will need a full year to plan the affair, keep in mind that the longer you have between now and the big day, the more time you'll have to over-plan and over-spend on the affair.

Instead, create a timeline that allows you to realistically plan the event, without overthinking and splurging on items and ideas you cannot afford. For example, if you and your fiancé decide that hosting your wedding in six months is the best option, go ahead and start determining when and how much to budget for each expense.

Following the budget and timeline will help ensure you host a wedding that you will love and can afford.

Understand the Difference Between "Want" and "Need"

Finally, one of the most essential, and often most difficult, aspects of creating a wedding budget is determining what is crucial and what you can live without. For example, if you've always dreamed of purchasing a glorious wedding gown, consider cutting back on your guest list to make up the difference.

If you and your fiancé are foodies, but you cannot afford a luxury five-course meal, consider hosting a wedding brunch instead. Typically, a brunch is more cost-effective, but you will still have an opportunity to share your love of exotic foods with your friends and family.

From choosing a DJ instead of a live band to skipping the cocktail hour so you can pay for a beautiful outdoor reception, it is critical you and your fiancé get on the same page about what you can and cannot live without on your big day.

Have any more questions about how to create your dream wedding? Don't hesitate to contact the staff at Rolling Meadows Ranch with all of your needs!

Planning for Rain at Your Outdoor Wedding

"It's like rain on your wedding day," sings Alanis Morissette in the song "Ironic." While rain on your wedding day isn't necessarily ironic, it's certainly an unfortunate situation. This is especially true for brides planning outdoor weddings.

However, rain doesn't have to destroy your day if you plan ahead.

1. Secure an Indoor Space

When you book an outdoor space for your wedding, make sure there is an indoor retreat on the property as well. Guests should have a place they can go to get out of the rain. Make sure the indoor space has enough room for all your guests. If the rain carries on all day, your guests won't be able to use the outdoor area.

2. Create a Backup Plan

If you plan to hold your ceremony or reception outdoors, you'll need to create a backup plan. Even in the summer, rain can come out of nowhere and disrupt your plan. Write down how your ceremony or reception will work indoors, addressing the setup, decorations, and seating arrangements. Share this plan with your wedding planner and the representative at your venue. Check the weather report in the days leading up to your wedding. Make a call at least 24 hours before your wedding about whether to hold your wedding indoors or out.

3. Bring Umbrellas for Photos

Rain doesn't need to disrupt your plan to take outdoor wedding photos. Purchase some stylish umbrellas that match the colors and theme of your wedding. You can even find transparent white umbrellas that look picture-perfect in wedding photos.

4. Keep Your Guests Dry

Put gear in place to make your wet guests comfortable as soon as they arrive at your wedding. Make sure the venue has a mat where your guests can wipe their feet. Bring a stack of towels and ask a member of the wedding party to wipe up water in the doorway. Also, make sure your indoor venue has a large coat rack or closet space to hold guests' rain coats.

5. Protect Your Dress

Rainyweathercan berisky for your wedding dress. You don't want to drag your train or heminwet, muddy ground. To protect your dress, you should:

  • Install a bustle on your dress so you can lift your train from the ground
  • Ask your bridesmaids to hold your train when it's down
  • Wear a petticoat under your dress to lift the hem
  • Spray the hem with fabric-protector spray

Even if you try your hardest to avoid walking in rain-soaked areas, you may still make a mistake. Don't worry-dry cleaning can remove stains in your dress.

Rain on your wedding day can be stressful, but it doesn't have to ruin your wedding day. If you have a plan in place, you'll be ready to handle a rainy wedding day. The beauty of the softly falling rain may even create the perfect backdrop for your wedding.

If you're looking forarustic outdoor venue, book with Rolling Meadows Ranch. We also have a large barn to keep your guests warm and dry.

The Child-Free Wedding: A Few Points to Consider

Some couples want their special day to bean adult-only affair. Couples arrive at the decision for personal reasons, but family and friends sometimes balk at the mere mention of a child-free wedding. Is it selfish to include only adults in your ceremony and reception plans? Here are some important points to consider before you make the decision.

Your Announcement Timing

Some wedding experts advise you to never put"adults only"on your invitations. Other professionalsadvise you to makeitclear in your invitations that no children are permitted.

The important thing to remember is to get the word out early. Tell friends and family about your decision so that parents can plan ahead. The sooner your guests learn of your child-free event, the sooner they can accept and accommodate to the idea.

There may still be some friends and family who disagree with your restriction. Expect some backlash but stand firm in your decision.

Your Budget Priority

As you plan your wedding events, both members of the relationship will have important elements you want included in the experience. For some couples, it's a great menu with gourmet food. For others, it's all-night dancing with an open bar.

If your priority is to create a warm, family affair that's low-key and memorable, it makes sense to budget kids into the mix. If your priority is hosting an elegant exchange of vows followed by a seated, catered banquet, small children will inflate the budget while not necessarily appreciating the experience.

For couples who come from large families, half of your guests may be kids. While children are fine for reunions and holiday parties, when forming a wedding budget, you must assess your priorities so that you have the wedding you want.

Your Planned Theme and Décor

Weddings bring out nostalgic feelings in people. Often,couples wish to display items like family heirlooms. Precious family artifacts including china, old photographs, and other family memorabilia can become part of the wedding décor.

Other couples have costumed or cosplay weddings where they dress up in themes or have expensive backdrops. At formal and rustic weddings, string quartets, bands,and DJs may bring delicate and pricey equipment to the ceremony and reception.

If you fear that children could damage these items, you are wise to limit your guest list to children at least 15 years old. Likewise, if you worry that your wedding décor or other hazards could be dangerous to kids, it's smart to host a child-free event.

Your Wedding Location

When you plan a destination wedding, it may be difficult for some parents to locate sitters. If guests live near your ceremony site, it's easier for them to find someone to watch their children during your wedding events. Choose a local venue if you want more parents to attend your wedding.

In a large wedding venue, it may be possible to set up a nursery or children's area during your ceremony and reception. This compromise allows parents with small children to be part of your special day.

Your wedding coordinator also has resources to help you locate licensed childcare workers. Alternately, older family members or friends can volunteer to help keep kids occupied and happy. Schedule each volunteer for only an hour's duty so no one misses much of the celebration. Provide games, party favors, movies, and video games, and the kids will have as good a time as the grownups.

In the end, your wedding is your day. If you don't want children at your wedding, it's completely your call. Be prepared for some hurt feelings but hold to your decision when you learn that some parents won't attend.

The less you try to justify your choice, the more your friends and family will accept it. "I'm sorry you won't be able to join us" is an appropriate response.

The staff at Rolling Meadows Ranch is happy to help you plan your dream wedding. The ample space in the event barn offers you many options in setting up your event the way you envision it. ​​

5 Steps to Planning a Memorable Corporate Holiday Party

​If you're in charge of your company's holiday party, you might feel like you're in over your head. How can you please all of the employees, including the CEO?

Following these five simple steps can help you create a party that will make employees proud to work for your company.

1. Get a Count

Before you can decide how to use your budget, you need to know how many people will be attending the party. If you're inviting employees' families, you'll need to ask how many people from each family will attend. Send out a survey to employees asking about their families' attendance. The survey also provides an opportunity to ask about any food allergies or sensitivities.

2. Pick the Right Venue

Choosing the venue should be one of your first steps because you'll need to book the venue as soon as possible. Of course, you'll need to find a venue that is large enough to hold all employees and their guests. But size shouldn't be your only consideration.

Another important factor is to find a venue that fits your event's style. If you're planning a quiet, cozy gathering, you don't want to book a large convention center. If you're planning on holding any of the activities outdoors, you need a venue with adequate outdoor space.

3. Select the Right Entertainment

After you've selected the right venue, book entertainment that appeals to everyone in your company. Some examples include:

  • Comedians
  • Bands and musicians
  • Actors dressed as popular characters
  • Jugglers
  • Dancers or dance lessons

Before you book an entertainer, make sure he or she is the right fit for your company. For example, if employees are bringing their families, make sure the comedian's jokes are family-friendly. If most of your employees are Millennials, steer away from 70s or 80s-style bands.

If you don't have the budget (or the desire) to pay for professional entertainment, you can incorporate other types of activities, such as:

  • Karaoke
  • Casino-style games
  • Photo booths
  • Sports tournaments

Make sure you have more than one activity option so if guests don't prefer one activity, they can choose another.

4. Choose Food That Appeals to Everyone

To ensure that the foods and drinks served appeal to people of all ages and tastes, hire a caterer who offers a variety of food options from every food group.

Also, check with the venue about their rules for serving alcohol. Some venues requirean insured bartender to serve alcoholic drinks. Include options such as sparkling cider, punch, or soda for guests who prefer not to drink alcohol.

5. Pick a Gift-Giving Method

Giving gifts or party favors is a staple at any holiday party, and corporate parties are no exception. Some companies choose to give out prizes such as electronics, gift cards, and gear. You could put employees' names in a basket and draw out names for various prizes.

Another option is to hold a gift exchange, where each guest brings a wrapped gift. All guests sit in a circle, and each guest takes a turn to choose his or her desired gift. He or she can unwrap a new gift or steal someone else's unwrapped gift. Anyone who gets his or her gift stolen can unwrap a new gift.

Yet another option is to announce a special gift for all employees, such as an extra day off that year or an end-of-the-year bonus.

Planning a corporate holiday party can be a lot of work. But all the work pays off when you see your coworkers forming new friendships and having a wonderful time. Follow these steps and plan a party that's worthy of your distinguished company. 

Set a Date: 7 Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Wedding Venue

​One of the most important decisions you make during wedding planning is where to hold the ceremony and reception. Your ideal venue should accommodate all your guests comfortably, suit your theme or style, and work with your needs.

When looking at venues, you may be persuaded by beautifully composed property photographs. But as you visit and narrow down your choices, keep these seven important factors in mind.

1. Amenities and Services

Buildings and outdoor spaces that are frequently booked as wedding venues usually offer a variety of amenities and services for wedding parties. However, these accommodations differ from venue to venue. For example, some venues provide in-house catering and may not allow outside food. Think about what services you may need and make a list. Your list may include accessible dressing rooms, audio and visual capabilities, on-site furniture, parking availability, and similar amenities.

2. Availability

Obviously, before you settle on a venue, be sure it's available for the date of your wedding. In most cases, you should plan to book the venue 8 to 12 months in advance. You may need an even longer period if the venue is particularly busy. Choose your date early in your planning period and discuss any possible conflicts with the venue staff.

3. Environment and Weather

If you want to conduct part of your ceremony, wedding party pictures, or reception outdoors, factor in potential weather conditions. If possible, visit potential venues during the same time of day that you would like your wedding to take place. Walk around the grounds and observe how much shade you find, how the lighting is, and how easy the terrain is to navigate. Additionally, do some research to determine what weather you can expect during the time of year you choose.

4. Guest Capacity

Regardless of your wedding's size, you need a venue that comfortably accommodates all your guests and any activities you plan to do. For example, you need a larger hall in your venue if you plan to have hours of dancing during your reception. Ask the staff about how many people the main room can seat and what the hall's total capacity is.

5. Location

Some venues that would otherwise work well may be too far out of the way for your special day. Think about the location of the venue. If you have many guests coming from out of town, consider a venue that's conveniently close to lodging. If you want to escape the feeling of a city, choose a country venue. Just be sure the location you pick has driving directions all your guests can follow easily.

6. Rental Period

Most venues offer rentals for a specific period of time, usually from 10 to 16 hours. Make sure to pick a venue that gives you enough time to arrive and prepare, have your celebration, and clean up before the rental period ends. Some venues give a set time of day that the rental period starts, so be sure to check that you can get your venue at the right time, especially if you have morning or evening plans.

7. Venue Style

As you consider venues, think about how you feel when you're there. If you want a more chic and sophisticated feeling, you may opt for a formal hall. If you prefer a cozy and rustic atmosphere, look into wedding barns. Or, find a venue that combines your favorite ambiance in the architecture and furnishings.

Pay attention to these factors as you set the day for your special day to ensure that your wedding looks and feels as you wish it to.

Want a large wedding that has both a rustic and elegant feeling? Consider Rolling Meadows Ranch. We offer expansive outdoor options as well as our spacious, beautiful barn. 

4 Elements to the Perfect Family Reunion 

​Planning a family reunion is not for the faint of heart. You need to create an event that will please people of many different ages. And even though you and your relatives are from the same family, you all have completely different interests.

By paying attention to these four details, you'll plan a memorable family reunion that the entire family can enjoy.

1. Indoor Activities

Your venue should have adequate indoor space where your entire family can congregate. This indoor space is especially important in the case of bad weather.

While time for eating and talking is certainly important, you should also plan a few structured indoor lactivities that everyone can enjoy together. These activities could include:

  • A family storytelling session. Each family member can share memories of growing up.
  • An ancestry exploration. Several family members might research about the family's ancestry and present their findings.
  • A family talent show. Family members could perform musical numbers, skits, or magic tricks.
  • A dance party. Complete your party with alive band or DJ.
  • Family quiz time. Family members can compete against each other to answer questions about the family.

These activities can help your family draw closer together and learn more about each other.

2. Outdoor Activities

Your venue should also have adequate outdoor space for the family to spread out. The children can run and play outside while the adults enjoy snacks or cocktails inside.

All ages may enjoy some organized outdoor activities as well, such as:

  • Croquet, horseshoes,and other lawn games
  • Sports tournaments like volleyball and soccer
  • Tug of war, potato sack races, and other contests

You may also wish to take a group family photo with a beautiful outdoor backdrop.

3. Food

Of course, food is central to any party, and a family reunion is no exception. You should plan for enough variety that everyone is sure to find something they like.

If you're serving a meal, your best bet is to have it catered. This option will allow you to enjoy your family's company rather than spending hours preparing food.

As for snacks, choose elegant finger food, such as:

  • Crackers and cheese
  • Fruit and veggies
  • Sausages
  • Egg rolls
  • Croissant sandwiches
  • Ham and cheese rollups
  • Soft pretzels
  • Chips and guacamole
  • Yogurt parfaits
  • Garlic bread

You should pair these snacks with drinks like sparkling water, punch,and soda. You can also hire a bartender to serve alcoholic beverages to the adults.

4. Music

Make sure your chosen venue has sound equipment to play music. You could also hire a band or a DJ.

Playing today's hits will satisfy most of your family members. However,consider playing a few of the hits from your parents' or grandparents' day.

Here are the top-rated songs from different decades:

1920s-"Swanee" by Al Jolson

1930s- "In the Mood" by Glenn Miller

1940s- "I'll Never Smile Again" by Tommy Dorsey

1950s- "Singing the Blues" by Guy Mitchell

1960s- "Hey Jude" by the Beatles

1970s- "You Light Up My Life" by Debby Boone

1980s- "Physical" by Olivia Newton-John

1990s- "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men

2000s- "We Belong Together" by Mariah Carey

2010s- "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars

The older relatives may enjoy introducing their favorite songs to the younger generation,and vice versa.

By following these four steps, you can plan a family reunion that your family members won't forget. But before you plan the activities, food,and music, your first step is to choose the right venue. Rolling Meadows Ranch rests on 40 acres of space, with a barn that can hold 325 people. Call Rolling Meadows Ranch today to schedule a day for your family reunion. 

7 Perfect Bride (And Bridesmaid) Shoe Styles for Outdoor Weddings

As important as your dress, makeup, and hair accessories are on your big day, you probably spend more time thinking about your wedding shoes. After all, you have to walk down the aisle, dance your first dance, and stand in a receiving line to greet your guests at the reception in the same shoes.

Your shoes become particularly important when you plan to have an outdoor ceremony or reception. The last thing you need on your big day is to have a heel sink into the grass while walking or waltzing.

Luckily, you have plenty of options beyond traditional pumps. In this blog, we list seven shoe styles better suited for the charm and challenges of an outdoor ceremony.

1. Ballet Flats

Ballet flats have become increasingly popular in most situations, with good reason. These simple, roundtoe slip-ons come in nearly any color and pattern you could desire. Most women also find these flats comfortable and easy to walk in.

These shoes are best suited for dry venues where you don't have to worry about dew soaking into the fabric upper.

2. Chunky Heels

Feel attached to the height, posture help, and statement heels provide? Opt for pumps with thicker heels. Choose Mary Janes for a sweet, nostalgic look or sparkly platforms to make a grand statement.

Just make sure to wear your shoes when you go in for dress alterations to ensure your hem is the right length.

3. Closed-Toe Sandals

If you want the ease of sandals without the beachy vibe, consider a closed-toe pair. Closed-toe sandals often have delicate ribbons that tie at the ankle, small wedge heels, and lace uppers, perfect for girly girls.

If you'll spend most of your time in grass, consider choosing a darker color sole and upper since lightcolored cloth sandals may accumulate grass stains easily.

4. Cowboy Boots

For a classic country flair, consider cowboy boots. This Southwestern staple comes in variety of styles, from traditional to bedazzled to embroidered, so you're sure to find a pair you love.

If you opt for boots, be sure to break them in before the ceremony. Brand-new leather can leave blisters that may distract you from more important things.

5. Flat Sandals

For a chic summer wedding, try flat sandals. Choose strappy gladiator sandals for a powerful look or a simple metallic pair to let your dress make the bigger statement.

Flat sandals usually have thin soles, so avoid them if you'll need to walk over any gravel or uneven ground.

6. Oxfords

Add a hint of menswear to your wedding attire with a smart pair of oxfords. Choose saddle shoes for a retro vibe, low and thick heels for comfort and class, or lace-ups to play up the contrast between the softness of your dress and the hard edge of your shoes.

As with boots, you'll want to break in your oxfords before the big day to avoid any discomfort. And don't forget to pick out the right socks!

7. Wedges

To stand tall without sinking into the grass, choose wedges over heels. Wedges come in as many colors, styles, and heights as traditional pumps so you can match your wedding's vibe.

If you have weak ankles or will spend a lot of time on your feet, look for wedges with an ankle strap so the shoes feel more secure.

Once you find your perfect wedding shoes, help your bridesmaids pick out pairs as well. Putting your whole wedding party in festive flats or stable wedges reduces the risk of slips, trips, and gaffes that could cause embarrassment, injury, or poor wedding pictures.

As your chosen date approaches, look for shoes in one of these styles to ensure that you look and feel confident, comfortable, and chic.​

Newly Engaged? 4 Questions to Help You Get Started With Wedding Preparations 

After the shock of getting engaged wears off and you can pull your eyes away from the dazzling ring on your finger, you'll need to start planning your wedding. At first, you may feel overwhelmed at the thought of creating your dream wedding. There are so many decisions to make that you may struggle knowing where to start.

Here are a few questions to help you get started on your wedding preparation.

1. What Is the Budget for Your Wedding?

Before you make any major plans for your wedding, set a budget. In fact, you may want to avoid even looking at decorations or venues until you know what you can afford.

Wedding Budget Breakdown:

  • 50% for Food & Reception 
  • 10% for Photography
  • 8% for Entertainment
  • 8% for Attire
  • 8% for Decorations & misc
  • 8% for Flowers
  • 2% for Ceremony
  • 2% for Rings
  • 2% for Stationary
  • 2% for Transportation

If possible, sit down with your fiancé and anyone else who has offered to help pay for the wedding to figure out a wedding budget. Often, this conversation can feel uncomfortable for everyone, but remember these people love you and want to make your wedding day special.

If you feel too uncomfortable meeting with everyone together, talk to family members about contributions individually. Then, meet with your fiancé to talk about how much everyone is willing to contribute.

2. How Many People Are You Going to Invite to Your Wedding?

Once you have a wedding budget, the next step is to decide whom you want to invite to the wedding. The number of guests you invite often influences what venue and food you choose, so it's important to decide early. For instance, you don't want to book a venue with a room limit of 95 people, then realize you want to invite 200 guests.

Keep in mind that not every person you invite to your wedding will attend. Here are some general guidelines on how many people will likely attend based on how many people you invite:

Less than 50 guests invited: 90% attendance
75-100 guests invited: 75-90% attendance
100-150 guests invited: 70-80% attendance
More than 150 guests invited: 65-75% attendance

Of course, estimating attendance isn't an exact science, so use your best judgment on who you think will most likely attend and plan accordingly.

3. Where Will You Hold Your Wedding and Reception?

Most brides and grooms don't have time to visit more than a few potential venues before the wedding. You can save yourself time by gathering information about venues online beforehand.

You and your fiancé should narrow down your venue options by location, price, and overall venue style. For instance, if you want an elegant, rustic wedding, pick a venue that fits that theme. Try to choose your top three venues from your research online, and then visit those places in person.

4. What Are Some Possible Dates for Your Wedding?

Once you start telling people that you're engaged, they will want to know the wedding date. In reality, you may not know the exact date until you book the venue. However, you can give friends and family a few potential dates, so they can roughly plan on when they will attend your wedding.

It's best to have two or three possible dates in mind just in case the venue you want doesn't have your first date available. As you choose potential dates for your wedding, consider the weather, holidays, and work/vacation schedules.

You should also consider the amount of time you will need to plan your wedding. Most engagements last between six months to a year.

Remember that your wedding is a celebration of the beginning of your life with your best friend. Do your best to enjoy this exciting experience and don't stress too much if everything doesn't go exactly as you planned.