Small Weddings Are Perfect At The Castle!

Planning a wedding is no simple task.  Planning a small wedding for you and your closest friends and family might seem like a simpler option, but it takes careful planning and special attention to give your wedding an atmosphere of intimacy.

After trimming down the guest list, take into consideration important factors like venue, food, and décor. What do you want your ceremony and reception to say about you and your fiancé? Modern, vintage, relaxed, natural or traditional; the options are endless. The Castle Tea Room offers a unique and elegant setting your guests are sure to remember.

Just last month, the Castle hosted a small wedding for about 35 guests. Close friends and family gathered to watch Pam and Tony exchange vows out on the Courtyard in front of the fountain. After the ceremony concluded, the guests were invited inside to enjoy some cocktails, and then dinner was served buffet style in the front room. This kept the other rooms on the first floor open for dining and dancing.

The oak, cherry and pecan rooms were adorned with beautiful shades of yellow, ivory and a touch of gray. The décor connected the three adjoining rooms and gave the bride and groom a chance to dine with their parents at the head table, then mingle with other guests. No seating arrangements were needed, allowing guests to file through the buffet line at their leisure and go back for more drinks and appetizers as they pleased.

Our creative bride Pam crafted all of the decorations and centerpieces herself. Creating your own centerpieces and room décor is a great money-saving option for the savvy bride. This allows you to bring in your own sense of style while adding a personal touch.

The yellow daisies and roses popped on the ivory linens. Accented with lemons stacked in vases and candles wrapped in beeswax, the décor brightened up the room. These beautiful and simple decorations offered just the right amount of color against the Castle’s already stunning interior.

IntimateWeddings.com’s article Ten Reasons to Have a Small Wedding explains why some brides choose to go with smaller weddings not only for budget reasons, but also to share their special day with those loved ones who know the couple best. A smaller guest list gives you the chance to choose a very unique venue, customize your wedding and eliminate a lot of stress. You can keep your special day carefree and really enjoy yourself. Whichever reason resonates with you, the Castle Tea Room can create a one-of-a-kind intimate setting for your special day.

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Sample setup diagram for a small ceremony <40 followed by a cocktail party for up to 75.

Choosing a Castle Reception Style

Heavy Hors D'oeuvres Buffet

When it comes to food and beverage options there are many: cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, a plated dinner, a casual buffet , champagne and cake,  just desserts, or even an early afternoon brunch. Whether causal or black tie, the possibilities are endless. The Castle plays host to all of these options, but to be realistic, not all of these food and beverage options work for all size groups.

We are finding that one of the most popular alternatives to the traditional dinner with couples these days is a cocktail reception.  A cocktail reception offers a somewhat more casual atmosphere than a sit-down dinner and gives your guests the chance to really mingle. You and your guests can enjoy an array of hors d’oeuvres while sipping on signature cocktails.

Cocktail receptions also save on rental fees and staffing from the caterer, allowing more money in your allotted budget to go toward food and beverage. With a heavy hors d’oeuvres presentation your caterer will:

  • Provide as much food as with a traditional dinner
  • Offer a wider variety of foods
  • Provide a fresher presentation
  • Serve your guests quicker than a traditional sit down meal, which means more time to enjoy your guests!

Hors d’oeuvres do not have to be pretentious and can offer a wide variety of small bites and displays of foods that are familiar to most people. Guests are free to choose foods that appeal to them, plus you will not have to worry whether everyone gets their plate at the same time. Take time to craft a menu full of different flavors, your favorite foods and popular crowd pleasers.  We can recommend caterers who help you create an amazing hors d’oeuvres event.

The Bride and Groom.... Enjoying the Buffet!

The tradition of providing a full dinner to wedding guests is long and rich.  There are basically two service options:

  • Plated with full table-side service by waitstaff
  • Buffet self-service with waitstaff providing more of a supporting role

The two options present both advantages and disadvantages, see Bride.com for more insight.  When considering a full meal presentation keep in mind that the meal will take the better part of two and half hours of your reception time.  A full meal also requires a much more rigid timeline for your event because timing will be critical to your caterers ability to time the meal.

For couples with a big sweet tooth, a dessert only reception is a neat idea. Cupcakes, cookies and sweets of all kinds provide your guests with a fun twist on

More than a cake.... A Sweets Table!

the standard food table. Choose desserts that go with the overall theme for your wedding, whether that means color accents or sweets from a specific country.

If budget is a concern, make your event short and sweet, stick to a basic cake and champagne reception. This lets the bride and groom focus on each other as well as their guests, whether they have a small or large group. Sticking to cake and champagne eliminates a lot of monetary limitations and keeps things simple.

This brief article by About.com provides a helpful list of pros and cons when it comes to selecting a certain reception style. If you need help, we are more than happy to help you wade through the various choices for reception styles to find the one that will make your day fit your desires!

Check to see if your event date is available and get rate information

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Castle Tea Room Bridal Showers

Bridal showers have been around since the early 1800’s, and while some traditions remain constant, the modern bride has more options than ever before. Typically, the maid of honor and/or bridesmaids throw the shower for the bride-to-be, inviting close family and friends to celebrate the upcoming nuptials. The guest of honor should serve as inspiration for the shower theme, including food, beverage and decorations. 

With 20-30 guests, the Castle Tea Room can easily provide enough space for dining and activities. Whether brunch, lunch, dinner, or even cocktails or tea, having a theme for your food and beverage helps narrow down the seemingly endless possibilities.

In the past, the Castle Tea Room has hosted a number of bridal showers varying from the classic to nontraditional options, for example:

  • Morning crowd? Try serving brunch with mimosas to celebrate.
  • English tea service; Martha Stewart.com provides a great resource for food and favor options.
  • Sweet tooth? Try an array of bite-size desserts.
  • Luncheon or sit-down dinner.
  • Cocktail hour; create a signature cocktail or a few themed drinks.

 

Working with a small guest list allows for more food options. No matter what option you choose, you can either work a caterer to provide the food and beverage or just bring a few food items yourself.

While food is an important part of the celebration, the gifts can also play a significant role in the traditional bridal shower. Customary gifts for the bride include household or kitchen items to get the new husband and wife off to a proper start in their new lives.


Gift items and activities can be centered around your theme as well. The host(s) can include ideas or examples of themed gifts on the invitations. For example, with an all seasons shower, gifts could include a lemonade pitcher for summer, a throw for winter, and so on. Gifts centered around the bride and groom’s favorite hobby or their honeymoon destination also make for great themes. Check out Beau-Coup.comfor an excellent list of theme ideas.
No matter what the theme, bridal showers are meant to bring friends and family together to “shower” the bride with love and well-wishes before her big day. The Castle Tea Room can provide the perfect intimate setting for this special occasion.

 

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Off Season Weddings at The Castle

While the typical wedding season runs from May to October, many brides are opting to plan their wedding during the “off-season.” Choosing to exchange vows during this time is not as limiting as one may think. In fact, there are quite a few advantages: venues and vendors often have more dates available for booking and lower costs for certain products and services.  In many circumstances the rates for a small off season wedding at the Castle will be at least 50% of high season!!!

Planning a wedding during the months of November, January, February, March and April bring about the chance for the bride and groom to cut back on many aspects of their budget, even down to the flowers you use. Look at certain flowers in season during the winter months like anemones and ranunculus to add a splash of color. If you’re going for a more traditional holiday ceremony, use ivy, holly and poinsettias.

Choose seasonal themes or color schemes and interesting locations to hold both the ceremony and reception. There are also plenty of winter-friendly options to keep the cold at bay, so don’t completely rule out any outdoor options. Having your wedding during the off season gives you more options with dates, locations and cost, as well as more guest availability with the likelihood that your wedding date won’t conflict with many other weddings.

With so many ceremony and reception options to choose from, here are a few that work well here at the Castle:

  • A small intimate ceremony for 30 then appetizers and/or dinner; invite those near and dear to you to share your special day inside the beautiful Castle Tea Room with good food and good company.
  • Sit-down dinner reception for 50, followed by dancing on the Courtyard; looking to have a little bit bigger guest list? 50 guests allow for plenty of room while maintaining that cozy atmosphere.
  • Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres for 75-100 guests; create a few signature cocktails and treat guests to an array of hors d’oeuvres that put a new twist on the staples of traditional holiday meals.

More than a cake.... A Sweets Table!

Whether inside or outside, the Castle Tea Room can offer the perfect elegant setting for a beautiful Winter wedding. The Courtyard provides ample space for those with larger guest lists, while the interior provides a unique setting for smaller groups. There’s no better way to bring your loved ones together this holiday season than to celebrate your nuptials here at the Castle Tea Room!

Check to see if your event date is available and get rate information

Click to view photos of Castle events

 Sample setup diagram for a small ceremony <40 followed by a cocktail party for up to 75.

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Baby Showers at The Castle

A baby shower is a special time to celebrate the arrival of a new addition to a friend or loved one’s family. Anyone can host the shower, either a co-worker, a family member, or a close friend. Traditionally, the only job for the mother-to-be is to show up and be the guest of honor. The Castle has hosted a number of baby showers over the years, so let us know if you need suggestions.  After a host, approximate number of guests, and date is decided upon, the fun of planning begins. Martha Stewart.com provides an excellent resource for baby shower planning and etiquette.Here at the Castle, there are many options for hosting a baby shower, here are few examples:

  • Classic Tea Party theme, the Castle can provide basic English tea service with cream, sugar, tea biscuits and jam.  This option also includes use of our house china, linen, silverware and silver tea pots.  Often guests will bring additional finger foods to share or you can pick up some additional items from a local grocery like The Merc.
  • Casual Snacks and Sweets, many times the host(s) work together to bring a variety of snack items and sweets, then rent the house dishware and linens to finish things off.
  • Luncheon, a luncheon can be a fun way to celebrate, it can be a bit more formal and may require the help of a caterer.  If you would like help selecting a caterer we would be happy to make recommendations.

We have many table setup options based on your style and number of celebrants.

With the Castle as a backdrop for your shower, there is no need to go over the top with decorations. Choose a simple color scheme or theme for centerpieces or food that ties in with the invitations. Not every baby shower has to be pink or blue, and Babyzone.com has some fun theme ideas. Get creative with your invitations and pull inspiration from the mom-to-be’s favorite color, flower or even a favorite vacation spot or hobby.

Keep guests entertained with fun activities or games centered around your theme. Parents.com offers some fun suggestions to keep the party going. Baby shower bingo gets all the guests involved in the gift opening, with a bingo board filled with registry items. Make a CD with songs that have baby in the title and have guests try to guess the song after playing a clip. Another fun guessing game tests the pop culture knowledge of the guests by naming the celebrity baby.

Over the years the Castle has been the backdrop for hundreds of baby showers and we look forward to working with you to develop an event to remember.  Let us know if you need help with planning or ideas we would be happy to help.

 

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Small Ceremony and Dinner, Then Large Reception

The phrase “private ceremony” can mean a lot of different things. To some couples,

Let The Ceremony Begin!!!

it means being surrounded by core friends and family instead of a large guest list. To other couples, a private ceremony is a way to trim back their budget and just keep things simple. In reality, you can have the best of both worlds with a small, private ceremony followed by an open reception where you can include everyone on your list.

By keeping the ceremony small, you have the freedom to choose a unique venue that best reflects you as a couple. Fewer guests also means fewer schedules to work around. Your wedding is all about you and it should be special, so don’t fret too much about the guest list. Many couples who host a ceremony outside of a church generally have a brief ceremony and if the guest list is small the rental savings can be as high as 25%.

In order to avoid hurting any feelings, take into consideration a special invitation for the reception. Let your guests know you are having a private ceremony or have already tied the knot, and now you would like them to join you at the reception to celebrate. For invitation ideas, check out the destination wedding article on Truly Engaging.com. You want to be sure your guests feel included even if they aren’t invited to the actual ceremony.

How to Have a Small Private Wedding from Ehow.com offers some excellent advice when it comes to planning an exclusive ceremony followed by a larger reception. Keep it simple and low-key and be sure to word your invitations so your guests understand they are still a big part of your big day.

Our Bride and Groom last week opted for a small civil ceremony on the Front Steps of the Castle, with 35 of their closest friends and family in attendance. Following the ceremony, guests enjoyed a delicious dinner catered by Dianna’s Kitchen. As dinner came to a close, an additional 100 guests arrived and the celebration moved outside to our Courtyard.

Heavy Hors D'oeuvres!

The reception guests joined the happy couple to dance the night away and celebrate with the newlyweds. Outside, lights illuminated the big white tent and each table was adorned with touches of black, silver and deep red roses.

Dianna’s Kitchen provided a tasty array of heavy hors d’oeuvres, keeping the party goers snacking all night. Tables scattered out on the Courtyard provided plenty of space for the beautiful cake, DJ and a bartender.  By having a more casual style reception the evening flowed effortlessly without the rigidity of a more structured formal reception and the guests had a fantastic time.

Check to see if your event date is available and get rate information

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The Castle Tea Room | 1307 Massachusetts Street | Lawrence, KS | Phone: (785) 843-1151


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