Non-Traditional Wedding Additions

people at wedding having fun in a photobooth


Non-traditional Wedding Additions podcast with Maureen Woodman.

John Maher: Hi! I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Maureen Woodman, a wedding planner for on and off-site catered events at The Essex Room in Essex, Massachusetts. Today, we’re talking about “Nontraditional Wedding Additions.” Welcome, Maureen.

Maureen Woodman: Hi, John. Thanks for having me today.

John Maher: Sure. So Maureen, what are wedding additions? Can you give me some examples of what you mean by that?

Maureen Woodman: Wedding additions are things that you would bring additionally to the venue that you’ve chosen. It could be a food truck – the sausage guy. It could be an ice cream truck where a bride and groom actually go right in and serve the ice creams and ask you if you want a nutty buddy or a fudgesicle.

It could be a photo booth, where — I’ve seen them done in great lengths. Some of them are just very simple. Some of them come with full costume. Some of them come with the frame guy. Some of them make the book afterwards, where all the photos actually go in the book for you.

John Maher: So, they invite the wedding guests to go take their photos in the photo booth and then hand in the pictures to be put into an album.

Maureen Woodman: Yes. They put all the photos in there. You dress up in a costume. First, you might go in with your husband or a guest. And then, you go in with your girlfriends. Then, everybody goes in with the bride and groom.

And then, the next thing you know, it’s two hours. Everyone’s down to photo booth. They got bows on. They got hats on. They’re playing instruments. I’ve seen it all. Another one that we had a few weeks ago that I’d loved was a caricature artist, a person that drew everyone.

And then, each person got a little stand. It went and sat on the guest table. So, throughout the night, you got to look at everybody’s caricatures. I was amazed at how quick this gentleman was drawing. He did them on 8 by 10. So, they were good size. It was fascinating. I really liked that. I think we haven’t seen that a lot.

We also have Espresso Dave, which is a coffee guy. He comes in with an Italian pushcart. He does all different flavored coffees and coffee drinks and espresso. He does it hot or cold. He makes the lattes right there. He usually comes in somewhere around your desert time. People just love that. It gives a little Italian flair. He’s sitting there, waiting for you. He can make anything that you want.

John Maher: I think I’ve seen some pictures of people who did a carnival theme. You might have a cotton candy booth, and hotdogs, or something like that. Have you seen things like that?

Maureen Woodman: Yes. Today, I just looked at the new Martha Stewart magazine that came out. They have the popcorn machine, which just happened to be at one of the weddings I went to this weekend.

They put out little popcorn boxes with the bride and groom’s name on it. It’s like the favor. And then, they had flavored shaking, whether it’s butter flavor or cinnamon or sugar to flavor up your popcorn. It’s somewhere to go.

So, one of the first additions that I saw years ago, which is still very popular, would be the candy booth, the candy station, where it was reminiscent of going to a penny candy store. You would pick out all your favorite things.

Sometimes, I saw them put it in like a Chinese box, like Chinese food. They would have bags made with their name on them. All the candy was in different size brandy snifters. You would just go around scooping all your favorite candy, and you would make a bag. That still is popular today. I think everybody loves candy. But it can be a very pretty, pretty display if it’s done properly.

John Maher: Right, right. What is it that these wedding additions bring to a wedding reception?

Maureen Woodman: I think it gives you something to do in that time when you’re kind of stuck at your table. Do you ever go to a wedding when you’re just like, “Oh, are we ever going to get up?”

John Maher: Like, “when is the food going to come out”?

Maureen Woodman: Yes. When is the food going to come? “I ate too much, I got to get up and move around.” Or you’ve been put at a table where you really don’t like the people that you’re sitting with. So, you’re trying to figure out, “Oh! How can I go and be with my friends? I want to go over there where the fun people are.” So, I think that the station is an interactive situation, where it gets the guests up and moving, and it makes them participate in the wedding, where they may otherwise have just been at their chair until it was time to do the next thing.

John Maher: I think a lot of bride and grooms, and correct me if I’m wrong, they want to see their families intermingle a little bit. At least traditionally, you’d have the bride side of the family over on one side of the dance floor and the groom side over on the other side of the dance floor.

Maybe, you’d get together on the dance floor together. But otherwise, you pretty much stayed apart. I think a lot of younger people want to see their families meet each other and intermingle more. Do you agree with that?

Maureen Woodman: Yes. It definitely works for that, especially the photo booth, the ice cream truck. Everyone gets in the line. They’re all excited. They can’t wait for their turn. They’re waiting to decide what they’re going to do, or what they’re going to choose. I think while they’re in the line, they’re talking to someone to make the time go by.

John Maher: Right. Do all wedding venues allow these types of additions?

Maureen Woodman: That will be something when you’re choosing your wedding venue, and again, at that time, you never know what you’re going to have for sure. But you should ask that question because with this day of insurance and liability, Hold Harmless agreements, food poisoning and whatever could come up with ServSafe and Board of Health issues. A lot of venues will not allow outside purveyors to come in. The reason is insurance cost. So, you want to either get a Hold Harmless where you sign off and say, “I will hold you harmless if something happens”.

You also want to always grab a Certificate of Liability from any vendor that you bring into a venue. That’s to protect yourself as well as the venue, so that you can make sure that that person that you had is insured and bonding.

John Maher: Some of these booths and things like that might be fairly big. And so, maybe the wedding reception just doesn’t have the room for it, or there are building codes, or things like that, where they just might not allow you to bring a big booth in. Maybe they don’t have an elevator that would allow somebody to bring this booth up to the second floor where the wedding reception is, or that type of thing as well.

Maureen Woodman: Yes. It’s definitely something that you want to talk to the venue manager as well as your wedding coordinator to make sure that all those logistic problems that are going to happen on the wedding day can be solved and taken care of ahead of time.

You wouldn’t want to have the photo booth going where your main food buffet station was going, for example. And then, you get in there. And the guys get the whole thing setup. You’re like, “No. No. This is where my pasta station is going.”

So, you are right too. Some of these things are much larger than you imagine. And also, they like to come in a lot earlier and set up, so that they’re not intrusive when the actual setup for the wedding’s happening. So, you want to make sure that there’s going to be somebody on the property to allow them in there and take care of their needs.

John Maher: Right. Does it help to have a wedding planner, who’s helping you to coordinate some of these efforts?

Maureen Woodman: Absolutely. A wedding planner at The Essex Room – with us, we have four wedding planners. Usually on the day, we will have three managers working – someone to run the bride, someone to run the food, someone to run the wait staff, and trying to keep everyone on top of it.

There’s a lot that goes in to getting the bride and groom to the point of toast. Once the toast has happened, then everybody seems to let their hair down. You can relax. Everyone can have a good time. But in order to get there and get that first course out of the kitchen, there’s really a huge amount of time management. That’s where your wedding managers or your wedding coordinators can help you tremendously.

John Maher: Okay. Maureen Woodman, thanks very much for speaking with me.

Maureen Woodman: Thanks, John. Thanks for having me.

John Maher: For more information, you can visit The Essex Room website at or call 978-768-7335.

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