Blog, Weddings

How to Choose a Wedding Reception Venue – Reception Site Tips For Brides-to-Be

Jan 10, 2011

Article By Tarah Jahnig

With engagement season in full swing, brides-to-be across the country are making decisions on every detail of their big day, from ceremony dates to napkin colors. With limited planning time and hundreds of details to consider, choosing a wedding reception venue can seem like an overwhelming task. Thankfully, for brides armed with the right tools, it does not have to be.

With so many things to think about, some couples rush into choosing a reception site without considering all of the details. Determine what your needs are first, and find a venue that will work with you to create your vision.

Before signing a contract, consider the following:

The Guest List: Some couples mistakenly pick a venue without considering how many people they plan to invite. Nail down a guest list tally, and then choose a venue with appropriate accommodations – not the other way around.

The Budget: A wedding reception often consumes more than half of the bride’s total budget (including catering and decorations). Consider potential fees for the room rental, catering, bar service, setup and teardown, and chair or linen rental. Also be sure to ask about hidden fees, such as corking or cake-cutting. These are details many couples do not think to ask about, but are surprised by on their wedding day.

The Convenience: To cut expenses, consider a location that offers full-service wedding reception facilities, where basics like tables, chairs and linens are provided in the rental fee. A hotel with banquet facilities and room accommodations also reduces transportation headaches for out-of-town guests.

The Catering: Determine the type of food you plan to serve. Whether you envision a full meal, or just hors d’oevres or a dessert bar, consider whether the venue has in-house catering to accommodate your requests. If not, be sure to ask if the venue allows guests to use an outside caterer for a meal or dessert

The Decor: It might be difficult to picture how an empty reception site can be transformed for your wedding day. Ask to see photos from other wedding receptions held there, and find out what types of decorations are allowed.

Most importantly, choose a reception venue where you and your guests will receive excellent service. No bride-to-be wants to be stuck coordinating details at the last minute, and picking the right vendor ensures you will be able to kick back and celebrate with friends and family on the big day.

About the Author: Tarah Jahnig writes on behalf of the The Ramada Tropics Resort and Conference Center in Des Moines, IA. The Ramada Tropics Resort and Conference Center offers full-service wedding reception services, with a 5,200 square foot ballroom that can accommodate up to 400 guests. The newly renovated Des Moines hotel also features an indoor water park, poolside tiki bar, restaurant, catering services, and 166 guest rooms.

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Top Holiday Travel Tips

Dec 02, 2010

Article by Jeffrey Meier

Are you ready to get started on the travel journey of a lifetime this holiday season but feel as though you are forgetting something important? Don’t fret! All you need are a few holiday travel tips to make sure you stay on the right track. Whether you’re going to spend time with your family, or are taking everyone on a fun getaway, it is important that you plan well. So to help you out I am providing some holiday travel tips that will make your vacation time with family and friends a breeze.

Find Out Peak Travel Dates One of my top holiday travel tips is to find out when the peak travel dates are – then avoid them like a plague! Peak travel dates have two problems associated with them:

1) plane tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals, and more tend to be more expensive, and

2) everyone else will be traveling on those dates, hence the name peak travel dates.

If possible, plan your vacation time at work a few days before the peak travel period so that you can avoid the rush. And also try to plan coming back a few days after – that way you can almost always guarantee reductions in prices, reductions in holiday traffic and reductions in headaches.

Do Your Comparison Shopping It is important to stay abreast of holiday travel tips that help you find the best deals for your money. That starts with finding flight specials and continues with locating vacation destination deals. If you are going to visit family for the holidays and are not in need of a hotel room or transportation when you arrive then flight costs are all you will need to take into consideration.

There are plenty of websites that give great holiday deals. Shop around with the major travel search engines such as Expedia and Travelocity, but also look at and others for great rates. Also, you will be surprised to find that many airlines will have great deals if you search their website directly. And if you want the best comparison shopping experience, I recommend using They use a side-by-side comparison of every flight special, sorted by price. I have found the greatest success using their services.

If you are traveling to a destination that does not include free room and board, then one of my holiday travel tips is for you to comparison shop for great all-inclusive package deals. You can find great places to stay during that holidays that have 3- and 5-night vacation packages with meals and activities included. Also, you will want to try to get a car factored into the price if you need one for your trip. The more specific you are when planning and the earlier you book, the better your results will be.

Plan Your Connecting Flights with Great Care This is one of the holiday travel tips that will reduce your stress level significantly. I say this because I know the feeling of sitting in the airport waiting to board the first of two connections when you hear the airline attendant politely (and nervously) inform passengers that the flight has been delayed for an hour or more due to a snow storm in “Sock-It-To-Me,” Kansas.

When you hear the news, your thoughts quickly shift to your connecting flight that is probably scheduled to depart on time – 30 minutes after this flight is supposed to land. You know pre-boarding begins 30 minutes prior to take off to ensure the flight leaves on schedule. And that’s when questions like “What will I do if my flight doesn’t land before the other flight takes off?” and “Are there additional flights available?” begin to rush through your mind. And of course, the final thought will be, “Why didn’t I schedule my connecting flight for a later time?”

This anxiety can be avoided by choosing connecting flights that allow for an hour and a half or more of layover time. I know that when you make the choice to find connecting flights as close as possible to the time your first flight is to land that you are simply trying to get where you’re going quickly and want to avoid boredom in the airport. But usually one and a half to two hours isn’t that long when you consider that it takes time to exit the plane, find the connecting flights departing gate, which could be in another terminal, then get settled before it is time to board the second plane. Besides, if you allow yourself the extra time, you are almost guaranteed the promise of making your connecting flights – a promise that is more than welcome during the busy holiday season.

Plan Your Packing In Accordance with Current Airport Security Measures. This is one of the holiday travel tips that actually sounds unfair – and trust me; I used to feel the same way too. But after enough hassles at the airport security station, I finally gave in and realized that I couldn’t change what I couldn’t control. So now, instead of fussing at the ways airports are trying to ensure our safety, I simply plan ahead by packing my belongings in accordance with their security measures.

One way to do this is by making sure to pack all of liquids and gels that are larger than 3 ml in the bags I plan to check. The airport has signs up everywhere that let you know that you cannot carry liquids and gels through the security checkpoint; these items include lotion, toothpaste, baby oil, aerosols (hairspray), perfume bottles, bottled water, and much more. If you carry them through the checkpoint they will find and confiscate them – you cannot stop this from happening. So to avoid the drama, why not simply pack them away and happily greet them at the baggage claim at your destination? You are allowed to carry liquids and gels 3 ml and smaller in a zip-top, clear bag, so you are not completely left out in the cold. And by sticking to the rules, you, your family, everyone in line behind you, and airport security will be much happier.

Remembering this helpful holiday travel tips will definitely help make vacationing during this holiday season a better experience. If you are in need of additional holiday travel tips, remember the last time you traveled and all of the challenges you faced, then apply them to the holiday season. By doing this you can assure yourself that you won’t be faced with any unwelcome surprises.

Jeffrey Meier at Jam727 Enterprises at blog offers even more detailed information on a wide variety of topics.

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Questions to Ask Before Selecting Your Event Venue

Jan 10, 2010

I was thrilled to discover earlier this month, a wonderful resource for Meeting and Event professionals to network and find the latest industry news and information.  If you have not had an opportunity to explore their site, I highly recommend doing so.

I appreciate their articles for planners that provide sound advice and tips on locating and managing the most ideal venues for their event.  The first step is for planners to identify their objectives.  Here are is a list of excellent questions to ask directly from an article written by Wesley Harrington and Hugh K. Lee: Setting Objectives Before You Select a Site

There are 10 main things to consider when setting meeting goals:

1. What is the purpose of the meeting? Can we create a clear written statement of why this event is to be conducted? Does it agree with the top priorities of our organization?

2. Can we establish quantifiable goals for this event and clear thresholds of achievement by which we can determine its success? Make the objective specific, measurable, attainable and realistic, relevant, and time-based.

3. Whom are we trying to attract? Identify all stakeholders in the meeting (attendees, organization leaders, facilities professionals, etc.), and set priorities. Which group’s needs come first?

4. What do I want attendees to remember most about the event? Can we summarize the experiences our attendees should have?

5. What can prior history teach us about this meeting? Is there information that would be useful to us in determining the potential for success – or failure – of this meeting?

6. Who else has conducted the same type of meeting, and what can we learn from their experiences? Talking with meeting planning peers can be a big help in setting effective and realistic goals.

7. Do we have the resources necessary to achieve our goals? Can we successfully conduct the event with the staff we have, or do we need to consider outsourcing part or all of it? How much can we rely on volunteers, and how will we go about recruiting them?

8. Have we sought input and commitment from our staff? Have we asked previous attendees for their comments and suggestions?

9. How will we reach our intended audience? What type of marketing and promotion will we do to spread the word about the event?

10. How will we monitor and determine the success of this effort? Develop measurement tools that address the pre-meeting process, all on-site meeting elements, and the various post-meeting outcomes.

Business & Leisure Travel Tips: Adapting to Changing Airline Rules

Jan 04, 2010

Long Security LinesUnless you are living under a rock, you have heard that the airline security scare from last month has caused even more safety restrictions to air travel and is testing the patience of business travelers throughout the world.  On one hand, of course we want to do everything we can to support new ways to prevent violent and hostile acts to air travel- but the downside is these new measures will likely burden an already stressed travel industry.

Most airline passengers are frustrated by the new measures- but are willing to tolerate new restrictions if officials think they will keep them safer. Here are some of examples of what we may see for a while:

Airport police operating checkpoints for vehicles entering International Airports; Extra screening and new limits on carry-on luggage from Aviation security officials; Extra long security lines; Increased police patrols at checkpoints and screening stations at the airport; and less freedom to move around the airplane during flight.

It is unknown how long the measures would be in effect and the limits could vary from airport to airport.   Here are some of our suggestions to prevent additional headaches:

Be Prepared!! Review and/or familiarize yourself with the most recent TSA Guidelines before entering the airport by going to their site and following their Travel Assistant tips.   This section does a great job addressing many air travel questions including:

* The Screening Experience
* Dress the Part
* What You Need
* Do I Have to Remove My Shoes?
* Keep Your Experience Simple
* Travel Tips to Make Your Screening Experience Hassle-Free
* Know What to Expect

PACK LIGHTLY & BE PREPARED TO BE SEARCHED: After reviewing these guidelines- pack as lightly as possible and be prepared for your items to be searched- and possibly searched again.  The closer you can stay within the TSA guidelines- the easier it will be for you to get through airport security and on your way.   If you are delayed due to increased screening procedures- remember that it is nothing personal, it is their job to do this and keep all passengers safe.  Most travelers I talk to pack for their journey a day ahead of time so they are not rushed or frantic while packing (making it lightly they will forget some of the travel guidelines).

Check Your Flight Status Before You Leave for The Airport! Go to your airline’s Website or contact their customer service prior to

ARRIVE REALLY EARLY- I know this sounds like common sense, but you would not believe how many passengers find themselves in a pinch or experience unnecessary stress because they have failed to arrive with enough time to check in and move through security.  You must plan to arrive early to make your flying experience more enjoyable.  At this time- the TSA recommends passengers arrive 3 hours prior to their flight for all domestic flights. If you find that you have allowed too much time- enjoy a book or a favorite magazine and be grateful you are not in jeopardy of missing your flight.

Be Patient!  Be Polite! Please do not make things worse for other passengers by expressing your frustration at the new security measures.   If nothing else, think of the excellent service and luxurious accommodations you will be receiving once you arrive in our hotel- visualize yourself relaxing in our Grand Lobby…In all seriousness- as I stated before-  do not take it personally if you are subject to increased searches or delays due to heightened security.  It is a small price to pay for safety.

Here are some additional statements from the TSA:

Q: What additional security measures is TSA taking domestically?
A: TSA has a layered approach to security that allows us to surge resources as needed on a daily basis. We have the ability to quickly implement additional screening measures including explosive detection canine teams, law enforcement officers, gate screening, behavior detection and other measures both seen and unseen. Passengers should not expect to see the same thing at every airport.

Q: What additional security measures are being taken for international flights to U.S. destinations?
A: TSA issued a directive for additional security measures to be implemented for last point of departure international flights to the United States. Passengers flying into the United States from abroad can expect to see additional security measures at international airports such as increased gate screening including pat-downs and bag searches. During flight, passengers will be asked to follow flight crew instructions, such as stowing personal items, turning off electronic equipment and remaining seated during certain portions of the flight.

Q: Do passengers need to do anything differently to prepare for checkpoint security procedures? Has anything changed in terms of what passengers can bring in their carry-on or checked bags?
A: At this time, security checkpoint requirements for passengers departing U.S. airports remain the same. Passengers do not need to do anything differently, but they may notice additional security measures at the airport.

Q: Should passengers plan to arrive at airports earlier than normal?
A: Passengers traveling within the United States should give themselves extra time to check in and proceed through the security checkpoint before their flight, especially during the busy holiday travel season. TSA advises that passengers traveling on international flights to U.S. destinations allow extra time for security and arrive an additional hour earlier.

Q. How long will these measures remain in place?
A: TSA will continuously review these measures to ensure the highest levels of security.

Tips for Better Business Travel

Nov 27, 2009

Tips for Business TravelersI recognize and appreciate that many of our guests at The Grand Hotel Bridgeport are staying here for business reasons.  After all- we are located just outside of Portland, Oregon and are minutes away from the business centers in Tulatin and Tigard.   Here are some tips I found from the article, 30 tips for better business travel that you might appreciate!  Leave a comment if you have more handy tips to share.

Business Travel Tips

  • Never put your laptop in your hold luggage, even if you’re not using it during your flight. The tender ministrations of the baggage handlers have dispatched more than one of my laptops to the great repair shop in the sky. — Jo Best, senior reporter,
  • Pack paper and pen – they have a longer battery life than your laptop and are more multi-functional. – Rob Bamforth, analyst, Quocirca
    Buy a light travel bag that holds a change of clothes, laptop, charger, phone, pen, paper and has a handle, shoulder and backpack straps. – Rob Bamforth, analyst, Quocirca
    Take your own bottle of water on the plane. Even in business class they never come round with the drinks enough and it’s too easy to get dehydrated. – Steve Ranger, business editor,
    Try to avoid working when you are travelling – the whole experience is bad enough without adding to the stress by having to complete your presentation before you land. Use the time to catch up on leisure reading and movies. – Elaine Axby, analyst, Quocirca
    Two consecutive nights in the same hotel is a chance to get some laundry done – so less clothes you need to pack in the first place. – Bob Tarzey, analyst, Quocirca
    If you aren’t yet a Skype subscriber then think about becoming one. In some countries, using VoIP in the hotel lobby or a wi-fi zone can save you a small fortune in mobile phone roaming charges. Don’t forget to pack your headset. – Simon Moores, columnist,
    In strange cities, if you can find out how best to get from the airport to your destination before you leave and the rough cost and time, everything will run a lot more smoothly. – Simon Briskman, lawyer, Field Fisher Waterhouse

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