It’s time to begin planning the perfect wedding reception friends and family will never forget. Wedding receptions have truly become a main event in Oklahoma, and now, with the help of three of the state’s most talented and professional wedding planners, brides will learn how to give the wedding reception of the year.

Robyn Martin, owner and operator of the Wedding Belle in Oklahoma City is an Accredited Bridal Consultant and member of the Bridal Consultant Association. She’s been a professional in the field since 2000, and she’s dedicated specifically to wedding planning and design.

Talmadge Powell, owner and operator of Talmadge Powell Concepts, started out planning corporate events, political fundraisers and dinner parties and has worked his way to weddings.

“My main goal is making the look and feel of an event consistent,” says Powell

Arin Zinke, of Arin Zinke Design in Tulsa, founded her own event design and production company with her sister, Jessie, in 2004 and expanded to include weddings. Her company has garnered a huge following, and her weddings, balls and galas are always received with great acclaim.

With Oklahoma’s classy venues, spacious parks and artsy spaces, the sky’s the limit, but to keep it simple, Martin, Powell and Zinke focused on three main types of weddings.

The Afternoon Wedding

Venue: The reception can be indoor or outdoor; however, brides need to be prepared for problems with outdoor receptions.
“If a bride wants to do an outdoor wedding, the most important thing to have is a weather contingency plan,” advises Martin.
Zinke recommends Oklahoma’s luxurious mansions like the Dresser or McBirney mansions in Tulsa.

“The mansions have many windows, which can create some great natural lighting for photography opportunities,” she explains.
Food and drinks: Martin recommends pairing light hors d’ouevres with either a wine tasting bar, a beer garden or an old-fashioned lemonade stand.

Music: Zinke and Powell prefer an intimate reception, and this can be accomplished with live music.

“I really recommend something like a casual acoustic group,” Powell says.

Favors: Though certainly not necessary, there are many popular options for afternoon wedding favors. Powell and Martin prefer natural items, such as bookmarks with seeds in the paper or small live plants.

The Formal Wedding

Venue: Powell recommends a large, grand event space like The Mayo Hotel, and Zinke suggests the Philbrook Museum, both in Tulsa.

“The more luxurious, the better,” Powell explains. “Create a really formal experience. Opt for elegance with lots of flowers and candlelight in the space.”

Food: A formal wedding set after 6 p.m. dictates a dinner is served. This can be a multiple-course buffet-style meal or a plated and served meal with wine pairings.

“Most people think plated meals are stuffy. However, that’s the most efficient way to feed guests,” says Martin. “For 200 people, it takes 45 minutes to serve. If you have a buffet line, it takes an hour and a half.”

Drinks: According to Zinke, brides can serve an array of spirits.

“Try creating a specialty cocktail to be served before the meal,” she advises. “Then guests can have wine with dinner, and then during the evening’s activities, guests can enjoy drinks at a full bar.”

Music: If brides choose a large venue space for a formal wedding, opt for a live band with 6-12 pieces, like a small jazz band. They provide ambiance during the meal and dances.

“However,” Martin explains, “no matter what type of music you choose to have at your reception, make sure you have a professional emcee. They, along with the wedding planner, can control the flow of the evening.”

Favors: Powell suggests that with a formal wedding, favors aren’t really necessary.

“If you’re on a budget, utilize that money elsewhere,” he says. “Use it for florals. This adds to the experience, not the favors. If a guest gets up from a table to have a conversation, favors often get left behind.”

The Unique Wedding

Venue: For the bride who desires a wedding outside the box, Zinke recommends loft spaces with big, open areas, or art museums like Living Arts in Tulsa.

Martin reminds brides to ask lots of questions about these venues.

“If you’re going to do a wedding in a museum or art gallery, make sure you ask about adding flowers and candles. Some museums don’t allow them,” she says.

Food and drinks: Zinke and Powell recommend creating food stations for unique receptions.

“American food stations are really popular right now,” Zinke explains. “Guests really like personalized food, like mini burger sliders with fries.”

Martin suggests creating a specialty cocktail.

“Select a signature cocktail and brand the wedding around it,” she says. “Then you can offer a couple’s signature specialty drink along with the couple’s favorite wine and beer.”

Music: “With this type of reception, it’s a good idea to hire both a DJ and a local band,” Martin explains. “There’s a DJ for dancing, and a portion of the evening can be reserved for the band to create ambiance.”

When renting a space not typically designed for wedding receptions, it’s important to keep seating in mind.

“Bring in specialty seating, like plexi-resin chairs with clean lines. It can give a contemporary feel,” Powell explains.

“If you want to make it funky,” Zinke says, “rent some standard folding chairs, then make chair pads to match the setting. Use fun linens and mix in bistro tables with the venue furniture.”

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