The best ceremony after parties are the ones that genuinely reflect the values and interests of the couple.
Big decisions can get you there, as can little touches. For Kaylea and Matt Annen, who wed at Downtown's North Bank Park, making the reception personal meant ordering late-night Taco Bell for all their guests.
"Taco Bell is sort of what my husband and his friends are known for," Kaylea laughs. "After a night of drinking, the boys are always asking to go to Taco Bell. We really wanted our reception to be a great party, and I thought, 'What better way to end the best night of our lives than with my husband's favorite late-night party food?' "
As Kaylea and Matt danced the night away, the Annens' wedding coordinator was picking up 200 tacos, which had been ordered in advance of the wedding from the nearby Taco Bell.
"They were a huge hit, and people still talk about how awesome it was to grab a taco on their way out the door," Kaylea says.
We've selected a few popular reception themes and sketched out local vendors and detail ideas we think best deliver on each theme's nuances. Happy planning!1. Locavore Love
You want: An evening that celebrates your love and the city in which it blossomed
Venue: Strongwater Food and Spirits
Franklinton's new 3,000-square-foot event space located inside the up-and-coming artist warehouse 400 West Rich needs no additional decoration; its soft lighting, natural brick and ironwork architecture and skylight are beautiful on their own. Minimum rental time is six hours and costs $1,500. This includes use of the space's tables and chairs. The bar minimum is $500, which is tallied per drink. Strongwater's bartenders can create a custom cocktail for your evening, too. Bonus: The women's restroom stalls look like Mondrian paintings.
Music: Jazz Arts Group
This music powerhouse is the oldest nonprofit arts organization in the state. JAG can hook you up with one of its affiliate musicians that best suits your wedding's style. May we recommend local party-until-the-roof-is-on-fire favorites MojoFlo?
Catering: Freedom a la Cart
This "cause cuisine" is made by and supports rehabilitated Columbus survivors of human trafficking. Dinners cost $15 to $35 per person.
Favors: Make a donation in the name of your wedding guests to a local nonprofit, such as Doma (an anti-human trafficking organization associated with Freedom a la Cart) or Besa (a local charitable group).
Dessert: A mid-reception Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams truck for your guests
Something special: Commission a local artist-400 West Rich is brimming with them-to draw, paint or sculpt you and your fiance, or have an artist craft special centerpieces for your tables.
Comparable: The warehouse vibe at Dock 580 (located inside Downtown's historic Smith Bros. warehouse) is all urban cool, and the stark space can be dressed up-or left bare-for a wedding that suits your style.2. A Formal Affair
You want: A lovely and luxurious event with a lot of class
Venue: The Worthington Inn
This 19th-century Victorian inn offers rooms that range in rental price from $50 to $350 depending on the season. Catering prices range from $20 to $100 per person; bar packages range from $19 to $35 per person. "I chose the Worthington Inn because my parents were married there. They have their anniversary dinner there every year," says Ashley Morris, who married Patrick on Sept. 1, 2012. "The food is the best in the city. The reception was breathtaking. I love the look and feel of the ballroom because it reminds me of someone's home. It's so welcoming and cozy. I strongly recommend this venue to others."
Music: Columbus Musicians LLC hires the city's elite classical music performers.
Decor: Table numbers, candelabra and hurricane centerpieces from Uncommon Accents
Dessert: Go for a multi-tiered cake by Jan Kish of La Petite Fleur, whose confectionary work is considered among the nation's best.
Favor: A custom-scented soy candle from The Candle Lab; they offer discounts for bulk orders, which include custom labeling in the cost of the candles. A popular take on this is to recreate the fragrance of your wedding cake or ceremony flowers.
Comparable: The Columbus Museum of Art, where vows are exchanged in art-adorned rooms and with a Dale Chihuly sculpture serving as the backdrop3. Outdoor Rustic
You want: A laid-back event with a country-chic style that looks effortless
Venue: Jorgensen Farms
This Westerville farm hosts Saturday full-day weddings, and it recently began offering half-day packages for weekdays and Sundays, too. Rates for morning rentals (Friday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) range from $2,795 to $2,995. Rates for afternoon rentals (Friday and Saturday, 1 to 11 p.m.; Sunday and weekdays, 1 to 10 p.m.) range from $4,250 to $8,750. Many amenities are included in the packages-not to mention the incredible backdrop the farm will provide for your party-and an event coordinator will help plan the reception "from the moment the contract is signed to the final dance of your memorable day," says David Karikomi of Jorgensen Farms.
Catering: Fire up the grills with Hoggy's or City Barbeque.
Flowers: The farm's herbs, produce and wild flowers are certified organic and available for purchase April through November.
Dessert: Try a cupcake bar by The Suisse Shop Bakery or pastries and cookies by Golden Delight Bakery.
Seating: Throw some quilts over bales of straw placed around the dance floor.4. Getting Intimate
You want: A small, intimate wedding with your nearest and dearest
Venue: Kelton House Museum & Garden
A typical event at this historic Downtown Greek revival mansion features a ceremony in the lush, private outdoor garden between the Kelton House and its carriage house. The terrace is the perfect place for an intimate cocktail hour. Between the two areas, up to 140 guests can be seated. Rental fees depend on the day of the week, time of day and season; the cost can be as low as $550 for a wedding hosted Monday through Thursday or as high as $2,200 for an entire summer Saturday. Kelton House's fee for an early (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) reception on a Saturday is $1,200. From 5 p.m. to midnight on a Saturday, the fee is $1,250.
Catering: Bleu & Fig offers artistic takes on appetizers, entrees, desserts and Champagne toasts that are well suited for your classy, close-knit reception.5. Private Party
You want: An elegant evening at a private residence
Bar: House Wine in Worthington offers free consultation and tastings with couples working on their wine, beer and cocktail list for a reception. The staff can help you select which vino best fits the feel of the wedding and can work around a budget. And they'll deliver the wine and beer to your party.
Consultant: A wedding at a private residence sounds easy, but it can, in fact, be the most difficult to plan. That's because you're building a venue from the ground up, says Kasey Skobel-Conyers, owner of Bliss Weddings and Event Design. Consultants like Skobel-Conyers can help you list, book and build all the little details your reception will require, such as a tent, a dance floor, lighting, an outdoor catering kitchen or a portable bathroom. (Skobel-Conyers knows of ones with marble countertops and hardwood floors.) Plus, Bliss has at least eight coordinators and staff on site during large wedding receptions.
Equipment: If you're doing an outdoor tent party on a private residence, don't forget to have a backup generator on hand. Who wants to party in the dark?6. Fun fun fun
You want: A memorable evening at an event space as fun as your party
The famous science center has unique spaces available, like the English Plaza or the Ocean room. COSI is also a great choice for couples with a sizeable guest list-its largest gallery can host up to 500 guests. Rental costs depend on the space selected; indoor space rental fees range from $200 to $500 per hour. Outdoor spaces rent for up to $675 an hour (and each space is paired with an indoor venue in case the weather turns). "There were four things we both agreed were must-haves in our reception venue: price, location, available amenities and attentiveness of the wedding-planning staff," says LaTanya Pinder, who married DuWain on April 6, 2013. "We really liked the versatility of COSI's different reception room options, the fact that they offered in-house catering service and that they were conveniently located Downtown, close to our church and the hotel we selected for our guests."
Dessert: Root beer floats (whiskey-spiked for your evening's imbibers) are a fun take on the ever-popular sundae bar.
Comparable: Also super fun are the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and The Clock Tower, which boasts plenty of space for dancing.