Romance is as bountiful in Eureka Springs, Arkansas as their artesian springs are bounteous following an afternoon rain. Some say it is the fairy-tale-like aura of this historic village as well as being the home to the iconic Thorncrown Chapel that has attracted -and is still attracting- thousands of brides each year to choose this beautiful community as the site for their wedding.
It is this indisputable fact that caused this marriage Mecca to be aptly named “The Wedding Capital of The South”. And to make that journey as easy and trouble-free as possible, the wedding professionals at the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa have assembled 10 tips on planning a wedding here.
“Most will agree that if Eureka Springs is the wedding tiara brides seek, then Thorncrown Chapel and the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa are its crown jewels,” said Susan Dickson, sales manager for the Crescent Hotel. “But due to the tremendous popularity of Thorncrown, not everyone can be accommodated. That is one reason why we here at the Crescent Hotel have been allowed by Thorncrown to have our brides, those who plan their wedding through us, to book this world-renowned chapel farther than one year out.
“Therefore, I strongly recommend TIP #1, first and foremost, to all my brides, especially those planning to book Thorncrown Chapel.”
Dickson and other members of the Crescent wedding team, Sales Manger Terra Lewis and Activities Coordinator Mary Howze, offer up a total of 10 tips to help a bride navigate the unfamiliar waters of planning her Eureka Springs’ wedding.
TIP #1 – Book your venue once you have established your date. Not to do so, can cause heartbreak and disappointment if where you want to get married and have your reception are booked on what you have chosen to be your special day. (BONUS TIP: You and your fiancé should have several discussions with family and friends so you can choose the date most accommodating to most of them.)
TIP #2 – Take into account the time of year of your event. Many brides will theme/color coordinate her wedding to that season. Time of year should also be considered when choosing wedding party wardrobe. Sleeveless, strapless bridesmaids’ dresses might be uncomfortable for an outdoor wedding in late fall or early spring. Although Eureka Springs traditionally has mild summer temperatures, some days can be downright hot. Your groom, his groomsmen, -and your dad- will appreciate not having to wear a wool tux coat and vest midday under an August sun. (BONUS TIP: One recent trend for outdoor weddings has been coordinated casual ensembles for the wedding party; comfortable and fun.)
TIP #3 – Consider a location that can erect a large tent. A beautiful, white wedding tent can be perfect for the ceremony and/or the reception. It protects guests from the sun and should the unthinkable happen (whisper “rain”), everything could be moved under cover since most tents offer optional window-like side-panels. For cool evenings, lighting and well-placed heaters can be added. (BONUS TIP: Unity candles do not work well out of doors or even under an open tent; the flames blow out with the slightest breeze. Unity sand might be an alternative choice.)
TIP #4 – Arrive a couple days early for a destination wedding. This way you can recoup from the travel and get comfortable and familiar with the property. Have your bridesmaids also arrive early and opt for a wedding day eve morning massage. It will relax minds and bodies for the rehearsal later in the day and the wedding the next. (BONUS TIP: Remember that your wedding is also a family reunion and most hotels can give you a special rate for any family and friends who would like to arrive a few days early.)
TIP #5 – Make spa and salon appointments months in advance. This way you know your massage, makeup and that “up-do” hair appointment will fall precisely within your schedule. And remember, moms (and grand-moms) enjoy looking nice for the wedding, too, so think about scheduling -in advance- a hair appointment for them as well. (BONUS TIP: If you would like to have a facial before your wedding, estheticians highly recommend having it at least 48 hours before your event.)
TIP #6 – Hire a florist to prepare simple reception centerpieces. Most reception rooms are beautiful and require very little additional décor enhancements. However, should centerpieces be part of your “vision”, a local or area florist that delivers and sets them in place will take one more task off your wedding day list. (BONUS TIP: Be sure to give your florist the list of corsages and boutonnières needed.)
TIP #7 – Live music for the wedding is an elegant touch. A wedding savvy single musician (or ensemble) should be able to play both your selection of ceremony songs on his/her cello, violin, guitar, keyboard or similar instrument as well as vocal accompaniment -with at least one rehearsal- should they be part of your ceremony. Reception music is usually determined by the kind of reception you are having. Live music -like that of your ceremony- makes the perfect enhancement for a sit down dinner. If the reception is more finger food and open bar, a more upbeat-style band or deejay works best. (BONUS TIP: Most deejays can also serve as your reception’s emcee.)
TIP #8 – Think of your personal well-being when scheduling. Designate an agenda that will get you nourishment and hydration during the time/days leading up to your event. Many brides, unfortunately, say, “I’m too busy to eat.” or do not drink enough water which leads them to feeling weak and faint on their wedding day. (BONUS TIP: If need be, ask a friend or bridesmaid to be your “nourishment coach”.)
TIP #9 – Assign friends special tasks. In addition to your personal “nourishment coach”, another could be “the guest herder” making sure family and friends follow the agreed-upon schedule. But perhaps the most important assignment will be “the keeper of the cell phone”, a discerning friend protecting you from well-meaning and curious friends and relatives who, during those final hours just prior to the wedding, will bombard you with frivolous calls and text messages. (BONUS TIP: Just prior to the ceremony, have an usher or family member ask the congregation to please silence their cell phones.)
TIP #10 – Don’t forget the marriage license! This is easily achieved by clearly outlining your plan for securing it, presenting it to the minister just prior to the ceremony and returning it -before the deadline- to the county office that issued it. Get firm answers -far in advance- to such questions regarding where do you purchase a license, what documents are required, the cost, the payment method (cash only? exact amount required?), where is the courthouse, when is it open, how do we get the signed license registered after the ceremony, etc. (BONUS TIP: If your wedding event is on or around a holiday, call and find out -for sure- the courthouse’s hours and days of operations around that holiday.)
“This is not an all-inclusive list by any means,” concluded Dickson. “However, these were the high-priority suggestions from those of us here at the Crescent who work with brides on a daily basis which add up to more than 400 annual wedding events.”
For more information on planning a Eureka Springs wedding, one may go to http://eurekaspringsweddings.travel/, by calling 800-903-4940, or by visiting their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CrescentBride.