The Big Day in a Big Way

The Big Day in a Big Way

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Couples are planning larger weddings with a nod to their individual styles.

As the 2023 wedding season unfolds, couples continue to increase the sizes of their guest lists and get creative with those personal touches. As brides and grooms prepare to say, “I do,” many local makers and service providers in the wedding business have timely tips and trends for an amazing happily ever after.

Event Planners are Important

After the magical proposal, those warm-and-fuzzy feelings can quickly turn to anxiety about handling all the logistics leading to wedding day. This is where event planners come in. Dominic Martin, co-owner/operator of Martin Gunderson Events in Reno, is an expert in wedding planning and brings a wealth of contacts to the table.

“Event planners have relationships with local vendors and designers for every aspect when it comes to weddings,” Martin explains. “We can get access to things quickly and more cost-effectively. Speaking from experience, everything happens so fast with weddings, and we want the couples to be in the moment, not worrying about all the logistics.”

Martin recommends considering the budget right away.

“Entering the planning process with that number allows the planner to tell you what’s realistic in achieving your vision, identify opportunities to save money, and make your money go further,” he says.

Day-of Delegation

Iris Stille, business manager for Reno’s River School Farm, says it’s always a good idea to have someone who is in charge on the day of the wedding so that the bride and groom can celebrate and not have to worry about details.

“You need to have a person who has the schedule and knows what’s coming next who will guide people. They can tell guests that the family is taking pictures and now it’s time for a cocktail, and so on,” she says. “Also, have a conversation early on about what your thoughts are about including children in the event. You want to let people know what you plan to do so they can make their plans accordingly.”

Pick a Different Day

Kris Daters owns Mix Bakeshop in Reno, and she’s seeing a lot of variety in the day of the week on which nuptials are held. She and her staff deliver their tasty cookies, cupcakes, and pies throughout the region, and they’ve noticed Saturdays aren’t as busy as they used to be.

“I’ve seen more Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays than we ever have before,” she explains. “I attribute it to cost, because so many people say it’s so much less expensive. Typically, Saturdays mean running around all over town, and that’s changing. It’s great because it really does open up options for venues and the many vendors that are involved in these events.”

Daters agrees that larger celebrations are coming back, and she’s also seen a resurgence of the weekend-long events.

“The last couple of years, it was much smaller and more intimate,” she says. “Big parties are back, and we have people looking at ways to provide different desserts for multiple events for a weekend filled with celebration.”

Wedding tablescape at the Valhalla Tahoe Grand Hall in South Lake Tahoe. Planning by Marissa Renee Events. Florals by Art in Bloom. DJ by Lake Tahoe DJ

Vows with a View

As Pamela Litka, marketing and community relations manager at Visit Carson Valley, says, there’s something truly majestic about the feel of Carson Valley wedding venues. She notes the benefit of a Carson Valley wedding is that couples have so many unique venue options: rustic barns on beautiful ranch grounds, historic buildings that lend an air of romance and timelessness, or other upscale locations such as golf resorts, historic churches, and intimate inns — all with an incredible Sierra Nevada backdrop. Partnerships between all of the local vendors in the area ensure that all share the same vision with their offerings at every one of these beautiful locations.

Litka states she felt the same at her own wedding more than 20 years ago here in the valley.

“Carson Valley is a blissful union of Mother Nature and human nature — a majestic setting where the scenery is rivaled only by the generosity and warmth of the people as excited about weddings as the couples are,” she says.

All-Inclusive Venue Options

Calafuria Reno, the Italian restaurant in the heart of Midtown, can host weddings with as little as one month’s notice. However, chef/co-owner Tim Magee recommends couples take more time than that to plan a wedding, though it is doable because Calafuria has everything people need on site.

“We have a large commercial kitchen where all of the catering is taken care of,” Magee says. “For the last-minute wedding couple, they don’t really have to worry about anything.

“My advice would be to go to a venue that can hold your hand and take care of absolutely every detail,” he continues. “If you need a florist, officiant, balloon artist, catering company … we literally have all that here. I tell people, on the day of and the week prior to a wedding, you’re not going to want to be doing your own floral and balloons. Take the burden off yourself and your family.”

Fun with Food

Speaking of a great space, The Depot Craft Brewery and Distillery in Reno offers a unique spot that couples can make their own for parties of 20 to 200.

“Our space is perfect for a modern or rustic-style wedding; we love that it’s a blank canvas for whatever the couple might want to do,” explains Jessie Gaudard, events coordinator for The Depot.

To complement the space, The Depot offers an array of menus, but the staff tends to suggest buffet or family-style service with some flair.

“We find that people love being able to pick what they want to eat,” Gaudard says. “We have a taco bar or a more traditional family-style option that comes with meat, potatoes, and veggies. Additionally, we also have a plated dinner option that people like as well.”

Grazing boards continue to gain popularity and often include more than just the typical charcuterie offerings. Phyllis Robinson, owner of Tandem Chocolates in Reno, sees many of the artfully designed spreads including a little something sweet.

“We’ve had many more chocolates included and blended in, beyond your truffle or dark-chocolate-covered almonds,” Robinson observes. “People like choices, and the grazing boards are a great option. For weddings, adding some more elegant notes like bonbons creates a wow factor.”

In addition to including her delectable bites with the food course, Robinson suggests pairing two personalized bonbons in an environmentally friendly box to use as a treat on the table, in the hotel rooms for a special welcome for traveling guests or destination weddings, or as a favor to distribute as folks leave the big event.

“I love working with brides and grooms to create unique flavors that they each like,” she says. “Sometimes what we end up with are two completely different pieces. I had an outdoor event where we did a two-piece box with elderflower and pine nut bonbons. It was delicious and memorable.”

Picnic Perfection

For elopements or microweddings consisting of 50 or fewer guests, Reverie Picnics in Reno has a thoughtful option for couples to consider.

“Eloping on the shores of Lake Tahoe is really popular,” says Hannah Bohach, owner of Reverie Picnics. “Locally, we have so many beautiful outdoor spaces for smaller, intimate weddings. Couples often hire me to decorate their small ceremony spaces with a picnic after.”

Each picnic is geared toward the couple. Bohach learns a lot about their ideal flowers, colors, and wedding personalities. For an elopement, after the ceremony, the couple can enjoy a charcuterie-style meal together. With microweddings, Bohach offers full table settings with tables and chairs, or pillow seating on the ground.

“It’s more of the intimate, cozy feeling you get with a picnic,” Bohach says. “With Reverie, we try to make every event intentional, welcoming, and meaningful.”

Cut the Traditional Cake

More and more, couples planning their weddings are foregoing the massive, tiered cakes and opting for bite-sized desserts with smaller cakes to adorn the table and cut for some fanfare.

Shele Silveira, owner and operator of Nothing Bundt Cakes in Reno, anticipates a big event season and urges readers to consider her shop’s Bundt cakes for weddings.

“They’re affordable and they taste good,” she says. “We deliver, but if people are picking up, it’s pretty easy to transport them. Now that we’re back to having bigger parties, a lot of people will do one of our cakes to cut and offer Bundtinis so their guests can enjoy a variety of flavors. They don’t have to worry about plates … people can just walk by and grab one. It makes it very easy.”

Some of the top flavors include lemon, strawberries and cream, white-chocolate raspberry, and red velvet. Silveira recommends traditional flavors such as chocolate chocolate chip or classic vanilla. She also encourages customers to not include too many flavors.

“It’s like a box of chocolates where people want to try them all and suddenly have taken five, instead of one or two, and they’ll go quickly,” she says.

With sustainability at the forefront of the wedding industry, vendors are encouraged to use safe, recycled products, tableware, centerpieces, and more. Batch Cupcakery in Reno has been green certified for more than 10 years and continues to lead the charge in environmental mindfulness. Owner Anne Archer has noticed other notable trends including earthy colors and orange making comebacks, as well as cakes incorporating dehydrated fruit and pressed flowers. Metals are also big, with couples displaying Archer’s cupcakes on copper or black tiers and incorporating wood elements.

“Cake flavors are trending toward sweet orange, lemon créme, lavender, and always vanilla bean,” she adds. “The exit story is huge right now, with brides and grooms having big send-offs! The guests are included in dancing, singing, fireworks, and making the exit a great show. Guests are also given mini cupcakes and/or cookies as thank you tokens to enjoy after the festivities, once they are back in their rooms or at home.”

Flowers Galore

Andrew Fiannaca, owner of Sparks Florist and manager of Reno Wholesale Flowers, welcomes the current trend toward natural elements, boho aesthetics, grassy or dried flower notes, and earthtones such as champagne and beige.

“Bridal bouquets are trending toward a more loose and unstructured style, as if the flowers were just picked from a field,” Fiannaca notes. “Brides are also opting for a more organic look with their floral arrangements, incorporating lots of greenery and foliage for a natural, lush feel.”

Newly married bride Eleonora Fernandez holds her wedding bouquet. Flowers by Rose Petals

Fiannaca and his team are busy with garlands made from a mix of various types of eucalyptus and olive foliage, incorporating ball disbuds (one single large flower per stem, with side buds removed) made with globe-shaped flowers that can add an interesting texture to arrangements, and muted, earth-toned roses, such as Quicksand and Amnesia, into centerpieces.

Liz Obritsch, owner and wedding designer at Galena Forest Flowers in Reno, echoes the sentiment and adds that she’s received many requests for classic monochromatic white and green.

“The past year, we have designed florals in more analogous color palettes, including the combo of blush and peach, terracotta and apricot, or mauve and plum. We also see more wispy, wild, flowery vibes,” Obritsch says. “Our clients have been all over the spectrum this wedding season with requests for floral designs of just mixed greens for a multi-textured, foresty vibe; requests for decadent saturated jewel tones; and the ever-popular boho.”

For the do-it-yourselfers, Reno Wholesale Flowers offers flowers in bulk grower quantities and workspace for designing, plus cooler storage, for brides to bring their wedding parties and families to make all of their wedding pieces a day or two in advance.

“Some [brides] are comfortable making some of their pieces, but not necessarily the more involved arrangements like the wedding bouquets, so we also offer brides the ability to hire a professional wedding designer,” Fiannaca adds. “The designer is completely at the bride’s disposal and can make any arrangement they wish. A common question is, ‘How much should I order?’ We provide basic rules of thumb, but the onus is on the bride to produce the final quantities. If they are not comfortable doing so, we also offer a service to have one of our wedding designers [create recipes for] the entire wedding for them and we can deliver the final products.”

Fiannaca and Obritsch agree that keeping seasonality, budget, and access to fresh, high-quality products in mind is essential.

“Really consider what is a priority for your vision and allocate your funds appropriately,” Obritsch says. “Fabulous Instagramable florals may be 30 percent of your wedding budget. Venue, photography, floral, and catering choices are all important components in creating a magical celebration for you and your loved ones.”

That Personal Touch

Lauren Iida, modern calligrapher with Thick and Thin Lines in Reno, explains one of the best reasons to hire a calligrapher is to bring cohesion to all the wedding signage and details.

“Sometimes when you see weddings, you’ll notice things are a little different,” Iida says. “All elements, from the address on the invitations and the place cards to welcome signs, should blend well together.”

With the ability to customize fonts for any theme, Iida has seen a big resurgence of the retro vibe, with couples adding 1970s touches, including disco balls and a blast of color to the mix.

Consider the Loo

When it comes to restrooms at an event, they tend to be a last-minute thought, but according to Ty Rogers, vice president of sales and marketing at Quick Space in Sparks, the sanitation traffic is one of the most crucial details.

“It affects the flow of the party or amount of time guests spend waiting in line that can be detrimental to the enjoyment level of any kind of event,” Rogers explains. “If you want the guests to enjoy more time at the party, you want to increase the access to a restroom, particularly when you have food and drink there.”

Rogers recommends, at a minimum, providing two bathrooms designated for male and female use, or one dedicated to female and one to unisex.

“We often suggest folks rent a luxury trailer,” he adds. “If you’re having over 300 guests, you may want a larger restroom with more seats coupled with a few standard portable restrooms to accommodate. And you always want a handwashing station, especially when it comes to those children who attend and their notoriously sticky fingers.”

Whether it’s help with event planning; finding the ideal venue; or dazzling guests with great food, desserts, décor, and fun, Reno-Tahoe is a magical source of vendors who can help you create an unforgettable wedding day.


Batch Cupcakery
Calafuria Reno
Carson Valley Visitors Authority
Galena Forest Flowers
Martin Gunderson Events
Mix Bakeshop
Nothing Bundt Cakes
Quick Space
Reno Wholesale Flowers
Reverie Picnics
River School Farm
Sparks Florist
Tandem Chocolates
The Depot Craft Brewery & Distillery
Thick and Thin Lines


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Discover new products, thriving traditions, or exciting food events, festivals, restaurants, and markets – all of the things that are helping to make us a true culinary destination.