From stake centers to reception halls how LDS receptions are changing

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Perfect proposal, check. Date, set. Temple, scheduled. Location of reception hall, to be determined.

Where to have the wedding reception can be a tough decision for students and their families. With guests traveling across states for the big event, the location should be easy to find, affordable and the ideal reception spot.

Reception halls are becoming more popular as students shift away from the traditional stake center reception.

Amy Barzelle, owner of Castle Park Events Center, said people stray from stake centers because they want to add more personality to their reception.

“Not that it is bad to go to the stake center, I think they just want something that is a little more classy and pretty,” Barzelle said. “Students try to recreate ideas they see on the internet and get discouraged that they can’t make it look exactly like that in a stake center.”

A reception hall can fulfill the desire to create the perfect atmosphere and decorations, especially if it has full service so families don’t have to bring in all the decorations.

“We didn’t want our reception in a cultural hall because I’ve always been to church dances in a cultural hall,” said Stephen Bolster, a senior from Corpus Christi, Texas, studying civil engineering. “You can make it look really nice, but it’s still in a cultural hall.”

The Bolsters ended up having one reception at a guest hall in California and another at his house in Texas.

“They were more intimate, smaller and had no overwhelming space,” Bolster said. “Using a place other than a cultural hall is more personal and it’s just better for a party. Mine was the most fun party I have ever been to. There would have been a different connotation, a different feel, if it would have been somewhere else.”

Becky Miller, owner of White Willow Reception Center, said reception halls are becoming more popular in Provo and Orem because of out-of-town students.

“There are a lot of students who are from out of town or out of state who will use the reception center more than those who live here,” Miller said. “Most of the calls I get are from parents who are out of state who say they just want to find a location here. They don’t have the means or ability to book an event at a stake center because they don’t live here.”

Miller said putting on a reception can be a lot of work for families, but when they book a reception hall, they don’t have to worry about set up, flowers, linens, food or clean up.

Miller said the difficult part comes with setting the date.

“All students want to have their events the same day,” she said. “First, they need to plan their event location. Second, their date.”

At White Willow Weddings, brides can call or email to find out when the center is available.

“I would prefer to talk to the bride and give them several options, because if they talk to me we can sometimes figure things out and see a better situation, a daytime event, the night before or the next week,” Miller said. “Most of the brides will plan on at least three months ahead, although I had one bride called me on Monday, our Saturday was open and we did it on Saturday.”

At Castle Park Events Center, scheduling is done online.

“We have a pre-booking system that we do and it reserves their day for a week,” Barzelle said.

Students have to pay the deposit fee within a week from when they scheduled it or it will not be reserved.

“We’re really flexible,” Barzelle said. “We start our prices really low so they can do it themselves or rent everything from us. We can set up the food and everything.”


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