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Five expert tips for a five-star wedding experience

The average couple shells out nearly $ 27,000 just to say their “I do’s,” according to a recent survey. That doesn’t include the cost of the honeymoon, either. If you’re spending that kind of money, shouldn’t your unforgettable wedding be a five-star event?

“It’s possible to plan a wedding with five-star touches at nearly any budget level,” says Jenna Check, wedding specialist at The American Club Resort in Kohler, Wis., one of just 36 hotels and resorts worldwide to earn both the Forbes Five-Star Award and the AAA Five-Diamond designation.

Consider these wedding ideas from the wedding planning pros at The American Club Resort:

Tip No. 1: Give your guests ample time to “ogle” – the cake, that is.

“Often, the cake arrives in the reception room just in time for the bride and groom to partake in the cake-cutting ceremony,” says head pastry Chef Richard Palm. “And then it’s quickly whisked away to be cut, plated and sauced in order to create a seamless dining experience when served as the dessert.”

For a more memorable experience, give your guests extra time to view, photograph and comment on the cake by using additional cake – not immediately needed for food service – in the reception room. “Having the time to ‘ogle’ the cake will make it that much more memorable,” Palm says.

Not sure what to do with the leftover cake? Freeze the top layer to be thawed and eaten on your first anniversary, or serve the extra cake the following day at a gift-opening party.

Tip No. 2: It’s better to look good and to feel good.

Wedding planning can be stressful, and stress can take a toll on your appearance as well as your health. “It’s important for brides-to-be to take steps to minimize stress and its effects before their big day,” says Jean Kolb, the resort’s director of wellness and Kohler Waters Spa.

Establish a wellness routine well in advance of your wedding day and include daily meditation and exercise in your ritual, she advises. Your routine could be as simple as a yoga class, five minutes of at-home meditation and a brisk walk every day.

As your wedding day approaches, arrange a massage and spa time for yourself and your attendants. “A massage for the bride is not just a luxury,” Kolb says. “It’s a tried-and-true way of calming nerves prior to your special day.”

Tip No. 3: Guys – and grooms – need a break, too.

Brides aren’t the only ones who can feel stressed before the wedding day. Bridegrooms and groomsmen can also benefit from some relaxation. If you’re doing a destination wedding, take advantage of recreational opportunities like golf to help bond and decompress.

“Enjoy everything at a leisurely pace,” advises Ed Elsner, tournament coordinator at Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run. “Play the day before the wedding, not on the wedding day, so that you don’t stress yourself with conflicting responsibilities. And allow plenty of time for relaxing afterward with a few cocktails and cigars.”

Tip No. 4: Personalize everything, including your drinks.

Personalization is a popular trend in weddings, and it touches every aspect of your day, from the colors you choose for your bouquet and bridesmaid gowns, to the hors d’oeuvres and entrees served at the reception. Don’t forget to personalize your drink selection, too.

Missy Dortman, director of meetings and events, says her team often receives requests from couples to create a personalized cocktail for their weddings. “We try to incorporate something special from their courting, such as the drink the bride might have enjoyed on their first date, a drink they always share, or something that pays homage to the color of the attendants’ dresses,” Dortman says. “One fun couple named Brad and Alexandra chose to serve Brandy Alexanders.”

Tip No. 5 – Variety is the spice of life – and it makes for great pictures, too.

Photos of your wedding will be the tangible memory of your big day, so it’s important to keep in mind how they’ll look when you’re choosing your wedding venue, says Christine Loose, resident manager for the American Club and Inn on Woodlake. Look for venues that offer a variety of picture settings, from a beautifully landscaped garden setting to an elegant courtyard to a paved lane for carriage rides.

“Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life, with memories and photos you’ll look back on forever,” Check says. “With creativity, planning and the right venue, you can ensure your big day is a five-star experience for everyone – especially you!”

To learn more about the American Club Resort, visit www.AmericanClub.com.

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