Hello all and thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. Although we are a new venue, we now have over a dozen events under our belt. Combine that with our personal love of efficiency, inherited hospitality knowledge (from Brock’s mom) and my corporate party planning experience, we feel confident in providing you with some pointers to make your day a little less hectic.
Hire a wedding planner or a day of coordinator. I know, this one is obvious. Before you roll your eyes and move on, hear me out. Hiring a planner will give you and your family more time to relax and enjoy the day. Weddings are a huge festivity and a mountain of work. Chances are you have not hosted, planned or thrown a gathering like this with an abundance of components for a group of 100 plus attendees. Wedding planners will communicate with your vendors for you, ask you about the details that you otherwise may have forgotten about, and take on the burden of dealing with any mishaps that may, but hopefully don’t, arise. If you are on a budget, find some places to save money in other areas of the wedding to hire a planner. Stay tuned for my next blog about tips for saving money on your wedding. Please note that if you hire a planner, they will most likely cover the rest of the items in this list.
Create and distribute day of timelines to key wedding people and vendors. I think of a wedding as a show being put on for your guests. You are wearing “costumes”, you have a cast (the wedding party), you have rehearsed the script with your cast, you have a soundtrack and you have an audience. Your key people (and vendors) all have a cohesive act in this show, they need to be prepared for when it is their turn to perform. Then each “scene” throughout the day should transition smoothly. This will also save you and your wedding party time and frustration as you won’t be asked the same questions from multiple people all day long such as “When is XYZ happening”? “Where is so and so for XYZ activity?” etc. I also recommend committing to the schedule in your timeline. There is a lot to get done at a traditional American wedding and the time seems to escape quickly the day of. Your guests will start to leave if the show doesn’t start timely as well, we had one wedding where they were way behind on schedule and dinner was over two hours long. A large majority of the guests left after eating and missed all of the festivities.
Plan the flow. One of the most important things to me for my wedding was that my guests had an enjoyable time. These gracious friends and colleagues are bringing you a gift, spending almost an entire day for your wedding and sometimes travelling to attend so making sure they have a pleasant day is important. I planned my wedding through the eyes of a guest. I wanted to make sure they were never confused or uncomfortable. Ask yourself the following questions regarding your guests: Will they know where to go when they walk in? Will they know where the guestbook is? Is it a nontraditional guestbook, if so will they need directions on how to use it? Where do they leave their gifts? Will they have a long wait from arrival time to ceremony and if so, will there be refreshments/ appetizers? Are they going to be sitting out in the hot sun until the ceremony starts? Have your DJ make announcements to keep the invitees in the loop such as when to head to the ceremony area for seating, what the guests should do after the ceremony while you are getting photos taken, and when dinner will be, etc. Just make sure the guests are comfortable and remember your special day with happiness and joy, if they aren’t having a good time it most likely will be noticeable and affect you. Yes, we know it is YOUR day but these people care about you and it is proper etiquette to make sure they are comfy and have an enjoyable time too.
Delegate. Utilize your bridesmaids (it has the word “maid” right in the name) and groomsman. They are here to help you today. Have clear instructions on what needs done (setting up, decorating, taking down, cleaning up, etc.). They will help you make your visualization come true but it can become chaotic and a waste of time if people don’t know what to do or where things go. At one wedding there was no delegation and I saw the same décor be moved at least ten times by anyone who decided they didn’t like where it was. At another wedding, the planner didn’t accept help from others and almost ran out of time. Assign someone who knows what the plan is and make sure they utilize everyone and assign them tasks based on their strengths.
Provide entertainment for children. A wedding is a long day, especially for kids and we want them to have a good time too. We highly recommend clients bring activities in for their younger guests so they aren’t bored all day. Do you remember when you were younger how days seemed to drag on and a few hours of boredom felt like an eternity? I imagine that is what a wedding feels like for a child. We love when bounce houses get rented, the kids will play in them all day long. Providing activities (or a “babysitter”) for the kids keeps them from getting hurt or into trouble. We had one wedding where the kids didn’t have anything to do and they resorted to damaging our property out of boredom. For the kids’ sake and the vendor’s sake please consider keeping them occupied, it could cost you a damage deposit. It may also prevent meltdowns from these tired and bored babes during your toasts, speeches, dances and other important events throughout the day.
Don’t forget the small details. There is a lot of minutiae that goes into an event of this caliber. Some of the things I see that get forgotten include the banquet permit, the marriage license and rings, turning on the coffee pot, giving the DJ a list of announcements and when to say them, refilling the self-serving drink containers & ice, removal of the food (if not professionally catered), assisting guests in signing the guestbook (especially if it is a nontraditional book or a photo book) or any other activities they are encouraged to do such as wedding advice cards (based on our own wedding where we even had signs with directions and the weddings we have hosted, people do not do these things unless they are requested by an actual human). I would assign a few people to some of these tasks that need to be checked on or performed throughout the day and evening. If you have a photo guestbook, assign people to actually greet the guests and take their pictures- for some reason without help people do not participate in these.
Hire professional, qualified vendors. A non-professional vendor, such as a family friend who has dabbled in “this” or “that” doesn’t have as much to lose if they bail out on you or do a poor job as an established business person does. Professional vendors who have taken the time and money to establish themselves are worth the expense. It will save you stress and anxiety. Take caution when hiring a professional too though. Do your research and make sure you like their product and don’t have a bad gut feeling after any initial contact experience you have had with them (when my planning my own wedding I felt I was an unappreciated number to a lot of vendors that I reached out to for information, I did not like that feeling and found ones that took the time to get back to me and treat me as though their livelihood depends on their clientele). Not all vendors are created equal, some do amazing work, some should have their business licenses revoked and some of them aren’t even a real business, they just do the wedding gigs on the side and that might be okay but remember to view what they have to offer. Just because someone has a camera, it does not make them a photographer or your friend who has good taste in music might not really be qualified to MC one of the most important days of your life. Good vendors can make or break your wedding day, do your homework on them before you hire them. Word of mouth is a great way to find your vendors, just ask your friends & family or check wedding resources for referrals as well.
Take care of yourself, especially in the few weeks leading up to the wedding day. The last thing you want on your wedding day is to have bags under your eyes from lack of sleep, acne on your face and back or just a declaration of exhaustion written on your face. Pamper yourself to combat the normal stress with your wedding from taking a physical & mental toll. I recommend, massage, facials, pedicures, manicures, plenty of sleep, healthy eating, exercise and tons of water. BONUS: Saltbox bridal party members can enjoy a discount at Burlington’s Loyal & Lin Spa, just mention us when you book. I can just hear the 2 hour massage calling my name now…
Less is more, at least at our venue. Don’t spend excess time and money buying a truck load of décor that you will never use again. It most likely will go unnoticed in the giant barn anyway. Plus it’s time consuming hauling it all in, putting it together, setting it up, taking it down, cleaning it up and loading it to go back out. Fresh floral bouquets & centerpieces, tasty food, fun music and good people will make your day special enough. So skip the Hobby Lobby sale and take advantage of our complimentary use items and let the old barn wood and industrial touches take center stage. Also, I would like to point out that every single wedding has brought WAY to much of items like coffee bar supplies, candy bar confections, sweet & salty bar snacks, soda & water, alcohol, favors (hardly anyone takes them), etc. Of course you would rather have too much than not enough but don’t get crazy with the over stocking of the things like these. You can utilize infographs that can be found on Pinterest for quantities needed for events.
Take it all in. A 12 hour wedding day goes by in what feels like 2 hours. Really try and enjoy the day. You will wish you can relive it once it is over so stop amongst all the chaos and take a few deep breaths and really be in the moment. Have gratitude that you married you partner, be thankful for all of the people who came in support, take a minute with your new spouse and just breath, enjoy your food, dance to the music, experience all the attributes you and your friends & family put together for this special day. If I knew how fast this day would go by ahead of time I think there are a few things I would have done different, don’t have any regrets like I did! I also want to add that you should find a photographer that you can pay to be there during the entire time or most of it. The photos of you getting ready are such a special treat to see later and they will catch so many moments that you didn’t even notice all day as well.
I hope I taught you something you may not have thought of and that this list will help you on your wedding day. Just remember in the end, getting married is the most important part, even if it rains, perhaps the cake gets knocked over, you forget to do the bouquet toss, or the food isn’t as good as you thought it would be, you will still be married to your soulmate and starting this new chapter of your life together.
Do you have additional tips to cut the stressors during your wedding day? What lessons did you learn after your wedding? Let me know!