Planning a wedding or special occasion is not an easy task. With so many details and moving parts, it can be overwhelming. For the newly engaged couple, this may be the first time you are planning an event for family and friends. You may have a vision of how you want to celebrate your special day but not sure how to turn your vision into reality. Going through a wedding check-list is a great way to get started. However, there are details that you may not think of and are not always included on a basic to-do list.
As a seasoned wedding and event planner, I have experienced the unexpected and work as hard as possible to avoid the snafus that happen at most events. I have compiled a list of, what I consider, some of the most important planning details to help you with your special day:
1. Hire a Wedding Planner
Depending on your budget, you can hire a planner to help you from planning your entire wedding to day-of coordination. I highly recommend that if you are looking for a wedding planner to solely manage your wedding day, you include a month-of coordination package. You do not want a wedding planner walking blindly into your wedding day. The wedding planner should take a couple of weeks to review all your vendor contracts, notice any missing items you may have overlooked, coordinate load-in/load-out schedules with your vendors and attend a walk-through at the venue where you can review together exactly how the day is going to flow. You will be so happy on your wedding day to have a point person that all questions and issues can be directed to. Your wedding planner will know the answers and handle everything for you.
2. Day-of Wedding Staffing
If you have hired a caterer for your wedding, make sure your contract includes enough catering staff to handle the set-up, prep, service and breakdown of your wedding meal. This is not the area to cut costs. You want enough staff to ensure everything is set-up on time, that your guests are not waiting too long at the bar for a drink, food is served or displayed as planned and dishes are cleared promptly. Only with the appropriate staffing will this happen without a hitch.
3. Back-up Plan for Uncooperative Weather
I discuss this topic in detail in my blog, Planning Outdoor Special Events, Always Have a Plan B. If you are planning an outdoor wedding, make sure you know exactly what your plan is in case of inclement weather. This can be anything from renting side walls on your tent to moving the event indoors to a reserved banquet room.
4. Outdoor Weddings, Special Considerations
Outdoor weddings are beautiful and very popular right now. But there are additional details to consider when planning an outdoor wedding. In addition to the tent, what type of ground surface will you have? Let your guests know so that they can wear the appropriate type of shoes. Will it be hot or cold the day of your wedding? Make sure your tent is equipped with fans, a/c, or even heaters. What about a dance floor, lighting, restrooms, power? Are there noise ordinances? Does the outdoor area require permits?
5. Wedding Ceremony
Lately I've had many couples tell me they don't want to provide seating for their guests during their ceremony (ceremonies that are not in a house of worship). I disagree with this idea and here is why; the wedding ceremony is the most important part of your special day. You are marrying your beloved and have most likely spent a lot of time and money planning your wedding. Why would you want your guests to be uncomfortable and tired, possibly wondering when will this be over so they can sit down, during the exchanging of your vows? I feel it is worth renting chairs, even if it is a short service. I have had couples tell me that they were so happy to have had chairs for their guests after we had this discussion.
6. Assigned Seating
This is another wedding day detail that many newly engaged couples question. As a Wedding Planner, I feel that assigned seating ensures there is no confusion and discomfort for your guests. Oftentimes guests are traveling from a distance to attend your wedding. Make the day comfortable for them by assigning a place to be seated for the next few hours. This also ensures that guests that shouldn't be sitting together are not! Floor plans and seating charts are a lot of work but you'll have one less thing to worry about on your wedding day, knowing all your guests are happily seated with friends and loved ones.
7. Guest Needs
I bring this up again because it is important to take the needs of your guests into consideration. Make sure that any guests with disabilities can access the venue, any dietary needs are considered, there is shade if it's an outdoor wedding, and even the timing of your meal is taken into account. Guests are hungry after traveling to your wedding location and then attending your ceremony. If you are having a cocktail hour before your reception, I recommend serving appetizers that will satisfy them as well as menu items that include something for everyone (vegetarian, gluten free, etc.). Also make sure to have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks on hand at your wedding. Water, sparkling water, soda, juice and plenty of ice should be available to your guests, especially on a hot day!
8. Know Your Vendors
In my blog, The Difference Between Event Planners, Event Designers and Entertainment Specialists, I explain the differences between these professionals. Understand what your vendors responsibilities are and then have productive conversations with them. For example, it saves time discussing the flowers for your centerpieces with your Event or Floral Designer, rather then your Wedding Planner (unless you hired a full-service planner and he/she is planning everything for you).
With so much to coordinate, hiring a wedding planner and a great team of vendors will help relieve a lot of the planning pressure. Keeping guest needs in mind and making sure critical details are not overlooked, will ensure a memorable and stress-free day. Happy Planning!
Have questions about wedding planning? Need wedding planning help? Please contact Events by Gayle at firstname.lastname@example.org.