It's no surprise that I'm a wedding planner. So when we got engaged a little over a year ago, I knew exactly how to prepare; what to do, what not to do, how to avoid stress, and how to truly enjoy the big day. Our wedding was just over a week ago (November 8) and I cannot wait to share all of the details, projects and planning tools I used to plan our (almost) perfect day!
But first, in keeping with my plans to build healthy blogging habits by starting with some "list" posts, I give you my (newly experienced) list of the three things that will absolutely go wrong, in some way or another, on your big day. The most important thing to remember is that you cannot really prepare ahead for any of these; all you can do is prepare to push forward with positive energy on your day and know that everything is going to be wonderful no matter what!
1. Timeline Adjustments. This is a nice way of saying something or someone will run late. Even if you build in extra time on your wedding day (and DEFINITELY do this) something will inevitably take longer than you want, or anticipate. My mom and I meticulously planned out almost every minute of the day to allow enough time for hair and makeup, travel time, setup, lunch, getting dressed, photos, etc. and still thought we'd have some extra time in there somewhere. That didn't happen. Little things like picking up lunch, waiting for family to take pictures, waiting for an extra shuttle of guests before we could start the ceremony, longer toasts than we anticipated... they all added up throughout the day and by the time we got to dancing we were an hour "behind." And you know what? Everything was awesome. I had a slight panic in the middle of the reception when it felt like we weren't going to have enough time for dancing after dinner (we had two whole hours and I had wanted 3... ) but I reminded myself how beautiful everything was and how wonderful it all felt. Nothing could take that away. Plus, there was always the after-party! A few small things you can do to eliminate timeline stress:
- Make sure you have a solid day-of coordinator. We hired Season to Taste catering, and the event manager for our day was incredible. I felt confident going into the day that she could handle it all, and she did. But even if your caterer or venue has a coordinator as part of the package, it's really a good idea to hire a third party. It is SO important to have someone whose sole job is to keep their eye on the clock so they can adjust as things take longer than expected. (Contact us if you need a coordinator!)
- Give yourself time for lunch. This is not a place where we fell too far behind on my wedding day, but I've seen many brides run out of time to eat because they didn't write it into the schedule. It becomes an easy thing to cut out when you're running late, but that is SO not smart. The last thing you want on your wedding day is to feel more light-headed than you already are!
- Talk to your photographer early on about how much time to allot for photos, and what stage of "readiness" s/he'll want you in when s/he arrives. S/he will request a certain amount of time, depending on how many photos you may want, and it may have a serious affect on the rest of the plans.
2. Last Minute Guest List Changes. So this will probably happen the week of your wedding, but very well might happen up to the last hour before the ceremony. The fact is, the more people you invite to your wedding, the more likely it is that emergencies, last minute travel issues, and extenuating circumstances will prevent a few loved ones from being able to attend. And inevitably, it will be after you've given your caterer the final number, the seating chart is set, and any favors or gifts for your guests have been ordered or put together. Being a planner, I've seen my fair share of brides get extremely stressed, upset and downright angry with the last minute cancellations. It brings negativity to the whole experience -- for you, and for everyone around you in those last few days or hours. So, in the weeks leading up to my own wedding, I just kept saying, "I'm sure we'll have last minute cancels", to my parents and my fiance. This was partly to prepare them for the inevitable, and also to keep reminding myself, so we'd be ready for last minute changes and avoid disappointment and frustration. Unfortunately, even though I expected that this would happen with my own wedding, we had a total of 13 guests cancel in the last week. The thing is, for almost all of them, the reason was out of anyone's control. And for my fiance and I, our overwhelming feeling was just disappointment that they wouldn't be there to share in our celebration, and in some cases (my sister-in-law and bridesmaid who fell dangerously ill, or our friends who were grieving a death in the family) we were more sad for them than anything else. The reality is, emergencies happen. DO NOT take it personally; it's not fair to anyone if you do. If you're prepared to make the necessary last minute changes without too much drama, it won't negatively affect your day:
- Adjustments will have to be made. Set aside an hour the day before your wedding to address any seating chart changes that might need to be made. If you sit down and adjust every time someone says they can't come, you'll be doing it all week!
- Remember, caterers and planners expect this to happen. Give them the guest list and table counts when they ask for it (usually a week out), and then wait until that very last seating change has been made (on your way out the door to the rehearsal if need be) to send off the final adjustments. I've worked with brides that send out a new list every two days the two weeks before the wedding. You run the risk of lines getting crossed and the final list lost in the shuffle. Keep it simple!
- The day of your wedding, if you hear someone can't come, or didn't show up, ROLL WITH IT. I've never worked a wedding without a couple of empty seats because of no-shows. It's not the end of the world, and once the day is in full swing, there's no time or energy left to worry about it. You won't even notice once the party is rocking!
3. Less-than-Best Behavior. Before you even go there, No, I'm not calling anyone out from my own wedding (although there were plenty of people who were over-served and provided some great entertainment!). But, put enough people from all sides of the family and groups of friends with years of history in one room, with enough free booze to serve an army, and 1) tensions are bound to break somewhere in the crowd and 2) someone's going to have too much to drink. Luckily, I was so prepared to experience some of the less-than-stellar behavior I've seen at plenty of other weddings (You do know I'm a wedding planner, right?) that I was completely un-phased, and even unaware of anything that went down at my own wedding. The fact is, it's NOT YOUR PROBLEM. The next morning, the girl who threw up in the bathroom three times (who was that by the way?) is going to be way more embarrassed than you can possibly be upset. If it's your wedding and someone has too much to drink and flies off the handle or starts talking politics (not allowed at our family functions!) you have two choices--get involved and let it suck energy and fun out of the best day of your life, or leave it alone and let it run it's course. It sounds harsh, but it's your day, not theirs. Find a way to brush it off, and if it's something that needs addressing, deal with it in a few weeks when the dust has settled. The best advice I can give is to be mentally prepared for bad behavior, and then dance it off when it happens. And if by some small miracle you have a truly drama-free, best-behavior wedding, well then it's probably not a very fun one either!
After writing this, I realize I sound like a bit of a pessimist. The truth is, so many brides strive for perfection on their wedding day. While I was super detailed about invitations, decorations, timing, music, etc., I knew all along I was realistically prepared for it all to come crashing down at a moments' notice. If you prepare for that mentally, then everything will actually feel pretty damn perfect, even when you hit a few bumps in the road. We had the MOST amazing day, and I cannot wait to share all the DIY details that made our wedding so special!
- A DIY Food-inspired Wedding
- Paper Foral Bouquets
- Cozy lighting in a cavernous space with No Candles
- The three weeks before your wedding: How to De-stress (hint: plan ahead!)
and more! See you soon!