People ask me all the time what I tell my friends getting married. How do I help them? The best advice I can give to anyone getting married is to hire a wedding planner, trust your vendors, and STOP STRESSING AND LET IT GO.
YES, I think wedding planners are THE best resource when it comes to allowing a bride or mother of the bride or even the in-laws to let go and truly enjoy the day. I may be a little biased since I am a coordinator, but I was also a bride once and I have several years of experience to back that up. Not everyone hires a coordinator though, or when they have one, they don't always trust them (not sure why you'd hire any vendor if you didn't trust them, just saying). With or without a coordinator, you have to trust your vendors and you have to let go so you can enjoy your day! So if you're not going to hire a planner or you're not going to trust them or other vendors, I've got some tips to help get through your wedding day.
1. key elements to preventing stress on your wedding day:
Review & Understand Contracts, Clearly define the Logistics, & Communicate with Vendors
You have to communicate with your vendors.You need to define logistics for vendors - from the time you wake up to the time you and your fiance are back in the hotel room and even after. And you have to review your contracts diligently.
Oh, and if you have a coordinator, it is imperative that you give him/her copies - how else will they do their job?
What if your contract is for chairs to be "delivered", but not set up? How is a bride, let alone one from out of town, supposed to know what "drop" versus "deliver" or "setup" even meant? Who is going to set them up?
For one wedding we did it. We set up over 200 chairs in prep for the ceremony. It had to get done, but we also had to invoice the client for manual labor that wasn't included in the original contract. Without us, our client would have had family setting everything up. Do you really want them sweating on your wedding day?
How do you know you are telling your vendors what you really want? Do you know what "dropping" means? How about the difference between a cabaret table and a highboy? Or how do you know you're getting what you wanted on your wedding day? How do you know if you missed something or a vendor missed something?
Hiring vendors you trust with great reputations
is a HUGE step to preventing stress on your wedding day.
You know they will make it happen no matter what.
But you still have to review and have on-hand your contracts.
I love flowers. Just love them, but when you have a contract there are a specific number of flowers, and if you're not careful, you can miss something. For example, during one wedding as I was pinning boutonnieres on the groomsmen, I realized two boutonnieres were missing. My client had been really busy and hadn't shared many, if any, contracts with me. I have next to no clue how many boutonnieres you wanted. After calling the florist, I learned they weren't on the contract, I quietly spoke with the groom about the missing items and got approval to request the items. I'd pay the florist and the couple would be invoiced later. Yes, the florist's team was back within the hour with the needed items.
I've even seen where a band began to wrap up an event at a certain time but they weren't supposed to wrap until an hour later. You can bet having the contract on hand helped, but the damage was already done. It took 15 minutes to discuss the contract. The break interrupted the flow of the reception and guests were already leaving. How are they supposed to know the band wasn't wrapping up at the right time?
Make sure what you want is in the contract.
Then confirm several times (especially the month of).
But having your contracts and reviewing them is not all of it, you have to read in between the lines and you have to think about the logistics behind those contracts.
Logistically speaking, a blank canvas is not always an easy wedding. I love a blank canvas as much as the next planner, but do you know what it takes to fill in the canvas? A great example of a blank canvas several years back was the New Orleans Opera Guild (it's now managed by Pigeon and they'll handle a lot of these logistics).
It is truly a gorgeous setting and exemplifies the traditional New Orleans uptown historical home! Inside provides all the charm needed for a cocktail hour or dessert break while the outside yard provides the perfect backdrop for your ceremony and reception. But it is a home. And there are a lot of logistics that go into having a wedding at the Opera Guild. Logistics require coordination. What if it rains? Where does the caterer cook? Where will the band go? Are there enough plugs? What about dancing? Where do people park? What is allowed where when decorating? It can be a lot! So you plan....a lot!
For a wedding that will take place in any outdoor setting, I would always plan for rain.
Just do it. Put the tent on hold the minute you book it.
It's so important to review your contracts and match up what you have or want with what is actually on the contract. If you are not going to review them or you're not able to communicate as much as you'd like with your coordinator, you should definitely expect the unexpected. Not that a missing boutonniere was going to ruin your day, but the escort or father or reader without it may feel a little slighted. We don't want that do we? Do you really want to pull out contracts on your wedding day? Or have your parents do that? You're supposed to be enjoying this day, so hire a planner and make sure he/she has all of your contracts and you've reviewed them multiple times.
You know that saying, what you don't know can't hurt you?
Well what you don't know can hurt...and it can cost money.
2. You have to be detailed....very detailed, &
You have to Communicate....a lot
If you have a vision, you should definitely go for it! If it's an elegant garden wedding with a sit down dinner, cocktail hour and then reception with dancing under the stars, I'm all about making that happen. It's just a matter of pulling it together and making sure everyone else knows what you want.
Assigning seats? Yes, it is going to take time and being very detailed. This means your guests will need to first tell you if they're coming, and second, what they want to eat. You need to have every person accounted for in your guest list. You have to match every person with a meal and a seat. You need a well-developed floor-plan. Every table will need a number and you need a method to share with your guests where they are sitting - place cards. And then you need to share this information with your caterer.
How is the caterer going to know where to drop food if all of these details are not worked out?
Sharing contracts or going through all the checklists or even making checklists,
won't make a difference if you can't accept that you cannot control everything.
The most important thing to preventing stress
(with or without a wedding planner) :
that you CANNOT CONTROL EVERYTHING
3. Stuff happens and either you're going to let it ruin your day or you are going to let it go
Rain....it happens. Reiterating what I said before, if your day has any portion happening outdoors, place a hold on a tent immediately. Seriously. Then as you approach the wedding day it's time to consider the weather more and more. And even if the rain comes and goes during the week or weekend or even day of, there could still remnants left over.
Unless your dance floor is under a tent, it will get wet if it rains. Is it going to stop you from having your first dance?
Or maybe you're getting married in a courtyard and you really want the ceremony outside and it's not raining 20 minutes before the ceremony? Been there. Yes, it does rain in courtyards too. This is south Louisiana which means it will be be HUMID after the rain. Sometimes you can even see the steam rise from the ground. Don't be afraid to use your plan B. Head to the ballroom where there are decorations and dry chairs and air conditioning. It will be beautiful and all that matters is you marry the love of your life.
Okay, so it's not raining on the day of the wedding, but it rained during the week? You've planned out your first look perfectly. It's going to be at this gorgeous plantation with lush grounds and beautiful flowers, what if it rains? Do you really want to walk on the grounds because your heels will sink and your dress could get really dirty. Best to use plan B.
I understand. You planned this day and have thought about it for a year or more. You picked your venue for a reason. You really want to see the green of the golf course & have the open breeze & dance under the stars. It's gorgeous! But if your decorator & your coordinator are both shivering under the exposed tent, then you may want to start thinking about a way to keep guests warm.
If you consider several factors, plan B is sometimes best:
hair & makeup, wedding party, guests & vendors
Buy some Heaters and put the walls on the tent.
I could go on and on, but I won't bore you or anyone else with that many stories. I'm sure you get the point.
4. You can let it go - trust me
You've hired vendors and you have reviewed and understood your contracts or better still you have a coordinator who has all of that done, it's time to LET GO.
Do you know what you see in these last few photos? You see happy couples. You see couples who planned and wanted a certain vision and day, but on that day they had to adjust. They let it go. They allowed me and all of their other vendors to do our job, and they were able to just enjoy every minute of their weddings. Things may not have gone as originally planned, but it didn't stop any of them from enjoying every second of their day.
It is your day.
Try to let go of the details.
Try to smile.
Trust your vendors. You have one chance to enjoy it. Don't pass it up because something changed.
If you're planning your wedding and would like some help, we'd love to be on your team and make your day all that you want it to be! Give us a call or shoot us an email! We cover everything from Baton Rouge to Grand Isle and can start at the beginning or help at the end or even just a consult in between. It's your day! We are there for you!