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The number one thing people tell you when you are planning a wedding is "Don't stress out. Everything will be fine." That last little bit is true. But there may be a few details that are worth the stress, even if you've hired a planner, your mother is charge of everything or you have the most organized wedding binder known to mankind.
I was married in June 2012 and I'm a type-A worrier. But as a graduate student who worked full time, and whose wedding was to be held in a different state and time zone, I conceded that I needed help. So I hired a planner to be my local liaison.
To be honest, everything was fine. Everything was beautiful, just like everyone told me it would be. BUT there were some little things that went wrong that I feel, in my type-A heart of hearts, could have been avoided. If only someone would have told me to watch for them.
I'm not saying you have to care about every little detail or worry yourself sick, but if there is something you really care about I'm here to tell you that you will have to make this known and delegate. The following is a list of 10 things to consider, from a serious planner who dared to hand the reins to someone else and got (only slightly) burned.
1. Is your planner the best in the area? I googled “West Virginia wedding planners” and got two results. The first coordinator to call me back got my business. My planner did a good job but not a fabulous job, and once I visited my hometown a few times before the wedding, I discovered a number of local professionals who I could have found by simply asking around. Do your research before you commit to a wedding planner.
2. Do you have all of your contracts? (AKA Did you know that you are paying $40 for every bottle of wine being served?) I repeatedly asked my wedding planner to send me the catering contract to review, but as the big day approached, I stopped worrying about the small stuff. Turns out that the catering bill did not fall under the category “small stuff.” It was nearly twice what we expected to pay. If I would have seen it a month before the wedding, I could have cut some of the expensive items or asked for cheaper wine. See parentheses above.
3. Does everyone know the photography schedule? Dads are notorious for sneaking away before pictures are taken. My stepdad did. He was tired and cranky, so he left right after the ceremony to take a quick nap before the reception. He missed all of the formal pictures. My mother was unable to reach him and by the time she did, he had changed into golf shorts and was 20 minutes away.
4. Do your bartenders know about your signature drink? My rehearsal dinner was a big, casual party to welcome all guests to my small town. I requested that a near-full bar be set up on the porch of the venue. I did not, however, request that the bar include a cocktail shaker. I created signature drink names, purchased ingredients and made signs for cocktails that could not be mixed without the use of a shaker, which I assumed all bartenders would have. Now, I don’t have to remind you what happens when you assume.
5. Who is going to end your party? I planned to leave the Friday night party by 10 p.m. so I could get some beauty sleep. So did my parents. So did the groom. So, hmmm . . . who is going to tell these people to go home? If everyone is having a good time they are not going to leave. Close the bar, turn off the lights and tell people you’ll see them tomorrow. Think about how you’ll get everyone out at the end of the reception, too. It’s not rude; it’s necessary.
6. Where are the flip-flops? You spent 12 hours choosing the perfect guest book; now why isn't it at the reception for guests to sign? And where are those flip-flops? I carried on the trend of providing alternative footwear to guests who didn't want to ruin their heels in the grass or whose feet were tired. All female guests thought it was a great idea. Those who found the flip-flops anyway. My bucket of plastic shoes never made it from the cocktail area to the reception. I now have a large bag of brightly colored flip-flops in my upstairs closet. And my guest book was nowhere to be found after the ceremony. Also, seating cards. If you’re using them, make sure guests can easily find them. Mine were kind of shoved in a corner and most people sat wherever they wanted after I spent two full days worrying about where to seat them.
7. Where is that van driver? Limo driver? If you decide to extend the reception by an hour, make sure your limo driver knows. I still don’t know what happened to the one we hired. He was scheduled until 11 p.m. and apparently was not told to wait for the bride and groom.
8. Can someone grab that? That previously mentioned guest book stayed at the church where the ceremony was held for the remainder of the evening. I also left earrings, extra shoes, bubble gum, money and who knows what else in that little waiting room. It never occurred to me to assign someone to scoop it all up and it was the last thing on my mind as my new husband and I walked out for our grand exit from the church.
9. Do all vendors know when the speeches are? The person manning our photo booth did not turn off the recorded directions that told guests how to pose and when to leave the booth. So my sister’s speech was punctuated by a tinny robot voice yelling, “That’s it!” and “One two three!”
10. Do I really need to do this now? I lugged our gifts for our parents and my gift for the groom to the Friday night party. Then I forgot them. Then I had to send the groom to retrieve them. Then they were forgotten at his hotel. Take care of this stuff either two weeks before or two weeks after the wedding, not during.
As a bride, you don't have to care about everything, but there are probably details you spent time perfecting. Make sure your planner, mother or bridal party knows and take care of it in advance. Then everything really will be fine.
Samantha Fritz is a freelance writer who was married in June 2012. She is the author of Brides Speak: What I Did Right, What I Did Wrong. She lives in Uptown with her new husband.