As a day-of planner (actually a month-of planner), I get asked all the time, "what do you need from me to get started?" While there are items that we'll work on together (floor plan, timeline, final rental order, etc...) below is a list of common things that you can have prepared. In doing so, you'll feel much better about handing over your big day and I'll be oh-so-happy and confident in executing your vision, perfectly!
1. Make a list of everything!
On that list, separate the personal items, that you're handing over to me, based on where you envision them being placed (i.e. ceremony, photo booth, guest tables, cocktail hour, etc...) If you have pictures showing this, it's even better! Also, make sure that I'm aware of what needs to go with you at the end of the night. Showing me which bag(s), shoes, and purse are yours, allows me to load items into the limo, while you're spending those last, oh-so-precious moments with family and friends.
2. Be prepared to hand over all vendor contracts.
As a coordinator/planner/designer/stylist, I know how much you're paying for your wedding. I don't want your contracts for that purpose. I'm going to comb through them and make sure I'm aware of any special circumstances with vendors (i.e. a DJ needing a 4ft. table vs. the standard 6ft. or a photographer who requests that vendors refrain from social media postings until his/her photos have been released). All of which should be spelled out in your agreement with the hired professional.
3. Please, please tell me (and your photographer) about your family dynamics!
As minor as an issue may seem, emotions are running high on the wedding day and may make even the smallest of issues turn explosive. Especially, when alcohol is involved. Generally family members and guests are well behaved and respectful, but chaos has been known to break out. I'm here to help you mitigate situations and ensure that everyone has a great and stress-free time. But - you've got to warn me about crazy Aunt Mae, or touchy-feely Uncle Rob!
4. Have special tasks assigned to family members/friends/bridesmaids?
If you have a good friend bringing a special "something blue" to you on the wedding day, I need to know that. Not because "I'm in control," but because I don't want to upset that friend by directing her to the ceremony, instead of your getting ready area. If I know to anticipate her arrival, I can greet with her a smile and say, "I've been expecting you!" I can't tell you the number of times something similar to this has happened, when I wasn't made aware, and a family member or guest was upset about it.
5. Wedding Party order and names.
In prepping for the rehearsal, I will request the order in which the wedding party will process. It's no secret that someone has to be the "first" to walk and the "farthest" away. By telling me the names of each of your wedding party members and the order in which they're walking, it allows me to make the rehearsal more personal and super efficient. The same goes for family members that are involved - first and last names are crucial!
6. Know and share your table counts, if you have assigned seating (which I HIGHLY recommend and prefer).
Knowing the accurate number of guests seated at each table makes setup on the wedding day, for both myself and your catering staff, a breeze. Going a step further, if you are providing a plated dinner, complete with entree selections, provide the breakdown of entree counts for each table. For example: Table #8 has (9) guests - (3) chicken, (3) beef, (2) fish and, (1) vegetarian. Trust me, your pre-planning strategies will be greatly appreciated on behalf of your entire vendor team!
7. Alphabetize those escort cards.
You've decided that it's a great idea to assign guests to tables - THANK YOU! When the reception doors open and guests enter for the first time, the last thing you want them to do is stand in a line to find what table you've placed them at. Make it easy on them and alphabetize the cards by last name. You can also save me, your day-of planner, a huge headache on the wedding day, if you do this ahead of time!
8. End-of-the-night-madness management.
I know it's hard to think ahead to the end of your magical day. But, believe me, you will be SO SO happy that you did. You know all those gifts, extra favors + escort cards, personal toasting flutes, cake knife and server, guest book, photo booth props + USB drive, left-over food + cake + alcohol, flowers, etc...? Yeah...those all need to go somewhere at the end of the night. And, as much as I'd love to help, my insurance company doesn't allow me to "hold on" to those items. My recommendation? Assign 3-4 people that you can rely on at the end of the night (that have not been drinking) to take any/all personal items. Your vendor team will help clean, pack up, and load items, we just need to know who's taking them.
The very minor details above can make a HUGE difference during the setup and tear down of your big day. By being prepared and allowing me to be fully informed, you've opened up my capabilities as your planner. You have also prepared me to handle any additional, unforeseen occurrences that may arise (i.e. weather + traffic delays, lost vendors, setup snafus, etc...).
Until next time,