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Open Thread: Help Us Help You!


What was that you needed info on, again?

by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

Open Thread: Help Us Help You! | A Practical Wedding

Last week, we asked you about transporting the stuff associated with your wedding to… your wedding. And when the resounding answer was, “I don’t know how I’m doing it!” the APW staff got more than a little bit worried. Because at the end of the day (before your wedding), Pinterest and wedding blogs aren’t doing us a ton of favors. They’ve refocused us on pretty inspiration, while hiding the ball on the fact that roughly sixty percent of throwing an event is getting everything there, set up, and then struck and out of the venue. (And about five percent of throwing an event is inspiration pictures, though it’s a fun five percent.)

When it comes to answering the many small questions that outline how your day is going to play out (Who’s bringing the beer? Did we remember ice… and something to keep the ice cold in? When the chairs will be setup? Who will put out the guest book? What people will be with your photographer at what time?) the answer you hear over an over is, “Hire a wedding planner.” And the truth? Good planners are amazing at solving these problems for you. But here is the more unvarnished truth: most people can’t afford a wedding planner. For most of us (the entirety of the APW staff included, at the time of our weddings), a planner isn’t even within the realm of possibility. Because even if you know how much easier a planner can make your life, if your choice is food for your guests or someone to help you coordinate the day of, most of us are going to have to pick food, and then try to figure out the rest ourselves.

That’s where we come in. We want to make sure all of you have a plan for how the stuff is getting to the venue and how it’s getting home. (Pro-tip: the people packing it up TOTALLY don’t have to be sober.) We want you to feel comfortable putting together a day-of timeline (and confident explaining to people why you need one). We want to make sure you know when to stop looking at Pinterest and start looking at your spreadsheets. We want to make sure you have a clear response the next time someone blows you off by saying, “Don’t worry, these things will work themselves out.” And mostly we want you to feel less STRESSED about working the things out. Because (at least with some help, and some good information) you’ve totally got this.

Let us help you. We know more than a few people who have more than a few answers. You just need to let us know what questions you want us to ask, and we’re on it.

WHAT ARE YOU HAVING A HARD TIME PLANNING FOR? WHAT PRACTICAL QUESTIONS HAVE YOU BEEN TRYING TO FIND ANSWERS TO? WHAT LOGISTICS POSTS SHOULD WE TACKLE NEXT? WHILE WE’RE OFF DOING RESEARCH, MARRIED FOLKS PLEASE DISH ON ALL THE ADVICE YOU WISH YOU’D HAD BEFORE YOUR WEDDING.

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • Nicole

    New married gal with a bit of advice:
    We managed to bring everything in fine, but taking the stuff out and transporting it home posed a much bigger issue. It never once occurred to me that we would have less space taking stuff out than we did bringing it in but here’s why — Drunk People.
    Sure, bringing stuff in we had 5 cars happily full of stuff. But trying to take everything out of the reception right after the wedding, we only had 2 cars. Why? Drunk people shouldn’t drive cars. And some of my stuff-transporting cars turned into drunk people-transporting cars. Thank goodness we had a few sober aunts who stuck around and let us load up their cars or we would not have managed (even after throwing away a bunch of stuff!).
    So my advice for removing stuff at the end of the night: Designate people you know will not drink (or drink at a minimum) and ask them to help with clean up. You can’t guarantee that your mom’s backseat will still be available for transporting stuff when your brother and his fiancé are catching a ride with her back to the hotel.

    • http://www.rachellerawlingsphotography.com/ Rachelle

      Obviously this doesn’t work for everyone’s set up, but we transported all of our stuff to the wedding together in our 1 car and then divided everything out (including gifts) into our parents’ 4 cars for them to take home and store until we got back from our honeymoon. We made a list of what exactly needed to go home with each parent and had a few copies. The venue staff was able to help them get everything loaded up in a matter of minutes and no one had to bring too much home in any 1 car.

    • http://www.pinterest.com/katerees711 kater711

      Yes, remember you’ll have much more with gifts too! I don’t even know how
      everything got down (hundreds of poufs, bunches of decor). All I did
      during this time was mill around and wish it wasn’t ending, we also paid
      the bill. My pretty snocchered family did a great job. Literally, only one thing was lost the whole night and it wasn’t their loss, we’re pretty sure the staff cleared it trying to keep things tidy. (our year 7/table 7 anniversary card.)

    • Dawn

      I recommend renting a hauling van if you’re taking more than two or so car’s worth of stuff. It carries a lot and only needs one driver.

  • NicoleT

    I’m having a ceremony at one location, a lunch reception around 10-15 minutes away, and then an evening reception 40ish minutes away from the lunch reception. What do I do with the chairs, etc. from the ceremony? Do I ask people (going to need two+ cars) to make the 20 minute drive to my parents’ house to drop off 150 chairs? Is that rude?

    • http://readingandthensome.blogspot.com/ Martha Smith

      It’s not rude, but I would try your hardest to get people with vans/trucks to pack them in so it’s easier. Or maybe see if you can leave them at the venue overnight (stacked in a corner somewhere, not all set up) and pick them up the next day . . . unless you wanted them dropped off because they’re being used again at another location.

      • NicoleT

        Good call. I actually hadn’t even considered using them at one of the other locations. I guess when I book the ceremony venue, I should double check with them to see if I can leave chairs there. Thanks!

    • Amy March

      How are they getting to the ceremony location? Are you renting them? Can the place you are renting the chairs from (unless you own 150 chairs which is awesome) pick them up?

      And since it sounds like ceremony site isn’t set in stone, I would also consider not using the site if the only option is having your guests/family etc immediately load and remove 150 chairs during your wedding day. That’s a big job and there may be other ceremony location options.

      • NicoleT

        We’re renting the chairs (I wish I owned them!) I haven’t actually checked with the rental company yet on what their pickup policy is. The ceremony location is sort of set in stone. It has to be in a particular city, but we have since found out that the site we wanted (and that everyone was happy with) won’t “take reservations for weddings”. Either way, the ceremony can’t be in the same place as the reception, so I guess I’ll just have to find a place that’s flexible with pickup time or has storage (or have the rental company come back immediately).

    • Megera

      Can I ask how you deal with some people not being invited to the lunch reception? We’re doing something similar and I’m worried that folks will be hurt when they realize they aren’t invited to the ceremony and lunch reception, especially because in some cases parents will be at the ceremony, but their adult children are only invited to the evening reception.

      • NicoleT

        Honestly, I wouldn’t worry about it. (That’s my policy, in any case). Are you having everyone at the evening reception, or a smaller, different group? If it’s a smaller, different group, then it becomes a sort of exclusive thing and I think that will be enough to smooth any ruffled feathers. If it’s everyone (and it sounds like you’re not that close to the adult children), that’s fine too. You have a limited budget and you want to include them, but you had to make a choice between dear Aunt Martha or them. I guess if you’re really worried about people being upset (but, of course, they decide to come anyways), you can have someone run interference for you.

    • Lawyerette510

      If you can’t leave them at the ceremony venue (which would be ideal assuming someone will be able to get them the day-after), What about seeing if there is someone who is comfortable driving a little closed trailer, then instead of them having to make the trip to your parents’ between the ceremony and lunch, they could swing by after lunch and before the evening? Or, if you live somewhere that you’re not worried about someone trying to take them, having people put them in the bed of a couple trucks, and again doing the drop after lunch?

      • NicoleT

        Good call! I’ll have to see if anyone I know owns a truck or big car. I know my FMIL has a car that seats around 8 (and has trunk space), so that can be one of the cars. The cars will be parked at a temple in a suburban area, so I’m not too worried about people stealing stuff. Thanks!

  • http://readingandthensome.blogspot.com/ Martha Smith

    If you stupidly assign your pregnant sister/MOH to lay out the escort cards, thinking that would be an easy, stand-still task for her, be kind enough to double check the order they’re in before hand. Because she will be understandably frustrated that your Mother just kind of threw them in a bag.

    • http://www.pinterest.com/katerees711 kater711

      I wouldn’t recommend having four people do this task, and if you do have four agree on an order of the alphabetizing, ours got all whacky somehow… My paper goods girl had them in order by table (which wasn’t a big deal to me having to reorder them and people were trying to help) and we wanted them by last name, even if it meant separating some families… so my MOH and I ended up correcting them before heading to the rehearsal dinner, making us later than any of us would have liked.

    • Meg Keene

      HAAAAAA.

  • Felicity

    I hired a professional Day of Coordinator without really giving much thought to this. My question is, what is reasonable to expect from a DOC in terms or set up and tear down? After all, she is only one person.

    • Lawyerette510

      My understanding, and please folks feel free to correct it, is that first and foremost it depends on your DOC, but generally they are Coordinating, not executing. If you can’t get people from your wedding to do it, consider using task-rabbit (or your neighbor’s teenager’s friends etc) to have the extra hands needed and your DOC can coordinate them.

    • Heather

      Our DOC asked for a list of friends and family who would be able to help out. She also asked for the cell phone number of at least one person other than me who could make judgement calls if need be. Even with the DOC I still had friends and family helping out, but they were able to go take their seats while the coordinator finished stuff up. I also divided tasks into “fun” like setting pretty things on tables and “not so fun” like receiving and directing vendors and made sure the person I was paying was doing the not so fun stuff.

    • Rebekah

      I worked for a DOC. She will be your coordinator, telling vendors when/where to set up and tear down, making sure you get dressed and ready on time, that people get herded where they need to. If it’s a larger wedding, she’ll hire a helper. If you need to ask her to hire serving help, she should know where to go for that too. Talk with her about what your venue and your vendors will provide, and the two of you can shake out what she’ll be able to do and if you need to look for additional helping hands. That’s what she’s been hired for! It’ll be great.

    • Meg Keene

      ASK HER. Seriously, full stop.

  • http://mnnjcooks.blogspot.com/ Jessica Nelson

    I’m trying to think about who I know/trust well enough to help set up the reception site (not full-out decorate, but put the favors in place, guest book, etc etc) who isn’t already invited to the wedding. We’re getting married at a church 30 mins from the reception, so anyone who is at the reception site before the wedding will either have a very long day with lots of driving back and forth, or not come to the ceremony.

    • Nell

      Do you have TaskRabbit in your city? You can pay a “runner” to do small errands for you (when I did this I often delivered flowers, picked up dry cleaning, etc). I don’t see a reason that a runner couldn’t set up favors and a guestbook. Another option is to pay a guest’s teenage kid who otherwise wouldn’t be invited. I know when I was 16, that would have sounded like an easy way to get a little gas money. As long as you’re not too picky about how it all comes out, it doesn’t sound like it’s an onerous task! Friends of mine have employed teen cousins as childcare during their wedding ceremony, which made the event much more chill for all the parents in attendance.

    • Claire

      Perhaps a significant other of a member of your bridal party? Our priest recommended they help out with the organizing, etc., because they’ll likely come to the rehearsal anyway!

    • Jade

      I hired a couple of my younger sisters friends (college aged) to help with set-up/keeping things nice/break down. Maybe you have resources you haven’t thought of yet?

    • Mezza

      Is there any window of time between the ceremony and reception? We had about 90 minutes in between and we asked a couple of good friends to book it after the ceremony and take care of the centerpieces and escort cards. It worked just fine.

    • JSwen

      Helpful coworker?

  • Laura C

    This isn’t exactly logistics, at least in the sense of transporting/setting up. But it’s one of our ongoing concerns. We will have 250 people and about 90 minutes for dinner and toasts. My fiance’s mother is insistent that a receiving line isn’t acceptable and we absolutely have to make it to every table to welcome our guests. If we allot 10 minutes for eating and 20 minutes for toasts, that leaves us with 2 minutes per table, roughly. And, realistically, it’s not like we’re blowing in, shoveling food into our faces for 10 minutes, having all our toasts in 20 minutes, and then getting going on the tables. How do we make it to all the tables without seeming like we’re on a timer? And, given that my fiance knows more of the people (he has like 70 family members coming to my 4) and loves to chat, how do I not come off as the bitch who made him leave every table just when people were having a nice conversations with him?

    We can try to arrange the tables so that the people who are likely to leave on the early side are clustered at one side of the space, and start with them. But even so, this question scares me.

    • http://www.rachellerawlingsphotography.com/ Rachelle

      Most of the time when I’ve seen couples go around to all of the tables, they do so near the end of dinner, as people are wrapping up and just as the dancing is starting. I think it is logistically difficult for guests to talk to you while they are in the middle of eating anyway? Is there a reason that you have to visit every table within that 90 minutes?

      • Laura C

        Just because it’s when they’ll reliably be at their tables. The number of tables is the problem — if there were 10 fewer, I wouldn’t be worried.

        • egerth

          To me, this sounds like a problem you have to let go. It sounds like you weren’t concerned about getting around to every table until your fiance’s mother made it a problem. So you’ve agreed to her plan to greet guests at their tables. That’s fine. But I highly doubt she’s going to be watching you (as opposed to visiting with her family and guests) for long enough to actually make sure you get to every single table. No one is really going to notice this. Plus your guests are going to understand that there are 250 of them and only two of you; no one is going to be expecting your fiance to have time for more than a few words with them.

          In the end, you’ll get to as many as you get to… and if everyone’s gotten up to dance before you get to the table, then all the better for you to join them on the dance floor and greet them there instead. If I were you, I would stop worrying about whether you make it to greet everyone. If you’re worried your fiance’s mother will notice, make it a priority to make sure you greet the key family elders and others who have made a particularly large effort to be there. The rest will handle itself.

          • Laura C

            There’s no question that it wasn’t something I was concerned about before she made it a problem, because she first brought it up 16 months before the wedding when I was more concerned with things like, y’know, finding a venue. And we were like “of course we’ll greet everyone,” because we really want to. But then we thought about the logistics and became concerned about our ability to do this given the size and the time constraints, and suggested a receiving line instead of table visits, and she made this her hill to die on, the single thing she says she cares most about for the entire wedding. (Shortly before we started planning, she went to a wedding where she was never welcomed by the couple and felt it was incredibly tacky.)

          • Lawyerette510

            So that seems really unrealistic of her, that she feels it’s tacky if the couple doesn’t greet each guest, but the most reliable way for doing that– a receiving line– is something she deems out of the question? It sounds like two hills, and if she can only die on one– then it can either be receiving line hill, or greeting each guest hill, but not both.

          • laddibugg

            ^^^this!

          • Heather

            Agree with this! But as another commenter said, focus on the older folks- you’ll see the young ones on the dance floor and they will hug you and squeal then. :)

    • http://mnnjcooks.blogspot.com/ Jessica Nelson

      Seconded! Or at least, the issue of how/when to greet guests – I will also have 250ish guests. (One suggestion: some friends of mine stood at the start of the buffet line and handed us all our plates as their first “act of service” to the community, as well as a great, quick way to greet people. I don’t think that would work in our space/with our people, but I did think it was a pretty great idea.)

      • Lawyerette510

        Serving cake or dessert is another way to do it, but also keeping in mind that with 250 guests, you might not get to greet all your guests individually, depending on your logistics which is why it’s nice to be sure to say something as a couple thanking people for coming. That said, a friend who was married in November had around 225, and they did make it to all the tables. They had a buffet, and they were the first two through. Meanwhile, they had two designated friends going around and “releasing” tables to get in line. As soon as the couple was done eating, they started with the table who had first gone through the line, and made there way around quickly and lovingly greeting each table. It takes a while for 200+ people to get through a buffet, so this worked well.

        Finally, I don’t think guests at weddings over 200 people actually expect individualized attention. I know I never have.

      • enfp

        Having just read through the comments below, seems like it could be helpful to have an overview of different options for greeting guests, with some advice geared to different sized weddings. I loved the idea of serving our guests desserts after I read about it on this site, but feel like it’s not realistic with an somewhere between 150-175 guests. So now we’re debating the logistics and timing of the other options (e.g. if we do a receiving line after the ceremony will that take so long it will eat up our cocktail hour).

      • Ellen

        Our day-of-coordinator (who we’re also using for some more in-advance logistical issues/making sure we’re planning all the things we need to plan as well) has suggested that after we recess down the aisle post-ceremony, the priest ask all guests to stay in their seats (and our families, in the front, will have been notified in advance to stay seated as well). Then we’ll come back into the church to, starting at the back, dismiss all of our guests by rows and say hello to them as they file out. So, essentially, a whole bunch of small receiving lines. The coordinator reports that this moves more quickly than a traditional receiving line but will still ensure that we’re able to speak to everyone and thank them for coming.

        • mvanengen

          That’s super common in my circles. Immediately following the ceremony, the couple comes back in and lets out each row, just like ushers. I usually see it starting at the front, with families. That way the receiving line is 2 people instead of 6+.

    • Annie

      Flip side: We WANT to have a receiving line. It’s a cocktail-style reception with 250+ guests and an hors d’oeuvres buffet. I’ve never been to a wedding with a receiving line, and our wedding planner is insistent that they’re out of fashion and no one will know what to do. Do we just instruct a few people to line up and everyone will get the gist? Are there things to keep in mind when planning a receiving line?

      • Acres_Wild

        Just a personal anecdote, but I’m a fairly young person (24) and I’ve been to several recent weddings that used receiving lines. Everyone understood it and nobody was confused (or if they were, they just followed along and it was fine). I think a receiving line is a great idea!

      • InTheBurbs

        You might greet guests on the way into the ceremony – it worked great for us – we were on the sidewalk outside of the church about 45 minutes before showtime and greeted everyone but the folks who were late.

        • Lawyerette510

          That is adorable!

        • http://underacorktree.blogspot.com Christina Josephine

          I think I might steal this idea! Our wedding is at a 100% outdoor venue (there’s no hidden “getting ready” area), and I’ve been worried that it will feel odd to be casually hanging with people one moment and then at showtime be like “excuse me, I need to get married now.” Purposely greeting guests as they arrive, though, would make our pre-wedding presence feel more intentional and less like killing time. Brilliant!

      • Meg Keene

        WHAT! Fire that wedding planner ;)

        Of course they’re not out of fashion. But you do have to do them as people are leaving the church (or ceremony site), or as they are coming into the venue (or something non-traditional, like on arrival). They’re not a thing people line up for, it’s something you funnel them through.

      • Sarah

        We basically stood inside a doorway between our ceremony and the reception room, started with our party and families (since they were the ones to follow us out of the ceremony first) and people figured it out. Our space and guest list was pretty small, so it went by quickly, but I felt like my most loving and excited self so it made sense to great everyone then. I also liked the idea of greeting people before the ceremony as they arrived, but that didn’t work out as well with our space.

    • Lawyerette510

      First off, this may be one of those times where there is compromise and it’s about staying true to you and your fiance, not your Future MIL. If it’s important to the two of you to greet everyone, and you feel a receiving line will facilitate it and allow you to enjoy your event and connect with guests, then it might be something you (kindly and lovingly) tell her to get over, because it’s happening. Alternatively, what about the idea of serving your guests cake later on in-lieu of a receiving line?

      • ElisabethJoanne

        We tried serving the cake. I don’t know what went wrong. I could carry 3 slices of cake across the room, drop them off, come back, and no new slices were cut. I suspect a miscommunication among the catering staff. Also, some guests may have thought, “Oh, the bride shouldn’t be SERVING us. Let’s get up and get our own,” and the catering staff obliged.

        I still think it ought to be a good way for other brides to at least say hello to all their guests, just make sure to communicate it multiple times – get it in writing with the caterer, and make an announcement at cake cutting (“After the ceremonial cake cutting, the bride and groom will be passing around cake at each table.”)

        • Lawyerette510

          I think that’s a really great point. The one time I witnessed it being done, the couple was at the cake, and people came to the cake, as opposed to the cake being taken to people. They made an announcement that the cake would be cut, and as soon as the couple had fed each other, for people to come up so the couple could feed them, or some other fun clever language I can’t remember.

        • mvanengen

          We tried serving the cheesecake in lieu of a receiving line, and I also wished it would’ve gone more smoothly. I loved the idea of serving the guests, but we didn’t have the waitstaff helping to plate at first, so by the time I asked people which of 8 flavors they wanted, and turned around and got it for them, that was the whole conversation and it moved on to the next person in line for dessert. So no hugs or well wishes. It could work though, with help and maybe only one kind of dessert to give guests.

      • Laura C

        Yeah, we tried having that conversation. Didn’t go well. Like, it’s still something that pisses me off to think about.

        Our cake is a buffet with five kinds of cake, so people will be coming up to get it.

        • Lawyerette510

          5 kinds of cake! yes!

          Sorry she is being unreasonable about this.

        • Meg Keene

          Yeah. You’re probably just going to have to tell her no. Which as Anne Lamott says, is a complete sentence. It’s good practice for the rest of your lives together. (SORRY.)

          • http://underacorktree.blogspot.com Christina Josephine

            I love me some Anne Lamott!

          • essicajay

            Me too! She’s super awesome!

    • Jessica

      I would prioritize the family/older folks tables during the 90 minutes. You’re least likely to offend your friends by missing their tables, and most likely to then see them on the dance floor.

    • Sparkles

      We did a receiving line of just the two of us by standing at the front of the buffet (which originally I thought was kind of weird, but ended up working really well). I’m really glad we did it. It did slow down food service, but people were able to just dart around us if they didn’t want a hug and get their eats. I usually hate receiving lines, and was really uncomfortable with the idea, but am really glad we did it, because otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to see everyone who came. It was one of my favourite things about the wedding.

      • Brooke

        When did you eat?

        • Sparkles

          We had the head table go through the buffet line last and we followed them through. We started speeches as soon as we were sitting down.

    • Jules

      Honestly, I’ve been to a wedding with about 250 guests, and I probably saw the bride for about sixty seconds or something crazy…but it was enough! To wrap it up, she said, “Thank you so much for coming; we’ll see you on the dance floor – we want to try and make it to all the tables!” It was extremely graceful and I doubt anyone thought she was a bitch. Have your fiance on board, too; you can do your share of alternating.

      With that many people, they KNOW you are pressed for time. I’m not sure you’d offend anyone.

      Also, 20 minutes for toasts seems like awhile, so there might be some time to cut from there… but I’m not really sure? The same 250 person wedding had about 6-7 BM and groomsmen and they each had about a 90-second speech. They were all sweet and wonderful, but it was a LOT of speeches. But it obviously meant a lot to the couple to have every friend talk, and no one bitched.

    • Heather

      We didn’t do a receiving line and we had more time than you, but we didn’t make it to all the tables, and we had 210 people in attendance. With about two hours left, my dad showed me the time and I freaked out – having eaten and been to two tables, plus the mom/son, dad/daughter, first dances, and I hadn’t been able to bust a move yet. My dad asked me “I’d like to go around to all the tables and thank people for coming, plus meet the people I don’t know, is that something you’d like me to do?” IT WAS AMAZING. I wanted to chat with everyone but I also wanted to dance my tail off and have a party. So it was great that someone I love went around to more than half the room to visit with people. Funny- he thanked them for coming, and they thanked him for having them, and he pointed out that we paid! ;)

      TL;DR, maybe ask your MIL if she’d be willing to visit some of her family tables if they’re chatty, so you can swing by with the “see you on the dance floor” line?

    • Meg Keene

      You have 90 minutes and 250 people? You don’t have time. It’s a nice idea, but you just flat out don’t have time.

      Tell your MIL a wedding expert told you that :)

      • Meg Keene

        In this case I’d do a receiving line after the ceremony if that won’t cut into the 90 minutes. Though a receiving line for 250 is a killer. But it’s THE gold standard, so I have no idea why she thinks it’s not acceptable. It’s just unwieldy in this case.

        We didn’t do either btw, and we survived. I love receiving lines, but they are not done in Jewish weddings.

        • allieoop

          Tip from a married lady: if you do a receiving line to avoid visiting every table, make sure the staff (if you have staff) at your reception know about it. We didn’t mention this to the maitre-d at our wedding, and he kept insisting we visit more tables. Being a bit overwhelmed, we did it, not realizing that if he had know we had already greeted everyone, he would probably have stopped suggesting it.

        • Caroline

          That’s my question. We’re having a Jewish wedding (with yichud) so a receiving line right after the ceremony isn’t an option. Is there some other way to deal with this besides going round to all the tables? Will our non-Jewish guests be offended if we do neither? I want to see everyone but I also just want to dance! (Btw, we have 75 people and a welcome dinner the night before).

          • Meg Keene

            We did neither. You have to draw the line somewhere, and I basically spent 18 months throwing that party so I could eat and dance and socialize. Anything that made the party work was OUT, end of discussion. I honestly don’t think a single person noticed.

            True story: when couples come around to tables, everyone stops whatever conversation they were having and awkwardly chats for the 30 seconds you know you have allotted with them, and then goes back to conversation. It’s not something you really miss. I like a receiving line, but since you can’t do them at Jewish weddings, no one is offended if you skip it. And the table thing isn’t any sort of codified tradition, it’s just a thing people do sometimes.

    • http://readingandthensome.blogspot.com/ Martha Smith

      I was worried about seeing every table too (because we skipped the receiving line entirely) . . . but it worked out fine. Think about it this way too, you’re the bride and groom, so you’ll get served first. By the time we were finished eating our last table was being served so we started going around to tables while some of the guests were still eating. I think it also helped that we’re pretty laid back, so during cocktail hour when we were pseudo in our own room we still talked to people. Just remember that the people who will be insulted will make a point to see you. And those that don’t probably understand more than you know.

    • Nina B

      I’ve only been to one wedding where the bride and groom went to each table… and they seemed stressed out. I talked with them for approximately 20 seconds and then they were off! For 250 people, I think a receiving line makes a lot more sense.

      We plan to copy some of our friends who did a receiving line / photo session right at the ceremony site. Basically, after the ceremony they invited people to come up and take a picture with them and not just the bridal party, but everyone. It might be the only wedding from which I actually have a picture of myself with the bride and groom! This probably works better for smaller weddings but I thought it was a great way to spend a minute with each guest and get a picture with them.

      • Dawn

        We did a receiving line post-ceremony for a wedding of about 120. It was great for us and made things less stressful. We knew we had greater everyone (except those who chose to skip the line). We also did a whole group photo outdoors at the reception site, which was fun.

    • Glen

      Going around to the tables is something I’ve seen done at almost every wedding I’ve been to (although we didn’t do it at ours, nor a receiving line for that matter). I’ve only been to a few weddings with a receiving line. Maybe it’s a Midwestern thing? In either case, no one expects more than a “hi, nice of you to come” from the bride and groom.

      The receiving line approach did seem a bit more personal. The ones I’ve experienced included the parents and the BM and MOH; maybe she doesn’t want to greet the guests?

      The table rounds usually consist of the couple going to each table asking if the guests are having a good time and the guests responding with congratulations. Rarely is it individual attention, and rarely does a couple stay at a table for more than a minute (maybe if a personal thanks needs to be given to a guest at a table).

      Maybe walk her through the options? Show her what you expect to do during the receiving line, down to here’s what you plan to say to each guest to keep it in the time available for that, then show her what you expect to do during table rounds to the same level of detail. Grab some good friends and play act. If nothing else, it’s good practice.

    • JSwen

      Moms are funny. Mine insists that a receiving line during the cocktail hour is the best option to get the meet-and-greets out of the way. Who knows what will happen during dinner – I don’t want to feel bad that I didn’t get to each table.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    I tend to see people-problems as logistics-problems, so maybe this is for another thread, but…

    Our biggest headaches involved getting the two sets of parents and the officiant (who’s known me since I was 12) onto the same planning page. Like, my in-laws wanting to hire a videographer relatively late in the game, or the officiant wanting a jpeg and translation of the ketubah in the final 2 weeks before the wedding, or my mother forgetting who was and wasn’t invited to the rehearsal dinner.

    We did the whole “talk to your parents about your vision” “ask what traditions are important” thing, but we really needed to have multiple conversations at different planning stages (but at what stages?). Also, conversations not just about what to plan, but when we planned to plan things. (So we weren’t blindsided by the idea of having a videographer 6 months after we’d hired a photographer)

    I know a good planner acts as the go-between for issues like these.

    Issues that I’ve raised elsewhere on APW just in the last month about after-the-wedding: Dress cleaning, and how to handle photos. With regard to photos, if you haven’t already purchased an album as part of your photography contract, what to consider. Also, how to decide and how to express your decision about who gets photos – prints and/or jpegs.

    • BriannaBee

      Your first set of issues almost mirror mine! We as a couple decided against a videographer and so MIL bought us a camcorder instead, which we handed off to a friend to play with. No officiant issues, thankfully, but the MIL needed a list of people invited to and attending the rehearsal dinner. 5 different guests also needed address and time of the wedding because they forgot their invites. My reaction was to give everyone the info they needed, vent to someone, and the laugh it off.

      As far as photos, I decided to get an album with my photographer, but if yours doesn’t offer that option, ask him/her whom they recommend for albums or prints. Some weddings I went to had a built in package where each guest was offered a free print when the photos came out. Otherwise, you and your betrothed should make a list (you can use the guest list!) of who should get what prints and have a decent idea of what you’re looking at purchasing.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        I wonder if we could have anticipated the photo-hunger. Not being a photo person, it never would have occurred to me that my in-laws would want all 800 photos, or that my mother’s co-workers would want more than a handful. I guess we could have anticipated the hunger, and that was my point: “It’s possible other people – strangers even – will actually be more interested in your wedding photos than you are. Here are some considerations for dealing with that (photographer contract, guests’ privacy, your privacy, cost, etc.)”

        What ended up happening was we copied all the jpegs for my in-laws, and photos trickled out for my parents as Shutterfly coupons popped up. In retrospect, giving my in-laws the jpegs is something I’m not comfortable with, and we could have promised people lots more prints and books, free, if we’d looked into Shutterfly sales patterns.

        To help with this post I’m suggesting: Giving out the jpegs, you’re just asking for the photos to be emailed around the world. If you give prints, people will copy those, too, though of course not as much as an electronic file. I wish we’d used our photographer’s online gallery more. That way, people could choose what prints they want, and could order them themselves, but couldn’t download the jpegs.

    • april

      Yeah, the getting/keeping everyone on the same page was definitely tough. Coming from a nonprofit background, I wound up approaching this the same way I would approach keeping everyone on a project team at work up to date. After each meeting – even if it only involved one or two people – I would type up a summary of what we had decided and if there were any open questions/issues. If nothing else, the emails gave me something I could point to when (for example) my mom freaked out at the last minute because we wouldn’t be offering soda at the reception: “I’m sorry – we discussed drink options with the caterer on the 17th and decided we would only be offering beer, wine, a cocktail, water, iced tea, and lemonade. You’d didn’t raise any objections then, and now it’s too late.” :P

      • ElisabethJoanne

        Yeah, see, in retrospect, I can see that, something like a monthly serious check-in would have been good, instead of just the initial conversations and casual conversations. Though, my mother would have flipped – actually did flip – if I sent an email like that. She says my emails to her are too cold and hurt her feelings.

        But even if I couldn’t put things in writing, I could at least have tried to have more focused conversations. Like, instead of discussing beverages for the wedding casually while preparing dinner, I could have signaled it as a serious conversation. Of course, then I’d also have had to tap down my fear of coming across as a b****zilla for constantly saying, “We need to talk about the wedding.”

    • AG

      This may not be helpful, but families have a convenient way of not hearing what they didn’t want to hear. Just stay firm in what you and your fiance want, thank them for their help and interest and re-explain your vision, and then vent, vent, vent to a close friend (I say “just”, but I remember how frustrating and infuriating it was at the time). We had multiple, repeated conversations with my MIL, who, any time she didn’t get her way, would somehow forget that she’d already asked about the wedding cake or the rehearsal dinner guest list.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        Yeah. You’d never guess I’m an Aristotlean raised by Calvinists by how optimistic I can be on systems fixing all problems. “Parents were difficult during wedding planning?” “Obviously we didn’t communicate well enough.” But sometimes people are just difficult.

  • Megera

    We’re doing our own bar and I’m really worried about all the non-liquor things we are going to need to make it doable for our bartenders. At 3 months out I have two (non-officially-confirmed) friends of the MOH who have volunteered to do Day of coordination at our reception site (20 minutes away from the ceremony and brunch site; starts 3 hours after our ceremony & brunch end). I know how to calculate the amount of liquor we need to serve and tables are included with the venue but I also need to figure out ice, cups, jiggers, soft drinks and all the other paraphernalia they will need to serve…. and try to make it as convenient and easy for them as possible AND get it to the venue with as little fuss as possible.

    • Sparkles

      This would have been really helpful for me too. We weren’t sure if we’d have access to the kitchen at our venue (we ended up being able to), but the question was, HOW WILL WE SERVE EVERYONE WATER? And how much do we need? Sparkling vs. still. How do we make sure all the drunk people are well-hydrated. And how much pop should we buy? (FYI: we got a case each of Coke, Sprite and ginger ale from Costco, had ~100 guests, ~15-20 under 15/do not drink alcohol, and we had a bunch left over).

    • Lian

      Agreed, this is something I am unsure of too. Expecting about 80 guests, providing all drinks ourselves. How much soda? How much juice? I DON’T KNOW! Also, is there a way to buy soda so that you can return unopened bottles like with wine?

  • macrain

    I’m having trouble wrapping my brain around the logistics of planning a wedding from afar (we live in Brooklyn, and are getting married in Charlotte). Here are some things that are tripping me up at the moment-
    1) We are bringing in our own booze to the venue. I think we have a handle on roughly how much to buy, but how to figure out WHAT to buy? As in- wine, beer, types of booze. It seems crazy making to wait until we purchase the booze to figure this out. And I’d like to taste the wine we will serve.
    2) Whatever we bring with us to the wedding, we will have to physically be able to carry it with us. We are also leaving straight from the wedding for our honeymoon. Did any of you ship things ahead? Any tips for getting organized so I don’t forget anything? I have already started a packing list, but- having trouble wrapping my brain around how this will all work.
    3) Any other general tips for planning from afar?

    • Mezza

      Do you have any family or friends in the wedding location? I planned an Indianapolis wedding from NYC, and I just had everything we ordered from the internet (cake topper, bouquets of dried flowers, escort cards, favors, gifts for bridal party) sent directly to my parents’ house. Also, my mother did a huge amount of the decoration shopping by hitting up local thrift stores, craft stores, etc and inundating me with iPhone photos, and my sister-in-law in Chicago did ALL of the decor design for the ceremony venue. I think the only things we ended up bringing from NYC were our shoes, her dress (my mom made mine), and the rings.

      So, if it’s at all possible for you, my general advice is to trust any locals you know to be helpful. In the age of smartphones and Skype, a lot of things are manageable from distance. If you don’t know any locals, it’s a little trickier, but I would definitely check with the venue about receiving deliveries, and I know that Fedex stores will hold packages if you ship them there. Also! I would definitely suggest arriving a few days before the wedding. It’s amazing how much a few dedicated days of organizing helped us.

      • macrain

        Luckily, yes, my fiance does have lots of family where we are getting hitched, and they have been really lovely in helping us. I think we are quickly realizing how much help we will truly need from them. Thank you for your thoughts!

    • Emily

      I’m planning from a little far (not nearly as far you) BUT we ran into the same issue. I ordered my booze direct from a distributor (whose number I got from a friend at our neighborhood liquor store), they are just directly shipping everything to a local liquor store, where we’ll pick it up the night before. The guy we dealt with is awesome and throwing in a free bottle of champagne…

      • macrain

        Oh wow. This is awesome and worry free.
        Good one!

    • Sheri

      You can check out what stores are near you and also near your venue – Trader Joe’s, Costco, or BevMo, for example – and then taste in Brooklyn but phone in a reserve order to Charlotte. Also check out Liz’s previous Get Shit Done post on buying booze for your party. Knowing ahead of time whether you’d rather run low at the end of the night or have a lot leftover that you can return will help you plan quantities too.

      Good luck!

    • Tamara

      hmm. i don’t think its crazy to decide what kind of beer you want AS you’re buying it. i did that, haha ;) it was actually stupidly fun — my dad and i went and said “ok, we’ll spend $X on beer!” — AND GO! we just grabbed a wide range of stuff, more of some known favorites of people, and called it a day. i decided on the wine beforehand and then just tracked down the best price for those wines that i could find over a few weeks, but i think this would work just as well doing it all en masse — sometimes convenience wins the day (btw, ias for “what” kind of wine — i picked some higher end bottles for myself and the foodie-loving parents/aunt/uncle table; put 2 mid-range bottles on each table to start the night, and got a bunch of $5/bottle Trader Joe’s wine for reserve for when all of that was gone. in addition to the wine on the table, and beer, we also mixed up 5Gal of Sangira and shoooo– that was a HIT (my folks had the best time trying out different recipes leading up to the wedding, creating the perfect mix ;) . we had a TON of booze leftover, but that just meant we were fully stocked for a few months at the house, which was nice, haha. i think the sangira helped people drink less of everything else ;) finally, although i bought our wine slowly over time (trying to find the best deal, as i said), i bought all the beer and soda like 2 days before? i think this is something you could easily do when you arrive in Charlotte just before the wedding. and while last-minute things can be stressful, at the same time — the booze buying was actually really fun — the adult equivalent of racing through Toys R Us on Nikelodean ;) i bought all of our beer, sodas, and water at Sam’s Club and Target, and you could get wine there too (or at Total Wine, etc). Good luck!!! :)

    • AG

      1) APW has a great post on how much booze to buy for a wedding, and what percentage should be beer/ wine/ liquor.
      2) Before our wedding, I talked through the entire weekend schedule with my mom, and she stopped and asked me logistical questions pretty much every step of the way. SO HELPFUL for really visualizing what we needed to do and figuring out what I hadn’t thought of. We only had a few items that we brought to our out of town wedding, and we handed those off to the DOC a few days before the wedding. Once you’re there, chances are you won’t care much about the details, so you may want to delegate that stuff to a DOC or trusted friend.
      3) My biggest piece of advice would be to get to town as early as you can, and really limit what you need to do once you get there. B and I actually had a full day to ourselves at the beach before any wedding tasks had to happen that week, and it was vital. I was OK with being a little stressed beforehand, but once we got to town for the wedding I wanted to enjoy myself. It mostly worked, but even the smallest tasks take twice as long as you think they will. Dropping off welcome bags at our guests’ hotels took up most of the day, and I got the slowest manicure of my entire life the Thursday before the wedding.

      PS – I did have to check the backseat of my car about a million times to make sure I REALLY AND TRULY had packed my wedding dress. It was there. The important things will be there.

    • JSwen

      1) Ask the caterer if you can drop off the alcohol at their location ahead of the wedding. Our caterer will take the alcohol the weekend before the wedding and bring it to the wedding, where they will be serving it (hosted).

  • Jules

    Fair warning, don’t cater a logistics post to me, because I highly doubt this is a common problem.

    I mentioned this a few weeks ago on another thread, but our biggest problem is our GIGANTIC geographic spread. Our “must have” list includes our best friends and immediate family (about 15 people) and spans France, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Maryland, California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, and Texas. But our extended list (still under 100 here..) covers a lot of Europe and a few states other than our home one; we are pretty close with some cousins & aunts/uncles. So, where do have the wedding? Do we do a destination wedding (which everyone seems like they’ll complain about…even having the mantra “your wedding is not an imposition”, I don’t want to be inconsiderate) followed by at-home casual reception? Or do we do the reverse, and do one in our home state and then have a casual reception abroad? (Might be easier, but I don’t want people to think we’re just milking it.)

    By “casual reception”, I really mean “meet the newlyweds”…a time when we can gather the friends/family in one spot and celebrate and meet and mingle. It wouldn’t be two whole weddings.

    Most people have suggested the first, but I don’t want to irritate my closest friends by making them feel obligated to buy a ticket to France or basically excluding them if they can’t. I know there are always people that won’t be able to make it, but having it in one location over another means a good chunk of one guest list wouldn’t make it, which seems awfully sad.

    • http://mnnjcooks.blogspot.com/ Jessica Nelson

      There was an article on apw awhile back about someone’s mom who would always talk about “people” in the abstract, as in “people will be expecting appetizers,” “people will be annoyed if they have to pay for parking” “we don’t want people to be hungry” etc etc. The author of the article said she tried to encourage her mom to be specific: Who will be annoyed by paying for parking? Aunt Sue and Uncle Chuck? Can we give them parking vouchers? Or can we just warn them in advance and ignore it if they’re annoyed? Etc.
      It seems to be you’re doing something similar when thinking about location. Who among your “close friends” will be bothered by having to pay for a ticket to France? Can you help them by giving them the inside scoop on prices/deals? (I’m guessing you have to buy these tickets fairly often.) Can you make these close friends feel “present” at the ceremony in some other way?
      For what it’s worth, I would understand if a close friend got married far away if it was best for her/her family. I personally would appreciate a direct message from the bride saying that she understands the expense and will be sad, but not upset, if I can’t come…and then maybe gave me a role in the “casual reception” or asked me to make/contribute toward something she would actually use on her “real” wedding day.

      • Jules

        I have 3 specific girlfriends of mine in mind (among the 4 friends I would want, no matter where I had a wedding). Two are graduate students and one is a teacher. I jokingly asked the latter if she’d hate me if I got married abroad. “Well, hate is a strong word…”

        I think they’d all understand, and I don’t know that they’d be mad (we’d talk about this directly, using basically those exact words) – they just might not be able to make it, and that DOES make me sad. So my options are pay for the ticket, accept that they won’t be able to come, or have it here instead. Honestly, I would love to just cover their tickets, but I don’t think I’d be able to do that for all four of my girlies. Cost is going to play a big factor.

        • Lawyerette510

          Do you know that the 3 girlfriends would without-a-doubt be able to make it if you did it locally instead? Also, many of the public school teachers I know can travel the most, so long as the event falls over a school break and they have plenty of time to plan ahead to budget and find a good price on tickets. It’s very different to ask someone to fly to France this summer then it is to ask them to fly to France next summer, or to ask them to fly to France at a time of year when tickets are most expensive v. a time of year when they are least expensive.

          Also, people are a lot more enthusiastic about traveling for the wedding than traveling for a casual reception. There is something magical and sacred about seeing people exchange their vows, and the people who love you will travel for it.

          I think there are some great suggestions above about making people who can’t travel for the ceremony feel included and special. Also, what about having a webcast for the people who can’t physically make it? I think Offbeat Bride has some posts about that option.

          Good luck!

          • Jules

            Pretty much, yes – although that’s obviously dependent on the exact date. (I know people are going to shoot me down on this one since I can’t actually predict the behavior of my friends with 100% accuracy, but given our circumstances, yes.) On the flipside, I don’t know that they CAN’T make it if it’s abroad. They all travel internationally somewhat regularly either for family or adventure; they could all make it work – I just don’t want them to feel forced into it.

            Mostly…it’s just a tough decision and there are a lot of factors at play.

          • Nicole

            We are planning our wedding in only about 6 months and I have one really good friend (and her husband) who live far away and have a lot of transition going on, but who I really wanted to be there. When we started considering this date, instead of waiting more time, I thought, “oh! I really want them to be able to come and I worry that this date won’t work for them.” SO I called her and told her that. I said, “We found a date and we think it’s going to work really well for us, but it’s soon and we would love for you to be there, and we know it could be tough – what do you think?” She said, we’re coming, no matter when it is. I was surprised and pleased and didn’t need to worry about it. I had a few conversations with other friends that went differently, but it made it much easier to make a decision. Instead of hypotheticals, your friends can tell you what the situation is. I’ve had friends say, “I really want to come, it’s a bad time, do you know anyone I could stay with to cut costs” and I have grandparents who wouldn’t come unless it was in their hometown and even then we couldn’t be sure about, so we’re visiting them this summer.

            My advice would be, if you have a few people that you want to ask about it, just ask them. They might simplify the process.

    • Jessica

      Just from the info you provided, no good answer on location pops out at me. I think you know best (what was your first impulse?), and you get married/have a reception where it works the best for you (maybe let cost or something else be a deciding factor). Let yourself off the hook for having an inconveniently-located wedding! It is NOT annoying when people get married abroad; people will come if they can come, if they can’t, they/you might be a little sad but you’ll make up for it when you see them next. Also, people will not think you’re milking it for having two parties/weddings/whatever.

      • JSwen

        I agree here. Seems to me like it is time to spend a weekend with your fiance, thinking about what you want the day to be like for the two of you, instead of thinking about what you want it to be like for your friends.

        • emmers

          Yes! At the end of the day, you’re getting married, and folks are coming to celebrate this. But the big point is, you’re getting married.

    • Amy March

      I think the answer is that you can’t have a “must-have” list spread across continents and you need to start accepting that now, before you plan. Know that where ever you have it, someone won’t be able to come. Even if you were Kimyae and you could afford to fly everyone there would be someone who didn’t have the vacation time. Feel the heartbreak of knowing there is no solution now. Wallow in it. Ply it with wine and chocolate.

      And when you feel done with that , that’s the time for picking a location.

      • MC

        This really rings true to me. One of my best friends was on my “must-have” list for many months after we got engaged, and part of the reason it took me so long to commit to a date was because she is living abroad for the next few years and can only come back to the US around Christmas. Thinking about having a wedding that she couldn’t come to made me so sad, but that was the thing that made most sense for us and our families and our location. Once I accepted that, I was still so sad for awhile, and I told her and she cried, even though she totally understood. It’s still sad, but like Amy said, there will always be people that can’t come. It doesn’t mean they won’t be a big part of your life post-wedding. The wedding is just one (important) day out of our hopefully long, friend-filled lives.

        • Heather

          Something else to consider is something might come up that makes it impossible for them to attend….of the five of us dearest friends, four are married. Only the first of those weddings could everyone attend. All three other weddings were crazy circumstances- one had a crazy plague that prevented a four hour drive (THE DAY BEFORE THE WEDDING); for my wedding a sister-in-law of one friend decided to have her wedding in a different state on the same day (even after friend had agreed to be a bridesmaid- so sad for me, the bride), and one, the teacher among us had been granted an opportunity to teach overseas for three months and only found out shortly before the wedding. It’s crazy, but life happens and it’s sad no matter what. Sometimes advance notice, pre-planning, is the best thing. You can mourn and move on, instead of having all hopes crushed later. Spoiler alert- we are all still very close. :)

        • Nicole

          Two of my closest (married) friends found out right before we got engaged that they were accepted to Peace Corps and moving to Africa for 2.5 years. We knew they were applying for it and also that it just wouldn’t work for us to wait 3 years to get married at a time when they could be here. We’re figuring out other ways they can have a presence (i.e. we’re doing a letter guest book and they’re going to send a letter) but mostly, we’re all just doing some grieving. And, it’s going to be okay. We’re lucky that we have so many exciting life changes happening, and I’ve known they wanted to do Peace Corps for so long I actually thought it was possible they’d miss out on meeting whoever it was (if they had gotten invited sooner, or if I hadn’t met someone as soon as I did), so I’m just feeling grateful that all these people I love have had a chance to know each other and be a part of our lives.

      • Jules

        I don’t mean “must have” in the literal sense. I’m simply talking inner circle, closest of close. Like I said, we do realize that no matter WHERE we set the location, some people will be unable to make it. We just aren’t sure what solution makes the most sense since having it one place is very heavy on my guest list and vice versa. We don’t expect 100% attendance if we have two receptions, but we want the best chance of including the people we love in a diplomatic way.

      • Meg Keene

        Yeah. I think that’s right.

    • EveRaphael

      I’m in the exact same situation – I live overseas, and my key people are spread all over the world. I went though a period of weighing up all the pros and cons of a million different options and dates, I was sending emails to heaps of people along the lines of – “when are university holidays in Canada?” “how many days do you get off over Christmas in Brazil?” “are you planning a trip home anytime next year?” CRAZY.

      In the end, we just sat down and worked out a time and place that worked for us, and seemed like it would inconvenience the least number of people. And we’ve decided on a weekend wedding to lure people in with a whole three days of fun. And we’re giving people heaps of notice to give them every possible chance of making it work.

      Invites will go out soon, and I know a bunch of people won’t be able to come who, a few months ago I would’ve said HAD TO BE AT MY WEDDING. But that’s life, and my people are awesome and they will understand (and so will we) if the date/place means they can’t make it.

      • http://www.lateralmovements.com/ Lauren Fitzpatrick

        Us too. It’s why it took two years to pin down a date, because we couldn’t pick a ‘fair’ location. Eventually we went with what made the most sense for us and our immediate families, and just crossed our fingers that others would be able to make it. At the time I was so stressed out about the whole thing, quizzing people about what would be best for them, but the second we made the decision we moved on and haven’t looked back since.

      • Jules

        Thank you so much. “Inconvenience the least number of people” is exactly where we’re stuck in our loop, and we just need to pick a damn place already.

    • Kelly

      A lot of our far-flung friends aren’t able to make it, so for awhile I considered streaming the ceremony via skype or something. This wouldn’t necessarily solve your problem, but has anyone tried this?

  • http://www.fallsannie.com AnnieP

    This is a logistical question related to someone else’s wedding, namely, am I obligated to go to the after party? My cousin (who is more like a sister to me), is getting married on Saturday. I’m inclined to call this “shotgun wedding x2″ as this is the second time she has planned a small church ceremony in two weeks so that she’ll be married when she has a baby. I’ve agreed to travel to the wedding to come be her matron of honor again and attend the reception after the wedding. I’d love to leave at that point and not make an overnight trip of it (too many weekends away in a row!), but she says she wants me at the after party at the town dive bar. Without going further into the complicated details of our relationship and the situation, anyone have any sage wisdom??

    • MisterEHolmes

      I don’t think you’re obligated to go to any party, much less one that you don’t really go to. You’re kind to attend at all; it’s up to you if your kindness extends further!

    • Jessica

      Nope, not obligated. Attending a wedding + reception is already a lot, so don’t feel bad. Just say sorry you can’t, you need to drive home that night.

    • macrain

      We are having an after party, and while I hope that many of our guests come to it, I hope they don’t feel obligated. I think you should be polite but clear that you can’t stay, so she isn’t surprised on the day of.

    • Acres_Wild

      Definitely not obligated. After-parties are, by definition, not part of the official wedding events, so it is perfectly acceptable not to go if you don’t want to. If she gets mad, it’s on her.

      Although (and please ignore this advice if it doesn’t apply), it sounds like there might be some drama surrounding the situation, so don’t use “not going to the after-party” as a way to make a statement or express disapproval. I’ve known this to happen at weddings I’ve attended and it ends up leading to feelings hurt all around. As long as you’re kind about it, leave whenever you prefer :)

    • MC

      I agree, no obligation to go. If she’s the kind of person that wouldn’t handle a firm “no” with no explanation, I would say make something up, like you have a big activity or plans the next day and need a full night’s sleep.

      Maybe the issue is that she wants you to hang out with her friends and her baby family in a less formal environment – if so, could you suggest an alternate time a month or two (or three?) down the road to visit them? Like, “I can’t make it to your after-party, but I’d love to come visit you some weekend this summer and do x activity/relax and gossip about your wedding/marriage.”

    • Lawyerette510

      Just to agree with everyone else, no not obligated. It sounds like this is the second wedding in a couple of weeks to the same person, plus a reception. Those are the “official” events. An after party is by definition non-essential, so be good to yourself and go enjoy part of your weekend at home!

    • Meg Keene

      I personally think after parties are optional by their very definition. If you wanted it to not be optional, you’d make it the reception.

    • JSwen

      I would play it by ear. I didn’t really want to do this before I got to a friend’s wedding but once we got to the bar it was really just a wonderful place to chat. I didn’t drink and therefore could drive home, albeit 2 hours later. :/

  • MisterEHolmes

    Some other folks helped, but I’d like to see APW produce a rough draft of a photography shot list: like, what non-Pinteresty photos do I just need the photographer to take, and what kind of information does that list need to have? (ex. Family photo: Mom, Dad, Bride, Groom, Brother. Time and location. …Other stuff?) All the stuff I keep seeing is like “get a totes adorable photo of your bridesmaids jumping!” …Ugh. I do not need that.

    A post about HOW to ask (wording suggestions, etc) folks to help with set-up crew/tear-down crew to avoid hurting feelings, and maybe a guestimate on how many to ask (or rather, how many to think about asking).

    Bar/catering: How many people are needed to serve? Some kind of guidelines on that would be awesome.

    I’d also like to see a Completion Time estimate added to makeup/hair tutorials (as in “with a practice or two, you should be able to complete this in 15 minutes!).

    • http://thinkweirdthoughts.blogspot.com Phira

      Definitely the photography shot list, but also recommendations for how to organize the order of the photos. What order should I take photos in so that we get through them quickly and easily, without making anyone wait to around because they’re in one picture now and they’ll be in another picture in 20 minutes?

      • Allie Moore

        Tip from a wedding photographer — take the largest group photos first and then get smaller. This can be tricky if you’re doing big photo spouse 1’s side, big photo spouse 2’s side, but start with the biggest extend family then work to smaller groups. e.g. Spouse 1 has biggest family photo grouping, spouse 2 has smaller but still large family photo grouping do: Spouse 1’s extended family; then spouse 1’s parents, siblings, nieces/nephews; then spouse 1’s parents, then move on to Spouse 2’s family and work on a similar process where you whittle down from biggest to smallest.

        Also, so so helpful to have a close friend or family member who has the shot list (or one from each side of the family) to wrangle and identify people. Your photographer isn’t going to know who your siblings are but a friend can make things go so much smoother!

        • http://thinkweirdthoughts.blogspot.com Phira

          Very helpful! Thank you!

          I remember being in the wedding party (peripherally–as a chuppah holder) for my brother’s wedding, and I spent a long time standing around missing cocktail hour. They wanted to do the whole wedding party together, but then they finished doing bridesmaids/groomsmen photos before doing sibling photos. I was in maybe 3-4 photos total, but missing almost all of cocktail hour.

          So making the photo process as easy as possible is a huge priority!

          • Allie Moore

            Nothing worse than a long and confusing time taking photos when everyone really wants to be celebrating. Especially if you’re seeing your partner before the ceremony, but even if you’re not, think long and hard about what photos you can take care of before the ceremony and what photos must be done after. In my experience, people have a good amount of fun taking pictures early in the day but quickly get grouchy and/or wander off after the ceremony when they really want to eat, drink, and rest their feet.

          • meeliebee

            Do people also do family photos before the wedding? I was hoping to do our immediate families before hand since they’ll all be in the wedding anyway.

          • Allie Moore

            I love it when clients do their family photos before, we’re definitely doing all the photos before the ceremony at our August wedding. If your family members are all around before hand, go for it, but I think it’s a question of who will be around/who is feasible to have present beforehand.

          • meeliebee

            Thank you! I’m really looking forward to our cocktail hour so I’ll make sure we get those out of the way beforehand. :)

          • http://sholeh.calmstorm.net Sholeh

            Yes! I did, and it was the best decision. Everyone still looked fresh and the kids were relatively non-grumpy. Give it at LEAST 2 hours before ceremony start time.

          • Maggie

            That’s what we’re doing, granted we don’t have any attendants.

          • http://batman-news.com Sonora Webster

            I have been setting up our getting-ready timeline with the hair and makeup people this week, and when I told the makeup person we are getting ready at the venue and I want us to be ready at 3:00 for our 5:00 wedding, she was sort of baffled. She said, “Oh, most people like to take all the pictures during cocktail hour.” I was like, “Cocktail hour is for COCKTAILS!”

          • http://thinkweirdthoughts.blogspot.com Phira

            That’s what sold my partner on a first look! We’ll still need cocktail hour for some photos, but we’d like to maximize our time with our guests. And take advantage of the bar and appetizers.

    • NrgGrl

      I’d like to second ALL of those, but especially the question about bar/catering! Related questions:

      – If you don’t have a full-service caterer or you’re DIT-ing, how many waitstaff per guest do you need under various scenarios (e.g., a buffet-style dinner for 100 guests with appetizers and dessert, an appetizers-only reception for 50 guests, etc.)

      – Do you need bartenders if you’re just serving beer and wine? (And if so, how many bartenders per guest?)

      • Sparkles

        Follow-up re: bartenders/wait staff, if you’ve never hired people before in your life, how do you know they’ll do a good job. What sorts of questions should you ask them? We hired our bartenders off of Kijiji (online classifieds) and they did not do half of what I wanted them to.

        • Class of 1980

          If there is a bar that you frequent with a bartender that does a great job, consider asking them if they do side jobs.

          There is a wonderful bartender at a resort near me that’s been there for years. Some of my friends have had him bartend at their parties because he’s so great.

      • LM

        If you are hiring through a staffing agency, they will have an idea of how many people are needed. We did that for our rehearsal dinner (got take out from a restaurant, set up a buffet and hired people to serve). For 80 guests, we had 2 servers, 1 captain and a bartender. As for bartenders…you might not need specific bartenders, but you would probably want people to take care of clearing glasses/making sure there are enough/re-stocking things.

        • NrgGrl

          Great points! Thanks!!

        • Sara

          Yeah, we are estimating 70 guests and our caterer said 2 servers and 1 captain. (we are not having alcohol, so no bartender needed.)

      • MisterEHolmes

        Yes! We are legally required to have one bartender for our venue, but my parents think we need a second one… just for beer/wine! I don’t think it’ll be hard, but we’re 2.5 weeks out and now I’m nervous.

      • Ashley Meredith

        We had about 80 people with make-it-yourself drinks (lemonade, iced tea, and a drink dispenser of gin; and a punch bowl of sangria) and a substantial-snack buffet (sandwiches, hummus & veggies, fruit, cheese & crackers, dessert).

        We hired an amazing-cook friend to do the catering, and acquaintances to do the serving. So the total staff was: caterer + 6 others (3 of whom were 20-year-olds who occasionally had drinks and chatted with guests, which was totally as we’d hoped would happen).

        These folks cooked, plated, set up, replenished and broke down, and, granted I was the bride, but as far as I could tell everything worked really smoothly. These people worked between 5-9 hours each, and the impression I got from talking to them later was that we definitely needed all of those folks pre-wedding, but it was an easy work pace during and after.

        Not sure if that helps since it’s not exactly either of your scenarios, but hopefully it gives you an idea.

        • Meg Keene

          You should write a How We Did It post!

      • YOQ

        ALSO, how do I figure out quantities of non-alcoholic drinks? We are having an afterparty at a community center, potluck style, in July, and expecting roughly 200 people. Maybe 20-25 will be kids or non-drinkers. Our invitations stated that people should bring a six-pack of beer or cider, a bottle of wine, or finger food to share. We promised to provide non-alcoholic drinks. I would LOVE to have horchata, some kind of fruit juice (maybe an agua fresca, but maybe just lemonade), definitely water. The water I’m not worried about–we can refill in the community center sink anytime. But how do I figure out how much of the other stuff to buy?

        • Alyssa M

          yes, seconding this!

        • Jules

          I know I’m a sample size of one, but I personally consume NA drinks at a rate of maybe…oh…one an hour? TOPS? It would be even less so at a wedding, though, because I’d probably stick to the alcohol (even if I brought finger food. There’s something about celebrations) and ice water in July. So each 2-L bottle I would estimate serves 2-3 for a 3-hour party. Google seems to back me up on this.

          Also depends on the time of day and if you’re serving a meal or mostly dessert & snacks.

      • Inmara

        We didn’t have too formal dinner (hot course and then cold course, not plated but family-style) and had waiters to only bring/remove food and plates; people can wonderfully help themselves with beer and wine. But I agree you need staff to take care of glasses. For 50 person reception we had two waiters and one person who was in charge of glasses (we had open bar and then wine and spirits on the dinner table).

      • Alex

        Yeeess, definitely some help on this would be great! I don’t want a full-service caterer mainly since the good ones in my area refuse to let you bring in anything else (the whole “we don’t want guests eating your Aunt Nina’s cake and thinking it was us who made it” thing) AND can’t do the things I want (and I like my cage-free eggs ;) ), so I’m getting a couple restaurants to do stations (brunch wedding), and then def need to get some waitstaff and chair movers, etc. Also, it is important to have someone around a bar making sure wine bottles are open and if mixer bottles are out to refill them? Doing mainly self-serve drinks (similarly to what Ashley Meredith mentioned :) )

    • Meg Keene

      Yup, I just finished the final edits on that. You’ll get it next week.

    • Meg Keene

      Oh, and hair an makeup tutorials. HA 15 minutes. PLEASE if you’re doing your own hair and makeup, allow an hour and a half all in, and that’s if you’re pretty comfortable doing your own makeup. Having done my own makeup, I can tell you that’s how much you’re going to need.

      The trick with time estimates on tutorials is, any estimate I give you based on what happens on the shoot is just going to be a damn lie. I would say Yessinia averages a complete hair look in under ten minutes. It’s not like if you double that you get what it takes a normal human to do it. Give yourself an hour….. AND practice enough that you get a more accurate feel, and then double that time for your wedding day. All of us work at really different speeds. Maddie could do something in half the time I could, no matter how much practice I had.

      • MisterEHolmes

        This is why I ask this stuff!

      • Jen

        This totally depends on who you are though and what you want done. My hair took almost two hours by my friends who were using hot rollers (should have used a curling iron) on my super thick and super long hair. My make up? About ten minutes max, in between the curlers cooling. If my hair was slightly shorter and a normal thickness, it would have taken about half as long. My best friend’s hair took about 45 minutes max- and her cousin has not practiced- and her make up probably took a few minutes longer. So I would argue that while 15 minutes probably won’t happen, if you want a more simple hairstyle and simple make up, you could get out under an hour- but as meg says- put extra time in just in case!

    • genevathene

      Definitely seconding the photography shot list! But also, a general idea of how much time that list would take to go through would also be helpful.

    • Penny7b

      Seconding the question on how to ask people to help with set up and pack up. I felt really uncomfortable about this.

  • Heather

    Can you realistically have a self-serve bar for a 200 person wedding? I was planning to set up two wine and beer (keg) stations plus a separate non-alcohol station, and let people have at it. My assumption is that these people are adults, and can probably figure out how to get drinks for themselves. If the internet is to be believed, everything will be RUINED if I don’t have designated people to serve the booze. Any tips for setting things up so they run smoothly?

    • Heather

      I should mention that my wedding will be at a private residence (FH’s dad’s house) so there’s no requirement to have bartenders.

      • Amy March

        Have you looked into social host liability where his house is? I think logistically it can work but make sure you understand the legal implications of a self-serve bar.

        • Heather

          We’ll be in California, and from my research the rule is: don’t let minors drink. I need to double check with FH, but I don’t believe that we have any minors older than 12 (my thinking is that it’s the older teens that are interested in sneaking alcohol).

      • Megera

        I know in BC, Canada, the host is legally liable if they allow a guest to drive under the influence.

    • Meg Keene

      We’re doing a whole series on DIY bars, starting in a week and a half. DONE! But keep the specific bar questions coming and we’ll be sure to answer them.

      • Heather

        Yesss! You will be filling a huge information hole in the internet!

      • NrgGrl

        THANK YOU.

        Some random, specific questions:

        – What’s the best way to estimate how much ice to buy?

        – APW has some awesome large-batch cocktail recipes, but I’d like to see more recipes for cocktails that don’t have carbonation (so that they can be made a day or two beforehand).

        – How many glasses should I rent? Related: what’s a good way to get guests to reuse their wine glasses?

        – What other random tools/stuff am I going to forget to rent or buy? (Like extra bottle-openers. Doh. Addding those to my list now…)

        • http://alifeworthwritingdown.blogspot.ca/ Jules

          Re: reusing wine glasses – could you get wine charms that you label yourself so that guests stay committed to the glass with their label on it? It might at least give them the idea that they should be reusing.

        • ypi

          I am not totally sure if this answers your question, re: large batch carbonated drinks- but one great way to do this is to make everything ahead, and add the carbonated liquid the day of. For example, sangria is even better a day or two later (boozy fruit), and you could add all the ingredients, do the chopping, add it to large coolers or whatever vessel, and then the morning of you (or realistically a trusted friend, caterer if you had one) could add a few 2 liter bottles of seltzer or other fizzy liquid.

          Another option is to do a trial of the large batch cocktails, and if possible, sub-out carbonated liquid for another liquid (e.g. juice, ice tea, lemonade). You could make it fun with your partner or friends testing small batches of cocktails.

      • Lian

        Yesss I love you guys.

      • Alyssa M

        THANKYOU! I was going to ask for this!

      • Alex

        HOORAY!!!! Thank you!

        Q1 – Best ways to keep extras at the time of event that should be cold cold? i.e. I don’t think I want 8 bottles of white wine/champagne sitting in a bucket chilling, but I want 6 of them ready to be put out when 2 are empty.
        Q2 – Best way to start chilling things beforehand? Having a brunch wedding so probably lots of champagne/white wine/things that aren’t generally served with ice but are chilled

    • Sarah E

      Seconded. Having a ~200 person dessert-and-booze wedding in the late evening. We have a very casual, dance-centric crowd, and only plan to serve beer, wine, and champagne. I don’t really think we need to find a bartender. . .do we? And for eco-friendly glassware options, what are the pros/cons on renting glassware? Purchasing cheap stuff via craigslist/thrifting?

      • Orangie

        Maybe instead of hiring a single bartender, which means a line of 200 people waiting for one person to pour wine, beer, & champagne, you can do a couple of self-serve stations and hire someone to open wine bottles, pour pitchers off the keg, etc. I would definitely do at least two stations, because they will be hit really hard at the beginning when everyone gets there.

        I am struggling with the buy/rent thing for glasses too. My fiance and I already own a bunch mason jars that we use for canning, and we could scrape the remainder up by borrowing from my aunts. But I’m still considering renting them. Here’s how I see it. Cons of renting: more expensive, boring classic styles, I have to estimate exactly how many we need so that I don’t end up paying for ones we don’t use. Pros of renting: NO ONE HAS TO WASH 150 MASON JARS THE DAY AFTER THE WEDDING. Only one pro, really. But it’s a big one. I can’t imagine that there is anything I will feel less like doing the day after my wedding than standing (slightly hungover, mind you) in my parents’ kitchen, washing lipstick stains and dried beer off of a sea of jars.

        • Anonin

          Washing wedding dishes is hell. RENT.

    • JSwen

      Keep in mind that some states require a licensed server even if you are hosting the liquor…

    • raerose1984

      Hey Heather – I used to bartend and still occasionally bartend weddings. I think hiring a bartender for the event is something you will be thankful you did in the long run. A bartender is trained to tactfully cut people off or slow them down when it is the safest choice for everybody involved. And honestly, it might actually even itself out costwise in terms of the well proportioned doling out of wine/beer vs. the free for all that could possibly occur with 200 people all pouring their own drinks (10 oz pours of wine, beers full of foam being poured off and wasted, glasses breaking and nobody being responsible, etc.)

      However – if you are bent on the diy thing here are some tips:
      – lots of signage- label everything: recycling, wine types, taxi numbers, signs that say how to tell when you’ve had too much, signs that say where to put dirty glasses, signs that instruct people on how to pump a keg, and so on.
      – You’d be surprised how many people can’t correctly uncork a bottle of wine. You could uncork all the bottles leading up the event or just have lots of wine keys on the table.
      – a bucket for keg foam
      – lots of bar rags

      I guess just think of it as a self-serving bussing station – even in the best of restaurants with the best of staff – it gets messy. Can you put somebody in charge of at least being the “alcohol police?” somebody sober who can moniter the stations, change out glasses, get more glasses, bring out chilled wine, help people with kegs, etc.?

  • Rora

    How about a post on having children attend your wedding? At what point should you consider hiring babysitters? How exactly does that work? Is this a bigger consideration for the ceremony or the reception? Do they go off in a sideroom somewhere? Do they sit at a kid’s table? Would parents even be comfortable handing their kids off like that? What *do* parents appreciate for their kids at weddings?

    • Gen

      +1 to this – our friends/family with kiddos have all different kinds of ideas about what they want to do with their kids, and I’m not sure whether to dictate or go with the flow.

      • Heather

        My own experience for if you are considering a sitter (I didn’t end up hiring one): MIL, Husband and myself had brunch at a local place while visiting the venue about six months out (or more?), and the waitress actually offered me her card, saying she loved the venue and had often babysat at the hotel during the events, and had references. Ask your venue for recommendations, etc. Meg- maybe call the hotel and see if there’s anyone who’s done such a thing in the past?

        • Meg Keene

          Ohhh! Good idea. I mean, I’m at the point where I’m pondering flying in a damn sitter for the weekend, so that sounds much more logical.

          Important side note: this is also what happens when you throw child free weddings and invite people with small children from really far away. They end up screwed unless you provide a sitter. People always say, “Oh, everyone wants a night away from the kids,” and while that might be true, it’s not so true 300 miles away from home with no sitter.

          (I mean, at this wedding one of us could just skip out early if we really had to. If it was childfree and we couldn’t find a sitter across country, one of us would have to fly all the way there and sit in the hotel room all night.)

          • LE

            This makes me feel a lot better about one decision I made. My wedding is going to be child-free (so many cousins with children and not enough space), with the exception of my two nephews and baby niece. But, I did tell one of my cousins who is from out of state that she should feel free to bring her toddler daughter. I hope other cousins aren’t annoyed with me, but I worried that she would choose not to come rather than be away from her daughter for a whole weekend or find a babysitter.

          • Meg Keene

            Totally made the right choice. Being away from toddlers is HARRRRDDDD (on everyone), and finding babysitters far away is just a mess.

          • SarahG

            We just went through this exact thing! Way too many kids to invite them all, but several are from out of town and it’s a logistical nightmare for them to find a babysitter they trust (and of course, I don’t have kids, so I am totally useless with babysitting recommendations). We are letting out of towners bring kids and asking the in towners not to. I am worried about getting a shitstorm from the locals, but I feel like it’s a totally reasonable call and I absolutely support your decision, LE :)

          • Dawn

            I think this makes sense as long as you’re actually talking toddlers. Leaving out older, more aware children because they live in town when their cousins get to go doesn’t seem like a good idea to me, though.

    • Meg Keene

      Oh LADY. If you got me a sitter bless you FOREVER. I mean, I donno. Parents these days seems to be far more… opinionated than I am…. so know your crowd. But if you got me a sitter I’d kiss you on the mouth.

      We’re going to a wedding across the country in October, AND it’s a night. So I think we’re going to somehow have to find a way to hire a local sitter just to sit in the hotel room, since the kid goes to bed at 7. It’s a logistical nightmare already.

      • Eliza

        Second the advice to know your crowd. The best way to do that is to ask!

        My husband’s sister had a baby less than a month before our wedding, as did two of our friends–we had other friends with toddlers. Nobody requested (or expected) a sitter, but I just figured that if folks were going to haul it across the country with a newborn to attend our nighttime wedding, the least we could do was accommodate them with a sitter so the new parents could dance at our reception!

        I got in touch with all the new parents before the wedding and asked if they would use a sitter if we hired one. We emphasized that it wasn’t a child/baby-free wedding, but I did try to get an approximate baby count in advance so we didn’t hire more sitters than needed. We had our ceremony in a church and our reception in a nearby ballroom in a historic building. The sitters were all licensed teachers at our church’s nursery school and we paid them an hourly rate to work off-site. They brought a couple of pack-n-plays that they set up in a boardroom at our reception venue. (So the parents could break from dancing and nurse or check in on the babies, etc.) We did not provide a sitter during the ceremony, but I did tell the parents ahead of time that there was a rocking chair and bathroom in the back of the sanctuary just in case any babies got cranky during the long-ish service.

        It all went really smoothly. I can’t remember how much the sitters cost off the top of my head, but it was totally reasonable, easy to coordinate in advance, and worth it! (We also provided the babysitters with meals + cake, just as we did with our photographers and band.)

      • Brittany

        If it’s in NY, NYU has a education job board that is 70% parents looking for sitters/nannies. Almost all the people responding are ed majors. I paid my living expenses in college with jobs from that board and tons of them were from families of alumni in town for weddings or other events. You might have luck with that.

        • Meg Keene

          Oh girlfriend, how do you think I paid my way through NYU? (Other than scholarships and stuff, but day to day?)

    • TeaforTwo

      We hired a sitter and it was a waste of money. I had planned to have two babysitters on-site to watch kids in a different room, in case they got bored during speeches. (We had 15 kids under 5 at the wedding.) The in-law I asked to take care of that, who is a mother of twins, only found one babysitter. So that babysitter only watched the twins, who both really just wanted to be with their parents and so mostly were.

      I think it’s a know your crowd thing, but our wedding was so family-heavy (and in the daytime!) that even when parents weren’t watching their own kids, the kids’ cousins/aunties/uncles/grandparents wanted to be doing it, because weddings are family reunions (or at least ours was).

      What was worth it, in our case, was having a stack of colouring books and crayons, which got good use.

      • JSwen

        This is really helpful. There are going to be roughly 5 kids under 5 at our wedding. Each of those kid-containing families is from out of town so I’d like to create a little kid-zone at the venue so the parents don’t have to leave early. That said, I know I would be upset if I went to the trouble of getting a sitter and a bunch of toys & pillows to have said families leave early anyway.

        • ambi

          No matter how much you prepare and how convenient and kid-friendly you make it, you can’t control whether they will have to leave early. Kids get sick, or cranky, or overly-tired, or super clingy. Sometimes parents are just exhausted or stressed.

        • Meg Keene

          Ambi is really right about that, by the way. I’d be super thrilled if you set up a kid zone with a sitter. But if it was nap time and he couldn’t sleep there, or he started melting down, or I was a new mom and I started leaking through my clothes (THAT happened at a wedding), I might have to leave early any way. It wouldn’t mean I didn’t appreciate what you did, or I wasn’t trying my best. Just that kids can’t always abide by adult timelines. It’s their joy and terror.

          • JSwen

            Yeah, well I took the “know your crowd” advice and asked three of the families – all of whom said, “yeah our kid is going to want to be around us, but thanks for offering”.

            So dilemma solved. I’m just going to raid the $1 bins at Target for disposable fun stuff to put at the kiddo’s tables. :)

      • Liz

        I asked my soon to be sister-in-law, with whom I am pretty close, what I could do for the kids (7,6,3) to help make the party more fun for both the kids and the parents. I mostly don’t want them leaving early on account of the kids. I offered that I could hire a sitter, and specified that it would be someone that I know and trust, and set up a little hang out room in a side room off of our reception hall. She got very defensive and insisted she “would never leave her kids off in some room with a stranger!” I understand her point of view, you can never be too careful about who you leave your kids with, but couldn’t beleive how upset she got about the mere suggestion. T-10 days to my wedding and I have nothing for the kids, but I might still pick up some crayons and print a few coloring pages.

        • MDBethann

          If it helps, we had a table for our elementary school set (at our 140 person wedding, we easily had 20 under 20) and we covered it with art paper and gave each kid crayons. The toddlers sat with their parents, but got crayons & coloring books. The teenagers had a table all to themselves as well. I don’t know how big of a hit the teen table was, but the younger kids did great art work on the table cover (and didn’t make it messy!) that we saved it as a memento (once we shook off the sugar & salt). Since our wedding was on May 5, we also got all of the kids cheap maracas at the party supply store. They had fun dancing with them. It really doesn’t take much to keep kids occupied and happy – most of them didn’t know each other before the wedding, but had a blast playing at the wedding.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      Echoing all the “know your crowd” posts. My mother would never have left us with a stranger, even in the same building, even hired by a friend, and my sisters and I would not have managed well at a kids’ table.

      An arrangement I think would be helpful at a lot of the wedding I attend, which have a lot of small children, is a room with a mother’s helper, not so much a baby sitter. Mothers can nurse there, change a diaper, take a toddler away from the crowd for a bit – and there’s someone to help them. (Lately, these wedding involve mothers attending with children but without their deployed husbands.)

    • Mezza

      I don’t have kids, but there were a bunch (14?) of them at my wedding and they were the STARS of the whole thing. I loved having them there and I don’t even particularly like kids. Granted, it was an afternoon reception and my friends are basically just giant kids themselves, but we didn’t make any special plans for them and they all just had a ball.

      On the other hand, I went to an evening reception recently where my best friend was MOH and her boyfriend was responsible for her two young boys (4 and 6). I spent most of the evening with them and I would recommend having a nearby quiet space where any overstimulated kids can go to decompress. They were mostly fine and had a great time dancing, but the younger one needed to take breaks from all the noise and people every so often.

    • Alice

      Echoing below – ask around. For our church wedding (which has creche facilities) I wasn’t keen on getting a sitter in case people thought it meant we didn’t want children in church (and both my husband and I feel very strongly about always welcoming children in church). BUT lots of our friends with children said they would appreciate the option of a sitter, so we hired one for the day. Some kids stayed with her all day, some came in and out, some stayed with their parents all day.

    • Lawyerette510

      So we were ambivalent about having kids at our wedding, but we 1) didn’t want the fight it would have caused with his sister about not having her son and 2) had our minds changed when a dear friends said “but you’re inviting the people you love the most, and you want them to bring their whole-selves to the event, and by excluding their kids, you’re excluding part of them.” That made it clear to me, that for us, mandating no kids wasn’t an option, even if we provided a sitter. We ended up having 52 adults, 4 toddlers and 1 infant. And 2 of the toddlers made the party happen, and the other kids were adorable.

      We had kids sit with their parents, provided some play stuff and kid-friendly meals, and the ceremony was outside with everyone standing, and a little kids’ table there, so some of the kids sat and colored for the 15 minute ceremony with a couple of the parent’s standing by and the others sat on a blanket or were held by their parents.

      As for the infant, his parents were staying at the little hotel in the middle of no where, where we had it, so when it was time for him to go to bed, they put him down, and busted out the baby-monitor so they could enjoy the reception.

      But like everyone else said, know your crowd, as what we did probably would’t work for some people but it worked for our people.

      • Cbrown

        I mapped out a provisional seating chart recently and put parents with similarly aged kids together. We’ll have some extra kid friendly stuff at those tables and hopefully will play together.

    • Amy A.

      We had 5 children under 5 at a wedding of 55 people, so they were a not-insignificant portion of our guests. They sat with their parents and we made them little goody bags containing a stuffed animal, a small toy, and a magic marker book where the colors appear if you use the pen that comes with it (no stickers, crayons, or real markers so they couldn’t draw on their fancy clothes or our rented tablecloths :-) and my mom passed them out after dinner but before the toasts, to get them through to the dancing. It worked pretty well!

    • Mrs K

      Out of 136 guests we had almost 30 kids at our wedding (some were babies and some closer to 13 years old).
      Stuff we found successful: Hiring 2 large bouncy castles for the lawn (adults were able to enjoy cocktail hour on lawn and kids were occupied), fun packs with blowing bubbles and spin tops for the tables, candy buffet (for young and old alike), glow sticks for fun after dark and on the dance floor.
      So many kids loved the music, some of my favourite memories are surrounded with friends and family and me dancing with nieces and nephews on the dance floor.
      Ours was a semi-destination wedding so many guests were staying close by – we hired a van and driver to act as a “shuttle service”, parents were able take kids back to accommodation, then come back to the wedding.
      Some shared a sitter – that they organised themselves – cause guests are adults who are capable and you don’t have to :-)

    • Heather

      We welcomed kids at our wedding, but there were only four kids who were ages 2-4, and my flower girl and ring bearer, who were 7 and 8 (out of 210 guests). I gave the wedding party bags of fun (Trader Joe’s wine for adults, including corkscrews from the dollar store) which for the kids, included activity books and one toy each, plus snacks and sparkling cider, so they could have fancy drinks for toasts if they wanted. Those were waiting at the hotel when they checked in, so they had stuff to occupy them while adult things and rehearsal stuff happened that they weren’t needed for. I didn’t do anything special for the non-wedding-party kids, but we danced the hell out of the whole day with them (afternoon wedding), and they had a blast.

    • Sarah McClelland

      This. We have 30ish in the under-10 age range, at least half are under 5. So I’d love to see more written here about kid-friendly weddings. Ours is set for 4 with a buffet dinner after, so early evening.

  • Mandy

    I’m wondering how much work is reasonable to expect one person to do, esp with regards to decorating, transporting, etc. My sister’s friends are (probably) going to setting up the reception room for me unless I get lucky and can get in there the day before. But how much stuff should I be expecting two people to tape on the walls and set out on the tables and stuff? They are servers at a restaurant, so I presume they’ll be fairly efficient, but I really have no idea.

    My half-baked solution was to give them a to-do list ordered by priority. So 1. put out tablecloths, 2. put dishes on buffet, but if you don’t get all the way to 13. hang sparkly stars from the balcony, life will go on.

    • Jules

      I actually really like that solution. If I were your BM, I would really love if the bride told me “OK, items 1-4 are pretty important, but other than that, it’s all icing on the cake” so that I wouldn’t feel awful if I need to go get ready now, and I’ve not gotten to the sparkly stars. Accept in advance that everything may not get done unless you enlist more people, be chill about it and grateful for their help, and you’ve got your answer. Also, if there’s anyone else around, they’ll probably grab them for help…or you could try to recruit more people. Without a run through, it’s hard to estimate.

    • Allison

      I also agree this is a great solution. Things inevitably take longer in setup than you think they will and prioritizing will help focus attention on what is most important. Though, I’d also note which things are definitely a two-multiple person job and get those done first. That way once done, people can break off into smaller groups to tackle the remainder.

    • Katie*

      This is basically what I am doing! Two 25 yr old girls, only one of whom I know, are hired to do the set up/take down. I met with one of them at the location when we were about 50% sure of what was going to happen. I now have a 3 page Word doc that gets way more specific, with priorities, that I will run through with her 1-2 weeks before. I’m hoping that’ll work!

  • Maria

    I just finished helping with logistics for a friend’s wedding last weekend! A few things we forgot:

    – Leftovers! The caterer was willing to give us the leftovers, but needed containers to put them in. (and then we needed fridge space at home to receive it all!)

    – Saving cake! If you’re wanting to save the top tier/pieces/etc. for your 1st anniversary, make sure it’s not only saved (have a certain container for it), but you’ve also delegated a person to label it, bring it home, and put it in the freezer (don’t want to find it in the fridge after you get home from the honeymoon! or find out that a friend has generously eaten it because it won’t last until you get home…).

    – Leaving the ceremony venue the way you found it – with the rush to get to the wedding, there were a few things that got forgotten in clean-up at the ceremony (especially things that had gotten moved out of the way during the rehearsal the day before but needed to be moved back).

    – If there are alternative plans for kids (e.g. babysitters and a kids room for dinner), make sure the babysitters are there early and the expectation is well-publicized (maybe even announced at the end of the ceremony, or at least with a clear sign when arriving at the venue)

  • Emily

    Honestly I haven’t even begun thinking about this stuff, even though our wedding is a little over 4 months away. We’re just starting to look at caterers. (I know I probably have a couple months of WHYGODWHY to look forward to.) But I think part of my procrastination is that we’re planning our wedding from Ohio, to be held in my hometown in Vermont. And I have no idea how to make this work, because we’ll be flying to and from our wedding (aka can’t gate check our centerpieces) and while my mom really wants to be helpful, she’s also a) a busy lady, b) not that crafty, and c) slightly on the flaky side. So, pleasepleaseplease if anyone has pseudo-destination wedding practical get-your-shit-together advice, lay it on me.

    • Sparkles

      I planned my wedding in 3.5 months. YOU CAN DO IT! My friend told me when I was trying to decide on the date that she did most of the real work in the last three months anyways. You’ll be fine. Make yourself a list and cross things off slowly but surely. I don’t have any advice re: destination, but I just want to give you hope that it’s possible.

      • Emily

        Thank you, very much appreciated :)

    • Mezza

      You can definitely do it! I planned my pseudo-destination wedding in 4 months also, and I wouldn’t change a thing. (Are you mid-October? We were the exact same timeline last year.) It sounds like you already have a venue, and honestly, having a date and a location makes it easier to find/choose the other things. If one caterer isn’t available, you use the other one. It really makes the decision-making much simpler!

      Have you talked to your mom about what kind of help she can provide? Do you have other family in the area? My mom was a HUGE help and I never expected her to put in so much effort. Having a few local people who could pick things up, send iPhone photos of options, hold packages at their houses, etc, was really what made it easy. No craftiness required!

      • Emily

        Yes! October 11th. Suuuch a relief to hear people say they’ve made it work. Getting our venues sorted out and finding a kickass photographer somehow ate up the first 7 months of our engagement, so… I’m more than a little anxious about how we’ll handle the rest. Definitely need to talk to my mom about realistic expectations… thanks for the advice!

    • Heather

      My SIL did this- centerpieces are not necessary AT ALL, but if you want them, then you can ship them ahead of time with a photo, maybe, and ask the venue to store and set them up? You can have guests take them home afterwards.

      I think embracing simplicity is key- wherever your venue is, it will be beautiful. If you can be crafty where you are, and ship the crafts a week before, then all the better. Maybe you can gather things, ship, and your mom can assemble based on a sample?

      • Emily

        Oh my god, why didn’t I think of photos? Of course! That would be exceedingly helpful when asking people to help be crafty. Thank you!

        • JSwen

          Definitely provide instructions with pictures, if necessary. Then you can ask someone you trust to do quality control when they arrive at the venue, just in case the venue staff don’t understand your “vision”.

    • Lawyerette510

      You can do this! We planned and executed ours in 81 days. But we certainly kept it simple by having a list of the things that were super important, making those decisions first, and then working down the list. Centerpieces had been discussed and I actually love that kind of thing, but after taking a real look at the space, I realized it wasn’t necessary, so we hung little chalkboard signs with the table numbers on them around the neck of the clear glass bottles with water, used the vases and candles the venue (a hotel and restaurant) would normally use, and went with it. No one (myself included) noticed and by not really doing much for decor, it saved a ton of headache.

      That said, we had the luxury of driving the 2.5 hours to our venue, so we could pack heavily etc.

      I think the key if you are going to have stuff is to ship it before hand, and maybe if you can fly in with an extra day or two to assemble, and ask people who are good at following directions to help you. If your mom is reliable enough to sign for a box and put it in her house, then you’re good to go, and if she’s not, maybe someone else in the area is, or there’s a UPS store you could ship to?

      • Emily

        Wow, I really like that centerpiece idea (have been scouring the interwebs for non-floral centerpieces), and it’s totally within the realm of possibility for my beloved borderline-flaky-non-crafty mama!

        • Lawyerette510

          Here’s a pic of what it ended up looking like

        • Lawyerette510

          Thanks! Here are a couple pics. The place we did it had an assortment of stripped table cloths with plain white napkins and white plates and clear glasses, then some of the tables were tiled. It was a nice clean look, and we got lots of compliments. Also, our food was served family style, so we didn’t have room for much in terms of centerpieces.

        • Lawyerette510

          Thanks! I thought the tables looked nice, and we served food family-style so that also made it not such a big deal to have centerpieces. Here are a few pics if you find it helpful.

        • Emma Klues

          We also had a pseudo-destination wedding and we just got reeeeaaally basic frames from the dollar store and put photos of ourselves in them, including baby pictures, pictures of us together, etc. We scattered them on tables and it ended up providing a nice conversation piece for guests and encouraged mingling to see more. Those and fabric flowers (higher craftiness level) were all we put on tables!

          • Emily

            That’s a really sweet idea! Thanks for sharing!

  • Kaitlin

    Ok, we’re serving ice cream at our Friday night event from pints that we purchased from our favorite local ice cream place (yay Jeni’s!) We want each pint to serve 4 people. What’s the best way to serve this? My FML suggested pre-scooping/packaging into small individual servings using plasticware from the local food service store, but we don’t have the space to store approx. 100 individual servings. Will it be too chaotic to have people serve themselves, or should we just appoint some people in addition to ourselves to serve them on demand at the event?

    • MisterEHolmes

      We did an ice cream social at a job, and people were fine to self-serve (though you might want a little extra for buffer). If you do it that way, you’ll need a different scoop for each flavor and something to put the dirty-but-reusable scooper on (like a plate). Oh, and take it out of the fridge early enough that it isn’t rock-hard!

    • Emily

      No advice for you, but are you another Columbus bride? Hi :)
      (I live in Columbus but am planning a wedding in Vermont – otherwise I’d totally love to serve Jeni’s, too!)

      • Vermonter

        Serve Ben & Jerry’s.

      • Kaitlin

        Yep! Getting married June 7th at Franklin Park. Good luck with your Vermont wedding!

    • Amy March

      You need to prescoop or have a server if you need to get 4 servings from a pint. 100% guarantee none of your guests faced with self-service Jeni’s will scoop themselves only a half-cup.

      • Meg Keene

        THOUGH. Some people won’t have the ice cream at all, so it might all work out.

      • MC

        I dunno – my fiance, who has a big sweet tooth and very little self-control, will exercise self-control if he is sharing with a big group of people. And I think that’s true of most adults – even if the ice cream is AMAZING, if there’s a line of people behind them that are all getting ice cream, they won’t go overboard with their serving.

        • Amy March

          It’s not about being greedy and having no self-control- unless you are posting big signs asking for half cup measured scoops, people naturally will take more than a half cup. It’s like having a pizza buffet- you can’t rely on everyone taking one slice.

          Normally I would agree with Meg’s assessment but Jeni’s is an amazing local treat feature people will be excited about, and I think you need to anticipate most pints will serve 2.5ish people. Which sucks cause that is some expensive ice cream.

          • Kaitlin

            Agreed. And my fiance says his side is pretty likely to just take the pint and run with it. I can’t blame them because Jeni’s is delicious and I would prefer to hoard my Jeni’s as well.

      • Raine

        Can you cut through the pints with a hot knife and just serve quarter pints? (Not that I have tried this, but in theory it might be possible). Maybe peel off the paper, slice and go?

    • Nina B

      Are pints your only option? Maybe contact your local Jeni’s and see is they can order some big bins for you. That would certainly be easier to serve and it might even be more cost effective.

      I agree with others who have said: most people will serve themselves about a cup of ice cream, especially if there are multiple flavors involved.

      • Kaitlin

        We had looked into that, but unfortunately my fiance’s favorite flavor is one that doesn’t come in more cost-effective bins (Mango Lassi= super delicious, super pain in the butt to find).

      • Sarah E

        Yeah, as someone who worked in a creamery for 3+ years, they should definitely have 3-gallon containers that they scoop out of. Harder to store in a residential freezer, absolutely, but scooping out of pints is a major pain.

        In either case, you’ll need to plan for the ice cream to be scoop-able at time of dessert, and whoever scoops (guests or appointee), you’ll need to make clear your one-scoop rule. You could probably make a cute sign if guests are serving themselves to say “For everyone’s sake in the dessert loop, please serve yourself just one scoop!” Or whatever.

    • Caitlin_DD

      Nothing of use to say, BUT, oh my gosh Jeni’s ice cream is good and I didn’t know they had physical stores.

  • swarmofbees

    I want to know what everyone is running around doing the week before the wedding that gets them so worn out. I want to try to avoid this as much as possible, and it would be helpful to know what can be done in advance. I know some things need to be done last minute, like dropping everything off at the reception site (thankfully we can do this a few days ahead of time, or the day before for flowers and cake). But what could be done to give you a more restful day before wedding experience?

    • Megera

      Oh, this would be great to know! We live 3 hours away from our home town, where the wedding will be, and I’m worried that the three days we’re spending at home before the wedding will be made miserable with chores.

      • Hannah

        We got married at a friend’s house, which was an hour and a half away. We had a lot to do that week, but we did it with family and friends and each other, and we were so excited anyways, that it was fun and not miserable. Our days before events included: delivering welcome bags to hotels, waiting around for deliveries of all the things from all the people, writing our vows and finalizing a music playlist, figuring out how to arrange all the things on the tables, exactly where to set up the decorations we had planed, making some last minute signs for all the things we had planned to do for the guests, but then realized they would get without some direction.

      • Sarah McClelland

        This! I’m getting married in November 4 hours from where I live now and we are going down to get our marriage liscence the week before, and I’m hoping to knock some stuff out to avoid the chores feeling. But Hannah, I’m really glad to hear you say it’s exciting.

    • Jessica

      I second this question. All I keep hearing is that I’ll have “so much to do” in the days before the wedding, but I’d rather spend my vacation days on my honeymoon than on the days preceding the wedding….so what are all these ‘things’ I’ll need to do in the week before and how much time do I need to take off of work?

      • Meg Keene

        I took half a week off work before the wedding and I, Ms. Organized, was SLAMMED every one of those days. At least one of which had been planned as a ‘relaxing together’ day.

      • Amanda Otto

        I am getting married this Saturday, and here are some of those things: rings resized and picked up (got them from Etsy, oops, we both measured wrong), changes to seating chart, calling vendors to remind them times things need to be picked up or dropped off, arranging what goes in who’s cars, writing our vows (ugh, why do we keep putting it off? We can’t get it just right!) last minute changes to the menu (you can make that gluten-free? Why not!), menu notes (cause how are people going to know that is gluten-free?), getting tape, string, extension chords, pins for boutineers and to diy my own bouquet, planting herbs in tea cups, scrubbing the dirt out of my fingernails, and then my normal life stuff like work, my son’s homework, and then the dishwasher breaks. Boo.

        • Hannah

          We wrote our vows like 2 days before the wedding. There is an APW post on how to write all kinds of vows that was super helpful!

      • Lawyerette510

        It just depends on your wedding and what you’re doing and the scale you’re doing it at. For our 55 person wedding with my being with my girlfriends the two nights before the events started, then a welcome party/dinner Sunday and wedding on Monday, I was fine taking two days off before and one of those days wasn’t really about wedding stuff it was about getting out of town. We had relatively little decor, no flowers except my hair flowers, his boutineer and a last minute bouquet made from my hair flowers (all made by a friend). We had 350 cookies, but they had been made and frozen ahead of time, then we baked them off at gal’s weekend. There were last-minute errands like picking up the rental equipment for the photo booth and bringing it to the site, picking up the cakes and bringing them, buying beer for the welcome party, mixing the mass-batch margaritas for the welcome party, and just hauling a few big boxes of stuff like s’mores supplies, mexican blankets and papel picado banners, but those were delegated to people and happened between the time I left home on Friday and got to the wedding site on Sunday afternoon.

        • westcoastjd

          I wholeheartedly agree with this “it depends” answer I took a day off work before the wedding and for me, that was plenty of time. (I actually was in trial the week before – I do not necessarily recommend that part.) But we had a small wedding, no bridal party, and had gone out of the way to make the event as responsibility free as we could — flowers (table top and bouquet) were delivered and arranged at venue, same for cake, venue provided all food and drink and setup and takedown. So I am sure the answer would be different if I had made different plans.
          Things I did the day before the wedding:
          (1) breakfast with husband-to-be and out-of-town friends,
          (2) bought wedding vow books, wrote wedding vows, did run-through with officiant at wedding venue,
          (3) finished cleaning home and buying food for reception,
          (4) pedicure with husband-to-be,
          (5) prep of wedding day-of box with instructions re placement of items,
          (6) secured cash for tips and payment for various vendors and divided into envelops with instructions re timing and amount,
          (7) arrival of out-of-town friends and complete decorating of home for reception, (8) happy hour, dinner and drinks with said friends

          We wanted to maximize the (short) time we had with our friends who had traveled to be there with us, so once they started arriving, we stopped caring about the little things that weren’t done.

    • Ashley

      I’m 10 days out (YAYYYY!) and I don’t know how I’ll possibly have stuff to do. I’m planning from out of town (live in Philly, wedding in StL), and my plans for the next 10 days are:
      1) Somehow work in a meaningful fashion so I don’t get fired for looking at wedding stuff all day
      2) fly home with all the things in tow
      3) drop my ring off at the jeweler to get cleaned, pick up marriage license, pick up tuxedo
      4) nails and tanning appointment
      5) pick up our favors from the baker and the tableclothes from the rental place
      6) drop everything off with our coordinator
      7) rehearse
      8) get married.

      So really everything we have to do is stuff that can’t be done in advance, but does need time/coordination. What helped me is just writing everything out that needed to be done – I mentally walked through my wedding day, starting with the first wedding event (rehearsal) and made a list of anything that wasn’t done yet and did everything I could over the past few months.

      I think a lot of that last minute rush is the run to Target/Hobby Lobby/whatnot to pick up the tape/scissors/lighters/gift wrap for bridesmaid gifts – by thinking through everything step by step I (hopefully) avoided that. I’m not going to need to make a special trip for lighters for the candles because I bought them when I picked up groceries last week, you know?

      • http://readingandthensome.blogspot.com/ Martha Smith

        Hey! My wedding was sort of the opposite – live in MO, got married in PA. If you have family/parents/someone awesome, ship anything you can. I mailed my mom a bunch of our paper goods a week out because I was worried about packing them. Then she could have then upacked and ready with all the other decor to be set up well before I arrived.

    • Meg Keene

      HA.

      YEAH. I wish I could give you that list. But that list just finds you. It’s every teeny tiny thing you didn’t even think to put on another list that you’re like OMG, what do you MEAN the escort cards don’t alphabetize themselves?

      Not that we won’t try to help, but that’s the honest answer. Assuming you’re not DIYing your flowers or anything (like me) the day before should be fine. It’s just all the days before THAT. Fuccccckkkk.

      • Megera

        WHAT is an escort card??

        • Violet

          Instead of having a chart that shows who’s sitting at what table for the reception, you can make a little card for each person that has their table number written on it. Before it’s time to eat, they pick up their card to see where they’re going. If you don’t care at what table people sit, you won’t need this. If you’re not doing a sit-down meal, you won’t need this.
          If you are having people sit in specific seats AT a table, sometimes people opt to put cards with names at the seat itself (on the plate, for example). Even with those, escort cards can still be helpful to at least get people to the right table. Without them, it just means that they walk around all the tables until they see their name.

          • Meg Keene

            Yeah. Even with seating cards at tables, you need an escort card or a chart if you have more than say, three tables. 100 people blindly wandering around trying to spot their name is not super fun.

            We actually did cards because creating a huge pretty chart seemed way harder.

          • Violet

            Yeah, I found that a seating chart means any mistake = start over. Whereas we could make lots of mistakes on escort cards and then just re-write the mistake ones. I personally really dislike wandering around, so I wanted to have them to make the experience easier on people.

          • Kaya

            HAH. My fiance and I have been vaguely arguing about this one — we have 33 people at our wedding, 3 tables. We are assigning individual seats (rather than just tables) to make sure that everyone is next to someone they love, and so that my divorced parents end up at different ends of the long family table.

            With 33 people, can we get away with just seating cards and no escort cards? Please settle this one for us!

          • Meg Keene

            My vote is you don’t need escort cards. I think you come in right under the limit :)

            Also: HI, DIVORCED PARENTS. Yet another reason for seating people!

          • swarmofbees

            Mos def on divorce. There are just too many ways it could go wrong with choose your own seat.

          • Meg Keene

            Or any family drama. And let’s not kid ourselves. There are as many kids of family drama as their are families.

          • Jess

            We printed a map of the tables on the back of our programs so that everyone had a copy (people were assigned just to tables, not to specific seats). We had 90 guests and it worked really well. No giant chart and no escort cards. 100% my husband’s idea.

          • scw

            this is really smart, thanks!

          • Beth R

            Reading this comment, I just now got why they are called escort cards. Wow, that shouldn’t have taken so long.

          • http://andshelovesyou.com/ Lucy

            I will play devil’s advocate here and say we had about 70 people at our wedding, and had picnic tables that seated about 10 each comfortably. So we made sure there were 10 picnic tables (there were 12 on site, so there was never going to be seating scarcity) in case folks spread out more, and let it work itself out without any kind of seating chart. With the open rehearsal dinner (everyone could come, the tables were the same setup) the laid back reception, and our extroverted crowd, it was never something we were that worried about, and it worked out totally fine.

          • Meg Keene

            It works if everyone knows each other. It REALLY doesn’t if they don’t (even if you don’t realize it, I’d argue. I’ve been to lots of weddings where we were super uncomfortable odd people out sitting at some random table where everyone knew each other, but we put a good face on it, and the couple thought it was fine.) If everyone knows a solid handful of people, golden. But if you have several (or many) couples or people that are only going to know each other (or no one) it’s not super fair to your guests, no matter how extroverted, I think. They’re just going to be in a bit of an awkward spot, UNLESS you do something totally different to make sure all of the ice is broken, which is also always an option (just a little more work).

            We did the same for our rehearsal reception (picnic tables, no assigned seats, because picnic). I had a blast, but I can totally report that it ended up SUPER cliquey. The 20 people who knew us both from high school, and had been friends for a lifetime, took over a whole corner of the picnic, and other people our age sort of awkwardly had to try to make small talk with each other, because there was no infiltrating that group of 20. It looked good from the outside, but I know there were a lot of people who had a really awkward social time. Luckily at the wedding the next day, everyone was seated next to someone I thought they’d really like, or knew they wanted to catch up with, so I feel like I redeemed myself :)

          • Guest

            I would second everything Meg said and add that you should consider the dates of the bridal party. If they’re sitting at the head table, where are their dates sitting? You should either not have them sit at the head table, or assign seats and sit the dates next to people they might get along with. I’ve been to 3 weddings in my SO’s hometown, and he was in the wedding party (and seated at the head table) for all of them. Because we did not meet until we graduated college and were living in a new city far away from either of our hometowns, I didn’t know any of those other wedding guests. Maybe this would be fine for some people, but for this shy person, it was miserable until the eating was over and the bridal party released from their duties.

        • Meg Keene

          AHHH. Perhaps we should cover that. If you have a seating chart (I’m a fan of the seating chart myself, because that middle school cafeteria feeling of walking in and trying to figure out who will let you sit at their table is the WORST), you have to have a way to tell people what table they are at. The normal way to do that is escort cards. Here are a bunch of fancy display pictures: https://www.google.com/search?q=escort+card+display&es_sm=119&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=ukKGU5HHI6iksQS5jIDICg&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAg&biw=1351&bih=758

          We clearly should do a tutorial on SIMPLE ways to display these suckers, which we did. (Fabric over foam core, baby.)

          • Emily

            Kind of related: What’s your opinion on cocktail receptions and assigned seating? Like we’re not serving a plated meal, but should I still assign tables?

          • Meg Keene

            If you have tables people will be sitting at, my personal opinion is that you should assign them. People disagree on this obviously, I just go to a lot of weddings where we don’t know a ton of people, and if there are not seating assignments, we end up off in a corner somewhere with a bunch of family members who are all talking to each other and ignoring us. It’s much nicer to be sat at a table with people, where you then feel a responsibility to chat a bit, since obviously the couple put you together on purpose, instead of feeling like you just crashed some other groups party.

            That said if it’s JUST a mingle party, and you’re just (bless you) providing tables and seats because you realize it’s nearly impossible to eat and drink at the same time on your feet (for hours), then you might not need to.

          • lauren_yearsley

            Ha! YES! I was reading this comment and thinking, “Man. Now I have to figure out escort cards, because she’s totally right about feeling like you’ve crashed a party if you’re the odd ones out at a table.” And then you got to the second paragraph and I was happy again because mine is totally a mingling dessert reception!

          • Maddy

            Hooray for dessert reception! Me too! A few mixed responses from people but mostly positive. :)

          • Alex

            In complete agreement! And was definitely rethinking the “everyone we’re inviting knows at least 6 other people, tables will work themselves out fine” to “oh no awkwardness!” but am having a mingling meal as well :)

          • Brittany

            If you don’t assign tables, definitely plan on having at least ten seats more than the number of people you are having. When left on their own, people do not necessarily sit in perfect groups of eight or ten which means you need to figure for chairs left empty.

          • http://www.military.com/spouse/military-deployment/reintegration/returning-to-home-life-after-deployment.html USA

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          • Allison

            Yes! Tutorial please! I have been trying to figure out how to display this on a sign of some sort without it looking like my 5th grade poster project.

          • Ashley Meredith

            Magnets (like the kind everybody seems to use for save-the-dates) on a magnetized chalkboard?

          • Brittany

            We bought 4 inexpensive frames at Michaels that each had space for 5 4 x 6 pictures. Each picture was a list of the names for each table. After the wedding we filled the frames with wedding pics and gave one to each of our sets of grandparents. I hand wrote the lists because I have teacher handwriting, but you could really easily print lovely 4 x 6 cards with names.

          • JDrives

            This. Is. Genius.

          • Lawyerette510

            We did lines of twine between two trees, with the cards attached to the lines by mini-clothes pins. The cards themselves were natural colored cards stamped with a place-setting stamp, person’s name on the bottom line and table number in the middle of the plate.

            Because we had a small wedding, we also wrote personal notes to every guest inside their cards, telling them why it was meaningful having them there with us that day and thanking them for being there.

          • http://thescienceoffood.info/ Cassandra

            Why do you need escort cards? The last (only) wedding I’ve been too there was just a huge poster with 12 or so tables and a list of everybody who was sitting at each table.

            Also, if you could include in your tutorial, how to deal with telling people where they are sitting at really long rectangular tables.

          • Meg Keene

            If you’re up for making a really huge poster, you don’t need escort cards. The trick is, making a really huge poster that doesn’t look horrific is actually way harder than printing out avery cards with names in script on your computer, already alphabetized from your spreadsheet, and then pinning them to foam core covered in fabric. That takes ZERO artistic skill.

            If you want to tell people WHERE they are sitting, you have to use placecards. The escort cards only tell you what table number you are at. We had very long rectangular tables, so you took your card that said “Meg Keene, table 4″ to table 4, and then you looked for your placecard. (They were also avery home printed cards.)

          • Inmara

            In my country, we usually have large rectangular tables. Placecards are a must (recently they are used as wedding favors too, e.g. small box with candy and guests name on it), but first there are printed seating charts, attached to walls in dining room or elsewhere where people can easily access them before heading to table. If you already have printed wedding program or something like that, you can hand out seating chart to everyone individually; if not, then place them in several locations apart enough so that many people can access them simultaneously.

            I made seating chart layouts in PowerPoint and then printed them out – quite easy! If you have custom made design for invitations or other printed materials, you can prepare background design in JPG format for popular printout sizes, and then use it in ppt.

          • Christina

            Is this perhaps a cultural thing? I have been to a ton of weddings over here in Australia and have never seen an escort card in my life. If somebody had these cards at their wedding, I’m not sure people would even know what to do with them. For a really long time I assumed an ‘escort card’ was some kind of RSVP card on which you could write down the name of the plus one who you would ‘escort’ to the wedding (since I’ve never received a physical RSVP card either, so just assumed it was the same kind of thing). Haha.

          • Meg Keene

            If you don’t have them, I assume you’re doing big seating charts (tricky in their own right). I can’t imagine at parties with 250 people, they just have to mill around and guess where they might be seated.

            My wedding wasn’t 250, but I’ve worked on galas that big, and you have to tell people where to find their seat.

          • Wrenochka

            Our friends had a big wedding last year with 350 people, and they had a few friends volunteer in shifts to stand by the entrance with a clipboard of guest names and table numbers, so they could direct people as they arrived. It worked out great, no big bottlenecks or anything like that. I think this would be a lot easier than escort cards, so long as you’ve got friends or family willing to help?

          • Lily

            What I often see is a big board with papers pinned such as: “Table 1 – [list of names underneath]“. it looks fine – fancy script and all that – and doesn’t require any more work than printing out 6 pieces of paper and pinning them to a board.

          • Wrenochka

            Same here – I’ve gone to weddings at a bunch of different places here in Canada and I have never, ever seen an escort card. But maybe it’s less a cultural thing than it is a community thing, kind of like who’s into potlucks and who’s not?

          • ypi

            Big yes to a tutorial on simple escort card display! (Also, re: alphabetizing- I’m sure you guys have thought of this too- but thought I’d share my plan: I’ll be using excel for this alongside my handy APW spreadsheets. Enter names, sort by first name, write names on cards and stack in order. Voila!)

        • Sarah McClelland

          We’re using old window panes, and putting printouts by table in each individual pane. I’m sending them to my future SIL to print and border in scrapbook paper and she’s taking care of it!

      • swarmofbees

        We are DIYing the cake and flowers, but I am hoping to get those done and delivered two days before. Both are designed to be very durable. We’ll see how that goes.

    • egerth

      Yes — this! Some reports back on what ends up being on the last minute to-do list — both the avoidable and the unavoidable.

    • http://gardenvarietycomics.com Dani

      I attempted to make the week before our wedding relaxing by making EVERYTHING that wasn’t perishable (in our case, flowers) far far in advance. I basically started the week after we got engaged, because I am a crazy person and I had a brilliant idea of what our invitations should look like and oh hey, look, Etsy! I knew that I had to take the Thursday and Friday before the wedding off work so that I could relax and get all that final junk done. Honestly I don’t think anyone can just sit and relax the week before their wedding, unless you have a full fledged planner who took care of everything. We had an *amazing* DOC, without her I think I would be lost, and she genuinely relived a lot of stress; however, she was not in control of my heartburn. If you’re the type of person that is naturally stressful, I’m sorry, but you will stress. I will suggest making some sort of pampering appointment- I am not a mani/pedi kind of girl, but the hour I spent with my mom at the spa was awesome and her company was relieving. Also, your friends are there for you; I learned that when they say they want to help, they’re not saying it out of obligation- they genuinely feel it, so take their help!

      • ElisabethJoanne

        Also, use your engagement to learn what stresses you out, what relaxes you, what errands always take longer than expected, etc. For me, being in my routine helps with stress, so even though people were coming in from out of town, I still went to dinner at our usual place and to my usual book group 2 days before the wedding. Then I made sure there was time in the schedule to get to the gym that weekend, which also relaxes me.

        Extended family can stress me, so I honestly limited my time with family that weekend. This had to be arranged well in advance. I told my mother early on that I wanted to spend the night before the wedding at her house, and that it was OK if this relative stayed there with us, but not those relatives, and explained my reasons.

    • Violet

      Depending on the type of wedding, you might be able to avoid running around to the point of getting “so worn out” as you say. But even for smaller, more minimalist weddings, there are still some things that need to be done pretty much just prior. For us, it was picking up the licenses, giving the restaurant a final headcount, and finalizing the escort cards based on that head count. I’d say manage your expectations. There’s a middle ground between running ragged and chilling out completely. I felt grateful to have found that medium spot. Kudos to anyone who can truly relax right before, and much support to those who are feeling worn out.

    • http://www.pinterest.com/katerees711 kater711

      Oh lord, I had the longest post about all the things that I put off until the week before, the days before, the hours before our wedding, and I realize it’s one of big regrets of that season. Although, I now realize what a lazy, procrastinator I am, even when it’s something I love I’d rather watch some tv and chill with the now husband on the couch. ;) And that’s okay, but it was very overwhelming at the time.

      In hindsight, I wish I had written more lists and been more realistic about when things could have been done ahead of time, and worked closer with my mom on those lists because she was really spearheading the decorating and all at the venue.

    • april

      You could always try drinking too much 2 days before your wedding so that you’re too hungover the day before your wedding to be of any help whatsoever …
      Ok, I’m not actually advocating that tactic. BUT, I truly think the best way to ensure that you’re not wearing yourself out the day before your wedding is to just, well, not wear yourself out the day before your wedding. The hangover was pretty awful (that’s a true story BTW), but it forced me to step back and let other people do some of the work (and accept that the things that didn’t get done probably weren’t that important anyway).

    • ElisabethJoanne

      We found it was mostly an issue of how much money you had to throw at preventing those feelings. We got married on a holiday Monday, and I worked past 5 that Friday and wasn’t stressed that weekend – got to Mass and the gym the day before the wedding. We gave our caterer the escort cards, cake topper, etc. a week+ before the wedding. We paid for the flowers to be arranged, delivered, and picked up. We didn’t have favors. We had a buffet, which made the head count less of an issue.

      We also both set aside the last 3 weeks before the wedding to deal with everyone else’s procrastination, and told everyone involved we didn’t want to be harried at the last minute even though we knew they’d try. So, in the last few weeks, we weren’t doing any real planning of our own, just dealing with others’ last-minute plans (see below – officiant wanting a jpeg of the ketubah, in-laws wanting kippot, etc.)

      That said, I recognize not everyone can just hire people, or is local to meet with vendors, or has the flexible hours my husband has (to run around town trying to create a jpeg of the ketubah).

    • Shauna

      Some unavoidably last-minute things to deal with or delegate: dropping off welcome bags at the hotel (if you’re doing that), airport pick-ups of loved ones, final headcount/seating plans, packing up stuff to deliver to the venue, ceremony run-through, briefing DOC or stage manager and off-loading key contact info …. If you’re planning a rehearsal dinner and/or other activities (like a post-wedding brunch), there will be details associated with those things also.

    • Renee

      The main thing that caused me to be busy that week wasn’t so much the volume of chores as it was that people had started coming in from out of town, and I wanted to SEE them. So it was errands squished in between getting together with relatives and best friends on both sides, plus going to work. There weren’t that many errands, really, because my mom and sister volunteered to finish some assembly and drop things off at the venue and I was wise enough to let them do it.

    • Lawyerette510

      I agree with Meg, it really depends on your wedding. I was able to avoid I think a good deal of this because things were pretty simple, and the wedding was small (55 people). That said, my spreadsheets had spreadsheets, broken down by who was doing it and due-date, and shared with anyone on those spreadsheets, and fortunately people came through. So for me, it was running around like crazy the Saturday and Sunday before, working and yoga class after work Monday- Wednesday, then I took Thursday and Friday off of work. On Thursday a friend came over and helped me pack my own bag, and people came to get boxes and I reorganized spreadsheets, then Thursday night my sisters arrived, we had fun, Friday we did a little more running around, and a lot of delegating, then left for my gal’s weekend. At the gal’s weekend did more logistics hand-off and baked 350 cookies, then went to the wedding events Sunday evening and all day Monday.

      I think what made it less stressful was having really detailed lists broken down by what could be done ahead of time and what had to be done right before, delegating, and keeping the overall number of things relatively low. Also, we did our whole wedding from booking the venue to day-of in 81 days, so that helped keep it simple.

    • Rebekah

      Here’s my actual wedding week timeline, simplified for clarity. finish moving into his placePack to goarrive in AZget marriage licenseFinalize rehearsal dinner menu, print out 6 copies for tablesFinalize menu with caterers, print out labels for chafing dishes – make sure you have enough chafing dishesBridal party arrives via plane
      bachelorette morning at the garden, lunch, mani pedi
      Pick up rental dishes (glasses, cake stand, silverware, etc)Drop off all decorations and dishes at church (I used and expanded the APW packing list for this)deliver guest gift bags to the 10 different hotels my guests stayed at instead of the one I recommendedrelatives arrive via plane

      Grand Canyon sunrise
      request early check-in at hotel on Saturday
      pick up dessert from Whole Foodspick up Tuxes (3)decorate sanctuary and reception hall Remainder of money duerehearsalRehearsal Dinnermore people arrive
      sister hosts breakfastphotographers arrive at churchcheck into hotel, drop bagsbridal party arrives, begin getting readyBecause we were out of town, we had to simplify the whole thing. Because we were at a church, we didn’t have to deal with alcohol in any way. Because the ceremony and reception were in the same location, we had it easy, and they had tables and chairs, so we had no vendors to deal with there.
      I super recommend setting aside a morning or evening with a giant sheet of paper to walk your way through the week mentally. See what needs to be done, and imagine the little things that go with it. Give yourself cushion time.

      • Alyssa M

        whole foods… grand canyon… Did you get married in Flagstaff!?!?

    • essicajay

      The week before our wedding was wonderfully open! Basically everything except for food, flowers, and final guest list stuff can be done ahead of time. And we didn’t have flowers so that simplified things.
      I used the Offbeat Bride checklist to guide my planning and it worked like a charm. I could change up the dates to work with my schedule, and add and remove tasks that were specific to our wedding.
      I finished all of the logistical stuff about 3 weeks before, so I could email everyone a timeline and field questions or make changes with plenty of time. I used the APW timeline spreadsheet as a starting point and it was a lifesaver! I also meet with my photographer and caterer and finalized the pics list and the caterer planning stuff. I sent a million emails but I didn’t feel rushed at all because the wedding was still a few weeks away.
      At that time I also went to Goodwill and got all of my decorations, cleaned them up and packed them up after labeling them with table numbers (I finalized the floor plan at the caterer meeting). I had a wedding “staging area” in the corner of the living room where all of the wedding stuff lived so I didn’t have the house littered with wedding stuff.
      Keep a pen and paper handy if you can to make shopping lists. That cut down on repeat trips to the store. I organized my day-of emergency kit early so I could get anything I needed on my regular grocery shopping trips.
      I know this is out of some people’s budgets but I had the house deep cleaned 3 weeks before the wedding and it was glorious! So it’s worth the splurge. I’ve never had a house cleaner so it was wonderful to have the house ready without taking a few days to do it myself.
      The weekend before the wedding I finished all the little decorating projects, and made up my seating chart. That was the last piece since I had to wait for all of the RSVPs to do that.
      The only thing I had to do the week before the wedding was drop stuff off with the caterer (who would then haul it to the reception site), and buy my cake at the Wegman’s the day before (we had wedding pies so all we needed was a small cutting cake so that was easy). Otherwise we spent time with the family and friends which was great.
      And I had time to get a massage the night before the wedding which I would also recommend.
      The one thing I didn’t do that I really regretted was writing down the set-up instructions. I was stuck hurriedly explaining the set-up to my stage manager friend and helper elves while trying to wrangle family for pictures. It turned out perfectly but it was the only time that day I felt remotely stressed.
      Hopefully that’s helpful, all of these things really helped to allow us plenty of time the week before the wedding. Emergencies always happen but it’s so much easier to have time to breath and have some wiggle room to deal with those that do arise without stress. Good Luck!

    • Anonin

      FWIW, we didn’t do a whole lot the last few days. We had half a day of work (which we did a week earlier) getting major things to the location. We had maybe one day of work putting together a seating chart (assigned tables only, no way was I assigning seats), making the paper lists to hang up, cooking the rehearsal dinner, prepping big batches of cocktail mixers, picking up buckets of flowers at the farmers’ market, and a couple other things that were specific to our location. The day of the wedding there were about 3 hours of work setting tables, putting flowers in vases, hanging things up, putting ice in buckets and setting out drinks. It was plenty of work but it wasn’t the whole week.

      And it took us 30 minutes to get dressed, including a shower. We were almost on time for the wedding but then we practiced our vows for a little while. So, you know, the 1.5 hours on hair/makeup isn’t mandatory.

    • Aniela Frattarola

      We’re having a DIY wedding and as of today 30 days out. This weekend is hunting down RSVPs, making up the bird seed pouches for after the ceremony, planting flowers in front of our house (we’re having outdoors at home), getting supplies to make the seashell/sand/candle centerpieces, buying supplies to make the bridal/bridesmaids bouquets and to make the boutonnieres/corsages. Oh and pay off the alterations on my dress (luckily only had to have 1 fitting and minor alterations). Next weekend: get shoes, confirm rental tables/chairs, start putting together playlists for ceremony and reception, get linens and main entrée meats (which will be frozen). From that point on it’s going to be printing/creating/finalizing everything until day of..

  • Kayjayoh

    Internet research is all over the place on how many servings are in your average pie, cheese cake, or 2-layer cake. We are having a combination of desserts, and need to figure out if we will have enough to give dessert to all of ~110 people w/o anyone feeling shorted.

    • Rebekah

      Sounds like you need some hands-on research! Yum.

      But seriously, I’d buy a trial batch and figure out how much dessert YOU want, and then estimate roughly that or more for each guest. We had 3 wheels of cheese, 4 batches of brownies, and 4 of apricot bars and I think that the remaining 2/3 of our guests devoured all of them.

      • Kayjayoh

        Hands-on research would be a great idea if we weren’t just a few weeks away.

    • Lawyerette510

      I can’t find it, but there were some great tips over on Off Beat Bride about this, I think just in the posts, but maybe in the Tribe. Good luck!

    • Claire

      You also need to factor in how you are planning to serve them- like if the cheesecake is fantastic, it might get devoured first, so you want everyone to get a shot at it. I’d say 6 servings for a 9-inch fruit pie (they are thin, you want people to get a decent slice) and 8-ish servings for a cheesecake/ layer cake (much heavier and denser, so more satisfying). I don’t know if it’s an option, but trays of cookies are also inexpensive, and always popular!

    • MC

      YES – we are having cake, pie, and doughnuts (um, we REALLY like desserts) and we have no idea how to figure out how many people will want cake, pie, doughnuts, or all three! Although, the good news is that having leftover desserts is not a terrible issue at all. But SOME guidance would be nice…

      • Kayjayoh

        I *want* donuts. I really want donuts. And fiance keeps saying no.

        • MC

          Buy yourself a couple of doughnuts the morning of the wedding and hide them someplace so you can sneak off and have a doughnut by yourself?

          • Kayjayoh

            That is not how I want donuts. I can *eat* donuts myself. That is not the problem. I want to have a few dozen donuts to add to the spread.

        • Megera

          Maybe they can be a ‘gift’ from one of your guests?!

    • http://colormegreenanew.blogspot.com/ Julia (Color Me Green)

      I had this problem too, since we’re doing pies and cookies and no cake. Here’s what I figured out. Our friends had a wedding with pies and donuts – 115 people went through 13 pies with 8-10 slices each. Not sure how many donuts they had. We’re having 130 people, so we’re going to have 13 pies, and I’m going to ask the caterer to cut 10 slices each. And then we asked 4 people to each make 72 cookies. Each person is only supposed to make one kind of cookie – because I know the more different desserts there are, the more people will want to sample. So there will be enough for everyone to have 1 slice of pie and 2 cookies each (although some people may have more or less of something). Now that I think about it, I might get an extra pie or bake an extra batch of cookies, to be safe, but I feel like this will work out. We are also getting married in just a few weeks!

    • Kayjayoh

      I think I have finally talked fiance into letting me get some donuts, too.

  • Joy

    We had quite a time with this. I’ve gotta say in the end it did “work itself out.” Friends we hadn’t even thought of asking stepped up and did things like stay at the reception room all morning to accept deliveries and prep the servers, drive around to pick up the ice we’d managed to wrangle (who knew how difficult it would be to get ice in France- I had to plead with a fish counter guy that I just couldn’t serve my guests warm champagne! And didn’t he understand my plight?!?) and then at the end of the night everyone who was still there just jumped in and got everything cleaned up and sent on to my father in laws house. Was stressful and no not everything happened exactly how I would have done it, but it got done none the less and I’m still overwhelmed with gratitude to those who made it happen.

  • april

    Transportation. This wound up being my biggest last minute headache. Tips/things I would like to see addressed in a transportation logistics post:

    – A breakdown of price ranges, pros, and cons of various options for shuttling your guests (if that’s something you’d like to offer). For example, after A LOT of online searching I eventually contacted a couple of small school bus chartering companies – the kinds of places that usually take kids on school trips. This wound up being much cheaper and easier than dealing with a limosine company or any sort of business that markets itself for weddings and parties.

    – A breakdown of price ranges, pros, and cons of various options for shuttling your wedding party. I wound up calling a van service literally the day before my wedding because I realized that while my wedding party could take the guest shuttle back to the hotel after the reception, we all needed to get to the reception site earlier than the other guests to help set up. Again, there are a lot of options out there for this sort of thing, but something like a company that markets itself as offering airport shuttle services could be a good cheap option.

    • Amy A.

      Transportation (of stuff AND people) was a huge headache for me, both for people and for stuff! People was just aggravating; I was up late the night before my wedding trying to find someone else to give my godmother a ride to the ceremony besides my parents (who needed to be there ~90 minutes early for photos) to avoid potential drama with other family members. In the end it was my parents and the drama I had feared didn’t materialize, but the stress was definitely there. My mom did a great job of coordinating airport pickups, rides, etc. and I was very happy to delegate that task to her.

      Regarding transportation of stuff, I had it pretty easy because we did almost no decorations and rented all our flatware, stemware, etc. The only tip I have that worked for me was working backwards from my to-do list to think of everything I needed or might need to bring (e.g., we had an iPod not a DJ, so to our list of things to bring to the reception site I added not only “iPod” but also “connector and charging cords” and “laptop” as a backup music source). Then figure out someone you can trust who is going to take them there and communicate that with them.

  • Kelsey

    Yes!! The next time someone tells me that these things ‘are going to work themselves out’, or not to worry because they’ll help when things go wrong, I’m going to get stabby….

    • Jules

      Pretty much sums up my feelings on picking a wedding location. YES, I know that no matter what not everyone will be able to come, and YES, at the end of it, we’ll still be married. But shit. This is a pretty major decision and I am stressed.

      • Meg Keene

        “AT THE END OF IT YOU’LL STILL BE MARRIED” is such a fucking cop out thing to say when someone needs help. Fuck, if that’s the case, we’ll just go to the courthouse and not buy you this goddamn meal.

        Sorry. I still have ALL THE RAGES IN ME from five years ago on this subject. You wanted me to throw this huge ass party, but your idea of help is empty platitudes? NO. NO NO NO.

        • Rachel

          SO TRUE!!! I say, I need help with X because I’m very stressed out about it! Response: It’s so close to the wedding, there’s just details left, no worries!!!!
          THE DETAILS ARE WHAT KILL YOU : ). DETAILS = ACTUAL SHIT THAT HAS TO GET DONE.

          (Stuff left to do: write ceremony, do music playlist, and plan honeymoon…. not just details!!! And stuff we asked for help on and did not receive…..!)

        • Jules

          Yep, completely misses the point, and then makes ME all stabby because people assume that my expectations are totally unrealistic and I’m being an obsessive perfectionist.

          Then people complain when a decision isn’t what they wanted, completing the cycle of rage.

    • Lindsey d.

      Goodness yes! My FIL’s response to everything I said re: working on wedding stuff was that it would all “be wonderful.” As I said to my husband later, “Yes, it will be wonderful, because I’m working my a$$ off on it now!”

  • Rachel

    I just used APW’s Day-of Timeline to work on our timeline, and your advice on writing ceremonies! Very useful!

    I found I wanted more “real life” ceremony examples. APW has done a few, plus a couple of open threads on vows, but I wanted more “real life” examples of how and why a couple decided to lay out their ceremony the way they did.

    My biggest challenge thus far has been how to do a Christian/Atheist ceremony (How do you incorporate religious parts for the Christian partner, while still making it an authentic ceremony/vows for an athetist partner?).

    • Rebekah

      You should comb through the open thread where people submitted their vows. Lovely stuff in there that encompassed the variety of readers APW has.

    • Alyssa M

      OMG yeeessss…. Christian/Athiest issue! I’m a Christian marrying an Athiest. He’s very respectful of my faith, but it simply doesn’t hold meaning for him. So far our best solution is a secular ceremony while having some member of my family read a verse/lead a prayer. It’s not the perfect solution, and I haven’t even begun to tackle the vows yet… but it’s the best I’ve got.

      • Rachel

        We originally went with a secular ceremony, but then our officiant fell through and now my dad, a former Baptist pastor, is doing the ceremony.

        Right now our solution is an opening that includes Christian themes/light reference to God as well as a more personal statement of what marriage means to us as a couple (Dad speaking). Then vows and ring ceremony that are secular and include no references to God (so atheist partner feels comfortable). Finally, a conclusion that will probably include a prayer/blessing (Dad speaking). Our thought is that my partner can choose to participate or not in the prayer, while still being respectful. Taking vows under something you do not believe is not an option for partner (nor should it be, I agree with him).

        This format means my atheist partner is not actively speaking or participating in the religious bits. For something as important as a marriage ceremony, he/we wants to make sure he is 100% comfortable with the picture he is giving/how he is representing himself (i.e. himself as an atheist, not as a practicing Christian) to our community of family and friends.

        He would still prefer a totally secular ceremony, but this is what we’re doing at the moment.

  • Caitlin

    From someone who was just married in Italy:I had a suitcase of craft supplies and props, which really worked to my advantage! The amount of time it took to find something like a roll of twine seemed infinite, and I ended up being very happy that I had brought things like rolls of double-sided tape. I was mentally prepared to delegate, but hadn’t set things up in a way that other people could do them, ie no one can read my handwriting, so I’m the only one that can write out name cards right before the rehearsal dinner. A lot of things had to happen on the weekend that I hadn’t anticipated, and it all came out alright because I had loved ones helping me. For instance, I realized the tables were going to look bare, so I had a small group helping comb through the woods behind the venue for appropriate sticks (that’s a fun conversation), before spray painting them gold and mixing them with greenery.

  • Rachel

    Also, rain plans that don’t involve tents??? Right now I’m just thinking about buying a ton of umbrellas if there’s rain.

    Our venue doesn’t allow for tent set-up, and the room the food is in will only hold 40/75 guests according to the fire code.

    • Amy March

      For how long? Umbrellas could work for a 15 min ceremony but this sounds like your whole reception has no rainy day plan. Umbrellas aren’t a reasonable plan at all for while people are trying to eat mingle dance etc. they will be miserable wet and trying to crowd into the room.

      When the venue says no tents, do they mean no large tents? Could you do several of the pop up type canopies people use tailgating? If not and there’s any chance of rain I think you need a back up venue.

  • HollyH

    I would love some logistical advice for self catering. We are doing everything ourselves, flowers, decorations and food. I am the most nervous about the food. I live in Florida and am very concerned about food safety. I want to be sure I protect my guests and myself. I seem to be super prone to food poisoning and do not want to spend my wedding night in the bathroom. The afternoon reception will be outside in October, but the temps will likely still be in the high 70s or low 80’s. I have some ideas for the hot food, but how do I display the cold in an attractive way that will not be a melty icy mess?

    • Orangie

      This takes a little pre-planning (and some freezer space), but frozen rocks work just as well as frozen ice. Freeze lots of river stones and then set platters on them or pile them tight around bowls. The cold won’t last forever, but it should get you a little extra time, and it looks super-cute for a country or outdoorsy wedding.

      • http://alifeworthwritingdown.blogspot.ca/ Jules

        That is a super cool idea.

      • Alex

        Brilliant!

  • js

    This is just my two cents as a married lady but there are only two things I would’ve done differently for my wedding. 1) Have a rehearsal, even if you think there’s nothing to rehearse. 2) Do a First Look. My wedding was a destination wedding and a lot of the stuff people stress over were included in my package. But I lost my shit on my way down the aisle, had a full-fledged panic attack and ugly cried the whole way. Practice walking, practice smiling, practice calming the fuck down. Seeing my husband before wouldn’t have taken anything away from him seeing me in my dress or the day or whatever and it would’ve helped me a lot. Take a moment for just the two of you. I

  • Renee

    Our wedding ran very smoothly, thanks to tons of spreadsheets and planning (thanks APW). All the stuff was hauled and accounted for, people were where they had to be when they had to be there, and the little details we’d thought of seemed to be appreciated.

    The top two things I wish I’d known (or actually taken to heart) before my wedding:
    – I totally ran out of decision making care the week before my wedding. I was just DONE with details.
    – I had a really hard time getting out of “performance” mode. For a lot of my wedding I had a “fourth wall” up and it didn’t really come down until I was done eating dinner.

    • JSwen

      On the “fourth wall”, I’m worried that I will have this too. I’m almost too good at compartmentalizing my emotions to save face but I don’t want to do that at my wedding!

  • Jessica

    My current “How are we going to do it’s?”: We are getting married at the courthouse in NYC, then walking across the Brooklyn Bridge with whoever wants to join. So: 1) How to set up cabs for our grandparents / those not walking (Uber?); 2) How to communicate our meeting spot & the walk across? Some days I feel like we’ll want to hire a day of coordinator, other days I feel like we can ask a friend. We’re talking 40 – 60 people. Thoughts?

    • emily

      I would suggest you go with a car service (rather than cabs or Uber) for grandparents and other older relatives who might not be up for the walk – if you can get an accurate head-count of how many people you’re transporting, you can reserve these in advance and get an exact quote, and they’ll likely be cleaner and more reliably on-time than other options. I have used Carmel in Manhattan and Eastern Luxury in Brooklyn frequently and never had an issue with either. Any ‘unexpected’ non-walkers can probably manage hailing a cab on their own, or taking the A/C from Chambers to High St. (although admittedly that’s almost as much walking as the bridge).

      As far as item #2, are you planning to make a wedding website? That or even a Facebook ‘event’ page would be an easy way to share a map showing your meeting spot & destination. You could also plan to ask a friend to hold a big red balloon (or something similar) on the day-of – something recognizable that your guests will be able to spot from a distance to help them pick your group out of the crowd. Or if you’re ok with being a little bossy, ask all of your guests to wear a similar color – then it’s easy for late arrivals to spot the big happy crowd in purple (or whatever) headed toward the bridge.

      • Jessica

        Awesome thanks for the car service recommendations. Yes we have a wedding website so that’s a great idea to have a balloon for people to look for. Thank you!

        • http://www.smittenchickens.com/ Sarah Hoppes

          I’ve had great luck with Eastern Luxury, but I had a wedding day horror story with a City Hall couple walking the Brooklyn Bridge with Carmel, so I wouldn’t recommend them.

    • JSwen

      I saw (and can not find for the life of me) an adorable wedding in Portland, OR that did something similar. All the friends and family who were going on the traffic stopping, parade-like, bike ride to the reception were waiting on the street outside of the courthouse with balloons, noise makers, signs, etc. The couple married in the courthouse with siblings and parents, then walked out to an insta-party on the street. They (of course) got pedi-cabs to drive the older and more sluggish guests with the bike party.

      Oh and I’m pretty sure the beer for the reception was transported in a pedi-cab as well. :)

  • Ann

    Most of The Things are simple – boxes of cookies, boxes of votives, boxes boxes boxes. However, I will be making the centerpieces and I have NO IDEA how to transport up to 20 vases filled with ferns and ivy and floral foam and water, too? Not even sure if you water them before transport! Any pro-tips on centerpiece transportation?

    • http://www.pinterest.com/katerees711 kater711

      If I remember correctly (mom-job) growlers in paper boxes with moving paper woven around, taken to Kroger, filled with water and flowers and then taken to the venue. Taken home the same way. The paper boxes kept the weight down.

    • Caroline

      Oh boy, I hadn’t even considered that. We are DIYing all the flowers. How do we get them to the venue? How much space do we need to allot? Can one person in an SUV do it? Do we HAVE to have a van? How do we prevent them from tipping over? How do we prevent the vases from breaking?

    • JSwen

      Oh and if it is summer, remember that the flowers should be kept in AC over night before the wedding if you don’t have, say, an industrial refrigerator to store them in. This single-handedly nixed the idea of ordering wholesale flowers for a group of friends to arrange a few days before the wedding. We ain’t got no AC!

  • Alisha

    What the heck did everyone do with their dress after the wedding?! Preserve it, donate it, shorten it, store it in the basement… there are so many options. What does dress preservation involve anyway?

    • http://www.pinterest.com/katerees711 kater711

      I bought the dress preservation from David’s Bridal, when I bought my dress. It seemed a bit silly (looking for money, eh, DB?) but when I spilled wine on myself… no worries I’m sending it to be cleaned! yes!

      It’s in my closet now, and I’m not sure what it’s future holds. Is anyone in need of a size 18 long, lacy dress with a side bustle, altered for me at 5’2?

    • Amy A.

      I got married ~3 weeks ago and I am selling mine, either on consignment or online. Some of my family members are aghast and can’t believe I’m not keeping it for sentimental reasons, but a) I do not believe in the concept of “timeless” wedding dresses (if I have a daughter, she’s going to look at my dress one day and say, “Ugh, lace with cap sleeves?? SO 2014, MOM.”) b) it looks better in the photos than it will in a box c) it’s a chance to make back some of the $1k I spent on it and d) I hate clutter.

    • Steph

      I consigned it! Local consignment shop was super easy to use after I had it taken to a cleaner (just a regular dry cleaner, not a preservation cleaning or anything). It only took me 14 months after our wedding to actually get my act together and do all those things.

    • Lizzie C.

      I straight-up donated mine to Goodwill. It was a nontraditional dress (red, for starters) and I got it off the internet for cheap without enough time to get alterations. The result: a dress that worked fine for the big day but I’ll never wear again. I figured someone else might like it for a high school formal or something, and now it’s out of my closet.

    • Beth R

      Mine is sitting in my closet, but mostly because I haven’t gotten my act together to try to sell it. I will probably try a consignment shop or one of those used dress sites, but I’m worried about the sizing not being average (I’m short and fairly petite and the dress doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room for alterations). I’m someone who keeps everything so I thought I would be more sentimental about my dress, but I’m surprisingly not. Probably because, while it was pretty and I loved it, it was also a huge pain in my ass and even thinking about the alterations process makes me stabby.

    • Marie

      Preservation needn’t be fancy– a muslin garment bag will do the trick, or acid free tissue (readily available!) to pad and wrap the dress if you’re storing it flat or folded in a chest (or acid free cardboard box).Don’t put it in plastic; do not seal it up air-tight; don’t put it in direct contact with wood. you want to wrap it in muslin, an old cotton sheet, or acid free paper products. Get the dress cleaned before you store it, else any soiling will be hard to remove down the line.

  • KerryMarie

    My current dilemma: to pay an arm and a leg for additional professional servers (we’re doing a taco bar buffet that will be staffed by the taco people, but they are not set up for drink refilling, general “looking out” for guests, cutting and plating of pie) or to try to outsource these jobs to friends/craigslist/some other less formal avenue. So I guess my question is this: if I decide to hire servers outside of the one local Party Planning company, what’s the best way to go about that? What kinds of questions should I ask of the random people who are sure to reply if I post a “help wanted” on craigslist? Or is there some other middle ground option that I’m missing?

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I’d say do hire some people, and don’t have friends do it. I went to a wedding with friend-servers, and I felt awkward asking people I recognized as other guests to bring me an extra fork, etc., and the servers didn’t seem to be having a good time. But there may also have been a personality mis-match. Sometimes at church events, for example, it’s easier to appoint myself the punch server than to mingle. So the right friends helping might be OK.

      Since it sounds like a not-most-formal event, this would be a great situation for hiring teens from a group you trust. (Teens you know, or a scout troup would come with a parent to direct/chaperone.) Ask them to come dressed in black pants and white shirts, and tell them in general what you want (refill water glasses, bring extra tableware as asked, etc.).

      I think our catering staff actually were teens well-known to the professional catering heads. I don’t think it worked great for our fairly formal event (see below about some issues with serving the cake), but it would have been good for a less formal event. My parents and grandparents have hired teens they know well to help with dinner parties, and that’s worked well.

    • http://sholeh.calmstorm.net Sholeh

      Try a service like Taskrabbit or something similar. Much more reliable than Craigslist.

  • light0a0candle

    I think the biggest stress right now is the timeline. I’ve religiously studied the ones here, but I’m having trouble fitting my wedding in. We decided to have an outdoor ceremony on one end of the city at 2PM, the reception is a half hour away and will start at 7PM (dessert only, the idea being that everyone has enough time to go out and have dinner or have dinner at home before coming to the reception). The biggest issue is how to fit photography and dinner in between the two events (I’m wary of having our photos done before hand because it will be close to high noon and the light might be bad. Is this over thinking it?). The second biggest issue is that we only could afford 7 hours of photography with our amazing photographer and the event is kinda an all day thing. Currently I’m thinking of having her start around 10:30 and depart around 5:30 when we can go for our dinner. If we do it that way, there will be no professional shots of our reception. Worth it/not worth it? Anyway, it’s hard to explain all the logistics!

    The other issue I’m having is that we’re having a live band (yay) and my musician fiance and I decided that we also want to do a jam session to close out the event (So he gets a chance to play on stage). Understandably the musicians in the band dont want their instruments used for this part, so who rents the instruments and who’s responsible for returning them? If we do it we have to find someone to take care of them post event, if they do it they have to stick around for the whole night and can’t leave when their set is done. Also, how long is customary for a live band to preform? If we’re starting the reception at 7PM when does the band finish playing for the jam session to begin?

    Being creative is a bitch. I’m a month out and considering cookie cutters for all future events.

    • Violet

      I’m no photographer, but I’m fairly certain that outside shots at noon are a big no-no. Weird under-eye shadows and whatnot. As for the timeframe of photographer, it sounds like you’re either going to have to skip getting ready photos or reception photos. Right? So you’d want to figure out how you and your partner feel about one versus the other. We couldn’t afford a photographer for the whole day, but luckily we weren’t interested in getting ready photos and had plenty of time in between ceremony and reception due to what is commonly known as the Catholic gap (although it was an Episcopalian gap, in or case!) for the formal and family shots.

    • Hannah B

      Whoa if you are doing a jam session, that assumes you know people who know how to play, and people who would want to jam would likely already have instruments. Jam session implies that anyone who brings something can jam, whether that’s an old flute, bongo drum, or guitar. Then people can share their own instruments if they are so inclined. Just have somewhere your guests can stash their instruments at the reception venue. Since you have a gap, people will have time to go home and grab their guitar just for the party. You may have to provide amps or ask a guitar buddy to bring an amp if you want people to join in after the band leaves.

      Also, your live band should have signed a contract with you that will specify how long they are planning on performing, and you can always have them adjust it to be less time if it will run you over your allotted reception time at your venue. They’ll play less time for the same amount of money, no doubt.

      In my experience, jam sessions are only fun if a)everyone’s wasted b)everyone’s super talented or c) some combination of the two. So, if it’s purely for fun and cuz your FH loves to jam, maybe plan on it lasting like a half hour or so? You could maybe arrange for it to be in the middle of the reception, when the band goes on its one or two breaks that it has likely outlined for you in the contract (chops gotta rest). Sounds fun!

    • Sarah

      If your photographer is smart they can shoot at noon, no problem. Finding open shade, using fill flash, and diffusers are all ways to shoot at noon. Buuuut, if I was you I’d skip the getting ready photos and have the photographer do the wedding and reception since most getting ready photos are pretty easy to have a friend get with a camera and reception photos can be trickier with weird lighting, low light, and lots of action.

  • Autumnmist

    Ok so I’m probably the opposite of everyone. I’m trying to decide how many days before our wedding I should fly in (it’s taking place across the country where most of our family/friends are) and I can’t even think of what things I need to get done?

    I’m kind of IDGAF about decor so, whatever happens happens — we’ll put some flowers on the table and I have a bouquet and that’s it? So that takes maybe half a day to a day? Pick up marriage license – 20 min. Make premixed cocktails – half a day? What else am I supposed to need to do or can I really just fly in on Wednesday for a Saturday wedding?

    • AG

      I found that everything takes twice as long as you expect it to. Simple things like getting a marriage license still include driving, parking, forgetting that you need cash and looking for an ATM, etc etc etc. Flying in on Wednesday should be fine (I got into town Monday night for our Saturday wedding, had Tuesday to relax and then got started with tasks on Wednesday), but I recommend padding out your schedule to leave room for the inevitable. Even the wedding tasks that don’t take up a lot of time tend to have a pretty big emotional weight, and you’ll probably be multi-tasking every last thing between millions of texts from well-meaning people. It can be exhausting.

  • JSwen

    1) My biggest concern is that I have all of the major pieces (caterer, venue, DJ, officiant) but that there may be things missing that aren’t covered between those four core vendors. Decorations are being covered by friends, my future brother in law’s gf is our DOC, but what about making sure there is sufficient electrical outside? Does the officiant need a microphone for the ceremony? Do I need little signs saying what things are (eg guest book, pictures of family) and where things are (eg ceremony this way, reception this way, dinner this way)?

    I hope that as long as there is background music and alcohol, the party
    will keep flowing. A small part of me is worried that everyone will be
    standing around thinking, “now what?”

    2) I know that we don’t *have* to have every component of a wedding (eg toasts, bouquet toss, cake cutting, first dances) but it might help to know what other brides have loved and hated from their weddings. It just seems like there’s a lot to fit in to a short period of time.

    • http://sholeh.calmstorm.net Sholeh

      If there are more than 50 people and there is any ambient noise, I always say go with a mic. I’ve been to too many weddings where I couldn’t hear a thing because there was no mic.

      Signs are helpful, I got a few frames from the dollar store and printed out wording in nice script, stuck in the frames, and have the DOC put them out where needed.

      We only had the cake cutting & first dance together, limited toasts to parents & 1 best friend each, and cut out the rest of the stuff. It was such a relief not to have to put on a show.

    • Ashley

      I second the question about when you need a microphone during the ceremony! I’m also trying to figure out if we need to amplify the violin/viola duo we have playing our music. I don’t know how sound travels outside!

      • Violet

        Oh man, maybe this is like when to turn on your headlights- if you have to ask, the answer is probably to turn them on. My dear friend got married on a beach. I kid you not, I heard NOTHING. Nuh-thing. They seemed very happy, have no idea what was said. Has your ceremony site hosted weddings before? They might be able to tell you how many couples have used mics and go based off of that.

      • Hannah B

        Microphones are great during vows and readings…usually because the parties involved aren’t theatrically trained to project their voices. Depending on close everyone is seated/how loud the background is (middle of the forest would be quieter than oceanside), the violin/viola may or may not need amplification. Your duo also may or may not have amps with electric pickups (more common for folk duos than classical ones) but you should ask them what they think is best.

    • Emma Klues

      I lean toward “let the party flow” and less programmed events. It can be hard to get a legit dance floor going if you stop every 10 minutes to do something? That’s just me, I wanted a rockin’ dance floor. We did 2 toasts and cut the cake and then did one “all married folks on the floor” dance to kick things off, then just let people play. Do whatever you want and if they are thinking “now what” it sounds like a personal problem :)

      • Emma Klues

        ps – To me, little signs are a bonus. If you have everything else and feel crafty and want them, go for it. Are they necessary? Nope. People will figure it out. Plus, if you tell a few guests to help herd crowds from one thing area to another, they can.

  • Rose

    We’re just starting to plan a wedding, and considering a wide range of possible venues, but I do love the idea of being outside, and a backyard wedding would suit our small budget well. A post on the logistics of an outdoor wedding would be amazing–what sort of site do you need, how do you deal with weather of various kinds, how does it affect food and music and dancing. Do we need a dance floor if people want to dance? Can we cope if the ground isn’t perfectly flat? How effective are tents really in bad weather? Can we do anything other than shiver if it’s cold? What kind of contingency plans would we need? I’m sure there are things I’m not thinking about that should be taken into consideration. I’d love to see a good discussion of it.

    • Alex

      I’m planning a backyard wedding right now, and it’s because I want it to be outside, I want it to be in my parents’ backyard on the river, and I want it to be relaxed and casual just like all the tons of parties that have been had in that house. However, things start adding up pretty quickly – every single chair is $1-7 (and by no means am I in a high market Miami/SF/NYC area), tablecloths run $11 each (which was a downer after realizing tables were only $11), every piece of silverware has to be rented, tents are realllly expensive, not doing a dance floor, but I’m sure those are pricey too. Granted, less people=less of all those things which would help a LOT for a small budget. Haven’t even thought about how to do microphones for the ceremony/toasts if we have them. I’m probably not using a full-service caterer who would probably be able to work out deals for dishes/linens/chairs/tables, but there is something nice about having a big banquet hall that already has chairs/tables/tablecloths set up. Another thing I’ve seen is the bathroom thing – there are apparently portable bathrooms that look really nice that you can rent if there aren’t more than a couple bathrooms where your wedding will be

      There are heat lamps that are wonderful outdoors – I’m living in Michigan now and lots of restaurants will use them in Oct/Nov and Mar/April when it’s still winter, and it REALLY helps. Hell, even in Gainesville, Florida, some bars used them so you could be outside n the dead of winter at 45 degrees ;)

  • http://www.chrissymakes.com Chrissy Wayman

    Maybe something on the mysteries of choosing a registry/cash/etiquette on these things? We have been living on our own and together for so long (and are a little too “practical”) to register for things just because we have a scanner in one hand.. most of the basics are taken care of as far as stuff goes. Also, I don’t know if anyone else is in the same boat, but with 55 guests and minimal family having the $ to come to the wedding (everyone is flying in to TX), I almost fear making a registry will show that nobody could or wanted to buy anything more than say… a serving spoon. This isn’t to say our friends are cheap, but many are between 24 and 30, and are already paying to come out for it. Any help would be awesome on this!

    • Nina B

      Pretty much everyone is flying in for our wedding and we felt weird about asking for stuff after everyone spent a lot on flights and hotel rooms… So, we registered at SoKind for gifts like “rehearsal dinner photographer”, “help setup the reception hall”, and “help clean up the reception hall”. My hope is that because it is on a registry, people will feel like it really is a gift. And I’ve been talking it up with my friends saying things like “we don’t really need a new blender, what we really need is help!”

    • Lizzie C.

      Ooh, that’s tricky. I hear you about the pressure to monetize your love for the happy couple…”Let’s see, am I $30 happy for them or $100 happy for them?” We had a honeymoon registry with a range of gift values so our friends could give us $25 toward fruity cocktails on the beach if that was the right fit for their budgets. But a lot of older relatives balked at the honeymoon registry because they were conditioned for decades to BUY ALL THE THINGS. So we also set up a Registry 360 to ease their minds. And then some guests gave us cards with cash, which was perfect. So what I learned was, no matter what route you go, prepare for some confusion and pushback. Just ask for what you want, not what people expect, and you’ll have a better chance of getting it.

      • http://www.chrissymakes.com Chrissy Wayman

        Yes. That last sentence. Really needed to hear it! Love the honeymoon contribution idea, but we won’t have our honeymoon for another year after the wedding. But you’re right – we need to give friends and family a way to buy specifics for us, but just keep the pressure off. Thanks for your input!

    • JSwen

      My info card in the invite said: Your presence is the best gift we could hope for but if you would like something to wrap, we are registered at X, Y, Z.

      I didn’t expect it but coworkers, family friends, parents’ friends, who weren’t invited have all found our registries and sent us stuff. Register for upgrades to the things you use every day (eg toaster oven, coffee grinder) and it will help you feel less tacky with your registry.

      • http://www.chrissymakes.com Chrissy Wayman

        That is so encouraging to hear! We don’t want anyone to feel pressured since they are traveling in, so I really love the way you worded that. It’s also wonderful to hear you still got support from people that weren’t or couldn’t be invited for whatever reason – the story I constantly hear is how people you may have been friends with just stop existing in your life after they’re not invited. So sad!

  • SarahG

    Maybe this already exists, but: how to buy wedding bands? I am totally at sea and avoiding this because real jewelry stores intimidate me (I always buy jewelry on etsy or at random craft fairs or Target). Also: how to make paper flower centerpieces; how to make cool signs for your wedding (like, I see all these adorable guestbook signs and escort cards etc etc online, but I am not crafty and I don’t know how to make those). How to make cake toppers (am thinking not the bride/groom or bride/bride ones but sparkly ones with words, shapes, etc). Just some ideas! :) Thanks for asking us.

    Oh, and one more: how to not freak out when you have doubts/cold feet. I would personally *love* some help with that.

    • Lizzie C.

      I wish I had something helpful to say for doubts/cold feet, but I guess “don’t give them more mind-share than they deserve” is the best I can do. As for rings, though, there are 2 online places I LOVE: Brent&Jess (fingerprint rings!) and Turtle Love Co. (all kinds of indie designs). That’s where we got our bands, and it was both easy and fun. And not intimidating at all!

    • JSwen

      On the rings, seriously go to many many jewelry stores before you buy. Say, “Hi, we are looking for wedding bands,” and they will know exactly what to do. Don’t buy anything until you have been to a couple jewelers. We thought we were going to get estate jewelry that didn’t match. Three months later, we finally got matching custom rings made. Who knows what you’ll end up with!

    • LM

      I agree with going to jewelry stores if possible. I scoped out some online to find ones that seemed to have my style, but going in person was actually much easier to me than looking at the endless possibilities online. As for doubts/cold feet — getting married is a big deal! It’s totally normal to think about the magnitude of a life change. I found it helpful to be let myself feel whatever I was feeling; sometimes I would freak out more if I tried to suppress any doubts. When I didn’t try to fight it so much, I had more space to figure out what I was actually feeling/reacting to, and talk to my fiancee (or therapist) about it. That made me feel more in control, and reminded me why I was choosing him as my partner.

      • SarahG

        Thank you! That’s incredibly reassuring (re: cold feet).

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I don’t know what you want, but we went to one super-honest family-owned jewelry store and learned that plain rings are commodities. They’re mass-manufactured. You just pick your shape (domed, flat, etc.), fit (comfort, traditional), width, metal, and size. The price is determined by gold and silver prices on the commodities markets. After getting our sizes at that jewelry store, we ordered online, and it worked out fine.

      Worked out fine…except my husband was sized in the afternoon of a hot day and insists he’ll lose his wedding ring because it’s loose. He’s worn it once. I was used to wearing rings (and have never had a ring slip off, even on that was 1/2+ size too big), but I wish we’d either not bought him a ring, or bought him a fake one to see if he could be comfortable wearing a ring.

    • Liz

      We went to a mall with several jewelry stores and checked out the options/sales/etc. If you ask for wedding bands they will have a certain area to direct you, but make sure that is actually what YOU want for your wedding band. Any ring could be a wedding band if it works for you, etsy, target, & craft fairs included.
      There are lots of paper flower and other crafty tutorials online if you search, then you just have to start folding/cutting/experimenting. You could also ask a craftier friend to help.

  • Jen

    This happened one month too late for me but thank you for helping people with this! This website is amazing!

  • Holly

    The best way to get my wedding dress across the country when airlines can’t guarantee use of the closets! (Some don’t even have closets, e.g. Jetblue, because there’s no first class; existing closets are reserved for wheelchairs or medical equipment, which they don’t know about until everyone checks in on the day of; after that it’s actually for the first-class folks; I cannot afford nor condone the ridiculous suggestion of buying an extra seat on the plane for the dress.) My current plan is to have the shop box it up as best as possible (it’s not a ball gown, but there is a train to contend with) and make it my carry-on, then steam when we arrive, but if there’s a better way, I’d love to hear it!
    This goes hand-in-hand with other planning-from-afar concerns–everything’s swimming along, but am I missing a big piece of the logistical puzzle because I’m not putting it together in person?

    • Lian

      I was going to post this too! How do I transport my dress… It will even already have been worn once (two weddings? Why not! Oh. Oh, hassle. That’s why not.). What are reasonable expectations from, for example, an airline like Delta?

      • Brittany

        Millage will vary, but my husband took my dress on a Delta flight, and the flight attendants were super sweet to him and immediately made room for the dress to be hung up. People like weddings and get excited about the idea of them, which often makes them accommodating.

    • scw

      along the same lines – I have my dress already and the wedding isn’t until next may. should it be hanging in a bag? folded in the box? I’m worried I am going to unintentionally ruin it between now and the wedding!

      • Beth

        I’m in the same boat! My dress has been hanging in a garment bag since last July, and I’m getting married in a year. So far it seems to be fine, but it’s so heavy that I worry about it getting pulled out of shape. I read recommendations to lay the dress flat and turn it over every so often, but we have no space to store it like that.

    • Alex

      Wow I hadn’t thought of this AT ALL (granted, I haven’t bought my dress and the logistics of THAT are crazy – moving OUT of Michigan in a couple of months, moving TO NYC, wedding is in Florida, my close friends who I’d love to have dress shopping are scattered around the country, so I don’t even know where to buy it :p) So thanks for putting this in my head too :)

  • Shelby

    I would love, love, love a post on hiring a band or musicians for the ceremony and reception. The wedding band industry seems pretty confusing. They use one name but have 20 on and off members? I’d love to know reasonable price ranges, the best way to scout or screen a band if you can’t see them live, and what kinds of questions to ask.

    • JSwen

      Yes, please. Questions to ask would be so beneficial.

    • Orangie

      “They use one name but have 20 on and off members?” This is a thing?!? Apparently, I also need a post on hiring a band, I just didn’t know it!

      • sbwilson

        Since wedding/event bands tend to be booked every weekend, every week, having lots of back-up and substitute musicians outside of their primarily lineup is pretty much required in order to keep the band in business throughout musician’s schedule conflicts, last-minute illnesses, etc. Pretty much any decent wedding band will rehearse with the full rotating group, so it generally isn’t an issue of any members not being as prepared/on the same page as the rest of the group.

        Many wedding bands also work with production companies that handle their bookings. The advantage here is it’s more one-stop shopping (ie, you call up the production company with your interests and budget, and they can give you a list of bands they work with that fit your needs) and they often have showcases where bands on their roster perform a few songs each so prospective clients can hear their work before booking.

    • AG

      We didn’t hire a “wedding band” band, just a band we really liked. This actually ended up being MUCH less expensive than a normal wedding band, since they just charged us basically what they charge any venue to play on a Saturday night. I believe cost will vary greatly by where you are. The different members playing under one name deal is definitely common, and I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Of course, if you’re choosing a band for a specific singer or whatever, you can make sure they’re available. Bands are usually TERRIBLE at communication, though, so be warned. Get everything in writing, especially any first dance song you might want them to learn.

      I loved choosing our band, we found clips of them playing on youtube and facebook and listened to different bands over dinner (we had an out of town wedding and couldn’t make it down to see them live). It was one of the best parts of planning. Also, for as much as I worried (again, they were not great at communication), they were absolutely AMAZING at our wedding. Other than the whole marrying-the-man-I-love-surrounded-by-loved-ones thing, the band was my favorite part of the wedding.

  • emfish

    I would love a discussion among APW wedding grads on what kinds of pressures out-of-town guests put on their time the week of the wedding, and how they balanced the need (and desire!) to spend time with visiting friends and family with the realities of hosting a wedding. I know a lot of this will depend on your specific situation, but there must be some universal take-aways. I want to make sure I do right by all my guests without totally dropping the ball on all the shit that will need to get done. And, SUPER IMPORTANT, I know I’m going to need both time alone with my partner and time all by myself, or I will lose my mind (person who doesn’t love crowds or being the center of attention here). I’m less concerned about how this works at the wedding/reception — I have hosted and attended parties before so I can figure that one out — but rather the days leading up to the wedding, when people are arriving in town, and some of them want to help, and some of them just want to see you, and some of them are sort of being pains in the ass who expect to be entertained.

    • JSwen

      From my experience, out-of-town guests probably want to do their own thing a bit as well. I set up expectations far in advance. Thursday afternoon/night is for friends. Friday afternoon/night is for family. Wedding is Saturday so nothing else is planned. I also provided a ton of activities for people to do in the area on their own. If anyone expects to be entertained in the days before my wedding, I consider that their problem, not mine!

    • Ashley

      I’m curious about this too! I have a cousin’s wedding to attend the Saturday before ours, and my sister’s baby shower two days before. I know his mom wants to get everyone together at some point, and my grandma plans to be in town for the week to “help.” That already feels like too much, and I just don’t know what else is going to be expected of us socially.

      How common/expected is a post-wedding brunch? We’ll have a lot to do to prepare for our two-week road trip on the Monday following our Saturday wedding (including a first-time pixie cut!!) But will we seem like assholes if we tell people we’re too busy to get together with them again?

      • ElisabethJoanne

        Out of 20+ weddings I’ve attended, 1 had a semi-official day-after brunch. Some of my favorite wedding-weekend memories are of smaller brunches groups of guests arranged on their own.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      Way below, I complain about my family not truly hearing about planning details, but I did get the weekend timeline I wanted. I did this by 1) figuring out what I wanted, 2) telling key people, 3) renting a car that weekend (so I wasn’t dependent on anyone else for a ride), and 4) judicious turning off of my cell phone.

    • Alex

      Agreed – general things about out-of-town guests would be so much appreciated, especially since I have about 100 people coming from out of town…. having the wedding in my parents backyard in wonderful Florida, but my closest friends have all left Florida, he’s from California, and we met in Michigan at grad school so our friends are scattered all over. We want to have a big pseudo rehearsal dinner for our close friends and family from out of town, but I realized that the vast majority of who we’re inviting is our “close friends and family” Have there been any posts I’ve missed on this? Pretty new to APW :)

  • Ashley

    This is probably too specific for an APW post, but maybe my comment (if not buried!) will get me some help! We’re getting married in a park, reception in a park shelter (open on all sides). The shelter we want to use is up on a hill, without much room around it for a dance floor. We are considering opening up the center front of the shelter for dancing. Our fear is that the music, being played within the shelter, will blast out other guests not interested in dancing. Is this a valid fear? Do we need to have our reception at the uglier ground level shelter so we can have an outside-of-shelter dance floor and DJ? It’s surrounded by parking lot instead of forest :(

    • ElisabethJoanne

      Can you direct the music to the front, so the back is relatively quiet? How awkward will it be for people to wander away from the shelter to escape the noise?

    • JSwen

      DJs usually set up their speakers to be heard most optimally on the dance floor. Think of a wedding in a big banquet hall – there’s no wall dividing the sitters from the dancers and there isn’t a problem there. Talk to your DJ or sound equipment rental company (if you are doing it yourself).

    • Claire

      A good DJ should be able to control that! If the shelter isn’t huge, you should tell him that you’d prefer the music not travel terribly far past the shelter. Appoint someone whose judgment you trust to be the one to worry about it. They should also play some softer stuff during dinner, etc., so people can enjoy talking to the other people at their tables. That said, I think some older relatives will always grumble about the music being too loud!

      • Ashley

        Thanks! I’ll email a picture of the shelter to the DJ and see what his thoughts are.

    • Emma Klues

      I think even people who don’t want to dance at a wedding don’t expect a quiet place to get away from it all. They don’t have to dance but if you’re at a wedding, you should be prepared to hear music?

  • Penny7b

    The apw spreadsheets really helped me get everything there and set up okay. But I kind of dropped the ball on pack up. A couple of good friends stepped up without being asked at the last minute, but I still feel kinda bad about it.

    I guess I thought that hubby and I would be around to help pack up, but until we left the venue the party really couldn’t end. That was poorly thought through on my part.

  • Anon

    Dunno if anyone has asked this, but HOW do you explain to your fiance just how important these logistical matters are? For example, say you spend a long time looking for bartending services online and discussing your options with your fiance, then the next day he comes home from work and says, “Guess what?! My friend Jeff will do it for only $20 an hour!” How do you explain to him that this may be an excellent rate, but now we have to worry about renting a physical bar? And a jockey box. And figuring out the ice situation. And working out who’s in charge of bringing a bottle opener. And now we have to call the venue to see if they allow bartenders who aren’t licensed and insured to serve drinks. And what will Jeff do if he has to go to the kitchen to load up on ice, but there are a line of guests waiting for drinks?!

    At this point I feel like I burst my fiance’s bubble every time he tries to help with the wedding. And I sound like an incurable nag, and then I end up believing that I have to stress about everything logistical, not because he doesn’t want to help, but because he doesn’t understand HOW to even think about logistics.

    Maybe men can be subject to the WIC as much as women.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      Men can definitely be subject to the WIC as much as women. My husband has executive dysfunction, and I’m a type-A planner, some things that worked for us:

      1. When planning wasn’t fun anymore, and he was making suggestions that required more work, I said that, and asked him to do the work. So just say, “If we did that, we’d have these logistical concerns, and we’d have to check with the venue first. Can you do that by [reasonable date]?”

      2. Also, and I have a post way down in this thread about this – Don’t just talk about WHAT needs planning, talk about WHEN you want to plan it. If you’re using a planning timeline, show it to him. Go over it with him periodically as you plan.

      3. Use any event between now and the wedding to point out what went into planning the event. Fourth of July barbeque: “That was a great party. I bet they borrowed extra coolers to keep all the drinks on ice.” Or, “I’m sure they feel bad about running out of hamburgers.” You don’t have to be pedantic, but relating it to a personal, recent experience is super-helpful.

      4. If you haven’t entertained together, throw a tiny party. Just a simple dinner party makes you think about a guest list, timeline, venue (cleaning the apartment), food, etc. For us, we have to plan about a month in advance. Actually going through planning and hosting a mini-wedding is helpful to think about what you do and don’t need for a regular-sized-wedding.

      • Anon

        AMAZING advice! Thank you :)

  • Leigh Ann

    My wedding is in one month, and my RSVP deadline is in 6 days (not that anyone is counting!) I’ve only gotten about 60% of my RSVP cards back!! This frustrates me to no end, because I fuckin’ bought a stamp for you, people! And, mostly because I chose to spend the $$$ the 100% traditional card RSVP so that people would have NO stupid EXCUSE NOT to respond!!!!!!! And, they’re still not! WHERE ARE OUR PEOPLES’ ETIQUETTE?!?!?!?!? Even closer family members aren’t getting back to me!

    (If I wasn’t being considerate of others, I totally would have preferred to embed a Google Form in a website. So advice for anyone else, don’t feel like that dumb card will help, and do what you wanted to anyway.)

    But, rant over…. now, my question: what is the considerate way to ask people who didn’t respond whether they’re coming? My guess is, they’re not, and are probably too chicken to say it, but really people… I NEED TO KNOW! I’m honestly more mad about you not responding than I would be about you not coming. How do I ask nicely?

    • YOQ

      Dealing with this right now. I think your RSVP rate is better than ours, though, if that’s any consolation. My first step has been to email everyone (or most of them, the ones for whom I have email addresses) and say roughly:

      “Dear So-and-so,
      I’m writing to follow up on the wedding invitation I sent you. Did it arrive? (A few of ours have gone astray in the postal system, so I worry about these things.) We haven’t received your RSVP card, so I’m writing to ask about your plans. Will you [and whoever else is included in your invite] be attending?
      Thanks! I hope to hear from you soon.”

      Roughly one third of my recalcitrant guests have responded within three days to that prompt.

      Now: it is true that some of our invites did not arrive. BUT. Many of our guests simply did not get around to filling out the stamped, addressed postcard and putting it in the mail by the RSVP deadline. Many of them are my blood relatives, which makes me extra-special resentful. And my parents are out of the country on vacation, so I cannot ask them to do the follow up.

      What is helping me be polite about the whole thing is reminding myself that giving voice to my resentment–uninviting the relatives I never really wanted to invite in the first place, for example–will not actually accomplish any useful purpose. It is not my goal to teach my relatives to be polite, so punishing them for not RSVPing, while satisfying in the moment, will only create bad blood in my family. Since I don’t plan to get married again, this is not a lesson I need them to learn for my future benefit.

      Instead, I vent–a lot–with my fiancee, and then I suck it up and find a way to be loving with the people who are currently annoying the hell out of me. I mean, most of them I actually wanted to invite, after all.

      • Leigh Ann

        Thank you! You’re so right! While I would love to teach my rude blood relatives a lesson, you are completely correct that that will not really help anything.

    • sheismle

      I hear you, I dealt with this a couple of weeks ago. I did the “Hey, did you get our wedding invitation? Hope you can make it!” bit by Facebook/text message to most of the non-responders. Farmed out a few to mom & FMIL. Turns out some of them are actually planning to come, but had work/illness circumstances that they were trying to balance with our wedding date.

      • Leigh Ann

        Thanks! Yeah, texting or Facebook messaging will hopefully get me a quicker reply.

    • Amanda

      I feel your pain. I went with the “Hey, we haven’t received your RSVP yet, maybe it will come in today’s mail, but could you let me know what your meal choice is? We need to get back with our count to the venue by X” I made most of those calls/texts on a Wednesday and gave the date as that Friday. It was a week earlier than I actually needed to get back, but they didn’t need to know that :-) My favorite was a family friend who instead of sending something to us (in that self addressed stamped envelope) decided that he would spend his own money on stamps, address his own envelope and sent a letter to my parents telling them he couldn’t attend.

    • Emma Klues

      My sister hounded people for me which was AMAZING because they could simply answer her, since she was not the one getting married, just executing a task. If you and/or fiance follow up with folks, they might feel obligated to explain, apologize, have long conversations, etc. If someone else, given your email address book or Facebook friend list or whatever, can send them a quick note, they’re likely to simply respond logistically, rather than emotionally. It worked well for me!

      • Leigh Ann

        That is an awesome idea! Totally gonna delegate some of those contacts. I bet people will respond more directly to my sister, as well.

  • Lindsay Kelley

    Can anyone share their experience planning a whole wedding weekend? My fiance and I are excited about our DIY wedding (a year from now) which will be at a historic resort in a state park for about 50 guests all staying on-site, our friends camping and older folks staying in little cottages. So, kind of like a family reunion, kind of destination wedding, but there aren’t a TON of amenities in the middle of the mountains.

    I’d appreciate any advice about how much of the weekend to plan out vs. leave my guests to relax/do their own thing (Thursday arrival event? Friday optional morning hike? Sunday farewell brunch?), are we responsible for feeding them for every meal or can we politely ask people to bring potluck dishes/plan a few meals on their own, how to figure out how much food we need, and those kinds of logistical things that we didn’t consider when we were just so excited about an excuse to spend a long weekend with our BFFs and family. We’re still excited, just a little overwhelmed and not sure how to proceed as we’ve never been to a wedding like what we’re envisioning.

    • EveRaphael

      Totally in the same boat. I’m planning a weekend, everyone-stays-on-site wedding too! For 130 people (eeeeek)! My plan is to just have one properly planned (but optional) group activity, and then make a list of other activities people could do when there’s free time (like a map of the local area pointing out nice beaches etc),

      And in terms of food, I think it’s best if you provide breakfast (in my case I’ve buying all the necessary ingredients and then assigning a brekkie prep team each morning). I’m having a potluck dinner on Thursday (with a group of aunts and uncles in charge) and making dinner for everyone myself on Friday (unnecessary but I love cooking for big groups) and then Saturday night is catered by my brother’s mate, as is brunch on Sunday. For lunches I’m asking people to fend for themselves (but will give suggestions about local places they can drive to to get food).

      I have a pretty killer google shreadsheet with all the logistic and details (ahem, professional project manager) if you want a copy?

      • Lindsay Kelley

        That spreadsheet would be super helpful to look at! Thanks so much and good luck with your planning :) lindsay.j.kelley@gmail.com

  • http://cafeaubride.blogspot.com/ Catherine

    it feels so surreal that we are getting married next saturday. we have SO MUCH TO DO. where the hell is there a cute guestbook that looks like us? I feel like the only two places I know where to look at etsy and BHLDN. The ring pillow, the flower girl basket, um tent decor ??? vows, finish writing ceremony, the MUSIC for the ceremony (we have an acoustic duo hired but haven’t chosen songs…), jam jar labels, rehearsal dinner things, oh yeah packing for the honeymoon, ahhh we are planning from out of state and I am worried that our wedding will miss a personal touch. Like, where do we put pictures of ourselves or something? so much in one week, is this even possible?

    and also, thank you notes: even if people send things in advance, is it considered rude to not send the notes till after we get back from honeymoon? We have sent out a few, and at the actual wedding I don’t want to feel like I’m trying to remember to thank everyone for their gift and all that..

    oh and … what music do you play for cake cutting?? or bouquet toss? eesh.

    • Erin

      Zazzle will help with labels if you don’t get overwhelmed by lots of choices. Craft stores like Michaels have guest books and flower girl ring bearer stuff. And the best cake cutting song of all time is “Ice Cream” by Sarah Maclachlan.

    • Amanda

      We selected that new Sara Bareilles “I Choose You” for our cake cutting. For the bouquet toss, I picked “Move” by Ludacris. The censored version of course so our older guests wouldn’t be offended, but I thought this would be hilarious and something different than “Single Ladies”.

    • AG

      We chose a coffee table book of paintings for our guest book (we got married in a museum so it made sense, but I think it could work for anyone). I bought silver and gold permanent markers, and people just chose a page and wrote on it. The book we chose actually had a lot of white border space around the paintings, so it was perfect for writing. I love that it’s something I like having on my coffee table, as opposed to a cheesy scrapbook.

    • Alisha

      We’re doing a few picture frames for people to sign instead of a guestbook. Easy way to use some of our engagement pictures. I found really cheap frames at Michaels.

    • essicajay

      I used a book of blank staff paper for a guest book, I decorated the front and people loved it since I’m a musician.
      It was also only 5 bucks, which to me is a reasonable price for a book with blank pages.
      Goodwill has lots of baskets and little pillows for the rings. You can find all sorts of good stuff there for decorations for cheap. We didn’t put out any pictures of ourselves but that would be a nice touch by the guest book.
      I didn’t really start the majority of my thank you notes until after the wedding. Nobody expects them until things settle down a bit for the couple so they understand. I would see how many you have to get done and then set a daily goal for writing (mine is 4 a day). Otherwise it seems overwhelming, and then you know for sure they will get done by the two month mark. I’ve never had to write so many thank you notes in my life, but it’s a nice way to relive the fun of the wedding!
      I Want Candy by Bow Wow Wow would be a good cake cutting song.

    • Emma Klues

      You can wait to send the thank you notes! Totally okay to do them all later, no worries. No need to mention gifts at the actual wedding at all. Let it go from your brain.

      I bought a 100% plain giant sketchbook and just colored/doodled in it on some pages so it was us. (Frames, quote bubbles, etc) If you and/or anyone you know is even somewhat capable of doodling, this worked well for us, was cheap and fast! (Pictures of yourself could even go here!)

      Music for cake cutting or bouquet toss depends on the mood. I think anything goes, if you want to pump up the jams to lead to the dance floor, go for it. If you want something quieter to be more focused on you, that’s cool too.

      Best of luck, you can do this!

    • Megan

      I want to play “Love you Madly” by Cake for the cake cutting. I hope people get it ;-)

  • Nora

    We have all of the “big stuff” planned (the date, the venue, the caterer, the photographer, my dress, his suit, bridesmaids outfits, etc.)……….. But we haven’t chosen our officiant. (Nbd, right, guys? It’s not like the whole point of the day is that we’re getting married or anything! ) Picking our officiant is something we’ve both been actively avoiding. How do you choose an officiant when you’re not affiliated with a religious group? How do I know if a justice of the peace or a family friend or my dad or a random officiant is right for us?

    (Fortunately, if all else fails, we can self-marry. That’s been our running joke that is looking less like a joke and more like what could happen as each day passes….Thanks, Pennsylvania and Quakers! You rock!)

    • lizperk23

      Just want to say…us too! that’s the thing that’s sort of sticky. not religious; don’t really love the idea of random officiant; the people we know, who could do it, either really know him, or really know me, but don’t really know both of us. no answers, just..solidarity!

      • Nicole

        We looked at yelp actually. Your luck might vary based on where you live and how many yelpers there are, but we found great options, interviewed a few and went with the ones with whom we felt most comfortable. If yelp isn’t a big thing, your venue, caterer, photographer, etc might have recommendations. The wedding vendors all see a lot of the same people – if you found a caterer and photographer that you feel get you, they probably know a couple officiants that run in the same circles. I know once we hired venue, caterer, officiant, and dj, we realized they all knew (and liked) each other already.

    • Emma Klues

      We picked a friend officiant partially because we had a list of people we wanted involved and then put them in roles we thought made sense. Our friend had been a former roommate, knew both of us, and would be competent at the gig. And you can always meet with/interview officiants just to see if it feels like a good fit!

  • Leigh Ann

    Also, we definitely could have used more advice on honeymoon planning! Ideas, how to save $ and still go somewhere nice, etc. I’m really thinking this could be a regular feature, like Wedding Graduates.

    • Leigh Ann

      Call it, “The Honeymooners!” And, after I get back from mine, I’ll write for it!

      • Stacey H.

        I second that!

        • Stacey H.

          Also… I would totally write for “The Honeymooners!” too.

        • Leigh Ann

          Thanks!

  • Anon

    Please can you give us the promised pitcher recipe for margaritas? I was hoping it’d be up before our September wedding!

    • Meg Keene

      Working on it! Thank you for the reminder.

  • Stacey H.

    There’s a lot of information about invitations and what kind of paper to use and the different types on fonts to use etc… but what about choosing a design?

    I like ALL THE COLORS so I like something bright and cheery– the problem is that we are having an evening wedding in a venue overlooking a river where lights will be much of the decor and we’re having under-stated centerpieces so that the venue can speak for itself. I don’t like the idea that I’m “supposed” to have an invite that matches my wedding… but I mean… do I? Does it matter, or can we go with what reflects our personality rather than our under-stated decor?

    • ElisabethJoanne

      Wedding invitations can communicate more than the date, time, and location of the event. Their style can indicate the level of formality and expected mood of the celebration. For example, we were going for very formal, so we had dark ink on ivory paper, with old-fashioned wording and an old-school type face.

      If you have lots of color and and modern style to your invitations, that will send a message of a less-formal party. Mostly, this relates to what people wear, and you may not care about that. Or, you probably would love your guests to wear lots of color, even if your decor will be understated. I also think we should drop these WIC rules about picking up hints about degrees of formality from the invitation design. I think they’re passive-aggressive and unfair. Not everyone will be able to “read between the lines.” Just state a dress code (“black tie”; “suits preferred”) if that’s your issue. But until the rules change, be aware of how much some guests are reading into the invitation.

      • Stacey H.

        Seriously, thanks. I think my biggest issue is that all other decisions so far have been easy for us, and this one I just had no clue where to start. I appreciate the guidance.

  • Lian

    So, um, stupid question, but: what do guests need to know? Like, what do we put on our website? The venue, date, and time, of course. But what else? Do we tell them specifically that it is all in one venue, do we tell them how to get there with public transport… We’ve done that. What else? Do we tell them expected end time? We’re having an afternoon wedding so do we make it explicit that there will be lunch, then reception, then they’re supposed to leave by 5-ish?
    I just feel like once people actually start visiting the website and getting ready for the wedding it will turn out I forgot to put on something really stupid, like the date.
    Which I did.
    I forgot the date. My dad had to point that out to me. Luckily this was far before any non-parents were looking at it, but now I’m really second guessing myself about the rest of it!

    tl;dr: what information do guests need?

    • Emmers

      registry info is always helpful. And hotels, particularly if there’s a hotel block. I don’t think end time is necessary, since that will be clear when you do cake cutting (if you’re doing that), and then you leave.

      • Alyssa M

        I still think an end time is nice. It’s considered rude to leave before the cake cutting, but a lot of receptions get the cake out of the way shortly after dinner and then have a couple of hours of dancing/drinking after. Cake cutting is, “ok, you can leave now if you need/want to.” End time is “We desperately need you to head out so we don’t get charged extra by the venue.”

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I went for a no-surprises approach, but you don’t have to. I will say I got very few last-minute questions from guests by doing it this way.
      *hotel recommendations, and full street addresses for the ceremony and reception venues (so people could use the map software of their choice)
      *links to the full ceremony text (traditional, over an hour)
      *descriptions of the venues in terms of accommodating children and the disabled
      *general description of the food (hors d’ouvers, dinner, cake), and allergy information (example, dinner was wheat-free, but hors d’ouvers and cake weren’t)
      *parking information
      *registry information
      *because the government issued ironic disaster-preparedness guides for weddings during our planning, I included a snarky response to the government’s snark; but if a guest wanted to know what would happen if they needed emergency medical treatment at the wedding, or how to get disaster alerts in an unfamiliar region, the info was there.

      I also updated it about gifts when we changed the mailing address for the registry, and I updated it when we completed all our thank-you notes. With respect to the mailing address, the idea was guests could confirm that this address where no one lived (my parents’ work address) was a correct address. With respect to thank-you notes, there are so many stories about “I sent a gift but never received a thank-you” and the advice is always, “quietly inquire whether the gift was received; maybe the note was lost in the mail.” That wouldn’t have worked for our guests, so my thinking was, if they see I think I’ve sent all my thank-yous, but they haven’t gotten one, the website says to please let us know, ’cause there was a problem with our getting the gift.

      • Alyssa M

        I really think this is the BEST plan… because guests who know what to expect are going to have FAR fewer complaints. I’m trying to include ALL the info I can.

    • Anonin

      DRESS CODE. Directions, parking, registry, lodging if you’re organizing that. For food and ceremony, it’s a trade off. The more information you give the more people can criticize beforehand. We got zero snark but our families don’t really do drama or weddings. The less information you give the less hassle you can get about your choices beforehand.

      Definitely beta the website with some close friends and ask them to check for information they might want.

  • enfp

    So I’m a little late to the party, and this comment might be not be so helpful anyways, but what I could have really used was an overview/checklist of the less-obvious logistical issues, for those of us who have no real experience in event planning, are doing it ourselves (no planner). I knew we needed a venue, date, caterer, officiant, and to get the invitations out. But then… I just had no idea what else I needed to do. We are 24 days away (EEP), and I still can’t shake that feeling like there are key logistical issues I’m not even aware of. The only reason I twigged to the fact that we needed a set up and take down plan was the APW pack list and last week’s open thread. I realize it’s hard because weddings are so different, and logistics need to be tailored to individual circumstances, but basically I think it would be so helpful to have one post with a walk-through of the main logistical issues that someone new to event planning might not think about, that could link to specific posts (e.g. how to buy your own alcohol, open thread on transporting the stuff, day of timelines, etc). In other words, a list of all the different things that people are asking about here? That way people like me don’t have to be lucky enough to stumble on the open thread about transporting things in order to realize that they need a plan to get stuff to and from the wedding site.

    • Joy

      This is a good point! I hadn’t even thought about needing ice until a week and a half before and only then because someone posted in an open thread about her father in laws concern for efficiently chilling the champagne. And had I been home in Missouri it wouldn’t have been a problem, I could have just sent someone last minute to buy ice from a gas station, but in France you can’t actually buy ice. I had an American friend making ice in her little ice maker and was luckily also able to talk a fish counter guy into giving us ice- giving because they legally aren’t allowed to sell it.

    • Alyssa M

      Yeeesss… I’ve got the big obvious stuff out of the way… but I’m probably 3 months too early for buying alcohol and nailing down a packing list… so I’d really like to fiure out what stuff I can do now… but I have no idea what all needs done. I’m kind of floundering.

    • katherine o.

      Yes! I’m a bit further out but I have this vague sense there are a ton of things I should be doing or thinking about but I don’t know what they are.

      You should check out the how to get shit done posts. There are great posts on buying alcohol, day of timelines and so much more.

      • enfp

        I LOVE the getting shit done posts!! I feel like I could not plan my wedding without the absolutely invaluable logistical advice in those posts, but there is something about a checklist/timeline/bird’s eye view of the planning process that is so key, for those of us who don’t know what event planning looks like. I guess what I am trying to get at is that you aren’t going to go and find the post on day of timelines if you don’t realize that maybe a day of timeline is something you should think about.

        • katherine o.

          Totally. I guess the procrastination I did looking through all the posts here gave me a sense of what was needed. I have found the list on offbeat bride to be helpful. It’s VERY comprehensive so you have to remove things you’re not going to do. I just steeled myself that I was cutting a lot out and deleted like crazy and didn’t let myself question adding in things we can’t do. For instance, early on we made a rule that there will be no DIY decor at the wedding. It’s totally adorable, but we simply don’t have time for it this year, and that’s that.

    • Heather

      Haha, yes, little things keep popping into my head that we need to figure out. Like, trashcans! We’re having our wedding at FH’s dad’s house. I don’t think that the kitchen bin is going to work for 200 people! I know there are more things that I’m not even aware that I need to think about.

  • Eco help needed!

    Hello! I’ve been worrying about our footprint for this wedding, and doing it in a budget-friendly way. We’ll be using bamboo plates and silverware, and the glasses will be multifunctional as favors and escort cards, but I’m worried about the overall waste. I want the food and bambooware to be composted, but there’s no one to facilitate that, and I don’t want to have ugly sorting bins for fabric napkins, wooden plates and forks, compost, waste, etc. I thought about hiring a college kid to clean and sort, but the meal is buffet style (not plated) with an overall casual and outdoor atmosphere, so I don’t know how to do things without all the compostables ending up in the landfill.

    • Emma Klues

      I feel you! Are there bins that you think are not ugly? Could it be designed in such a way that makes it kind of fun? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSiHjMU-MUo Don’t want to create more work for you but if you found a way to decorate trash bins or label the compost bins as gorgeous and amazing and then have a small trash bin saying, “only use this if you’re sure!” or something like that?

      You could hire the college kid to man the station, helping people negotiate where to dispose of things. I see that a lot at outdoor events and festivals, a person at the station where you throw things away, advising and helping to sort as it goes. Good luck!

  • Alyssa M

    I have to say my biggest confusion at this point is a timeline for planning… I have all the big stuff planned, but no idea when to start what on all my small details… There are plenty of ridiculous cookie cutter WIC timelines and checklists out there, but they don’t really fit my wedding and are super stressful/expensive. It would just be nice to see an event planner’s opinion on how far ahead of time I should have everything purchased or organized into a pack list… perhaps some helpful opinions on how early I can buy my booze… (is 4 months out too early???)

    • Lynsey

      Timelines are so key! There are tons of checklists out there that tell you when you *have* to get things done, but a lot of those timelines didn’t really match up with either my actual planning timeline or my wedding. I would love a post on a practical timeline for getting shit done for your wedding. When do you really need to hire a florist/DJ/photographer? And, perhaps more importantly, when should you really start those DIY projects that will take over your dining room table and become a storage nightmare, but shouldn’t really be put off until the week before your wedding unless you want to become a stressed out nut job.

      Yes, I think a practical timeline is called for.

    • enfp

      Yes, totally agree. Especially for a procrastinator like me who is just not going to be DIY’ing decorations at home months ahead. This is sort of what I was trying to get at in my comment below. Once we had the big stuff in place, I ended up turning to a horrible WIC book that my soon to be mother in law gave me, which had one of those monster ridiculous check lists. Even though the list was often offensive (the tasks assigned to the groom made me stabby) I really needed some kind of master checklist to work from and that’s all the guidance I had.

  • nikki kovach

    I’d like to know more about a few things, but they are more emotional versus physical planning. Example: Dealing with stress (family pressure, friend pressure, internet pressure [that's real].

    I’ve been pressured into the most NON-practical wedding ever, and I’m not happy about it, but I’m not willing to really “fight” about it either. How about tips of getting past these disappointments emotionally? Sometimes planning involves WAY more than just you and the groom. Everyone always says “When I get married…” and has some wonderful plan to elope or get away. That’s what I wanted, and they make me feel like a total sellout for NOT having it that way. It was more important to me to see my fiances family happy, than to see myself happy. Is that so wrong?

    Also, in regards to REAL planning – how to break the news to family members that we registered for the honeymoon instead of real things. We’ve lived together for 5 years. We have plates. Older generations don’t understand the concept. How do we politely introduce the idea of the honeymoon registry?

    • nikki kovach

      The above was what I need for my own wedding.

      I’d also like to add that we need some serious advice for bridesmaids here as well. I’m MOH in a wedding coming up soon. Logistics, expectations for bridesmaids, how to talk to the bride about sensitive issues, how to wrangle all of the bridesmaids (things like parties, paying for hotels, limos, etc) would also help. Sometimes the classic advice of have a heart to heart and just be open don’t always cut it.

      • katherine o.

        I totally hear you! These are some of the hardest parts of wedding planning for me. My family and many guests are also super traditional and we’re pushing the limits of what they’re okay with. Luckily there’s already ton on the site (and in the book) about dealing with these things. I think you should check out the toolkit and how-to tabs above which have a lot of emotional stuff there. Also try just searching for applicable terms: family, expectations, honeymoon, etc… I’ve read so many posts here about dealing with compromise and disappointment so I think you’ll find useful stuff.

        For being a bridesmaid, there’s an awesome post called “how to be a kickass bridesmaid” that might help you. And while I agree the heart-to-heart advice can feel unhelpful, I think it’s the underpinning of a lot of APW advice. Here it comes in the form of, “people are adults and you can treat them as such.” Being okay with disappointing my parents has been by far the hardest part of wedding planning for me (emailing invites, not inviting 50 of their friends, etc…). I’ve had to put up with countless passive aggressive and just plain aggressive comments but ultimately they’re excited for us have gotten used to it.

        Hope you find some helpful stuff!

    • Heather

      One of my friends is doing a honeymoon registry, and she and her fiancee included a nice explanation on their wedding website on why it’s more important to them to have an experience together than to upgrade their current “things”. They also explained that after paying for the wedding and a house, they wouldn’t be able to take a nice trip together otherwise. They do have a very small registry, and are just accepting that some people won’t get it and will give them “things” anyway.

      PS – For what it’s worth, I think that the honeymoon is a real thing! The way that some honeymoon registries are set up does allow people to feel like they’re giving you more tangible gifts (fancy dinner, massages, swims with dolphins!).

      • nikki kovach

        Thanks Heather!

        That’s exactly what we did, oddly enough :) It’s mostly for the crowds who do not visit websites, or who don’t really “get” how to give it at a shower or something. It’s sometimes hard to present this to people who are very traditional, who can’t wait to give you a sterling silver gravy boat or something :) You know? A few aunts looked at me like I had three heads when I said that we registered for a honeymoon.

        We did register for a few nice suitcases too, at Kohls, for the less technologically inclined crowd, but I still don’t think they fully “get it”.

  • justgettingstarted

    Hello! I love the How-to posts and would love a how-to on a brunch reception. I’m thinking of an early morning outdoor ceremony and then brunch to follow, but…what are the rules (or non-rules) for brunch? Can it be mingling and buffet, or do I need a sit-down since I’m already not feeding folks dinner?

  • FebruaryinNH

    1. How to coordinate the wedding exit. It seems these are going out of style. In the dozen or so I’ve been to over the past few years, no couples have done the big exit. But that’s the one thing that I was always fascinated by as a child (hello, movies!) and I would love to do one. My partner is fine with it, though not really sure what it is, and neither of us want to be the last ones at the party (though that is part of normal hosting duties). And I have no idea how to do it. Do you announce “hey, we’re leaving now, come line up!”…that seems odd. I could use some advice for how to do it without being pushy or tacky since I’ve never seen it done before in person.

    2. What are the options out there for your dress post-wedding, particularly in terms of donating or reselling. How does that process work? Are there dress charities that are particularly effective? Things you should avoid? Has anyone ever donated or sold their dress and then regretted not having it?

    • Heather

      Regarding your first question, I was a bridesmaid in two weddings with a sendoff. When it was time, the bridesmaids and groomsmen went around telling people that the bride and groom were about to leave and handing out the bubbles that were used instead of rice or confetti. We were really upbeat about it, like, “Hey! They’re about to leave! Let’s all line up and send them off nicely! Here are your bubbles!” We rounded everyone up, and then got in the line to start the bubbles. It turned out nicely. I’m pretty sure that the bride and groom just waited back a bit until most everyone was there and we started the bubbles and then walked through the line to the getaway car.

    • Sarah

      I’m crazy about great exits so I’m doing three. When we walk down the aisle of the church after the ceremony and when we exit the church we are doing one and that will be in the program. I’m having the flower girls hand out flags instead of dropping petals and those will be waved as we walk back down and then as people exit after the receiving line one of my bridesmaids will be handing out small foam airplanes for the guests to throw in the air as we walk down the church steps. As far as our final exit it’s just sparklers so we are having a bridesmaid pass them out and announce we are going to do our final exit and for everyone to line. You just need to have someone in charge of handing the props out and giving info to every guest.

  • Ecofriendly Lauren

    Hello! I’ve been worrying about our footprint for this wedding, and doing it in a budget-friendly way. We’ll be using bamboo plates and silverware, and the glasses will be multifunctional as favors and escort cards, but I’m worried about the overall waste. I want the food and bambooware to be composted, but there’s no one to facilitate that. I don’t want to have ugly sorting bins for fabric napkins, wooden plates and forks, compost, waste, etc. I thought about hiring a college kid, but the meal is buffet style (not plated) with an overall casual atmosphere, so I don’t know how to intercept the waste and prevent all the compostables from ending up in the landfill (where they will take forever to break down). As I said, it’s a casual atmosphere, so I’m really shying away from renting dinnerware and silverware.

    • Heather

      Can you get some bins from the dollar store and wrap them in kraft paper, and then paint the appropriate word on them? Or somehow make the sorting bins attractive in other ways?

      Perhaps hiding them behind a little homemade fabric fence (I’m thinking thin wooden stakes with fabric stapled around them), with signs pinned to the front saying what goes where, and then the materials can be reused?

    • Alisha

      Maybe wooden crates or wicker baskets instead of sorting bins for the napkins and plates. I bet some friends or family have baskets that they would be happy to lend to you.
      I would definitely make signs for each bin telling your guests what goes where. Maybe even include pictures, especially if you want silverware recycle. I always forget to do that when it’s available!

  • H

    Very good chance that other people have already asked this question – but how do you find and chose a band?! Having a live band is something that’s a big priority for me so I’m willing to splurge, but I don’t have the foggiest idea where to start!

  • ambi

    As a lawyer, I see a LOT of people get into trouble when dealing with contracts. A technical post about how to read a contract, how to negotiate a contract, when/how to pay a deposit and pay the balance, how to raise a dispute of a contract issue, etc. would be really helpful.

    • ambi

      You know, I should just write this post and submit it.

      • Annie

        Please write it! Thanks to APW, I had the courage to ask our photographer to amend her contract to include a clause prohibiting the use of personally-identifying photographs of us in her publicity. I’m so, so glad I knew enough to get that inserted in the contract, because it felt so much more legit than just asking her during our engagement shoot. But I would love to know more!

        • ambi

          Already working on a draft!

        • Meg Keene

          OMG, you HAVE to do that if it makes you comfortable. We amended our contract to say that our photos couldn’t be used at all without written permission. We were also clear that we’d totally consider GIVING that permission, but we just needed to be gatekeepers of our own photos. I’m so glad we did that, because given how big this site is now, it would feel horrible to me if I didn’t control the privacy on my wedding photos.

          Anyway. Any photographer worth their salt should really nicely work with you on that. I know some photographers who need to charge you a little more for it (some of those photographers charge way less than they really could charge because they have to spend basically nothing on advertising because they have such good relationships with wedding sites). But, if that’s the case they should still be SUPER nice about it.

          ALSO. Sometimes you need to talk to other people (like your planners) about privacy issues as well.

      • Meg Keene

        Hey Ambi! Do you want to email me about this? I’ve been trying to work on this for forever, but getting my husband to take time away from billable hours to write it is a little hard. I’d love to work with you to craft a killer post on this.

        • ambi

          Not only would I LOVE to write it, I have already finished a first draft. I need to run it through a couple of lawyer friends, just to make sure I am not giving APWers horrible legal advice (and you may want to run it by David, too), but I should be able to send you a draft by the end of the week. Yay! I’ve been wanting to write something for APW for quite a while, but I am not emotionally ready to tackle anything to do my own wedding, marriage, or family. So this is perfect! Of course, I’ll probably need you and your editors to work a little APW magic on my writing! :)

  • D

    It’s just a teeny tiny detail, but I would really like to do my own hair on my wedding day (and I am so going to look fabulous with the help of the APW tutorials..!) but I just cannot find any good bobby pins that will actually stay in my hair. I don’t have think hair, but I do have quite a lot of hair and all the bobby pins I tried just fall out after a while. I tried hairspraying them, crossing them in X-es over each other, twisting them opposite, nothing works. Any recommendations for professional bobby pins (preferably online since I live outside of US)?

    • D

      ehhh… Yeah I don’t have ‘think hair’ exactly, but I don’t have THICK hair either…

    • Aubry

      Im late but thought you should know: spin pins. Amazing and avaibable at any drug store in canada, so hopefully elsewear if you are not in north america. Or: cross your bobby pins one right side up and one upside down. And make sure you dont have too much hair in them so they open up. And if nessisary do continual crosses, like cross anorher set of crosses connected to the first set if your doing a larger/ longer style.

      http://www.amazon.ca/Goody-Simple-Styles-Assorted-Colors/dp/B003FVDNO6

  • Wrenochka

    I have a Jewish wedding question (maybe for Meg, or anybody else having/who had a Jewish wedding): did you circle each other? Did you decide to cut circling altogether? We’re a Reform couple, and our rabbi thinks that circling would be a nice tradition to include (the egalitarian, modern approach where the bride & groom circle each other), but that it’s up to us to decide. If you circled at your own wedding, are you glad you did? Was it totally awkward? Did you like it anyway?

    • Meg Keene

      We did circle each other, and it was one of my favorite parts of the service. I did 3.5 times and he did 3.5 times I think. It’s not awkward, it’s super powerful, it really emotionally gets you THERE, but you should practice it.

      • Wrenochka

        That sounds beautiful and it’s really reassuring to hear – thanks so much, Meg! :)

  • sara

    has anybody else done a standing ceremony? we are exchanging vows on the beach and planning a short ceremony. the whole renting chairs for 60-80 people and getting someone to set up and break down seems like a lot for a 10-15 minute ceremony. i’m wondering how to manage if we don’t do seats for everyone (of course we’ll have some seats for those who are unable to stand). right now, i’m thinking of maybe having a couple of beach blankets spread out on the beach for guests to relax on before ceremony? we are also right by mavericks (famous bay area surf spot) so i’m thinking guests might enjoy walking up and down the beach. i really like the look of guests standing in a half circle around the vows, but have no idea how to logistically pull it off.

    • ambi

      Just be mindful of the needs of older guests or those with disabilities. My sister-in-law had a beach ceremony. It was very hot that day and sunny, and her grandparents were already having difficulty with walking through the sand. I don’t think they would have been able to stand out there for any length of time. I was very pregnant at the time, with swollen feet stuffed into fancy wedding shoes, and I was very thankful for the opportunity to take a load off and put my feet up. So maybe have a few chairs available for those that need them.

    • Anonin

      We had most people sit on blankets, with chairs for the older folks. It was literally no problem. If you want people to stand in a half circle 1) tell a few people, 2) put someone in charge of wrangling everyone when you’re about to walk in. But I think with 60-80 you might do better with people sitting, since otherwise people in the back will have a hard time seeing. In that case just put out the blankets and chairs where you want them and people will do it themselves.

    • Emma Klues

      I was tempted to do this because ours was short, but remember that even if you are only standing for 15 minutes, most people get there early and may mingle/stay afterward, so someone who is elderly might be stuck standing for an hour. But if you have blankets around and maybe just a few chairs (if you have folks who would truly need them), and then ask them to stand around for the ceremony, that works!

  • Chelsea

    I would LOVE to see a blog post about using the honeymoon registration sites. I desperately want to use this for our wedding registry, but I don’t know exactly how successful they actually are.

    • Meg Keene

      I think the REAL issue with them is that everyone buys your gift the last few days before the wedding. Which means, in short, if you’re honeymooning right after, you may have no idea what people really contributed till the day AFTER your wedding. So… if it’s all just extras, fine. If it’s not, I wouldn’t do it.

  • Rae

    I have a year to go. I don’t know where to start to find a wedding band that isn’t terrible or hokey! Help?!

    (lunchtime, sunday, summer wedding. ceremony is in a garden, reception is indoors. mellow, some motown, jazzy?)

    • Bindi

      Hmmm. I’m having a restaurant reception, so I chose a guitarist that I love who frequents a restaurant I go to often…. So maybe find cafes/restaurants/bars/other venues that have bands play every now and then….? That way you can check them out with absolutely no obligation before you approach them to see if they’d do a wedding.

    • AG

      Check out your city paper – they usually have a calendar of who’s playing and where over the weekend, and they usually give descriptions of what type of music they play. That’s where we started, and from there we checked out restaurants for the same information. Once we got a few band names to check out, we checked out their FB pages and youtube videos of them playing (we were planning from out of town so couldn’t see them live). This was my favorite part of planning. We’d choose a couple of bands and listen to them during dinner until we found our band. One warning – get as much as possible in writing and know that most bands are TERRIBLE at communication. Our band was absolutely perfect at our wedding, but I was a smidge nervous beforehand because they didn’t have the wedding experience that our other vendors had (which is why we liked them, but still), and they were not great about emailing).

  • ypi

    Awesome open thread! I saw this mentioned in other comments, and wanted to add a new comment in case it’s helpful. I think it would be great to have a practical months-long timeline for all the to do’s over the course of planning. I know other websites have this, but it seems practical went out the door in most cases (e.g. I do NOT need to buy my dress a year ahead, as it turns out). Obviously it varies based on type of event, budget, etc, but if there’s a way to build basic guidelines. Though I have enjoyed creating a timeline of when to get shit done by over the course of our 11 month engagement- a post on how far in advance to do things for practical folks would be great!

    That said, I’d also be happy to contribute my own timeline spreadsheet- I used APW’s templates and expanded. I made a timeline of what I needed to do per month, and adjusted as I went. Trying to get as much as was reasonable done in advance. I also added columns for cost, deposit paid, contract signed, and total due if tip is applicable. Basically expanding the vendor spreadsheet by a lot. This was mostly all because I am forgetful and live off lists- but also this way I can say ‘oh I owe $400 on this day, better not spend that extra cash’ or whatever (extra cash, ha, I wish). I’m still 2 months out, but it’s been helpful for me to review and add to when I realize something I need to get/do/call.

    And forgive me if this is in fact something that’s been done at APW and I missed it!

  • KitN

    APW, can I just say that I am getting married on the 1st Sat in June, and even as a lurker you have already been the help I need. I have had the courage to have hard discussions with people I love, and to slash the parts of the budget because of The Things I know I don’t need,… so THANK YOU!

    • Meg Keene

      <3

  • vegankitchendiaries

    Maybe too late for this but what about a MOB outfit round-up? My mom wants guidance and I have no ideas…

  • meghan

    I would love to hear more about DIY flower arrangements–how do I transport them? How do I keep them fresh so I can do the arrangements two days before and not the morning of the wedding?
    No giant centerpieces or anything here, just want to create bouquets for the ladies and have a ton of glass bottles with a few stems sticking out. But more on preserving flowers for a few days would be appreciated!

    • Alex

      Or how about DIY flowers in general? I LOVE gardening and REALLY want to grow as many of them as I can… and my wedding is in spring in Florida, so pretty much ideal “normal” growing season for flowers, but things about how many, how much of a buffer of “oh shit, all of these sunflowers over here just got attacked by bugs” and how many days in advance I could cut them (and storing them post cut) would be glorious – I’ve seen a lot of DIY flowers both on this site and others, but very sparse in the growing things.

  • ktan

    Late, but please help me understand how to have a ceremony without wedding parties/attendants/flower girls, and how to have a ceremony that doesn’t involve a processional!

  • laurasmash

    I’m late, but I just thought of this. My wedding will be in my hometown, but I live on the other side of the country. What wedding planning things do I need to be there in person for? Looking at venues is a big one, obviously, but what else? Any tips for long distance planning?

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  • Sar

    Some questions about rentals: it’s a good idea of rent a few extra of all the plates and glasses and utensils, right? And is there some rule of thumb about what percentage of guests usually go for coffee/tea at the end of the night? I don’t want to rent tons of mugs that go unused because that stuff adds up. Then again, I don’t want anyone who wants a jolt of coffee to be left high and dry.

  • JSwen

    Floral DIY request: Adding blooms to a cake.

    I see pictures of cakes with flowers pushed into the top or the sides and I’m sure it’s not a simple as
    1) Cut flower
    2) Cross fingers
    3) Push stem into cake

  • Alexa

    I would love more information on the logistics of doing our own music. We want to self-DJ, but are getting some pushback from parents. I’ve got a handle on how to actually make playlists, download songs, etc., but the main question is what we should do in the absence of an MC?? Really, more information about this role in general would be helpful. How essential is it, what kind of friend/family member should we ask (if we don’t have a DJ), other tips?

  • RL

    I’d like some advice about using picnic tables! My venue has three picnic tables that we wouldn’t be able to use for seating, but might be cute (and fits our picnic-y vibe) for something else–maybe an appetizer table? Or a bar? (or would those be awkward since the benches are attached to the table?) They’re pretty old and dark brown, so I’d need to jazz them up a bit. Table clothes seem like not a great option. Or should we just not use them at all?

  • JSwen

    Um… prenups. I just found myself on wikihow.com which is not… the best place for marital advice.

  • Amber Smith

    Here’s my current planning question: How do you set up the venue for a good flow? We’re renting a pretty basic space, a building with 360 windows where we’ll have the dancing, with an outdoor space where the (one long) dinner table will be set up. But where do I set up things like the guest book table? place cards? Dessert table (cake and root beer floats)? bartender? Designated smoking area? Are there secret tricks to setting up a party with a good flow?

  • Aniela Frattarola

    I’m having escort cards and instead of table numbers I’m printing copies of vintage postcards of beaches around the USA. I’m using the Avery pre-fab escort cards and printing on my printer so escort cards and place cards will look the same but easy! The idea of having some huge chart to write up that everyone has to try and figure out what table they’re at would be hideous for the perfectionist in me. Plus I have pretty serious carpal tunnel so handwriting so much would be painful. Anyhow, as long as the wedding guests feel like there’s a plan and they don’t flounder wondering where to sit, do whatever works for you.