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Open Thread: Transporting Things To Your Wedding


There and back again... but how?

by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

Open Thread: Transporting Things To Your Wedding | A Practical Wedding

About two months out from my wedding, someone who had married a few years before asked me how I was doing. “I’m…. tired.” I said. She said with great sympathy, “I remember this part. It’s very physical. The stuff stored everywhere, the exhaustion from running errands.” And it was. There were boxes of booze piled under our kitchen table, where we would try to eat. There were boxes of vases piled in corners, programs stacked on desks. The list of chores we had to do on weekends was near endless. The wedding wasn’t theoretical anymore; instead it was a massive list of tasks, and a huge pile of STUFF. Stuff we couldn’t get away from.

The Internet and wedding magazines pitch weddings as a pretty and inspirational project. We collect Pinterest images like it’s our job (in my case… it is my job). We talk about what style dresses we’d like our bridesmaids to wear. We ponder super stylish craft projects.

But nobody tells you that the real work of wedding planning has nothing to do with Pinterest boards. It has to do with figuring out who’s going to haul the beer to the wedding site, and who’s going to set up the huppah, and who’s going to bring the gifts home. Weddings are a whole lot of hauling, and it’s a whole lot of stuff.

Lucky for you, APW has free wedding planning spreadsheets, including a packing list (What are you bringing to the venue? What are you bringing home? Who’s in charge?). And while you should use that spreadsheet (USE THE FREE SPREADSHEETS, FOR GOODNESS’ SAKE), it’s also the right time of year to share tips and tricks, since many of you are living under that same physical burden that I was five years ago.

How did it work out for us? Well, we couldn’t afford a day-of-coordinator, but we did ask our friend Kate (now APW’s copy editor) to stage-manage our wedding for us. We handed her a detailed pack list, I numbered boxes and listed what was inside each one. We rented a small cargo van (so necessary if you don’t have a fleet of pickup trucks at your disposal). I personally loaded everything into the van the day before the wedding, checking things off the list one by one. Kate handled set up at the site. Then, (bless her, forever) she struck everything at the end of the night, drove it to our apartment, and carefully lined our windowsills with flowers and piled presents on our coffee table, to be opened the next day.

And I still don’t remember who finally offered to bring the beer to the rehearsal picnic, but I do remember it was a giant pain in my ass.

If you’ve executed a wedding, how did you get things there and back… again? What worked and what didn’t? If you’re in the trenches with beer boxes stacked up to your eyeballs, what are your plans? What are the sticking points? What do you need advice on?

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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  • Laura C

    This isn’t exactly the same, but I was asking my maid of honor about how busy to expect to be on the day of the wedding, and she said for her wedding, the day of wasn’t so bad, but the days before were unexpectedly busy because of stuff like this: the stuff they kept remembering at the last minute, requiring a separate trip each time. The plants that for some reason they had to re-pot for the rehearsal lunch, and her with a fresh manicure. Etc. Which, once she said it, made a ton of sense for my plans, too. Our wedding, pretty much everything is on-site or being delivered. Our rehearsal dinner, not so much.

    • MC

      Seconded. At my best friend’s wedding, my other bestie (we were both bridesmaids) and I ended up doing a six-hour scavenger hunt the day before the wedding to make damn sure all of backroom stuff was taken care of for a tea ceremony, photobooth, the bride (and us) not getting burned to a crisp in an afternoon AZ wedding, etc. There are so many moving parts to a wedding, and even if you have really, really thought it through, something is forgotten or miscommunicated or a ball just got dropped. That stuff becomes more apparent once you are on the ground and physically working through the logistics. Luckily, the bridal brigade was on hand to deal with this so our lovely bride could enjoy time with her family. That said, I totally spent the rehearsal typing notes furiously into my phone so we would be able to do this, which I thought was a bit crass of me, but necessary.

      • Anon

        Yes–balls get dropped. And it’s not necessarily the bride who dropped them. Sometimes people say they will do X but then don’t do it, for whatever reason. Or sometimes, mid-tea-ceremony, the mother of the groom says that we need an extra cup for the absent spouse of an aunt. And yes, I had asked multiple times how many tea cups we needed (one per person is not as straightforward as it might seem).

    • Meg Keene

      The days before were CRAZZZYYYY, and I am a super planner.

      By the day of you just CANNOT be in charge. It doesn’t matter if it’s a friend or a hired hand but it cannot be you, if you want to have the emotional experience.

  • Kelly

    I just stood up in a wedding, and I WISH I had convinced the bride to create a wall-size chart of which cars were supposed to go where and with which people and which stuff! (at the hotels, at the house, at the venue, to the hair salon…) It was exhausting trying to keep track of it all- she had it stored in her head, but her head was busy.

    • Lindsey d.

      Danger Will Robinson! Prime example of the bride can’t stage manage her own wedding!

    • mvanengen

      Exactly. Who wants your conversation with the bride on her wedding day to be, “So, can you tell me when these people are arriving and did you need to keep these flower vases and by the way so-and-so is late and do you have the DJ’s phone number?”

  • KM

    LISTS. And FRAMILY.

    Wedding in Vermont – Brides in Manhattan – Families in central NY – friends in Philly, NYC, DC and central NY. We first made lists by imagining every item we’d need, where it came from and where it was to return (APW spreadsheets, holla!) Then we made detailed lists for both our sets of parents for what they would bring (one dad hauled a sentimental vintage truck for photo ops), and we asked friends to bring (a) homebrewed beer from Philly and from Burlington; (b) wedding cakes from Philly; (c) bridal hair & makeup gear from central NY. It was crazy, and amazing. The friends driving from Philly with our wedding cakes packed in dry ice almost froze to death on their 7 hour drive…good thing I told the bakery to give them a dozen cupcakes for sustenance along the drive.

  • Molly Pollard

    My wedding is this weekend. I’ve got boxes and boxes of stuff all over my house. My fiance has more boxes (mostly gifts, but still) at his house. I feel like there is literally STUFF everywhere and as we are also preparing to move to across the country in a little over a WEEK, I’m starting to go a little nuts.

    My aunt will be ‘stage managing” the wedding. I am sending her our wedding timeline shortly and letting her deal with any issues. I don’t have a wedding binder (I’m not… organized like that) but we did use the all-in-one Wedding Planner spreadsheet and it was a lifesaver. I still haven’t 100% figured out who will bring what. My fiance’s uncle is providing alcohol, so he’ll bring that. I’m bringing the favors since I made them and they’re here. Probably all plasticware too, because it’s also here. My fiance’s best man is going to keep the rentals at his house the night before the wedding (um, long story) and cart them over to the venue first thing Saturday. My grandmother is bringing the centerpieces since she’s arranging them.

    Basically everyone will pitch in and it should be fine.

    I’m clearly making an effort to tell myself it will be fine. It will be fine….. Right?

    • Lena and Aggy

      Molly, it will be fine, it will be fine, it will be fine. Probably better than fine. Amazing. Relax and enjoy it :)

      • Molly Pollard

        Oh yes, I’m sure it will be much better than fine! :) I’m just sort of at that stage where I’m questioning whether I have planned it out well enough, but it’s all coming together.

        Thanks! :)

    • emmers

      You’re getting married!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Congratulations. I hope that you can ride the wave, and enjoy the moment.

      • Molly Pollard

        I know!!! I am trying to let the stress wash away. I think it’s about time to hand over the reins and stop stressing!

        And time for a nap :)

    • Meg Keene

      If you can, get someone (best man! it’s basically in their job description!) to pick the stuff up at your house a day or two before the wedding and get it to the venue. You’re exhausted now, and on the day of, you’re going to be on a different plane of reality. Best plan is if all you have to get there is yourselves and your rings.

      It is all going to be fine. But the more you can delegate now, the better off you are. This is delegation week. PASS OFF EVERYTHING.

      • Molly Pollard

        Delegation is next on the agenda… It really would make me feel better not to have to load my car up with stuff the morning of. I’m sure out families will be more than willing to help, I just have to actually ask. I will, soon.

    • Lawyerette510

      It will be fine, and actually it will be better than fine, it will be great (although it might not feel great until you get to the ceremony, but then again, it might).

      I was married May 12, with wedding stuff starting May 9, and the morning of May 9 was kinda crazy with getting everything situated and packed. It helped to have the spreadsheet with the packing list, but what I found just as challenging was getting things home. Please learn from my mistake and confirm now not just on the spreadsheet but repeatedly to the people as to who is taking what home and when they start being responsible for it. What I wish I would have done was to have a print out for each person who was taking things home that was a checklist for them (just pulled from the spreadsheet), emailed it to them ahead of time, and brought them a hard-copy as well.

      That said, I didn’t do the above, and only about twenty bucks worth of stuff didn’t make it back, it’s just that I had to answer questions and do some follow up on the day after the wedding, that had I shared what was in my head with the people who wanted to help me I could have avoided.

      I was exhausted going into my wedding weekend but between the wedding zen, the enthusiasm everyone is exuding, and three times straight up asking people to leave me alone for a specified period of time and either taking a nap or going into legs-up-the-wall, my favorite restorative pose, by the time I was ready to walk down the aisle I was pumped up and felt good.

      Good luck and sending you all the good thoughts!

      • Molly Pollard

        Ok, definitely something to think about! I’m going to think about that tomorrow. My grandmother is coming up early to help me and she has assured me they will take care of everything.

  • Kelly

    My favorite event tactic is to line one wall with paper grocery bags, each labeled with it’s destination (guest book table, entrance to venue table, favor table, lunch at hair salon, etc) and put EVERYTHING in each bag. Just because you have a stack of pens in your car doesn’t mean a pen will get to every place you need a pen.

    Of course, they don’t stack nicely in a car, so maybe boxes would be more helpful- just more bulky.

    • http://andshelovesyou.com/ Lucy

      File boxes are really good for this, and of a roughly similar size! So, smaller than a rubbermaid, but more durable than a bag. :)

      • researchwarrior

        Second this – I think they’re also called “bankers boxes” and are surprisingly sturdy. Plus they’re easier to label with a Sharpie or even regular pen versus slick plastic bins or flimsy paper bags. Sometimes having to search for a permanent Marks-A-Lot or discovering smeared black ink covering your hand is enough to put a bride over the edge. Hypothetically. ;)

  • Ashley Reed

    We managed to hire the only wedding coordinator in the history of forever who drives a small sportscar. SERIOUSLY.
    Thankfully she’s awesome and we don’t mind, and thankfully we found a month ago when I emailed her the dimensions of the arbor my dad lovingly built that we’re getting married under. She quickly came up with an (excellent) alternative transportation situation for it, so…that was awesome.
    As far as everything else (the candles…OMG the candles. So many candles) – well…she said “it will be taken care of”.

    And I’m trusting her because she’s a well-established professional and if I don’t trust her to take care of the candles, who can I?

  • ElisabethJoanne

    BEFORE:

    I think we gave the license paperwork to the officiant shortly after getting it from the County, a few weeks before the wedding. I think we brought the ketubah and chuppah to the rehearsal, and the ketubah stayed in the church office, and the chuppah stayed in a corner of the church, until the day of the wedding. Flowers were delivered to the church and reception sites by the florist the morning-of. We gave the cake topper, escort cards, specialty sodas, and table signs to the caterer at our last meeting about a week before the wedding.

    AFTER:

    Flowers at the church stayed at the church. I think my parents picked up the chuppah sometime in the week afterward. It lived in a corner of the church until then. Florist picked up the reception flowers at the end of the night. Groomsmen put gifts in our limo as things were winding down. The limo took us straight home. I have a box for the ketubah and a box for the cake topper, which must have gone in the limo with us, but I’ve never looked to see if they’re actually inside. My parents took back to their house our top tier of cake, my veil, and the bouquets. I wish I’d asked them to try to preserve some flowers. Dad picked up the groom’s tux, my sister’s coat (which had somehow stayed in the limo), and the necklace I borrowed from Mom from our apartment the day after the wedding, after we’d left for the airport on our honeymoon. We never got a printed completed copy of our license. The officiant mailed it to the county and emailed it to us first, as well as emailing it and faxing it to my office manager so my husband could get on my health insurance immediately.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      Reading that, I realize, while our close friends and family are not the types to plan ahead (and I mention that often on APW), they really stepped up the 96-hours around the wedding. Once given a plan, they totally executed.

  • Meigh McPants

    APW spreadsheets are awesome; I use basically the same things when I’m planning weddings. Also, even if you have a day-of coordinator, I beg you to please think about getting things there and home at least a month before your wedding. Having a transit/packing plan will help immensely with keeping you less stressed, and is very helpful for communicating with framily about what you need from them. Relatedly, don’t forget to actually ASK the folks you’re expecting to help move things; you wouldn’t believe how often this does not happen what with all the moving parts. Even if you’re super sure your brother and his girlfriend are up for driving home a truck full of your alcohol and ceremony decorations, ask them and confirm again the week of the wedding. You do not want to be figuring out how to move everything at the end of the night when you’re riding a shiny wave of love and rainbows and kittens; it’s a major buzzkill.

    • Meg Keene

      THIS.

  • Jennifer

    This is what has been occupying most of my wedding planning brain space. A good part of my professional life has been spent working on political campaigns where the transport of stuff (swag, petitions, door hangers, walk sheets, clip boards, pencils, tables, etc.) has always been a pain point. Because somehow in NYC even with the best planning you can end up with parking tickets, zip car overage fees, massive car service/taxi fares b/c no one drives and yeah – one person cannot transport 6 bankers boxes on the subway. So even though we will only need to somehow get the table numbers, place cards, and mason jars filled with goldfish crackers (my centerpieces), to the venue, I am stressing out.

    • swarmofbees

      mason jars filled with goldfish crackers – you are clearly not only a political campaign genius but also a wedding planning genius.

      • Jennifer

        Thanks :) Originally I was thinking fish bowls with goldfish crackers, but the open tops, ya know?

    • Meg Keene

      Pain point. That’s exactly it.

    • Lawyerette510

      what about Task Rabbit for people to transport them/ extra set of hands?

      • Jennifer

        I’m liking the idea of Task Rabbit – thanks Lawyerette510!

  • Jacky Speck

    Figured all that out early on, thanks to your spreadsheets! Since APW put the “weddings = hauling stuff” thought in my head very early in the planning process, each “stuff” purchase came with the question of who was going to move it, set it up, and break it down. My venue staff does the set-up and breakdown for free, provided everything is dropped off the night before, which was a major selling point for me.

  • KW

    Well, I didn’t get married in a conventional way and there was very little to transport. However, a few months earlier, his niece got married. We weren’t at the rehearsal or rehearsal dinner but were asked to help with the set up. Her parents are part of a large church community and they had tons of people chipping in to help, so my sister-in-law had diagrams drawn of the room (a gym at a school) to show where everything was to go. That was really helpful to those of us who were setting up but not directly involved in the planning, since the friend who was coordinating couldn’t necessarily direct each of us all at the same time.

  • Sarah

    I am going to be watching this thread like a hawk. I know who is taking everything to our reception site, who is babysitting the site during the ceremony(it’s in a public park), and how we will get it there but I have no clue who is getting it taken down! Our wedding is the 4th of July so naturally we are leaving to go watch fireworks at another local park and most of our guests will join us so who stays behind to tear down? MIL? My mom and all of my bridal party are planning on watching fireworks :/

    • mvanengen

      In my experience, you want someone close (like a cousin) but not too close (bridal party) to help with take-down. It made me so sad at a friend’s wedding to watch his mom sweeping the floor and boxing up the centerpieces at midnight. The mother of the groom shouldn’t be in charge of cleanup!

      • Sarah

        There’s no cousins around who will help with this sort of thing so it’s either, her, my mom, or us unfortunately. I have a feeling it will end up being us picking up our own wedding. :/

        • Amy March

          Can you ask lots of people? Maybe make a really detailed list, so instead of asking “hey, can you miss the fireworks to clean up?” it could be “Auntie Susan, can you put the table clothes in your car and bring them home with you?” “Co-worker Bob, could you fold up chairs, and co-worker Steve could you put them in your truck?” Little chores seem less imposing, and help make sure you have a really detailed clean up plan. And I’m going to plug hire a high schooler again- even a couple people working during the event to clear dirty dishes and empty can be a big help at the end of the night.

    • Amy March

      I see a few options: hire someone, end earlier to allow time to clean up, have less stuff (little to no decor, disposables etc). I totally get wanting to run off to the fireworks but I don’t think it’s appropriate to ask anyone else to miss them either (unless they totally hate loud noises like I do and volunteer).

      • Meg Keene

        That’s just what being family and really good friends is like sometimes. You miss fireworks. I mean, I’ve sacrificed FAR FAR huger things for my loved ones.

        There is an ideal world where everyone can hire help and you don’t have to ask these things of people, but that’s not the world most people live in. It’s ok though, it gives you practice for all the things (embarrassing, personal, huge) you’re going to need to ask for help for when you’re giving birth, or your mother is dying, or your partner is very ill, or or or. Asking for help is one of the biggest lessons of grace we’ve got in this life. Giving help is so much easier than asking for it.

        • http://www.therewm.com/ Rachel W. Miller

          A middle ground between hiring someone and asking a friend/relative is to offer something sweet to the person you ask… “i.e. We feel so bad about you having to miss the fireworks that we’ll [take you out to dinner, pay for your hotel room for that night, etc]” They will likely refuse this but then you’ve at least offered, and if they don’t, it’ll likely be cheaper/easier than hiring a stranger.

          Also, missing the fireworks isn’t like missing the ceremony.

          • Meg Keene

            THIS IS A BRILLIANT IDEA. It makes people feel appreciated, which is I think all most of us really want.

          • researchwarrior

            Agreed. But I don’t really understand this “so naturally we are leaving to go watch fireworks at another local park” – why is that an assumption? When weddings are during holidays, I’d think guests realize that it will take the place of whatever they’d normally be doing and they “sacrifice” missing their usual event. As in, no fireworks this year in lieu of the wedding. That part doesn’t bother me, really. But I don’t like this idea that groups will be splitting off to wedding part 2: fireworks without any more inclusive solution for the clean-up. Couldn’t the timeline be reorganized a bit so that it doesn’t feel like some guests are left behind?

          • Sarah

            It’s an assumption because everyone has said “We’re going to watch fireworks afterwards so you’ll have to end before dusk” ect. EVERYONE. Plus it’s not like we are doing the fireworks for them, it’s not part of the wedding, so the event will be over and everyone is free to go their own way and most of them will end up going to watch fireworks.

        • Amy March

          ETA: I will agree to disagree about the role of helping with a wedding, but I do wish pitching in with manual labor weren’t presented as something good friends and family must do. It’s entirely possible to love someone fiercely while also believing that you shouldn’t be responsible for breaking down a party they planned.

          • Meg Keene

            Yeah. I just totally disagree with you. That’s fine. That means we set up our lives and our communities in different ways, because we have fundamentally different belief systems on stuff like this.

          • ypi

            I’m for sure not trying to pile on here, I just wanted to add that sometimes there are cultural/familial nuances here. For example, if I found out a good friend, family member, or even acquaintance, felt that they couldn’t ask me for help with breaking down a wedding or helping out on move in day, I’d feel bummed- that they feel they can’t count on me or I’ve given the impression I’m not on board. I love that I was raised to pitch in, to offer help, or just jump on board when help is needed.

            To me, it’s not a pain in the ass, or inappropriate- it’s just what we do for people. And that’s not everyone’s POV, but I feel like as inappropriate as it may feel to you to expect friends/family to be asked, it’d be weird in my community to assume to have to go solo. Again not trying to attack! Just adding my perspective.

          • KEA1

            I was raised to help, too, and I do. Usually I offer before I’m asked. But if I’m “informed,” rather than asked, I usually decline. Fortunately my friends and I are all cut from a cloth of respecting each other’s time and energy, and knowing that it’s just as easy (and, in our group at least, just as effective) to ask as it is to tell, and far less risky.

          • ypi

            Absolutely agreed- I think it’s always good to not assume someone is willing or available and ask.

        • TeaforTwo

          Amen. Another thing to keep in mind: as long as you are not asking ONE person to stay behind to clean up, all alone, the people who stay behind are going to have fun.

          They’re not going to be strangers – they’re going to be aunties who get to gush about how beautiful the wedding was, and then catch up themselves because they’re grown sisters who don’t see enough of each other, or they’ll be your college friends who are THRILLED to be left alone with all the leftover tequila after they’ve done the heavy lifting.

          The best catching up I ever get with my cousins is while we do the washing up together after a huge holiday meal. There are dishes for thirty people, but it doesn’t feel like work because while our hands are busy, we’re cramming in months’ worth of gossip. Ask a group of people who aren’t afraid of a bit of help, and who would cherish the time together, and then let yourself off the hook.

          • Meg Keene

            I’ve never said that here. But TOTALLY. I love the parties that happen during clean up. You’re not exactly sober and all the best people are always the ones that stay and then you get to REALLY catch up.

    • Meg Keene

      There are less things to get home then get there, and striking tends to go really fast. But someone is going to miss the fireworks, and I suggest it’s not you. Start asking NOW. It might have to be a bridesmaid and your mom, if you can’t get anyone else to help. But hopefully you can.

      DO NOT LET IT BE YOU. SERIOUSLY. If your bridesmaid’s are rad ladies, they will miss the fireworks before they let you strike your own wedding (they’ll see fireworks again, and it’s not fireworks on their wedding day). But they won’t do it unless you explain the situation and ask them directly. People do you favors on your wedding day, but you have to ask.

      • Lawyerette510

        I second this with my whole heart! Your bridesmaids/ cousins/ MIL/ mom/ co-worker etc would much rather take-down (with clear prior instructions from you) and miss the fireworks than to have you miss the fireworks. For them it’s 4th of July fireworks, which are great, but not once-in-a-lifetime. For you (and for their view of what it is for you) is fireworks on your wedding day, which is once-in-a-lifetime. Just get it established ahead of time, so that people have the option to say yes or no, and give clear instructions and adequate thanks, because getting roped in at the last minute doesn’t feel good for the person who takes the lead on take-down so the newly weds can make their get-away.

        • Sarah

          This is exactly what i needed to hear “For them it’s 4th of July fireworks, which are great, but not once-in-a-lifetime.” and I might have to quote you on them to make my bridesmaids (who are all my sisters) help out. We are ending an hour before fireworks start and the fireworks are 15 minutes away so the more people that work the faster they can get the fireworks themselves!

          • Lawyerette510

            Yes! I think framing it that way to them as why it is especially special to you and why you need them to step up will make them see the light. Good luck!

  • MisterEHolmes

    Crap. With the wedding just under a month out, this is my panic. PLUS I found out today that the very DIY venue we have booked and who said verbally but not contractually that we can set up early the day of now has a dance class going on sometime during that day, so we can still set up early but we’ll have to just trust that said dancers don’t sashay into the tables and wreck things.

    So much stress right now.

    • Meg Keene

      We couldn’t get in more than an hour before the ceremony, if that makes you feel better. I obviously wasn’t there, I was getting ready to get married. Kate and a team of friends were, and they moved FASTTTTT.

    • Kayjayoh

      We also have a tight turnover to set up, since the museum is open until 5 and the ceremony is at 6:30. At least we can load in at 4, and we aren’t heavy on decor.

  • Laura C

    Don’t be shy about recruiting help, and don’t be shy about having a sublime moment for yourself in this closein time period. I remember packing things in all of my reusable shopping bags, gathering by purpose, and reviewing with my mom before moving it out. (Probably some other people too!) When it was over, a fair bit of things returned, and I had to condense down a lot of extra fluff. I was lucky to have many people helping me set up things at the reception site the day before, and that made the work go quickly. I did have to purchase and manage ~60 apples for centerpieces three days before the wedding, which had me a little anxious. I think one thing that helped on the return was having the friend who did our day of coordination staying over at our apartment, so she had a key and could bring everything in for us. The only thing that really went missing was a basket of kazoos, and I can live with that!

    I so strongly echo the importance of this-I learned a lot from my brother’s wedding when we had to transport EVERYTHING to and from a historic barn site in a national park, in August, and I thought I would melt!

  • Kelly

    Thanks for this. We’re about 2.5 months out, and I keep bringing these things up to FH who just kind of shrugs and says, “I’m sure it’ll all work out.” It’s funny because usually he’s the overplanner. For our wedding though, I’m the one doing all of the wedding “research” and anticipating potential cracks, but to him I’m just looking for more things to be stressed out about. I think people will be happy to help haul things around, but they need to know what to expect!

    • swarmofbees

      oh my goodness, yes. When I start trying to discuss who will have which car, and when, and what thing goes where, and who will stay in which room he tells me it will all be fine. Yeah, because I will think about it 6.000 times before the day and make sure it does.

      • Ragnhild

        I know! So much logistics, and never time to talk it through, which makes me think it over and over and worry about it… I wish I wasnt such a worrier!

      • Meg Keene

        This was the thing that single handedly pissed me off the most during planning. I remember a few weeks out asking a family member if they would take the wine to the rehearsal picnic venue in their car. They told me, “Oh, I’m sure it will all work out! You’re getting married!” And I wanted to be like, “LOOK. IF YOU DON’T WANT TO TAKE THE WINE JUST SAY NO. This isn’t a therapy session and the wine isn’t going to fly there on it’s own.” ZOMG.

        • Dawn

          Exactly! It still stresses me out almost a year later.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      Some tasks just aren’t done well by committee or even a pair. And, like we discussed last week, some people aren’t good at drafting timelines and flow charts. It’s totally ok for one person to draft a timeline and flow chart (or fill in the APW templates) and then ask affected people for input, rather than filling in the template as a group.

    • Meg Keene

      It actually doesn’t all work out without someone going crazy, without a pretty reasonable amount of planning. This is the single biggest part of any event, honestly, and the part non-pros forget. If you forget it, you better hope you have a Meg or a Kate as a bridesmaid to take over for you once you’ve left (and you might). But I’ll tell you what—I never mind striking a wedding (honestly, I do on most ones I go to, hazards of the trade). But I don’t totally love realizing I have to take over with no warning because no one thought about it. It’s less the work, and more that then no one has deputized me, I’m one of the few people that knows what to do, and I have to try to convince a MIB and MIG that YES it’s ok for me to pack up, because NO the boxes won’t pack themselves.

      • http://www.therewm.com/ Rachel W. Miller

        Just seconding this. A bride friend of mine was just saying that “It will be fine” is the LEAST helpful thing to say to a bride a month out…because if it’s fine, it’s fine because someone planned it properly, most likely. Our day went off without a hitch but it’s partially because my spreadsheets were making spreadsheets. And people WERE happy to help haul things, but had they not known about it, it would have been way more stressful for everyone involved and it may not have been fine.

        • BeeAssassin

          I just copied and pasted your comment and sent it to my fiancee. I am the planner, he is an artist raised by hippies, and if I hear “it will be fine” one more time as I try to pin things down (and him and/or his family try to avoid pinning things down) I’m going to lose my mind.

      • Anon

        Just had a big yelling, crying fight with FH about this. Now he is on-board, but I still have to remind him HOW is it going to be all right…

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

    My sister was just reminding me about her sister-in-law’s wedding, in which she was a bridesmaid when she was 8 months pregnant. It was a pretty stressful day for her, and she was really excited when she thought the bride & groom’s exit meant she could finally collapse back at the hotel. Then they told her she couldn’t leave yet– she had the biggest car and they knew she was sober because she was pregnant, so she had been put in charge of getting all the stuff home from the venue. I’m pretty sure she cried.

    • Meg

      poor thing! I’d probably have laughed in their faces and sped off though

    • Lena and Aggy

      Oh my god. I just want to cry hearing that story. For all my siblings ever, I promise PROMISE I will never take advantage of your pregnancies to make you haul my mason-jar-filled flowers.

    • Laura C

      Wow, takes some nerve to expect the 8 months pregnant woman to be the last one there hauling things!

    • researchwarrior

      This is ridiculous, but not uncommon. I think the moral of this story is TELL YOUR BRIDESMAIDS, even if you think you don’t need to. I was in a wedding where at one point, tequila shots came out. I was pretty far into drunken revelry by the time the wedding ended, and a huge fight ensued when another (also drunk) bridesmaid insisted we do excruciatingly detailed clean-up tasks, like cover delicate centerpieces in tissue paper plus bubble wrap, organize them by table number, and move them to various bridal family cars. Don’t get me wrong, I was willing to help and consider this a reasonable request, but it would have absolutely worked out better for everyone had we known about it prior to the Cazadores.

      Not on the same level as springing late night work on a pregnant woman, but communication is key, especially when most people (however incorrectly) assume that wedding errands end at the reception unless otherwise mentioned.

      • Jen

        I agree. I didn’t warn folks, although they assumed they would help- I still feel guilty for not getting permission to do that to them beforehand though!!

      • Amy March

        I think the moral is ASK your bridesmaids not tell! Agreeing to be a bridesmaid is not a commitment to be available for manual labor.

        • researchwarrior

          True, but that seems like a topic for another post…

      • Meg Keene

        Tell people, tell people, tell people. And the bottom line is, unless you can afford paid help (and the vast majority of us can’t, if we’re being honest) someone is going to have to help you out.

        I mean, asking people is obviously the nice first way to phrase it, but if everyone says no, someone’s going to have to be told it’s on them, even if it’s your MIL who demanded you have the big wedding in the first place. IE, you might have to ask people twice, the second time more pointedly. Sometimes it sucks being family, but there you are.

        • Amy March

          No one needs to be told it is on them! You family does not owe you wedding set up and break down. Your bridesmaids don’t either. If you ask people and they say no, and you follow up and they say no, and you can’t afford to hire help and don’t want to do it yourself, then it can’t happen. I’m totally for pitching in, but no one is entitled to delegate chores to people who have been asked to help and who have said no.

          • Meg Keene

            I think we agreed to disagree on this awhile ago Amy. We totally disagree. But that’s fine.

          • Lawyerette510

            I’m going to jump in an disagree as well, respectfully of course, and it’s in my basis of belief that a wedding isn’t just for the couple getting married, it is for the community, so the community in turn is there for the wedding/ couple. Especially so when certain members of the community are weighing in/ pressuring/ demanding what the event should be like. For example, if you’re planning a Monday even because it saves $5000 and parent A criticizes that heavily and pressures you towards a Saturday event, it’s on parent A to either fork over the cash to make up for that significant cost difference or to sit-down, shut-up, and smile for the Monday event. Similarly, if MIL is pressuring you for flowers, MIL should help with the flowers- providing, executing on them, picking them up, taking them home etc.

            Weddings don’t happen in a vacuum, on either side of the equation. I asked people for help, and there was one person who said no to helping with one thing but then asked if there was something else they could do. Also, lots of people offered help. I think partially from the goodness of their hearts, and partially because of the social contract that we as a society support and get excited for people when they get married.

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

            I’m with you, Amy March! I suppose if my MIL, for example, wanted to incorporate something really large or unweildly into the wedding, and I felt I couldn’t handle ONE MORE THING, I’d tell her OK, but to please arrange for it to be transported to and from the wedding. Otherwise, though, as an adult person, who is CHOOSING the size, location, and complexity of my wedding, I don’t expect anyone else to handle my logistics for me. I am lucky in that several family members have proactively asked to help, and I eagerly accepted. But if they hadn’t, I would have either paid for hired help (which I might still do), or scaled down the most cumbersome details of my wedding plans. I cannot imagine asking someone for help a second time after they have already said “no”. I really can’t imagine it. More generally, I’m having trouble reconciling how a wedding can be “all about the BRIDE! Bride bride bride bride! On her special day!,” but ALSO be a “community-centered” event. I know not everyone thinks both of those things, but some people do and I am genuinely confused. 

          • Amy March

            Or, can your wedding really not be an imposition if you’re imposing on people with demands for labor? An invite to a party is never an imposition. Making your guests take on responsibility for your plans sure sounds like one to me.

          • Amy March

            I could have sworn I left a comment in reply to you Christinia but now there’s no sign of it. Agreeing to disagree? Or agreeing that my opinion is just unpalatable to the APW ethos and daren’t be voiced?

          • JSwen

            Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean it’s an unwelcome opinion. I lean more to your side of the argument but luckily, friends are offering a lot of help and I am gladly taking them up on it. If no one was offering help, I would probably scale back as well.

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

            Weird! No, I saw that you replied in my inbox. Not sure why it isn’t showing up here. Maybe a computer glitch. If your opinion is unpalatable then so is mine. Unpalatable opinions unite!

    • Meg Keene

      No.

  • Heather

    I had everything planned in advance for how and who to get things TO the ceremony/reception and then I had delegated and assigned setup…. but I did not consider how to get things packed up, because I was under the impression that the venue staff would do that and we’d pick it up the next day. The owner of our venue was super kind, but changed his spiel every time we met up, so when he said it, I registered that and mentally checked it off. Confirmed it four days prior and he was all “no, no- we don’t do that.” and I was all “tears!” Also, even after that, I didn’t plan – or communicate clearly- for what to go home and what to go to my folks house, or how we’d fit it all in, which led to some parental frustration but I was all “joy” and they were all “it’s cool.”

    The breakdown for our Sunday wedding:

    Saturday, eight days prior: I was at my folks’ house on LI (wedding in NJ), having pulled out all the wedding crap from their basement that we’d (parents included, bless them) been collecting/making/painting each weekend for months, and loaded it all into the back of my dad’s suburban.

    Tuesday was my last day at work before the wedding. Wednesday was my husband’s.

    Wednesday, my dad drove all that stuff into NJ, parked on the street in Hoboken (easier on a weekday than expected!) and waited for me to finish the things I needed to finish, then we loaded up all the stuff- the boxes of decor, the programs, the wine, the thank you gifts, the STUFF that we had in our teeny apartment, in every nook and cranny. We then made four stops throughout the day, getting maps for the welcome bags, dropping off and storing all the things (including the paper flower bouquets and boutonnieres) at the venue (bless them). We went to my uncle’s for dinner, and then at 9pm, everyone cleared the dining room table and covered it in welcome bags so we could assemble them. All 60 of them. Then we left the bags there for my cousin to deliver on Friday night- one less thing for us to figure out. It was a 13 hour day- but everything was DONE. I RECOMMEND THIS IF YOU CAN DO IT.

    Thursday: picked up the rental car, cleaned the apartment for guests, and picked up the best man.

    Friday: Printed off our vows and ceremony and handed them over to the officiant (dear friend) with the marriage license.

    Saturday: drove to destination of hotel and venue, carrying the parent gifts, rings, and all last minute things. My siblings brought coolers, ice and beer for the welcome reception and my dad took care of receiving the pizza delivery that I’d set up and paid for- he received and tipped. After the rehearsal, showed the whole crowd around the venue and gave clear and detailed instructions on what was to go where and how it was to be set up by the brigade. My mom took possession of the rings, and didn’t have them off of her person until the wedding. Stage manager friend took over contact list and took detailed notes, plus recruited people for things I didn’t see.

    Post wedding on Sunday: we packed up the things that mattered, and I offered everything that didn’t (candles, pillars for “altar” area, etc.) to the member of the waitstaff whose daughter was recently engaged, and the rest of it was donated to the venue. Groomsman took care of handing out checks and tips, mom was in charge of getting top tier back to the hotel and into our fridge, and we completely forgot about our license and paperwork until 2am when everyone was drunk. Thankfully, it worked out great- and our officiant took care of getting everything filed for us.

    Monday post wedding (and THIS I HIGHLY RECOMMEND): there was a car party in the parking lot, wherein we moved things around that needed to go to our place, to my parents’ house, and back to various framily members. It was very, very convenient, and I recommend scheduling this.

    Tuesday post wedding, our friends were in charge of returning the rental car to the airport on their way home.

    It was a group effort that I coordinated and I wish I could have passed off a lot of it. TL;DR, there are lots of things you won’t think of. Spreadsheets are your friend, and so is trunk space. I would have kept a LOT more candles and such if I had thought I could squeeze them in.

  • Rowany

    Remember to include cost of mileage for the rental van in your budget. It can sneak up on you.

  • Jen

    Oh man, this should have been planned so much better the day before/of my wedding.
    All of the stuff came from my apartment to my venue (aka a house we rented) via my then-fiancé and three other friends, who drove two cars back and forth. It already sounded like a big deal, but it was made bigger due to the fact that I accidentally forgot about rush hour- so their one hour either way trip became about 2+ each way. Luckily, they weren’t big complainers.
    The day of- all my friends pitched in and did EVERYTHING. We had to move everything from inside to outside (and in some cases, move the ugly stuff that was outside to inside a shed) and it was a lot! Again, my 8 friends staying with us as well as the two of us helped- it took all morning! After the wedding they helped me move it back into the rented house- and then the next day they helped me move it into my car to be brought back to my house.
    If I could do it all over again- I would at least verify with my friends that they didn’t mind being our “hired help” for the weekend. I don’t think they minded, but I still feel guilty that I didn’t even consider all the work that would be involved with moving the items around!

  • Marika

    We had our wedding out of town, at family property. I lucked out that my folks where up there several times in the months leading up to the wedding and so where able to take a lot of stuff that could be stored a head of time (all the booze ect) and we didn’t have to worry about it.
    We used a bunch of ikea bags for hauling stuff. I wouldn’t have thought about it but my aunt bought me about 25 of them as a bridal shower present. We didn’t end up using them all (I still have several that have never been used) but her idea was that they are compact, we could take empty ones up to the wedding with us and they would take up zero space and they we could corral gifts and things on the way home. She also pointed out that if we needed to send stuff home with folks we wouldn’t care if we got them back compared to something like a rubbermaid. My mom put a loop of paper through the short handles and stapled the ends to make a label. It had the destination and the contents on it.
    On the way home though we had about five cars (ours, one for each of my folks, my sister and a family friend) loaded to the gills. I think my mom took a picture of all of them lined up with the trunks open.

    • Lawyerette510

      Big yes to the Ikea bags! We had one devoted to hauling around 350 homemade cookies in nice firm containers to keep the cookies in good shape on the hour ride from the gals’ weekend where we made them to the venue.

  • researchwarrior

    A few comments mention this already, but I just wanted to give the topic its own post: TELL PEOPLE IN ADVANCE if you need them to help. I have a small pickup truck, and you would not believe how many brides (close or not) have called me at the last minute to move something for them. Or the number of times a family member has casually decided, “oh, we can just borrow the truck” but then never actually asked me. The catch is: I am always willing to do it, but often the day of the wedding, I’ve planned my own errands or my work schedule doesn’t coincide well with the bride’s timeline, and panicked rearrangement ensues.

    • Christina

      Also it is super helpful to know exactly how much needs to be done and tell people in advance exactly how much you are asking them to do. At my boyfriend’s sisters wedding I found out from my boyfriend on the day that we were supposed to be helping clean up, but there was no indication of how much was expected of us. A bunch of family stayed behind to clean up and it took 20-odd people about four hours. Nobody was expecting that and it really sucked. (This was largely because the clean-up was very poorly organised and nobody was clearly in charge, but also there was just A LOT of clean-up to be done.)

  • Ragnhild

    39 days to go, and I am thinking about this a lot! It doesnt help that it is a “destination” wedding to my hometown, since my parents moved away 10 years ago and we just dont know people that well anymore… It makes it so much harder to ask for help, and I really dont have the budget to hire lots of people. I guess it will work out, and I just have to start asking people what they can do.

    One awesome thing about our venue is that we have it for a whole week!! makes setting up easy, so I am mainly worried about break down.

  • Amy March

    I’m going to put a plug in for considering this issue right at the start of planning. Setting up and breaking down a wedding is WORK. You may have a big group of people enthusiastically ready to help. You may not. If you’re going the more DITogether route, factor in how you will feel about carrying those adorable tree stump stools to a pickup truck in your wedding gown drunk and sweaty, and how you’ll feel asking someone to stay sober through your wedding so they can package up the glass wear. It can work out really well, but it’s a big labor cost that often gets overlooked when comparing venues and deciding about budgets.

    • scw

      I’m so glad you said this. I’m getting married in a little less than a year and, though I’m reading all of the comments now, had filed this away in my mind as something to revisit when it gets closer. now I know better!

    • Meg Keene

      I do think you should think about it EARLY.

      Also, no matter what, PLEASE don’t strike your own wedding. It’s a real buzz kill for you, and pretty depressing for everyone else to watch the bride strike the set.

      HOWEVER, really no one has to stay that sober to do it. Not black out drunk, but you don’t have to be sober. Heavy lifting sobers you up right quick. I’ve struck so many weddings I can speak with confidence on that point.

      • Kari

        Can I respectfully suggest two things?

        Heavy lifting after drinking isn’t a terribly good idea. What if someone gets hurt? Do you have insurance? If we’re really thinking things through here it certainly warrants a discussion.

        Also, I seem to recall APW taking a stand on the idea of a wedding not being a ‘show’ or an event. Talking about ‘striking sets’ doesn’t exactly help that position. I get that it’s just handy parlance, but language matters. This isn’t theatre, you’re just cleaning up.

    • emmers

      This is part of the reason we picked our venue. It’s sort of like a restaurant, where they set up the tables, chairs, tablecloths, etc, and they clean them up. And they’re cool with you leaving centerpieces/decorations there for future brides.

      The setup/cleanup was one of the biggest hypothetical stresses to me when picking a venue. So if you’re still picking venues, I totes agree with Amy March– mentally walk through the day, and think about what basic things will need to come to & leave a venue you’re considering. Lots of venues have policies about when your stuff can arrive or leave, so look at that.

      One thing I hadn’t thought of is that for some “cheapish” places where we would have had to rent tables and chairs, they needed to be out by the end of the night– which would mean an extra charge for the rental company to them up. It was a big eye-opener to get a quote for tables/chairs that needed to be picked up by the company at 11pm on Saturday vs on Monday.

    • Valerie Day

      Thank goodness for the APW spreadsheets.

  • KM

    Threadjack but so EXCITING: Pennsylvania’s gay marriage ban struck down as unconstitutional! From today’s opinion by Judge Jones: “In the sixty years since Brown was decided, ‘separate’ has thankfully faded into history, and only ‘equal’ remains. Similarly, in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage. We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.”

    • Lauren from NH

      What a quote!

      • Valerie Day

        I got legally married in Oregon yesterday, two days after our real wedding. I think we were one of the very first couples through the door. We tried to skip media, but ended up as the New York Times lead photo. So excited for Pennsylvania couples today! So good to be wives in every way possible, fully recognized! The wedding was so amazing. More later….

    • scw

      I was voting at almost the exact time the judge announced his decision. though my vote had nothing to do with the decision, I’m feeling a little extra civic pride today for my home (and current) state. now if only we could get our act together on education!

    • StevenPortland

      I read the opinion earlier today. I already have that quote set aside to create a poster for our entrance to our reception!

    • Jacky Speck

      While getting my marriage license in Philadelphia last week, the clerk had us look at his computer screen to verify our information. The forms said “Bride’s Name,” “Groom’s Name,” and such, and I was thinking, “Huh, I guess they’re not counting on legalized gay marriage for a while.” Now somebody will have to fix that software!

      Also heard that the Register of Wills is staying open late for the rest of this week to handle the flood of new marriage license requests :)

  • Violet

    If I may, my Slacker’s Guide to Wedding Stuff Transportation:
    1. Make sure someone is in charge of the license (to ceremony, signed, returned).
    2. Make sure someone is in charge of cash gifts.

    • Meg Keene

      Phew. If that’s your guide, you’re going to have a bunch of pissed off people dealing with the rest of the stuff you didn’t plan for (and there is a lot of rest of the stuff). You might be a slacker, but you just pulled sort of a jerk move on your bridesmaids/ family/ etc.

      • Violet

        Oh! No, I meant, for any brides whose version of “practical” means not having decor, etc. with moving pieces. Our wedding was small, at a restaurant, with minimal stuff. Very little lugging, any that there was was politely asked in advance.
        I am so impressed with all the really detailed logistics that people are spelling out here. I wanted to type this to reassure anyone who is feeling overwhelmed seeing these complicated plans that you can scale back if all these things make you feel uncomfortable. That at the end of the day, there can be very little “stuff” to getting married. Everything else is up to your discretion to have or not.

        • Meg Keene

          OHHHH. Yeah. That’s a good plan.

          The not planning for the stuff you bought would be a terrible one ;)

          • Violet

            Yeah, my goodness that would be bad! Thanks for letting me clarify : )

        • GCDC

          I thought of my wedding in the same way. It was at a restaurant, so no chairs, linens, plates, etc., had to be hauled. But then there ended up being lots of stuff I didn’t even think of that needed to be taken care of at the end of the night. For instance, a cousin surprise gifted us ten cases of champagne, and we didn’t drink all of it, so the rest had to be transported; the champagne flutes someone else surprised us with the day before the wedding; the top half of the cake, which I didn’t know the restaurant had packed up for us, etc.

          If I could do it over again, I’d appoint a person to be in charge of all the little things that may need to be directed or gathered at the end of the night and give his/her name to the event coordinator at the restaurant. Would have gone much more smoothly had I done it this way. Luckily, our bridal party was awesome and took care of all this without even telling me, but I still feel like a bit of jerk for not alerting them and taking care of absolutely everything.

          I’m not saying your wedding will be this way, or that you haven’t already taken care of this. But if you haven’t, my advice is to ask someone to be a utility cleaner/director at the end of the evening for all the other little bits that may have been overlooked.

          • Violet

            Yeah, and just to clarify, we got married over a year ago. We specifically chose to exclude things that were non-essential if we felt it was going to be too much of a hassle, either for us, or loved ones. For the things we did include, we talked it out with family before-hand to figure who was willing to do what. It all went very smoothly.
            But you’re right, there will always be things you can’t really anticipate that pop up. As this thread was for helping people plan what you *can* plan for, I think it was really helpful for people who may have otherwise not realized, “Oh my gosh! I’ll need someone to take X from the reception site.” Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know, so this thread helped people see the full spectrum of what needs to be planned for. I just wanted to reassure brides that in addition to the Do-But-Therefore-Plan option, there’s also the Don’t Do That Thing option.

          • GCDC

            Totally agree. Letting people know that they don’t have to do all the things is very valuable advice.

          • Dawn

            I opted out of tons of ideas due to complicated set-up an hauling, and I planned all decorations specifically to be easy to move and easy to break down. It was still a huge hauling project, though!

  • TeaforTwo

    This was one of the most stressful parts of wedding planning, because it relied the most on not-us.

    Here is what I learned: don’t necessarily ask the people who are closest to you to do this part – ask the people who are most reliable. We only asked close family and I came to regret it. When my father’s wife decided – during the reception – that they wouldn’t be able to transport to the wedding gifts.

    • MisterEHolmes

      …*Gasp*!!!

      • TeaforTwo

        I am being unfair to her. I had asked my father to transport the gifts and he said he would, but didn’t tell his wife that was the plan. When she found out (at the reception, during a blizzard) she was having none of it.

        BUT! My bridesmaid’s parents, who are the salt of the earth stepped up with their truck, and then several other guests took what wouldn’t fit in the truck ON FOOT THROUGH A BLIZZARD (we live about three city blocks from our wedding venue). So just ask the reliable people. It’s been discussed here before that people don’t change who they are just because you’re getting married.

    • Meg Keene

      YES. Ask the reliable people. Oddly, those of us that are organized and reliable tend to be used to being ask and often don’t mind. It’s nice when people notice you’re good at something.

      And what I’ve learned is people with trucks like putting things in said trucks.

  • Heather

    We hired a driver to transport guests to and from the venue from our rented parking lot. This turned out to be a godsend because we ended up using the van and the driver to transport a ton of our stuff to and from the venue. The driver was happy to stay and help us pack up since he was getting paid hourly. Another happy coincidence was that the hotel room my parents booked turned out to have a full sized refrigerator in it. The day before the wedding I went to pick up our cakes for the cake buffet and realized I would need to store them somewhere. Without that hotel refrigerator I don’t know what we would have done. Last thing I will share, and I know this will sound crazy to some, I stayed and helped pack up. Most of the guests had already left and it was me, my husband, my immediate family, and a few close friends. I changed into jeans, helped pack up while we drank champagne and talked about what a great day it had been. Then I changed back into my dress and drove off with my new husband. It was actually one of my favorite parts of the day.

  • macrain

    We live in NYC and are getting married in North Carolina (did I mention we are also leaving directly from there for our honeymoon? How will we not forget all the things?). I’m trying to cut down on the amount of stuff (no programs, minimal decor, etc), while acknowledging that a certain amount of stuff is probably unavoidable.
    Also, is it insane to stuff my dress in my suitcase and have it cleaned and pressed when I get there? For some reason my mind is stuck on the dress and his suit and all of the stuff we are wearing!

    • Violet

      I don’t think that sounds insane. But then, this is the lady who carried her dress (in a garment bag, I swear!) on the subway and NJTransit, so….

    • KC

      Depends on the dress (some fabrics hold wrinkles more than others; some styles are easier to press wrinkles out of than others), but there are decent odds that it’d be fine. Try to avoid having hard creases (so, if you have other clothes in the suitcase, wrap the dress around them like a roll of paper towels instead of zig-zag folding it flat, and don’t pack that suitcase super-tightly) and obviously avoid snagging the dress in the zipper (ideally, bag the dress before putting it in the suitcase or wrap it up in a sheet).

      However… some airlines allow garment bags for suits, so it might be worth checking about your dress, because having your dress as a carry-on would be kind of festive and awesome and would also mean it’d likely get less squashed. :-)

      • macrain

        I will probably carry it on, I wouldn’t be able to take it if something happened to it! I’m just envisioning we will have so much crap with us, I’m like- how?!?! We don’t have a car, so anything coming with us needs to either shipped ahead of time or carry-able.

  • http://thinkweirdthoughts.blogspot.com Phira

    This is something I’m very anxious about. Our venue is awesome and we’re expected to bring everything down about 3-4 days before the wedding, so that means there are a few days before the wedding where I don’t have to be doing or making anything. But right now, we’re stressed because we have no room in our tiny apartment for 27 centerpieces. We have no room for my dress in our tiny spare closet. Our kitchen table is the flower-making table, so it’s useless for anything else (like, ya know, sitting and eating dinner). To save money, we’re planning on using some baskets that we already own to hold wedding favors and programs and whatever, but all of the baskets have sentimental value to me and I need them BACK (with any extra favors–candy! Mmmm).

    We live in the city and can’t get to our venue without a rental car. I’ll be using Zipcar a LOT before the wedding … we’ll see about how everything will get back afterwards.

    • Natalie Wright

      I’m having this space issue, too. My fiance and I live in a small 3-bedroom house with a roommate and only 2 tiny closets (one of which is our roommate’s). Our house was packed to the brim before wedding planning started. Our wedding isn’t until October, but I’m already beginning to worry about where I’m going to store all the APW-inspired glass jar candle holders I’m in the process of making. I, too, don’t know where my dress will be stored once it comes in, because we don’t have any spare closet space! I’m thinking I’m going to have to have a garage sale to make room for wedding stuff. (bonus: extra cash for wedding planning?)

  • StevenPortland

    My big anxiety isn’t about the stuff to bring to the reception, but the two little kids (our 2 and 7 year old sons) that will be there with us. On one hand, parenthood has really helped me let go of my OCD perfectionism. But I’d still like to know that they (and we) will have a good time, without any meltdowns. I’m sure they will end up playing with the other kids, but who knows what will really happen.

    • Meg Keene

      I feel like this is honorary parent time? Like, put an honorary auntie or uncle in charge of the meltdowns…

      • Amy March

        Or a really fun time for your high school babysitter- I would have been so excited to help out with this back in the day.

        • Meg Keene

          AGREED. Man, that’s almost as cool as them taking you on vacation.

    • Emily

      Yes! What our daughter will be doing on the day has been one of my vague unknowns, and I’ve been unsure how to address it. Maybe we should just invite our babysitter too!

      • StevenPortland

        Our reception is 4:30 – 9:30 and so it isn’t as if the party is really that late for them. I’ve hired a balloon animal guy for 5:00 – 7:00. So he’ll be around before and during the dinner. There will be 15 younger kids there and so I’m sure they will just be running around with their balloon swords and hats. This reception is several months after our actual wedding and so we aren’t having a cake. Instead we are having an ice cream sundae bar. While I’d prefer a fancier dessert with the meal, I hope that this can be an activity for the kids to enjoy. Now I’m considering whether to set up one more activity (maybe an craft table) as an option for kids.

        • Emily

          Balloon animals sound great! As long as they have space to play, they’ll probably be fine without additional directed activities.
          I think I’m anxious more about having the mental bandwidth to be mom and bride on the day, than the entertainment options.

          • swarmofbees

            We have a similar situation and we are just plain old hiring a babysitter. For the whole day. We are justifying the expense because we are taking two weeks off work when we won’t have to pay for daycare because kiddo will be with family. So, babysitter will be with kid all day to make sure she stays alive. Whether she will be in the church, running around outside, taking a nap somewhere, or something different remains to be seen. I didn’t know if I could attend to my guests and keep the kid safe at the same time, especially because there are pools around the reception site. So, i have delegated motherhood for the day. I don’t know quite how it will work out, but we’ll see.

  • Lynsey

    All I have to say is thank goodness my husband and I moved into an apartment with a second bedroom about 4 months before our wedding. As we debated how we would use the space (guest room or music room?), practicality intervened and it became the “wedding stuff” room. Obviously. 6 weeks later it is the “wedding gifts that we have no room for” room. Maybe someday we will get around to finally turning it into a guest/music room.

  • Rachelle

    Our parents all drove to the wedding, so it was easy to get stuff there and back. We had it all stored at my FIL’s house and the groomsmen loaded up that day, everyone there (family, wedding party, husband and myself) set up after pictures were done, and everything just went in any parent’s car to their respective homes at the end of the night to be sorted out the next day.

    The hard part was cleaning up. Oh, so hard and stressful. I woke up in the middle of the night after the wedding crying about it. Everyone was drunk and having a good time, so it was AWFUL trying to get people to either help clean up or get the F out. I eventually started pulling glasses out of people’s hands about half an hour after the party was supposed to have ended. Then add in the fact that drunk friends are following me around saying “You’re the bride! You’re not supposed to clean up!” Unfortunately I was the only one sober enough to do so :(
    Don’t be like me. Hire a coordinator to do this shit for you or make sure the person you’ve appointed as stage manager knows EVERYTHING. My stage manager basically just came to me every time there was a problem asking what I wanted to do about it. Things we paid for/spent a lot of time on (rented flatware, favors) never got put out because I couldn’t be on top of everything and no one else cared enough to. Needless to say, I was incredibly stressed on our wedidng night and it was my own fault.

  • http://www.therewm.com/ Rachel W. Miller

    The APW packing lists were SO HELPFUL. When I saw “box number” I magically knew how to pack. We had a lot of big boxes and put a contents list in each one, with instructions with what was supposed to happen with the different items. In terms of transporting it, we rented the biggest SUV we could and we used every square inch getting it all to Austin so…that was worth it.

    Figuring out how they would get to the venue the morning of was a source of stress because there was no one who could drop it off for us who wouldn’t also be in the wedding…the venue wasn’t going to be available till 9, the wedding started at 10 about 40 minutes away…it was risky to have a VIP drop it off. Ultimately, we worked something out with the woman who was going to be our DOC…we essentially just paid her to drop our stuff off at the venue. Sometimes you just need a warm body to do things like that. And luckily she had a van so it all fit.

    But yeah, in the month before the wedding, that whole deal was my biggest concern. Also I KINDA miss the workout I got from all the errands, running down to answer the door when all our shit was being delivered, DIYing, and moving boxes around. THAT was the real “get in shape for your wedding” story for me.

    • Valerie Day

      After our reception everything was transported to a nearby garage and basement of a friend. I just picked it all up today and ran so many stairs between her basement and our second story apartment. Double workout today! So many errands these last few weeks. Interestingly, thanks to APW I think our event was the most organized diy wedding any of our guests/friends/helpers had been to. When my wife and I (hehe) were making the set up and break down and packing lists we started to feel that we were micromanaging our helpers with the breakdown list. We had a very easy, very organized set up. The take down only took 30 minutes (with many, many helpers) but apparently everyone felt a little overwhelmed with not being sure how everything was meant to be put away. So I would like to say that micromanaging really helps a group of people work quickly together. In the end though, everything came back to us in perfect condition and well stored, and they all made it to the after party.

  • Marybeth Lee

    Oh yes. Yes yes yes. I recommend that as you plan each part of your wedding you think about how an item will arrive to the spot it needs to go and how it will get back. We decided that if we couldn’t get into our reception space the day before we wouldn’t do favors or menus (instead have a menu sign). Because having your one stage manager/day of coordinator put out all your escort cards, favors, and menus the day of, is a lot of work. We ended up picking a place that guaranteed we could set up the night before. HUGE WIN. Renting vases from a florist – is there someone who will pack them up and take them the next day back to the flower shop? If not, don’t rent vases. Also remind people who promised to help take stuff back with them to bring bags or boxes to carry said stuff!

  • Eh

    We didn’t have a lot of stuff (compared to other weddings I have been a part of) because we didn’t have a lot of people to help set up or take down. As the reception wound down I changed out of my dress and started packing stuff up with a couple friends. My husband and a couple of people packed up the SUV we rented. No one was sober enough to drive the rental so we left the SUV at the venue and came back the next morning. I will say that having a spreadsheet (from APW) with everything was awesome because we had our ceremony in one location and our reception in another. The spreadsheet listed who was in charge of getting items from ceremony to reception location (the only thing that briefly went missing was our marriage documents – I knew they would show up so I didn’t worry about it). it was also good for keeping track of things were borrowed to make sure they got back to the right people.

  • Emily

    I’m hoping to have guests take home centerpieces at the end of the night as a way to not have to deal with packing them up. Any ideas about the best way to get people to do this? Should I put out a sign? Or just let people know beforehand that they should take them home if they’d like?

    We have about 15 centerpieces, and that’s all of our decor because I don’t want to ask our families to deal with any more stuff. I still feel like it added up quickly (centerpieces, cake, escort cards, outfits, rings, marriage license, guest book, various signs, stuff to bring home including leftover cake and alcohol and gifts…). I’m feeling a little weird about imposing on our families to help with packing up especially, even though we’re being clear up front about what we’re asking for and I’m sure they won’t mind. Echoing a lot of other people – I ended up cleaning up for about an hour after my sister’s wedding, and even though I didn’t mind at all, it felt like an imposition just because I wasn’t expecting it and no one was sure what they were supposed to do. I don’t think she thought about the logistics and still doesn’t realize how much family took care of after she left.

    • KH_Tas

      The last wedding I went to they used word of mouth to let people know they could take centrepieces, which worked pretty well as far as I know (I took one, saw several other people clutching them too)

    • SarahG

      I went to a wedding where the mother of the bride went around putting flowers in people’s hands (in a friendly way, not a pushy way) — I thought that was highly effective because, as a guest, you just don’t think about that stuff, even if you WOULD like some fancy flowers, and also at weddings there tends to be a lot of signage (guest book photo booth etc etc) and so you kind of don’t pay as much attention to every single sign. My two cents anyway.

  • Ariel

    oh god this thread makes me nervous about my wedding in 39 days

  • MEM

    not sure if this has already been said, but our biggest issue was leftover food- we had nothing to pack and store leftovers in so a ton of food was thrown away :(

    • sara g

      I was worried about this too until I read my catering contract and they will actually box up leftovers and let guests take them. I had no idea caterers would do this, but it’s awesome.

  • ypi

    I think you guys at APW might be mind readers. For real. I’m a bit under the 2.5 month mark, and my spreadsheets (which are totally APW made and personalized) are having babies. I’ve got my sister and best friend on board with my meticulous sheets and calendar, but there is still the “it will work out” mentality- which, super unhelpful.

    Luckily, I’m the daughter of a chef and caterer, I’ve catered more weddings than I can count, and that same company is catering my own, so I know what level of breakdown to expect from them (and have a dad who won’t just say not to worry- he’s lived and breathed this shit for 50 years). Not to mention I count my lucky stars we have a fantastic DOC (ahem *Lowe House*— so stinking excited). But I still run through time lines, think of who I can count on in a pinch. Who will know what’s the what while I’m somewhere getting done up. It’s just a different world when you’ve worked an event, you see things others don’t, and by extension, know it’s reasonable to plan the shit out of everything, because there’s no “it will work out” when an event has this many moving parts! Phew. Good grief.

    • ypi

      Shoot, can’t figure out how to edit. Forgot to add what I’m doing to make it easier:

      1. The APW spreadsheets- seriously. I am trying to make an extremely detailed timeline for the week and day of.
      2. Right now I am just at the time when things are really coming together- but the catering company will have all the rentals, and the cake and flowers are delivered, so I am not responsible for BIG stuff. At this time, the plan is to pack up everything into the trunk of my rental car (e.g. escort cards, guest book, lights, other decor, huppah materials) and deliver everything to the site when it opens at 10am the day of. Ceremony at 4pm. Post reception pack up is still TBD and I’m not quite close enough to see the details, but will mostly be handled by the caterers and DOC.
      3. A big help for me has been talking to friends, family, anyone who has done a similar event and find out what worked and what didn’t (like this thread, hey!), and what took longer than they expected.

      I can’t think of what else, and am just grateful this thread and site exist for our sanity!

    • Guest

      Another edit, sorry, apparently I need to self monitor my posts better! Last thing is that I want to exactly, or upvote or +1 a hundred times over that if you think there’s something you might need help with, ask rather than assume. It was said by others here, but I have to echo.

      I’ve been happy to help friends set up and/or break down events- but I’m usually happier when I know it’s coming. I can plan a change of clothes, I can start thinking through the steps. It’s less fun when it’s 3am and all of the sudden you see everyone heading home and there’s a shit ton of stuff remaining and it’s time to hustle. Those are the moments the couple (or friends throwing a party, etc) don’t see, and don’t know happened. And I’m sure we’d all benefit from a heads up. I can’t say what I’ll need help with just yet, but I know I will, and I’m starting to think through who’s the best fit to ask. People love to be a part of the event, and most people will be happy to lend a hand in the spirit of helping you throw a great party.

  • Sarah

    This is a lifesaver. Getting married on Sunday, family is rolling into town starting tomorrow to help. Luckily, the venue is taking care of almost everything, and many other things are being delivered, but there are still a lot of pieces of the puzzle (who’s going to put the gifts on the shuttle?). I just made my responsibility list for transport, setup, and takedown, which I probably would not have thought of if I hadn’t read this. Thank you, APW, you have just saved me!

  • Mariah

    I had a “prop list” for our wedding, that indicated what needed to be where, by when, who was responsible for bringing it, and who was responsible for breaking it down at the end of the night. We circulated it to the relevant parties a week and a half before the wedding, asked for feedback (if folks anticipated any issues), and finalized it 4 days before the wedding. It was invaluable.

    • sara g

      Great idea. I may steal this!

  • Nell

    If you have a day-of coordinator or a wedding planner. . . can you expect her to do these things? Or do you still need to ask friends to take apart the huppah, pack up the gifts, etc?

    Also, I am terrified of losing cash gifts (a friend of mine actually lost all the cash and checks from her wedding in Hurricane Sandy). What have other people done to ensure that all the $ goes into the bank right away? (Especially if you’re planning to go on a honeymoon post-wedding)

    • Kirstin

      We thankfully have E Deposit on our phone through our bank, which we will use for all of the checks. We can turn around and deposit right away the next day.

      • Nell

        OMG, I forgot about e deposit! I think my fiancee has that on her bank account!

  • Kirstin

    YES! We are getting married this Sunday and have to deliver all of our stuff tomorrow! Very timely.

    First, thank you for the spreadsheets. We’ve been using them for a few months now.

    One of the things that is awesome for us is that our venue will take all of the decorations in advance, do the set up, and keep through the weekend. We just have to go back Tuesday morning and pick everything up. Very helpful. My mom will take all of the gifts/cards that evening, but everything else can stay.

    We are also working to set up arrangements with a non-profit to come pick up all of our flowers. They will donate them to hospice patients. Hoping we can make that one work!

    I also have a friend who isn’t specifically coordinating, but kind of. She’s our designated proxy decision maker. She also has a copy of the entire schedule and how the decorations should look, so she is going to get there a little bit early and fix anything not set up the way we wanted.

  • Jess

    a few days late on this, since we just got married on friday and our apartment is still recovering from all the stuff. we had our pup as part of our ceremony, so we hired our dog walkers to bring him over to the venue and entertain him before and after we needed him. Best dollars we could have spent! :) :)

  • olive_shoe

    LOVING LOVING LOVING this site!!!! just saying… APW kicks wedding boohiny!!

  • Stacey H.

    Right now, my plan is to finish the timeline (kthx spreadsheets) and hand all of them to the appropriate vendors. Everything for us needs to be submitted two weeks prior anyways, so that seems like a good deadline for wedding day timeline.

    Thankfully for us, we are both managers and have planned projects before. I know that it’s super important to be able to delegate, and communicate the plan to those who are helping. Communication is the most important thing for everyone to know what part they play in the plan.