Spreadsheets. The side of wedding planning you don’t see on Pinterest, but they will be your new best friend!
If you have found this post, the chances are you’re planning your wedding. Congratulations! Everyone’s experience of planning a wedding will be different, but I wanted this post go into some of the minutiae of the process.
As a former wedding co-ordinator for several well-known hotel chains, I can guarantee these tips will make everyone’s life so much easier. Please bear in mind however, that my experience is limited only to hotel weddings, and every wedding co-ordinator does things differently, so not all of these points will apply to you.
This will be the first of many wedding-related posts, and I will share some details about the experience of planning my own wedding as well. I hope you find them useful, and please feel free to ask any questions in the comments below. Most importantly, please remember that planning a wedding should be a joyful time, so as hard as it may seem, try not to sweat the small stuff.
Know that you have a team of people supporting you (the staff at your venue, as well as your loved ones), and make sure you take a step back if it all gets a bit much. If things start getting a bit intense, take your other half out for a date night, and make it a wedding-talk free evening. It will do you both the world of good, I promise.
Know that everything will come together, and enjoy every minute! Without further ado, here are my top tips to minimise stress:
- Please, please, for the love of everything be consistent with your names. Your wedding co-ordinator will most likely do your place cards and table plan for you (subject to the package you choose), but she will not know that your Grandmother’s name is Flo, or that your best man’s nickname is Spuds. Please stick to one name on any lists you provide, or in correspondence, otherwise a frantic process of elimination will ensue.
- When you give your co-ordinator your guest list, my recommended format is a spreadsheet (please not handwritten!). It will be so much easier for you to put together as you can cut and paste people to move them around, plus spreadsheets are basically porn to events co-ordinators. Trust me. Divide your list into each table, and ideally write down the names in the order you’d like them to be sat. Put a note by the person’s name if they are a wheelchair user, or need a highchair as this will help with the overall layout of the room and make sure your guests are as comfortable as possible. From that the place cards and table plan will be a piece of cake for them to make, and it eliminates any risk of error.
- Maximum capacities are there for a reason. No you cannot sneak just one more person in. No, you cannot put a child on someone’s lap, and yes, babies count as people too. They may be small, but they have to sit somewhere. So count everyone, and don’t think you can smuggle extras in on the day.
- If you have the choice between picking one food option for everyone, or collecting pre-orders from your guests, definitely do the former. Ask your guests to specify meat or veggie, and to make you aware of any special dietary requirements when they RSVP, but keep it simple. Believe me, it will make your life so much easier. For some reason people find it impossible to choose what they’re going to eat 6 months ahead of time, and chasing last minute menus is more of a headache than it’s worth.
- Your wedding co-ordinator and the staff at the hotel will do a lot for you, so try not to get stressed over small details as you get close to the wedding. With centerpieces and decorations, as hard as it may be to hand over, you will not have the time to do setup yourself on the day, and you don’t want your bridal party distracted with it in the morning. You will have a ‘final details’ meeting with your co-ordinator near the wedding, when you will be able to hand over all your decorations etc. and go through, in detail how you want the room to look.
- Your wedding co-ordinator will create a function sheet for your big day, which is essentially all the information about your wedding, and a full timeline, including instructions for the waiting staff. A good function sheet will cover all bases, so give as much information as you can, as well as contact information for all the key people (suppliers, best man etc.).
- Be honest about any concerns or questions you have. That’s what your wedding co-ordinator is there for, and chances are they will have dealt with it all before.
- Buy them a thank-you card. They will have spent hours working behind the scenes to make your vision come to life and will think of almost nothing else in the week leading up to it. If they’re anything like me they will come to feel personally invested, so it will mean the world to them if you give them a small gesture of your thanks.