Wedding Week: The Planning

Oh the planning - so many people dread this part but I love it. These are some things  that helped me through, or I learned the hard way. Our goal was to have a nice wedding for 200 guests as cost effective as possible. I delegated out a lot of tasks to the most wonderful helpful friends and family, and we did a lot of work ourselves as well. I still owe a lot of thanks to everyone who helped us, it is so nice to have so many talented and giving people in our lives. Anyway, the stuff I learned and the stuff I did:

- Find a timeline. This will help you know if you're on track or not. There are so many ways to do this: pick up a bridal magazine, there's usually one in there; buy a wedding planner (I recommend the The Bride's Essential Wedding Planner for anyone. It has all the questions you need to know, and places to keep track of the answers while you research. Plus it's not the usual binder size, so it's more discreet to carry around or have on a table as you go over plans with your loved one), or use a website.

What I wish I had done: Make every deadline one week ahead of what the planner said on my own calendar. I'm a procrastinator, and if I had given myself a little leeway, things might have been a bit better at the end.

Post a To-Do where you both can see it: Ours were taped to the dining room wall. This way, you have to see it every day and you also get to cross off items as they get done with a large marker. It's so satisifying, like popping bubble wrap.

Have a place to brainstorm: I used a binder, but if a file folder works better for you, or a Pinterest page, maybe a file on Google Drive - then go for it. But keep it in one spot. Also, both of us had a notebook for the wedding counseling and to keep notes in to help us decide different things. Which brings me to...

Brainstorm separately, compare, compromise: This is probably one of the things we do the most in our relationship, and it works. It helps you figure out what each person wants, and then be able to find what it is you want as a couple as well. Sometimes it's easy because the other person does not care at all whether the flowers are real or paper...

- Walk through the day in your head. Where do people get ready? Where do they meet? When? Where are photos? What kind of photos? How many? When do we need to set up the space? What is the schedule for the evening? I went through the whole day piece by piece, and then figured out the timing.

What I wish I had done: After the ceremony, things get really crazy. Have an alarm set on someone's phone or watch 15 minutes before each thing is supposed to happen. For example: everyone should be seated for dinner at 7:00 - have the maid/man of honor's alarm go off at 6:45 to make sure the receiving line is done and you are on the way to the table. Toasts at 8:00? Best Person's alarm is set to 7:45 and they make sure that all of the wedding party is seated and ready to go.

- Visualize the space and ask how it happened: what are the decorations? How is it set up? I sketched it out and then worked backwards: how did they get there? Where did they come from? Where do they go? Who takes them away?

What I wish I had done: Test out some of the decorations beforehand. Hanging fabric from the brick wall was terrible. We could only ducktape things up and during the ceremony, one of the pieces slowly slowly fell off the wall. It was painful for me because every part of my body just wanted to pause the ceremony, run over to the wall and resecure it. (no, I'm not obsessive or anything, not at all...)

- Assign people to tasks. I looked at who would be available when, and started assigning tasks. I tried to give people tasks that fit their strengths - musicians handled the PA system, more arty friends handled some decorating, more time-conscious people were set with time sensitive tasks, etc. My sister was our wedding go-to person the day of. I gave her a binder with the tips for the various people we hired, a master seating chart, a list of what each guest ordered for dinner, the schedules, and each person's responsibility. One other part I loved: between the ceremony and dinner, I had two people load up all the presents and deliver them back to our apartment. This way we didn't have to worry about it later in the evening when everyone was tired along with loading up the PA system.

What I wish I had done: Either given my sister one or two helpers, or had two people in charge of the wedding day. It was probably a little too much for one person.

- Type it up. I typed up a schedule and packing lists. At the rehearsal, I gave a packet of the wedding day schedule, responsibility lists and packing lists to each person. Then I went over the schedule and made sure no one had any questions or problems.

What I wish I had done: Assign someone to double check the packed items. I just left it to all of us, and things got forgotten. Also - assign a second person to triple check. Just in case.

Secondly, if the turnaround time between your ceremony and reception is only a cocktail hour - contact anyone (such as relatives like grandparents) you would like to have a formal picture with and designate a time to get together before the wedding. If they can't make it beforehand, have a clear time set with your photographer to make sure you don't forget about it later. Because making everyone wear the outfit they were wearing to the wedding at the next family event is kind of awkward.

Sure some of it seems like a lot, but being thorough and clearly delegating helps save time in the long run. The day goes by fast. Really fast. Too fast. Structure and planning will help you make sure that you don't forget to do something you'll regret later.