What to expect beyond planning, part one "What I Know for Sure"

I am one of those rare people that LOVE surprises, but for most of you, you would rather go without!

No matter how much you prepare, your wedding day will be a surprise. While you may walk down the aisle in a cocktail dress the evening or two before, there is no real rehearsal, nor would you want there to be. Some individuals have more stage fright than others. Some couples have to invite some people they actually do not care for – so is life.  Despite all your prior planning, this day will be new to you. When you enter your reception room, viewing the entire place set-up at once, you will be happily surprised, if not stunned.

In spite of all this happiness, there will be stress. After all, it is not about getting wedding-ed but married. Marriage is not a light matter and it is not just your wedding, it is the wedding of two separate families.

So if you have the time, read a bit about what to expect in the way of STRESS. Perhaps you can lighten the load by following some of our recommendations below.

Things to DO to prepare yourself better for stress:

1#           Visiting Hour(s) for the Bride and Groom Take taking care of yourself seriously. You and your ability to enjoy your special day is top priority. Set boundaries!

-In your (or your planner’s) email blast about the timeline or individual instruction to close family and friends, include your visiting hours.

-Include these hours in the welcome letter you write for your hotel welcome bags. I give you permission to even write something along these lines, “We will not be seeing visitors at any time before the wedding. We look forward to seeing you all at the ceremony!”

-Post a sign on the door to your hotel suite. Perhaps you have time alone from 1-2 and the hair artist is only working on you.  Perhaps your best three girlfriends are with you at a certain time and mom is allowed to come later with or without them present. Perhaps you write, “Visiting hours from 12:00 -1:30, ladies only”.

#2           Walking away from work I know you work too much. You are a lawyer, doctor, trader, marketing event planner, entrepreneur, professor----whatever it is, you care an awful lot about your job, even if you do not like it, and you work way too much. Before your job takes away your ability to fully enjoy the week of your wedding, plan ahead by first committing to putting yourself first.

Start a month before, training your colleagues to prioritize your job and pick up the ball. Be clear to your company, declaring that “Jennifer Smith, the go-to girl, is going to be for sure GONE for these dates. No ifs’, ands’ or buts’.”

Take to heart the truth – you only have one chance to enjoy this week. Throw caution to the wind and learn how to say “NO”.

#3           Make someone your stand-in On the day of your wedding there may be vendors, family members, close and not so close friends that have questions for you. They all may not have read their emails or welcome bag letter or emails that state “call the wedding planner in the event you have questions”. On the day of your wedding you will most likely have a best friend that will be with you most of the day, no? If it feels right to you, consider empowering them to be your voice when you would rather be left alone with no responsibilities other than getting your hair done. Some of us have that person thank CAN think of our behalf.

#4           You do not have to say hello to everyone under the sun Many weddings have 150 guests or more.  They are friends of your in-laws, distant cousins of your stepmothers or fathers, etc., etc. Just your happy presence is enough to let everyone know you appreciate them being there to share this special moment.  One of you may say a word or two, thanking everyone as well. You CAN keep your focus to the people you are closest with, you can eat the great meal that YOU picked out after all and you can dance the night away!

#5           C’est la vie Hopefully this won’t pertain to you. There are some not so obvious occurrences that you may become privy to; hopefully if we are nearby we can curtail some of them. At most weddings, everyone is civil, happy and well, normal. There are those handful of weddings that have a handful of guests, who find the need to be a bit ugly.

-People can talk about the bride and groom’s former boyfriends or girlfriends, things that they have no business talking about.

-Some nervous or controlling family member or friend, may walk the venue during set up and tell people they are doing something wrong and insist they fix it, when fixing it would actually mean going against what YOU the client/Bride/Groom/Couple requested. Some people are just set in their ways. Sometimes weddings stir anxiety in people other than the people getting married, but ignore them and walk away. Remember, set boundaries!

-At your wedding, your gown may get dirty! This is why we have dry cleaning.

#6           Use your check list ADE supplies everyone with their own “packing list/check list”. Use these! Literally take the time to check off each box as you pack for the weekend. We do and we have that thing memorized inside our heads!

#7           Assume it will rain Some couples are reluctant to go over every worst case scenario, but you must. You do not want staff coming to you asking you questions about this, that or the other thing, if the logistics of the day have to suddenly be changed.  Know how everything will be set up and how much it all will cost, if the weather decides to not cooperate. Rain is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it cools things off and stops later in the evening or vice versa so you can have that outdoor ceremony. Rain does not have to be the end of the world.

#8           Insist that the venue’s event coordinator be present on the last venue walk through with the planner and caterer Personally I like the last venue walk through to happen a few days before the wedding, rather than weeks before. Have an extra one if need be. Yes, everyone should have taken detailed notes the first time around, but still, experience has taught me having it the week of perks everyone’s ears up a bit. This way the information is fresh in everyone’s mind and if changes were made with one person, the other person gets up to speed. Also, there is a sense that the wedding (or event) is happening now and not a few months away, like he/she can revisit this later.  Lastly, get this onto the calendar so that you can schedule other events for that week, like your nails and girlfriend time. In almost all cases, at ADE, the last venue walk through includes myself, the day of event coordinator from ADE, venue and catering company and sometimes another intern. People should block off a good chunk of time, even if they think this is not necessary.

#9           Drinking later than expected Take a chunk of change out of your budget when you begin to account for unforeseen needs and desires down the line. One reason to do this is that often couples think they have a good idea of their crowd’s drinking patterns. Here you have a 4 hour or even 5 hour open bar package and you think this will be plenty. If people want to drink more they have got to be crazy. They can wait until the after party or when they get home. If you do not want guests drinking past the open bar package is over you have to make it abundantly clear to the venue. Give them a line to say like, “Drinks will continue at the after party” or “We suggest XYZ in town”.  This being awkward really depends upon the time you begin your wedding. If it is not that late and the wedding is in the middle of nowhere, negotiate special pricing for post open bar hours. Lastly, if you are being charged on consumption for the entire wedding, over estimate how much your crowd is going to drink.

#10         Have a make-up and hair trail! Everyone wants hair and make-up that looks simple and natural. This seems easy breezy, but everyone’s perception of that is different. Also, it is not going to look natural as you are going to look a lot better than you do on the average day! You are having a professional! Do yourself a favor and have a trail. Maybe Brides that are busy flirt with the idea of not having a trial because they are so scheduled in already. You DON’T want this stress the day of.  JUST DO IT. DO A TRAIL!

#11         Schedule in more ME time I know I talked about this above, but I have to stress it again and a little bit differently. Your wedding is Saturday say, well between the weekend before and Thursday of the wedding week, schedule in me time. Me time is not just for your wedding day. Your adrenaline will be high, so having a fully planned schedule will not bother you. In fact, if you don’t you may have MORE anxiety. So do things like write in definitive appointments like, Wednesday, sleep in 9am – 2pm is Bride time at yada yada…bookstore or at home while hubby is away. Make play dates with yourself. Stick to your play dates too!  These are real appointments; schedule other needed appointments around them.

#12         Have an  UNPLUGGED Wedding! Have a sign made for guests to immediately see when they enter the area of your ceremony. Cell phone, iphone, Ipad what-have-you photos actually do alter the quality of the professional photographers photos. They are also distracting to you and the special moment(s) at hand. Kindly ask your guests to be present and put away their electronic devices, leaving the photos up to the professionals. You can ask them to do that for the entire wedding or keep the message limited to the ceremony. If you think your friends are going to click at the reception, regardless of what you say, you may want to set your Facebook page to "Timeline Review" before your tagged face ends up on your page. Lastly, if you are all about having your happy pictures (and drunk pictures no doubt) out there in the world, then suggest a specific hash tag so that they are all organized out in cyber world. #Jennandchrismarry

Ashley Douglass Events is a boutique events company, planning weddings, mitzvahs, social and corporate events throughout Connecticut, New York and beyond. Years of experience in both design & coordination, ADE is the right event planner / wedding planner for detailed oriented couples. We are your project managers with a heaping dose of creativity thrown in the mix. We plan social gatherings, corporate events and weddings all over. We have offices in both Greenwich, CT and Huntington, NY. Learn more by contacting us today at 917.748.6281 or click here for our short form. Call us today to book your HOLIDAY EVENT, small or large, social or corporate, in your private home or at a fabulous venue!