10 Little Things You Probably Didn’t Think About While Planning Your Wedding
Performing in 150-200 events a year gives me the unique experience of seeing a lot of things that are done well and many things I’d do differently. From chairs that are placed too closely together to DJs that aren’t by the dance floor, there are plenty of tiny mistakes that can impact your entire wedding experience—especially if you’re planning an outdoor wedding. I hope these little insights and tips on wedding planning make your Wedding Day … even more extraordinary.
10 Tips On Wedding Planning
Here are some of the best wedding advice ideas I’ve gathered over the years—things you shouldn’t forget for your wedding:
1. Put more space between the chairs at the ceremony.
Let’s face it: Most people are wider than the chairs are—especially at the shoulder. Often I see a big open lawn and all the chairs squeezed right up against each other. No one likes to sit that close to someone they may not know. Naturally, if space is limited, you don’t have much choice, but when you have the option to spread out, I suggest two fists between chairs on each side. Also, allow an extra 1-2 feet of knee space between rows because often the first guests sit on the end of the aisle. This will make it easier to get in and out of crowded rows.
2. Put the DJ by the dance floor.
For centuries, the band or DJ has always been where the dancing happens because that is the best place for us to be. Sounds obvious, right ? But you might be surprised at how often we find ourselves having to play the music from a corner, a balcony or some other distant spot in the room. Then we have to pump up the volume and, possibly, play through one, two or three tables to get the proper level of volume to the dance floor. We don’t want those guests to hate us, so the closer we can be to the dance floor, the better for everyone.
3. Plan carefully for candles in the ceremony aisle.
Placing candles in the ceremony aisle is becoming more and more common, and equally common is someone knocking over one or more candle holders or vases as they get in and out the aisles. Keep in mind how full and wide your dress is. With you, your Dad and a bunch of lighted candles sharing that space, you may want to request a wider aisle, where possible, to avoid any mishaps.
4. Be strategic with your food station lines
My catering friends may not like this tip. Although I love the idea of offering a variety of options to guests and having food cooked or carved to order, I also see a LOT of waiting in line. If you are not first to a station, you wait in line to get one part of your meal. Then you either sit down and eat only that food or go stand in line for other menu items. Sometimes it ends up looking like one giant buffet line. No one likes to wait in line for their food. This concept is ideal for smaller weddings, but you may also consider adding more or even duplicate stations. The sooner the dinner is over, the sooner the dance party starts.
5. Avoid scheduling by the minute.
A timeline is always a good idea, but some of them look like a rocket launch schedule. At 6:43 we will do this and at 6:51 we will do that. We will help you work out a general order of events and even mark some tentative times. But the fact is, most weddings run late, so don’t stress over every minute. There are so many variables, moving parts and PEOPLE involved that you can’t control everything. Part of our job is to help keep things moving and make adjustments and suggestions in real-time. Use our Ceremony Planning Sheet and Reception Planning Sheet to see a framework of all the different activities and dances you might consider having—or NOT having. Plus, we have lists of suggested song choices for Cake Cutting, the Bride & Dad dance, the Groom & Mom dance and much more.
6. It’s a toast, not a speech.
I’m not sure when a “toast” became a “speech,” but they seem to be getting longer and longer. Remember, the food is cooking. Suggesting a time limit is a nice idea, but most people who have little experience with public speaking have no idea how long 3 minutes or 5 minutes really is. I’ve seen them approach 15 minutes. That will blow up any timeline. Preparation is the key to keeping it tight and effective. You can’t uncook the food.
7. Avoid doing toasts during the meal.
One possible solution to the long toasts issue is doing the toasts during the meal. For example, a popular spot is after the salad course. Pro: It tightens up the pre-meal timeline, which saves you minutes later in the evening. Con: You never really have the full attention of all the guests if they are eating and the staff is moving through the room serving and clearing. The fewer distractions, the more meaningful these moments will become.
8. Be careful with tall vases and hanging floral greens.
The high vases on the dinner tables throughout the room can have a dramatic effect on the look of the space, but it’s the greenery embellishing the arrangement that can be annoying to guests. The aim of these tall displays is that the florals are high enough that guests can still see and converse across the table. Anything hanging only gets in the way, which defeats the purpose. I’ve seen guests take the beautiful arrangement off the table so they enjoy each other’s company more, undoing your careful wedding planning!
9. Feed the photographers, DJ and other vendors earlier—and in the same room.
None of us are looking for “special” treatment by being served before the couple, parents and guests, but we have work to do. Many venues will not serve vendors until after all of the guests have their dinners. I understand the concept that the guests are the priority, but often that last guest gets their meal 15-20 minutes after the newlyweds do. By the time the vendors start eating, the couple may be finishing their meal and are ready to move on to photo ops, dances or other activities. Ideally, keeping everyone in the same room with the guests works best for communication and for when spontaneous photo and video opportunities occur during the meal.
10. Help Dad avoid tripping over the bride’s gown.
Often, Dad walks in on the right side of the Bride coming down the aisle. One reason I’ve heard is so that he could pull his sword to defend his daughter—in the old days. What I see is that often the bride’s family is on the left side of the aisle. That means Dad has to step over the gown’s train to get to his seat. In a very emotional moment, he is not looking down and I’ve witnessed dozens of trips and slips on the gown. None of the Dads—or Brides—have ever hit the floor, so I’m hoping to help keep it that way. Another option is to have Dad come in on the same side as where his family is sitting.
Planning the Perfect Wedding
I hope you take these planning tips into account—you don’t want to forget anything ahead of your wedding day!