What to expect when I'm expecting a wedding.
June 19, 2011 9:07 AM   Subscribe

woulda, coulda, shoulda: wedding edition.

I am getting married in two weeks. We have had over a year to plan, so we're feeling pretty comfortable about having attended to all the details, and we're ready for this thing to happen. However, I know we haven't thought of everything, so I wanted to query the married members of the hive mind: if you could go back and change anything about your wedding day, what would it be? Is there something you regret having overlooked, something you know now that you didn't know then that you think would have been/would be really additive to a wedding day? I anticipate being pretty swept up by the day, so I would love tips & tricks for staying present, for my own benefit as well as for that of my groom and our guests.
posted by pudders to Human Relations (50 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
At some point in the morning or early afternoon, take some time to just be by yourself. You're going to need the peace and quiet badly.
posted by something something at 9:08 AM on June 19, 2011 [6 favorites]

Have an umbrella handy. It rained unexpectedly on my wedding day, and the ceremony was delayed while one of the ushers tried to find an umbrella for me. Some kind of shawl or something for over my shoulders would have been nice too, but I wasn't outside for that long. Oh - have an alternate site available for taking pictures if your original plan includes some place outdoors...
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:18 AM on June 19, 2011

Two from from a friend who got married:
  1. Feel free to drink yourself silly during the rehearsal, but only sip the actual night.
  2. Make sure the DJ plays the music you want played. You know your guests better than they do.

posted by thebestsophist at 9:18 AM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think I misread your question. I thought you were looking for little tips, but you seem to be asking a different question. Sorry! Ignore me...
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:19 AM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

We didn't realize what a whirlwind the big day would be. If I could go back, I would delegate. Someone else should have been holding the cash to tip the vendors because we weren't always available. All our helpers kept running to us about every little hiccup, and that was too much to deal with. We needed to let go of some of that authority. Delegate.
posted by Knowyournuts at 9:27 AM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would have had a much, much, much, much smaller wedding and trimmed people who were not the closest of friends. I would have pressed that my wife not give in to her mom and invite aunts and uncles nor (not-personally-very-very-close cousins).
posted by rr at 9:30 AM on June 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

Get your best man and maid of honor to make sure you sit and eat, even if it's just to go sit in someone's car and have a sandwich. I never would have believed I wouldn't have had time to eat at my reception, but I didn't. The quiet time will also be welcome.
posted by thinkingwoman at 9:34 AM on June 19, 2011

Don't forget to eat. You might be dressed long before things rolling, but even if you have to wrap yourself in a bedsheet to protect your dress, eating real meals will keep you alert and present throughout the day.

And best wishes!
posted by ladygypsy at 9:35 AM on June 19, 2011

I can't favorite rr's suggestion enough. We had a small wedding, but I've attended too many that were monstrosities.
I would love to see a study that correlates size and cost of wedding/reception with marriage longevity...my hunch is that it's an inverse correlation.
posted by BostonTerrier at 9:40 AM on June 19, 2011 [5 favorites]

My own wedding is pretty much entirely a blur in my memory, so no help there.

But based on watching an impromptu receiving line form up around a couple of friends who were just trying to get away for some privacy for a moment after the ceremony: Plan an escape route and have a private room staked out so you and your new spouse can disappear for a little together while before the party and etc.
posted by ook at 9:52 AM on June 19, 2011

My wedding's pretty much a blur too. It's just too much squished into one day and it's exhausting. I agree with those who are saying - delegate. Someone MUST be in charge, and it shouldn't be you or your partner. That's what I would change. By in charge, I mean that there needs to be one person who knows what is supposed to happen when and who makes sure they happen when they're supposed to. We had to be reminded to cut the cake, tell the dj when to start...and I'm a bit embarrassed about that in retrospect.

Don't do a reception line after the ceremony, if possible. It simply takes too much time.

Also, make sure you give a speech or something along those lines to thank everyone. You won't be able to spend time with guests like you can at your average party, and that feels pretty weird.

Then, relinquish feelings of having to be on control or on top of things, and have a good time!
posted by kitcat at 10:04 AM on June 19, 2011

I meant receiving line. And this sounds trivial, but if you are the bride and will be wearing makeup, appoint someone to touch it up periodically - at least during photos.
posted by kitcat at 10:07 AM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I also wouldn't have wasted time or money on professional wedding photographers. We opened the album when we got it and have never cracked it open in the 12 years since. Not once.
posted by rr at 10:16 AM on June 19, 2011 [6 favorites]

If you have a unique thing you're doing for your wedding march/music and want it recorded, have more than one person record it. Ours turned out awesome, but a technical mishap botched the recording. Not much of a tragedy, but it would have been nice.
posted by ignignokt at 10:21 AM on June 19, 2011

No real regrets for mine. My sister said that for her wedding she regrets being so nervous/busy that she didn't actually taste any of the yummy food that they had there (and it was spectacular, let me tell you) and that she wishes she had nominated someone to tell her when she needed to powder her nose/adjust her makeup.

Nthing those who say that you should delegate people. I was stunned at the number of people who were just itching to be useful. We had everything under control, but if someone really wants to take charge of something and they have the skills, let them.

Tip everyone.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:24 AM on June 19, 2011

Delegating is awesome. Delegate everything you can. One specific thing that helped a super-special amount was someone else writing down who gave what for gifts.

One thing I didn't realize until after the pics came back: I guess I have a tendency to stand with my feet shoulder-width apart. This looks sort of doofy when you're wearing a short dress and three-inch heels. At the rehearsal, get your mom or maid of honor or someone you trust to observe if you stand weird or scratch your nose a lot or something. If you care about that sort of thing.

Having a pair of coordinating flats to change into helped me immensely, too.

I can't speak for everyone's experience, but I alternated between "how am I going to get through this, I hate parties, what if I piss someone off" anxiety and total zombification in the couple of days/hours leading up to the wedding, but it turned out to be a blast. If you're feeling nervous or uneasy about the event, even fifteen minutes before it starts, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll have a bad time. Roll with the punches and you'll be fine!
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:24 AM on June 19, 2011

Like rr, I would have skipped the professional photographer if I had to do it over again. We didn't even order our album! We have the proofs and never actually picked any photos out to be printed. (I think after 14 years, it might be too late!)
posted by vespabelle at 10:47 AM on June 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

Her wedding is in two weeks, I think it's probably too late to plan a different one or cancel the photographer. But, definitely yes to delegating and planning for a few minutes of aloine time with the new hubby. Also, when you wake up the morning of, just let go of all those plans you made. Things will go wrong but that's ok, don't get caught up in the perfect plans, just appreciate the important parts of the day.

As for being in the moment, I always tell people who are about to get married to stop often throughout the day and just look around and see what is really happening. Truly feel the love that is surrounding you.

Good luck!
posted by dawkins_7 at 10:57 AM on June 19, 2011 [5 favorites]

Find at least a few minutes alone with your new spouse. We had the driver take a long, meandering route from the ceremony to the reception, so we got 20 minutes with just the two of us pretty much right after the ceremony.

Definitely eat. We knew the food was great, and we were determined to eat. We did a "sweetheart table" - just the two of us - instead of a big head table, and we were served first, so we got a chance to eat and then circulate around all the other tables while everyone else was enjoying their dinner too. Even though we had 150 people at our wedding, and didn't have a receiving line, we managed to at least greet everyone this way.

Take a minute to privately thank the important people (who they are varies, of course, but you know who they are) for getting you to this point in your life. It will mean more to them than you can know.

Make sure you have someone arranged to take all the gifts out of the reception site and to safe storage. And someone delegated to box up any leftovers and get them refrigerated/doled out to people (as necessary/appropriate).

My philosophy was, as long as at the end of the day, we were married, everything else was gravy. You'll never do or remember everything - and contrary to other advice, I do cherish our really good professional photos as a way of remembering - but don't let yourself feel rushed. First of all, everyone will wait for you on your wedding day. Second of all, the more you keep yourself present, the more you'll enjoy it.

posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 11:01 AM on June 19, 2011 [5 favorites]

we had a small, very simple wedding and honestly I wouldnt change anything but I was really surprised at how difficult it was to get any food into my own mouth all day, so nthing EAT! put someone in charge of it. people will gladly fetch you plates all day but someone needs to run interference so you can actually eat that food. you are the star of the day and everyone wants time with you!!!
posted by supermedusa at 11:12 AM on June 19, 2011

I would have had them take about 3 posed pictures and then stop posing for pictures and get on with the rest of the day.
posted by galadriel at 11:21 AM on June 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

I love our wedding photos and I'm glad that we went with the professional photographer. But I don't give a damn about most of the photos of myself in a big white dress -- what I like is that we got the photographer to capture photos of a zillion guests.

We had a moment mostly to ourselves when we were signing the documents, and I wish we'd had someone get us some food then. I spent the whole reception with a plate of delicious food that I wasn't able to eat. Mr. Sculpin and I went directly from our reception to a hamburger joint.
posted by sculpin at 11:30 AM on June 19, 2011

The only part of my wedding day memories that aren't pristine is the part with the reception line.
(I am still going to vote on keeping the reception line. Older guests may expect it. It may be the only chance that you get to speak with some people (i.e. if guests leave early or you just coincidentally keep missing them, etc...) We got some of the most touching pictures from the reception line; it provides a photo op for you combined with every other guest. ANyway, so I vote for it.)

I also vote for making sure someone is in charge of getting you some refreshments while you are standing there. A glass of water, for the love of God. I was so thirsty after talking to everybody but it would have been rude at every point to duck out to grab a drink. And the staff was nowhere to be seen....so I suffered and I'm glad I stuck it out for the memories I'm left with from it, but I really think that was the thirstiest I've ever been ever.

Have a great wedding! Enjoy the days before (you know, that night before Christmas kind of excitement)too!!!
posted by Tandem Affinity at 11:32 AM on June 19, 2011

Oh yeah, I just saw the post above about comfy footwear and I would nth that. Rather than coordinating,however, we went all out with conspicuous. I had some ridiculously fun slippers to change into, and so did my husband. Our prime motivation was comfort, but we decided not to try to hide that we were getting out of the fancy footwear and into something more fun.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 11:37 AM on June 19, 2011

nthing delegate -- i did this to a degree for our wedding, but not enough and some of the littler things didn't get done because I wasn't around to make it happen. When a friend of mine got married the next year, she delegated everything to me on the day and I made sure that everything ran smoothly. I did little things like tell the musicians when to start playing for her to walk down the aisle, tell the staff when the cakes should be brought out, etc. It was just handy for all the staff to have one person to ask for any questions, details, etc. Find your favourite Type A friend and hand the reigns over to them, you won't regret it!
posted by ukdanae at 11:42 AM on June 19, 2011

1. Eat. Before, during, and after the event.

2. Choose your own music and enforce that list. If the DJ disagrees or won't play your list, remind him that you're paying him to do so.

3. Make sure you greet every guest personally. We did rounds during the appetiser course of our sit-down dinner, and it took about 45 minutes to get to our 110 guests. A lot of people told us that it was really special that we took the time to do that. And it's some of the best pictures we got.

4. If you have kids at the wedding (and you should!), make sure the photographer takes lots of cute pictures of them. Those are the other best pictures we got on the day.

5. Don't stress the last minute cancelations/additions. It'll happen. Don't even think about the money...it's not worth the headache on the day. We had 8 guests decide to come the DAY OF the wedding. It was fine. My two brothers and niece decided not to come on the day. That was fine.

6. Moderate your alcohol intake, but also make sure someone is constantly forcing water at you.

7. Pee right before walking down the aisle. Even if you don't feel like you need to.

8. Get the best photographer you can afford, but put the album together yourself. We had a photojournalist do our wedding, and it was absolutely worth it (we paid about $1000 for five hours and full rights to the digital prints). Don't skip it.

9. Designate someone to hold your purse during the day. I totally forgot about that, and had to ask someone at the last minute.

If something goes wrong (and it will!), breathe, and remember why you're there. The wedding day is important, no doubt. But the marriage is more important. Don't lose sight of that.

I hope people judge my marriage by our LAST day together, rather than the first day. Marriage is a long game. And it's much harder than it looks. YMMV.

Anyway, enjoy the wedding as much as possible. The fact that you're asking this question tells me that you'll probably do just that. :-)
posted by guster4lovers at 11:58 AM on June 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

Write a love letter to each other and delegate someone to deliver his letter to you and return with your letter to him. Then read each other's words shortly before you each leave for the ceremony. Best wedding memento ever.
posted by Elsie at 12:05 PM on June 19, 2011 [10 favorites]

I would have chilled the eff out and gotten some sleep the night before. Seriously, whatever you have to do - get a massage, take a Tylenol PM - just make sure you're well rested so you can enjoy yourself.

I also would have eloped - but that's probably not too helpful for you now.
posted by Jess the Mess at 12:26 PM on June 19, 2011

I would've double-checked the zipper and fasteners on my dress the night before to make sure they were all there in working order. The top fastener wasn't; the seamstress had replaced it with a thread fastener but I didn't notice until the day after.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:00 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Delegate and enjoy. Don't expect anything to go how you planned it, just hop along for the ride and pay attention to yourself and your partner.

Remember that everyone else is there to help you celebrate, so this is one day you don't have to feel obligated to provide them with anything. If someone seems to be having a problem, let them work it out themselves! Pre-write any checks that may be due to folks and have best man or maid of honor deal with that part.

Let your experts be experts. The photographer sets up photos, the caterers serve food, the DJ plays music. Tell them what you want ahead of time, but try to let go and just enjoy what they offer on your big day.

Give yourselves twenty minutes before the ceremony to have individual semi-private, personal time. Take a deep breath, smile and get ready to enjoy the ride.

My wife and I did all the planning ahead of time, but somehow that day I don't remember doing anything but hanging out, getting married, having some guy set up all sorts of pictures of us and going to a party. My wife feels much the same way. By the time we got to our reception it was in full swing and we just had to enjoy. I think that's about as good as it gets.
posted by meinvt at 1:10 PM on June 19, 2011

If there is metered parking, bring change. Heck, put it in your car now. In my experience, it's pretty easy to panhandle on your wedding day.
posted by plinth at 1:14 PM on June 19, 2011

I have to add embrace what goes wrong!

Our Maid of Honor got very ill and had to cancel a few days ahead of the wedding. We asked a local friend at the last minute to take the role even though she hadn't been asked into the wedding party before that. Miraculously she was able to get a matching bridesmaids dress that fit off the rack at David's Bridal.

In our case it was the flower girl getting a case of nerves and running up to the balcony right before her spot in the march. Her older brother the ring bearer decided that wasn't okay and chased after her. It took a non-wedding party friend to chase them down because everyone else was already occupied or at the front of the church. So the procession went on for minute after minute with my cousin's head popping out around the organ enclosure at the front of the church giving play by play of the balcony chase to my aunt the organist who kept going over the processional repeat. Eventually the kids were pointed in the right direction and my wife (who'd been stuck for the whole time in back unable to see me, the crowd, or WHAT was going on) finally heard the music switch over and was able to come out and walk down the aisle.

We got grass stains on the wedding dress shooting pictures before the reception.

By the time we got to the reception all the appetizers had been eaten, including the two dishes that we'd loved the samples of so much that we'd decided to select that caterer. Some pieces were saved for us, but not from one of our favorite dishes.

So, embrace the day you are having, not the one you'd planned! As you can tell, some of these are now our favorite wedding stories.
posted by meinvt at 1:21 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I wish I had asked for more time off of work. Get as much as you can. They won't fire you for asking.
posted by michaelh at 1:48 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

We didn't have a receiving line and I think that was a mistake. I guess we were concerned about efficiency.

I've been to a couple of weddings at which there were group pictures on the church steps - all attendees, everybody. I wish we had a picture like that from our wedding.
posted by lakeroon at 2:34 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Right before our wedding, my lovely step-mother put together a time-capsule for us to open on our 25th anniversary, and she had all of our grandparents and parents write us letters. She also had us write each other letters. After our rehearsal dinner, before I fell asleep, I wrote the most passionate, weepy, love letter to my soon-to-be husband-- to be delivered in 25 years -- all about what I hoped our marriage would be like, and how I felt about him. He did the same.

We're fourteen years in now, and I'm really looking forward to opening that sealed box in eleven years. Two of my grandparents who wrote letters are now gone, and all of them will probably have passed away by then. I'm sure it's going to be incredible to read their words at that stage in our marriage, and I'm very much looking forward to re-experiencing the sweet overflowing love my husband and I felt for each other when we were so young and starting what we were sure would be our thrilling adventure together.
posted by mmmcmmm at 3:05 PM on June 19, 2011 [18 favorites]

I didn't anticipate that I wouldn't get any sleep the night before, and be really really tired all day. I'm not sure what I could have done to avoid or mitigate this (sleep more the night before the night before the wedding?) but try to get some sleep.
posted by Clotilde at 3:14 PM on June 19, 2011

(I probably didn't sleep the night before out of nervous/excitement, by the way...)
posted by Clotilde at 3:14 PM on June 19, 2011

There were a couple of unexpected things that happened at my wedding, but I don't know how likely they are to happen to other people.

1. My husband's grandfather asked us to turn the music down during the reception, because he is quite deaf and couldn't hear conversation. Then he asked us to turn it down even further. Then again until no one else could hear it at all. To this day, most of my friends think there wasn't any music at our reception at all. I still don't know how best to have handled that.

2. Long-lost family members turned up to the wedding uninvited. We would have invited them if anyone had known about them. No one really knew them, but we were all excited to meet them at last. But I only found out they were there in the reception line leaving the church, and they were gone before anyone had figured out whether there would be enough food to set an extra two places at the reception. We never found out their contact details, so have never seen or heard from them again, and that is said.

3. I got bronchitis a few days before the wedding, and was barely able to stand during the ceremony or photos. This necessitated a lot of drugs. My brother was admitted to hospital the day before for a hernia and had to have an operation. He made it to the wedding, but then fainted in a corner. My other brother, six years old, gorged himself on chocolate cake which he is allergic to, and vomited everywhere.
posted by lollusc at 3:31 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I loved my wedding, but there's one aspect of it that I'd definitely change if I could do things again. To feed our guests, we ordered lots of our favourite veggie foods, then everyone ate until they were stuffed. At the end of the day, this food got thrown away, which seemed to make sense at the time. But it could totally have fed us for the next few days! It could have fed us deliciously! Sometimes I still think ruefully about that sushi pyramid.

(Because of metafilter, we *did* do the thing of finding a small part of the day for my spouse and I to just be together, which is a really great & important tip, I think)
posted by piato at 4:01 PM on June 19, 2011

(Ahem. I am the one person who would have delegated *less*. I guess make sure the people you delegate to are actually trustworthy human beings...grumble, grumble, grumble...)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 4:19 PM on June 19, 2011

More pictures of just me and my husband.
posted by bananafish at 10:09 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would not have underestimated the (well-intentioned, but misguided) insensitive sabotage some of my family members would do to our plans. Bringing friends from their town I met once, showing up on our doorstep while I was at the bachelor party and badgering my fiancee about stuff, arriving to the ceremony hours early and commandeering the entire first few rows for themselves without regard to her family, attempting to change her hairstyle in the dressing room 15 min. before the ceremony... it was crazy. We didn't have a honeymoon right away, but we did make a reservation at a beautiful old hotel in town that had sentimental value to us. As a surprise gift, that was cancelled for us and we were "treated" to a night in some other place we'd never heard of. My wife was in tears not knowing how to deal with them. I was so shocked at what part of it I heard at the time, I... didn't handle it the way I should have, would have, if I'd thought about it beforehand.

On her side, I would say let the small stuff go and stick up for what you really want. Or get him to stick up for what you want. It's ok if it doesn't turn out the way you pictured it exactly, but on the other hand, it's your wedding, have it the way you want it. Don't worry about offending his family if they're being jerks. She's still kind of residually mad at me that I let her wedding day get ruined, 11 years later. To be sure, I deserve it, but resentment's not an especially good way to start a life together.
posted by ctmf at 10:42 PM on June 19, 2011

Maybe to delegate someone as Official People Herder for group family pictures - you wouldn't think it was that hard to get family in one place for a picture! Or airlift in a grandparent who wasn't up to traveling. I'm conflicted on the photographer - we haven't looked at the pictures in a while, but I'm still glad we have them. But they were pretty pricey.

Our wedding was small, and we made it a point to have alone time immediately after the ceremony (also part of Jewish tradition) have a snack and then visit every table. We resisted the call for a receiving line, and I'm glad we did.

Some of the best advice we got was "remember, nobody will notice what you didn't get done." It was really true.

That time-capsule thing sounds lovely. I wish we'd done something like that!
posted by canine epigram at 6:04 AM on June 20, 2011

I was maid of honor in my cousin's small-ish wedding this weekend. We had all of the wedding pictures taken before the ceremony which honestly made life wonderful, because we went right down the aisle into eating, drinking and making merry (no formal receiving line). The guests were happy that they didn't have to wait either. Since we had pictures done at a beach a short drive away, then zoomed back to start the ceremony, so family members were waiting with water bottles in the driveway for us to slurp before things kicked off.

Seconding eating. My cousin forgot to have lunch until after getting her hair done, during which she had to wolf down a pizza in the car.
posted by mostly vowels at 11:56 AM on June 20, 2011

It sounds small, but don't give out alcoholic drinks until after the ceremony. You want people to be present, and not in 'cocktail mode' for that part.
posted by 8k at 11:59 AM on June 20, 2011

I'm not sure what type of attire you will be wearing, but if it's formal wear you might consider trying it on and walking/sitting/climbing stairs/trying to figure out how the heck you use the bathroom with those fancy duds on. I am not the type of person who normally wears big, fancy dresses, though I had a pretty big, fancy (and heavy!) one for my wedding. I nearly tripped up the stairs on the way to the ceremony because I couldn't figure out how to maneuver with all that dress. Then later, I tried to use the bathroom and realized I needed at least two people to help with that.

I wouldn't say any of this affected my enjoyment of the wedding and reception, but I might have felt a little more comfortable, a little less distracted, if I'd worked out some of the wardrobe kinks ahead of time.
posted by reBaker at 1:35 PM on June 20, 2011

Before I got married I was a member of an online wedding forum which held the tradition that after a member got married, they came back to the forum and wrote a little report of their day. To start with this was just a brief "here's how it went" summary, but by the time my wedding came around, people's reports had evolved into short novellas. We didn't go on honeymoon til a few months later, so I was able to write mine very soon after the wedding while I still remembered everything (and I do mean everything - my word, it must have been interminable for the other forum members to read...!).

Looking back now, I'm really, really glad I wrote that report - because when I read it now I remember just how happy I was on that day, and although of course I and my husband and my parents and my friends remember a lot of what happened on the day, and we still have the photos, it's wonderful to have a record of exactly how I felt, and of all the tiny little things that happened that I might, by now, have otherwise forgotten. (An added benefit is that you can send it to anyone who couldn't make it to the wedding themselves - with the best-written of the ones I read, I almost felt like I was there.)

Oh, and if you like flowers, preserve your bouquet. I loved mine so much I couldn't bear to part with it, and it's still making me smile four years later.
posted by raspberry-ripple at 10:41 AM on June 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

I wish we ate.
posted by chunking express at 3:27 PM on June 21, 2011

I just got married on the 19th! Some of this is repeated, some of it is probably too late to help, but it's all fresh in my mind:

ABSOLUTELY skip the expensive photographers. We had a pair of college friends with good eye do it for the cost of their hotel stay.

Speaking of which, if you have room to splurge anywhere in the budget, granted it's likely too late for you (but for other readers' benefit) I'd definitely recommend going with a professional caterer that specializes in weddings. Seriously. I booked a company we use through my workplace for corporate events, but their main gig is weddings. They handled every single detail, including a lot of minor details I'd never have considered, they did a comprehensive walkthrough pre-event, they worked well within our budget, as meagre as it was, they did free tastings for the mister (he's picky, and a vegetarian to boot), and last but not least, they assigned us a banquet captain who I swear is a 24-year-old reincarnation of Jeeves himself. Anytime I needed a napkin or a glass of wine, or we were scheduled to start cake or toasts or whatever, this kid would just... materialize out of thin air at my shoulder. The rest of the time the entire staff was practically invisible. This is the kind of thing you cannot pay enough for on a day that is already fraught with complexity and stress.

I cannot stress enough the importance of taking a break for some alone time. We did our ceremony at 10.30 AM and our reception at 5PM. This allowed us to go back to the house, change, eat a light lunch, and relax. During a week when we had an endless stream of activity and guests streaming through the house at all hours, I can't tell you how important that was.

Delegate, delegate, delegate, delegate, delegate. Assign someone (NOT your maid of honor, for me it was one of my awesome bridesmaids) to make sure you and your groom have enough food AND water (or libation) at appropriate intervals. The way we ran our planning was to build an event schedule on Google docs and share it to our entire wedding party / staff of friends. We assigned one person to be in charge of decorations, one in charge of setup/teardown, one in charge of my personal sanity, the MOH did most of the stage management, and those "leaders" could then work with the rest of the group to assign further tasks; you get the idea. The final days leading in, I did a few things like sign event final contracts and confirm numbers to our hotel folks and soforth but mostly my crew handled the entire thing and I sailed along in a blissful state of "it's handled". And the brilliant part? It was. I never had to lift a finger or make a decision the entire weekend because we had a tightly structured well-planned-in-advance schedule that SOMEONE ELSE was in charge of pulling off.

Don't be afraid to improvise and roll with it. We wrapped our reception tables in brown butcher paper at 9 bucks a roll (my idea) then passed out a bunch of boxes of crayons as party favors (mr. lfr's 11th hour stroke of genius). We now have some wonderful stories and amazing artwork (as well as a few foodstains and lewd comics, but you know).

Remember that nothing is sacred, and you don't need to do the chicken dance or champagne toasts or whatever else you don't care for. It's your party. I nixed a bunch of stuff like the receiving line, the DJ (we had no music at the reception at all), the bouquet toss, the registry, champagne toasts (we both loathe champagne and opted to toast with a high-end local beer instead) all of the "unity candle/sand painting ceremony/guest book/cake knife" wedding industry tacked-on crap, the hideous bridesmaid dresses, and a lot of the other piddly bullshit I and mr. lfr deemed unworthy of our event. Don't be afraid to buck convention. In two years, no one is going to remember what color the flowers were or what linen was on the tables.

And last but not least, be gracious and loving and kind to your planning help and all of your guests, no matter how awkward you feel. I smiled and embraced and thanked a zillion people, despite being leery of personal contact and generally shy and nerdy and socially awkward. These people came through like a bunch of superheroes for me, and I cannot say enough good things about them. Even though we bucked convention and did Evite wedding invitations instead of analog, I am in the process of writing out a bunch of thank-you notes by hand. Because they were just that awesome.

Congratulations! and good luck! :)
posted by lonefrontranger at 5:17 PM on June 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Just wanted to pop back in to thank everyone for all the wonderful tips and ideas! We are very excited and have taken a lot of your advice to heart, so thank you in advance for helping to make our wedding day the best it can be!
posted by pudders at 6:27 PM on June 21, 2011

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