The ugly truth about day-of planning.
As an event planner, the term “day-of” is nails on a chalkboard to my ears. If you’re engaged, ask yourself if someone could step in at the end of the process and pull off a perfect wedding when you’ve worked 200-plus hours for a year to envision it. Answer honestly. If someone can do that, it’s sheer luck, and do you really want to gamble on that?
These days, we have an overload of DIYers planning their own weddings, thinking that with a few handy apps, blogs, and Pinterest, it will all come together. A couple looking for “day-of” planning must think through every detail (assuming you know every detail to think through). Only then can you hand it over, and even then, it can only be managed — not planned.
For our wedding management couples (because I refuse to name a package “day-of”), I end up putting out fires right and left due to oversights. Here are the biggest ones, and my secret solutions, so you can avoid them once you know them!
Not having a timeline meeting with your photographer.
This one is shocking to me, but just today (30 hours before my next couple walks down the aisle), I got a call from their photographer. After receiving my timeline (two weeks ago), she would now like to make changes. She asks to cut cocktail hour in half and move up the sunset photos. The problem? The couple has already paid for appetizers and a bar package. And the catering team was already in place.
My solution: My team served plated meals to the couple so they could hurry and eat. This appeased the photographer’s newfound schedule and didn’t mess with the caterer’s plans.
Not mapping out the logistical flow of vendors.
This is the most common oversight of all. Couples book all their favorite vendors and envision everything magically coming together. Then comes their “day-of” planner to break the news that once their tent is installed the day before the wedding, they won’t be able to access the other side of the fenced-in yard, meaning that the photo booth and bathroom trailers that each need a 15-foot clearance can’t slip in the morning of the wedding.
My solution: We reworked the entire layout of vendors based on arrival time, contract of services, power outlets, and ground level.
Taking shortcuts on rentals.
There are two major crises that happen with vendors. The first is the idea that you can double up use on items like chairs. Couples tend to think that 200 chairs can magically be moved from the ceremony to the reception without anyone breaking a sweat, or guests waiting to sit down. That doesn’t happen. So, while it may seem silly to pay an extra $500 and double up your chairs, it’s the best decision. Also, don’t assume set-up is included with delivery. It’s not!
Helpful tip: You must pay for set-up if you’re not doing it yourself. More importantly, if you do it yourself, plan to break your rentals down to the way they were delivered. That can be a lot of work the day after your wedding!
Thinking your vendors are superheroes.
While you might think your vendors have extra-human abilities, you have to be realistic with your demands. Nobody can be two places at once. Set-up equals sweat, which requires time to freshen up. Your guests will always be asking them questions, in turn slowing them down. Things won’t go perfectly according to plan.
My solution: Ask each vendor their ideal arrival time and if they prefer to stay or set-up, leave, then come back. Get a timeline out to them two to three weeks prior to your wedding that includes all vendor details. This way, they can see when others will be there and ensure there aren’t conflicts.