Weddings come in all shapes and sizes, like the brides that are in charge. I say "brides in charge" because, let's face it grooms, once you plan that elaborate proposal and are engaged, the bride takes over from there. Yes, you help. But it usually is in reaction to requests, however subtle or overt, from your bride to be.
Ceremonies roughly fall into five major categories: Budget, moderate, luxury, elopement and destination weddings. I recently participated in my sister's wedding which fell somewhere between budget and moderate and was a bit of a destination wedding at a lakeside resort. Every detail was perfectly planned and the wedding went off without a hitch all because of the bride's event planning experience and gentle task-manager skills.
Family, friends, bridesmaids and groomsmen were excited for the wedding and geared up for an extended weekend at a lakeside resort. And we were all assigned tasks to do either weeks before the wedding, the day of the ceremony or after the ceremony. When we arrived at the wedding location two days before the event, my lovely bride sister had a three-ring binder with all her wedding coordination plans neatly organized in print. That binder contained the secrets to the most organized wedding I've participated in. If you don't want to hire a wedding coordinator and want to do it yourself, here's how my sister did it. Amend this to suit your wedding's needs/tastes and assign anyone you want to the task(s). The key is delegation and proper follow-up by the bride (and groom).
Tips and Tasks Before the Wedding
- Get yourself a good checklist for wedding "to-do's" - use our wedding guide, Martha Stewart magazine's pull-out, or any other resource you can find to help you with such big items as dress and tux/suit purchases, music secured, minister/officiant reserved, ring purchases, flowers, cake, food, etc.
- Set a budget and stick to it - use the checklist and decide what items are critical to you and which are flexible (example: toasts can be made and enjoyed without the expense of champagne or sparkling wine and people can raise whatever glass they have in their hand)
- Before sending save the dates and invitations and doing any wedding planning, have a heart-to-heart with the groom about what should be the spirit and environment of the wedding
- Use people's strengths and assign tasks they will like and can handle - know your helpers well
- Rely upon both bride and groom family and friends and spread things out if needed - don't keep relying on your maid of honor for everything!
- Throw a party to assemble and address wedding invitations - with all the scrapbooking and fancy paper stores around, it is easy to create a professional-looking invite at a low cost
- Drinks - assign people to pick up kegs of beer, cases of wine and ingredients for mixed drinks unless bartender at receception site has those covered; assign same people who pick up those ingredients to set those items out at the reception (unless the reception site covers this)
- Create notebook with contact information of vendors (for cake, food, flowers, music, minister, etc.) and set an itinerary for the wedding day (i.e., timing of bride's hair and make-up, timing of photos and who gets photos when and where)
- Assign one person to the rehearsal dinner coordination and communication if necessary, etc. (perhaps place the groom's family in charge of this if they are covering costs of this meal and event)
Tasks for Wedding and Reception Set-Up
- Bride reviews notebook with groom and bridesmaids of itinerary and ceremony + reception map w/ location of decorations so others can direct vendors and not have to rely on the bride for all the answers
- If grandparents or others need wheelchair access to buildings or locations, keep that in mind when planning the wedding
- Assign one person to the ceremony location as "site lead" for decorations and to be a runner if needed
- Assign another person to the reception location as "site lead" for decorations, meeting vendors, etc. and enough people to help set up the decorations
- When photos are happening, make sure at least one or two people (a bridesmaid and groomsman, most likely) can be runners for the photographer to gather the appropriate family members at picture time
Tasks for Leaving the Wedding
- Make arrangements ahead of time for transporting gifts
- Make arrangements for transporting extra alcohol and food
- Assign multiple people to take down decorations or remaining items that may be important to keep
My sister must have had many more tasks I was unaware of, but it all happened so smoothly, I didn't notice. Next family wedding I attend or participate in, I'll be fully prepared. Thanks, sis. ;-)
And of course, using TripHub to help plan and coordinate wedding communication is also a useful tool for securing RSVPs, showing maps and giving directions of event locations, especially if there is a weekend-long gathering with multiple events.