All the months of planning, stress-headaches and difficult decisions have come to an end even if you’ve planned your own wedding. The most important day of your life has finally arrived and it’s critical to have a schedule written in advance to keep everybody (you, your wedding party and your vendors) on track. Normally, writing and confirming schedules is the wedding planner’s job. But if you don’t have one, you have to take on this responsibility.
There are a lot of little things that can be easily forgotten when you’re just focused on the wedding and reception. During my internship with Weddings in Vieques, I learned there are a lot of smaller details that make a successful event. Missing any single one of them can make all the difference in the world.
Taking the lessons learned in the past two months, I’ve made a list of important things you need to take care of yourself if you don’t have a wedding planner to coordinate the biggest day of your life, so far. These are things I’m worried a DIY bride won’t think of as she is planning.
1. Beauty Appointments – This is probably one of the most important parts of your wedding timeline, but it’s also the most ignored or put off til the last minute. It will determine the timing of any other additional activities that you might want to do that day. You need to know EXACTLY how many people are having hair, makeup and nails done, and coordinate with the stylists to make sure you’ve created a schedule it’s possible for them to implement. And if your parents or the bridal party are staying in the wedding villa, make sure they have plans elsewhere on the wedding day so your vendors can actually get things set up and you can move around. Otherwise you’ll be locked in the bridal suite so that nobody sees you ahead of time.
2. Lunch for the Wedding Party – As weird as it sounds, some brides forget to eat anything on their wedding day. Seriously, you need to eat! The gentlemen can all go out someplace together and have fun, but you’re likely trapped at your wedding venue getting beautiful for the main event. Make sure you plan in advance to have lunch delivered unless you can REALLY count on a family member or bridesmaid to remember to feed you. Also, bridesmaids can get really difficult when they haven’t been fed – low blood sugar makes lots of people grumpy. Be sure you take care of their needs as well as your own. It’s thoughtful and the right thing to do.
3. Vendor Arrival Times – Your florist, cake lady, DJ and caterer are bringing the key pieces for your wedding day. If you’re dealing with a narrow or long driveway, each has to be scheduled in a manner that allows them to get in and out to unload without causing a traffic problem. It’s also important to discuss the time of arrival with your photographer, especially if you want pre-ceremony portraits and or those trendy “first-look” photos. Everything you want can happen in a logical and smooth manner if you just make sure you schedule (and confirm the times) prior the event with each and every participant.
4. Closing Time – Remember the SemiSonic song “Closing time, you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.” Have an after-hours plan nailed down ahead of schedule so you know where to send people when the reception ends. They might not be done partying for the evening. If your drunk guests will need transportation, remember to schedule it (and pay for it) in advance so that you know it will actually appear. A lot of brides and grooms are opting for big send-offs now. It gathers everybody together to say goodbye. Lots of our brides likes to do pictures in a tunnel of sparklers – a great finale to a fantastic evening. However you do it, you’re sending the message to your guests that it’s time to clear out of the wedding venue. That part of the evening is over.
There you have it – some secrets to success for key pieces of your wedding! Of course, if you have a wedding planner like my boss Sandy Malone from Weddings in Vieques, you don’t have to worry about any of this because our company does it all for you. But if you’re a DIY bride, these tips should help keep you safe (and on schedule) because they’re coming direct to you from my experience interning with Sandy in paradise.
Be sure to make extra copies of the schedule for those who need them – anybody staying in the wedding villa and your wedding party and parents, of course. It doesn’t matter if you know where they’re supposed to be IF THEY DON’T KNOW when and where they’re supposed to be – make it easy and give it to them in writing.
Janice I. Martínez Díaz, Intern at Weddings in Vieques