curating the perfect wedding guest list

Curating the guest list can be one of the most stressful parts of planning a wedding. Nothing can spark a huge fight quite like your future MIL sending you a list of 65 friends she wants to include when all you wanted was a TOTAL guest count of 30. Or when you plan to invite your entire sorority pledge class, but try to limit your fiancé to 3 friends outside of groomsmen. It requires a delicate balance of compromise, negotiation, and lots of grace / communication to get it right. Here are my "rules" and recommendations for alleviating some of the stress involved:

{all images in this post are by Bamber Photography}

1. First and foremost, figure out what your absolute restrictions are. Maybe your venue can only accommodate 120 guests, tops. Maybe your budget only allows you to have the scale of wedding you'd love to have if you invite a maximum of 150. Figure out what the ABSOLUTE largest number of guests you can have is, and keep that number in mind. Communicate that number over to family members creating guest lists. ("No, you cannot invite 90 'close friends.' We can only have 100 guests TOTAL, Mom.")

2. With every guest, ask yourself this question -- would you take this person out and pay for their dinner? That's essentially what you're doing by hosting them. Do you have an ongoing relationship with them, do you plan to stay close with them long term? Or did they play a very meaningful part of one stage of your life and therefore leave a lasting mark that you'd like to acknowledge by including them?

3. Do not give in to pressure points like "well, they invited me to their wedding" or "they said something to me about attending the wedding" or "we were close for a very short period of time" (but definitely not anymore). It's even OK to say no to certain family members if you're not remotely close and it won't cause detrimental damage to family dynamics to exclude them. (Also - wedding guests-to-be, QUIT ASSUMING YOU'RE ALWAYS GOING TO BE INVITED. Sometimes it's best to keep your mouth shut and just say congratulations when you hear of a friend getting engaged. Be delighted and surprised when you receive an invitation! It is much better to be pleasantly surprised than utterly disappointed. One day you will too be in their shoes, or perhaps you already were. Empathy, y'all!)

4. Remember this aspect of the wedding is not just about you -- you're accommodating your fiance's friends and family, as well as your parents' friends and families too. Sometimes with divorced parents, you may be dealing with 2 - 6+ different "guest lists" to combine, pare down, and work with. Definitely encourage parents to narrow down their lists dramatically if they give you a million people to add, maybe even a set number they can't exceed. This can be tricky territory, especially when someone other than you is paying for the wedding.

5. Make sure to write every single person's name on the invitation you send so there are no questions if just the head of household is invited or the entire family. It's totally fine to personally explain to people (or have a diplomatic family member reach out) if they ask why they were excluded. Leave no room for confusion, however. No one wins when who is invited is left up to personal interpretation -- a guest without a seat and plated dinner at the reception will not be happy, so better to let the disappointment set in on the front end than to deal with that humiliation on the back end. (NOTE:  You only have to purchase enough invitations to send one per household. So don't think you need 300 invites for 300 guests.)

6. It's ok to be uneven on sides -- if you have a huge family and your groom doesn't or vice versa. Try to be fair with friend lists and family friend guests, while keeping in mind who is footing the bill.

7. For coworkers -- do not fall into the trap of "invite everyone or invite no one." People are understanding for the most part (and if they're not, their loss), and it's ridiculous to invite an entire department just for the sake of saving face. DO NOT hand out invitations at work (LAWDAMERCY NO), but feel free to mail invites to those people you are closest to. Use discretion with inviting your boss. (Are you actually close? Will this detrimentally affect your work life if you don't invite them?)

8. GENERALLY, you can expect 75% of your invited guests to attend. This can obviously vary depending on the percentage of guests required to travel to get to the wedding or the time of year (if you're having a Christmastime wedding, do not be surprised to see that number dip to 40 - 50%), but as a general rule, not everyone you invite will come, and some of the people you were CERTAIN would not come WILL come. You will also have some guests RSVP and not actually attend, and some guests show up that did NOT RSVP. You can manage this better by hassling them around the RSVP date to give you a DEFINITE ANSWER and generally pressuring them to be accurate. But all this is to say -- if you can only fit 75 guests in your venue and you want to invite 400, YOU ARE CRAZY AND IT WILL NOT WORK. (Exception:  If 300 of those guests are celebrities / President Obama / people you have absolutely no relationship with whatsoever.)

End point:  It is impossible to include everyone that has ever meant anything in you and your fiancé's (and your families') lives. You must be cutthroat. Who do you actually want to see on your wedding day? You can always blame the venue and say, "We simply don't have room."

Happy planning!

anniversary time:: another list of do-over's!

Every year as I approach my husband's and my wedding anniversary, we get a little older and wiser and look back with retrospect at how we did our wedding, and what we might do differently had we gotten married later. Of course, I would've killed Drew had he not proposed until we'd been dating 8 or 9 years, but this is hypothetical anyways. And also I totally understand that this is coming from a place of having had our wedding exactly as it was (so maybe if we HAD eloped and only had 20 guests, I'd be sitting here writing about the huge Southern wedding we wished we could've had... the grass is always greener on the other side).

{See what we would've done differently one year out here!}

Without further ado, here are the things I think four years out, we might have done differently:

Pay more attention in writing invitations. Include everyone's names on envelopes. Cut down the guest list but communicate clearly to avoid hurt feelings later on.

Smaller bridal party and guest list, probably. As you get older you pare down those you're closest to!

Keep up with thank you notes!!! Better system for tracking, follow up where needed. (I'm still getting flack about screwing these up. Brides, take heed and get organized in this arena!)

Try the pistachio cake!!! Juanita doesn't make it anymore. :(

Pay for a bigger cake.

Opt for a smaller bachelorette party group, and go on a little weekend excursion to a beach city away (like NOLA or Charleston or Savannah).

Hot glue the cake topper to its base, since Ken kept falling off. 

More classic bridesmaid shoes and accessories. I wanted to go whimsical and I did, but I now look back and think what?? Some pretty pink teardrop earrings would've gone with my emerald ones and looked lovely. And an almond-toed leather shoe in a similar hue would have looked a little more timeless than the rounded suede pink pumps I had them wear. But it was just the style then!

Wear Clean Feel bug spray (non-greasy! unscented! my favorite!) to avoid those millions of mosquito bites.

Start the wedding a hour earlier, add on extra hour of dancing. Attend cocktails and serve a simple dinner. I did love our cake and coffee reception but we were starving and I'm sure guests were too!

Not feel bad asserting boundaries and cutting off people who chatted us up too long.

Maybe nix the ice cream bar, since it melted anyways in the 95-degree heat!

Ante up the cash to provide ample champagne for guests. We didn't need to serve a full bar (that's not really our style), but we needed way more champ than we had.

Provide hair stylist for bridesmaids. We did fine without it, but it would've been nice to pamper everyone.

More classic song selections. I've mentioned this before, but I was really trying to be clever with Pour Some Sugar On Me for our cake cutting...

Walk slower down the aisle. I dragged my dad at lightspeed... 

Cut my dad's jacket stays.

Not set an alarm the morning after the wedding. We had all day to sleep in and catch up on rest, but instead we woke up too early and were bored out of our minds all day.

Put more thought into the letters we wrote one another.

Store a nice bottle of champ that ages well in our wine box. 

Opt for a looser style updo and darker lips. Maybe do a lighter nail color. 

Thank my vendor team in my speech.

Do different favors and nicer escort cards and table numbers.

Finalize seating chart the week of/before the wedding and tell people no when they tried to RSVP late.

Pare down our photo list so the things that were most important got captured. Like the punch bowl.

Label items better, have fewer knickknacks for planner to keep up with.

Opt for nicer champagne. Get a bottle of Veuve for me & Drew.

Maybe buy the more expensive wedding dress. I still think about it.

Put more thought into comprising our ceremony script. Change the verses to more meaningful ones.

Dance with my dad to the song he actually requested.

Do a post-wedding brunch to see everyone before they departed.

Cut our honeymoon down to 6 days, 5 nights in Riviera Maya, and not go to Cozumel afterwards.

In all honesty, if we redid our wedding older and wiser, we'd probably elope to some destination beach, only invite absolute closest friends and family, and spoil the heck out of them. We were so concerned with trying to include everyone that we didn't even get to see 1/3 of the guests that came. We didn't have any semblance of an unlimited budget so this would've allowed us to "do right" for a few guests rather than scrape by for everyone (and still piss people off because that's inevitable). We could've sent announcements after the fact so no one felt pressured to give us a gift but could still be in the loop. That would've saved the headache of keeping up with so many table assignments / thank you cards / last-minute RSVPs / getting to talk to everyone. We probably would've been a little sad to not include everyone but I think it would've been worth it. Ah well!!!

Photo credits: Kelsey & Jon Bufkin and Kristine Neeley.

registry recs

Oh, wedding registries! Some people claim that registering for gifts can be one of the most stressful and argue-inducing times in a couple's engagement (someone actually told Drew & me to have a cocktail beforehand to take the edge off!), but I think it's really one of the most fun things you can do together to get excited about the big day.

Perhaps not every couple sees completely eye-to-eye on future home decor or has the exact same priorities (I will say Drew does tend to want massive TVs significantly more than I do), but registering is the time to dream up your future life together and what it looks like on the home front. Will you have a simple, clean-lines airy look with monochromatic toned walls and furnishings? Do you have a love for all things rustic and go for bear-skin rugs and natural wood details and burlap shaded lamps? Or does the coast call for you (as it does me!), with its brightly colored hues and geometric prints and sea-inspired details?

Is a large kitchen, complete with a Kitchen-Aid mixer and nice knives and stainless steel pans, important to the two of you? Or could you not care less about cooking at home and prefer exemplary dinnerware to serve your takeout and catered meals? Maybe with your busy careers, you want a spa-like experience when you come home, complete with plush towels and luxurious bath soaps and matching His & Her robes? Here is your opportunity to dream big and craft together the life you desire.

Think about your priorities, your lifestyle now, and how you want your lifestyle to be. Will you entertain a lot at home? Do you dream of hosting Thanksgiving for both sets of families come next November? Do you want somewhere to just sleep and keep your things with your on-the-go lifestyle? Are you minimalist and plan on moving someday soon? Or are you wanting to settle down and stay put once you've moved in together? All this can factor into the decisions you make whilst registering.

Here are a few basic tenets of wisdom in registering:

1. Who will primarily be fulfilling these registry requests? Are you inviting a lot of family and older family friends to the wedding? Are you fresh out of college and planning on inviting all your sorority sisters and fraternity brothers to the blowout party? Think about your target audience when you choose where and what range of gifts you register for. Options for places to register range the whole gamut, from big-box retailers like Target and Amazon.com to independent boutiques in your hometown. It never hurts to have a range of options but you don't want to be spread too much in different directions. Three seems to be the magic number of registries (but you don't have to follow all the rules). Here are some of your options:  Macy's. Target. Amazon. Crate & Barrel. Bed Bath & Beyond. Belk. Williams-Sonoma. Pottery Barn. Local specialty stores (there are a billion!). Places like Anthropologie also offer "Wish Lists" you can utilize similarly to registries. Then there's honeymoon registries galore, allowing opportunities to add on massage or spa treatments, champagne and room service, etc... The pragmatist in me tends to want to steer you away from doing the honeymoon registry unless you're already completely set with your home life (maybe you live together already and have all the things you'd otherwise need to outfit your life as a married couple, or you're moving to Haiti to become missionaries and don't need any "stuff" whatsoever), since honeymoons are DIVINE but temporary. But you make the call. :)

2. No matter how many companies you choose to register through, it always helps to give a wide range of cost to appease all your guests. Some people like to get big-ticket items. Some people like to go in with others on a large group gift (especially in office or organizational situations). Some people like to give lots of little gifts that have a theme ("outfitting the master bath" or "all you could need for baking"). And then some people wait until the last minute and just need something in their budget. Please everybody by choosing a variety!

3. If you're registering really early (as in, 6 - 9 months before the wedding day, or a few months before your showers are scheduled), try to register for as few "seasonal"  or clearance/sale items as possible. Some things are seasonless, but occasionally you'll fall in love with a set of dishes that happens to be in the spring line at your department store, or decide that you really should register for Christmas decor (since your tree may otherwise be bare). The issue with registering for a bunch of seasonal stuff is that by the time most guests are actually buying you gifts, those items will be insanely hard to find or completely out of stock, meaning that you'll MAYBE get 1 - 2 in a set, they'll be hard to return if you need to, and everyone ends up frustrated. Sale items can be okay (since limited-time sales oftentimes don't necessarily mean the item is going to be discontinued), but clearance things are almost always impossible to find when you need them. Go for the timeless stuff, y'all!

4. With that same thread, I promise you'll be less regretful if you register for timeless goods rather than what's trendy right now. Part of the fun is picking out the super cool printed towels and a set of china that looks so awesome. But the trendier you get, the more likely you are to hate that item in a couple of years and eventually stick it in the Goodwill donations box. Registry items are meant to last you a long time! Go for longevity. Quality > Quantity, usefulness > "cool", things you love > things you like, timeless > trendy.

5. Listen to your friends and ask what they use the most out of the things they registered for and received. Especially since you have a lot of things in common with your friends, their insight will be valuable so you know what to go for versus what to avoid.

6. Don't be afraid to return things you are "iffy" on or change your mind about. Sometimes people will gift you things that are not on your registry (sometimes those things are great and totally valuable -- as in "why didn't you think of that?!"). Sometimes those things were not on your registry for a very important reason (so thoughtful, but it would really take up more space than ever get used...). Get over the emotional guilt-trip and just return what you don't want and won't use. There's no use in taking up too much storage space just because you don't want to hurt Aunt Mildred's feelings. Most considerate friends & family will include gift receipts or return tags (sometimes you get duplicates or find a better price elsewhere, etc... lots can happen!), so get over the guilt and just get rid of what you don't need. Sometimes you register for things and then decide the things you DIDN'T get would actually serve you better. So return the things you don't want anymore and use that credit to get the things you need. Everyone wins. (JUST MAKE SURE TO WRITE YOUR THANK-YOU NOTES AS SOON AS YOU GET THE GIFTS! No one has to know you returned it the next day.)

7. Don't buy into the crazy long laundry lists of things all the stores tell you that you need to register for. Those businesses are for-profit. They don't know you personally, so they're going to be all-encompassing when they give you suggestions on what to register for. You can always err on the side of too much instead of too little (to give your guests more options, remembering that you can always return things you don't need), but don't get stressed trying to register for every last little thing. Enjoy it; this is one of the fun things!!!!

 

Here's a list of items that have historically been really lovely to register for & receive:

  • a lot of towels {they say you can't have too many. if anyone could, i think it's us, since we have about eighty billion, but we haven't regretted it. they stay fluffier longer and it means we can wait longer in-between laundry loads. also, when you have kids you'll need a billion. so go ahead and register for a zillion!}
  • china that is mix-and-matchable {determine whether or not you want to register for the fancy "fine china" -- some people are adamant that it is ABSOLUTELY necessary whereas some people don't use it and it takes up way too much space. but whatever patterns/materials you opt to register for, you will need something to eat on and it might as well be intermixable. you'll get more use, it seems more customized and personal rather than something boring and passé, and it's way less boring! by the way, i am all in favor of fine china but only if you use it on a daily basis. and why shouldn't you? if you spend a fortune on it, USE IT! that "special occasion" you're waiting for is your daily life!}
  • this can be the same as the aforementioned china, but i do recommend getting some attractive yet microwave-safe china {because sometimes you'll need it because life gets busy and we're all human here. save yourself an ikea trip to get ugly boring flat-colored microwave safe china by just registering for pretty stuff that you can pop in the science oven. lesson learned over here.}
  • a steamer & quality iron {drew works as an accountant and i'm a wedding planner, so our steamer comes in INSANELY handy! it's perfect for suits, wedding and nice dresses, pants, linens, everything. sometimes we get too lazy to iron things so we steam and done. however, we use our iron at least on a daily basis. get something good that isn't going to scorch your shirts and actually works. opt for the dripless varieties and read user reviews!}
  • a quality vacuum {nothing is more frustrating that a vacuum that doesn't work well. drew & i scoured consumer reports to find ours -- the hoover bagged wind tunnel anniversary edition. it was around $175 - 250, so not expensive, but works AMAZINGLY for pet hair & everyday use. vacuums are NECESSARY for EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE. so get one! it's a great group gift! ps: our hoover tends to bust through vacuum bands here and there, but they're super cheap to replace and can be found at any home depot, target, lowe's, etc. bags are also easy to find and cheap to replace. and the roller can be found on amazon for cheap, too!}
  • a french coffee press {we got a legit coffee maker too, but we use our french press daily. it's easy to use, doesn't make TOO much (only 3 - 4 cups at a time), is easy to clean, doesn't require coffee filters, and produces delicious coffee. cheap, easy, awesome. and pretty! who doesn't feel fancy boiling water in a kettle and making freshly-ground coffee? related items to register for (nice but not totally necessary):  coffee grinder & kettle}
  • a laundry sorter {ours is a combination dirty-laundry sorter and ironing board. drew even uses it as a desk in our bedroom, too. more attractive and takes up (kind of) less space than a traditional ironing board/hamper set. easy to dump into the washer.}
  • organic cotton sheets {these are softer and more temperature-appeasing than normal high thread count cotton sheets. if you're hot, they're cool, if you're cool, they're warm. they're super soft and not terribly expensive. we got ours from target and adore them. get at least 3 sets! i also recommend 1 -2 sets of flannel sheets for the most frigid winter nights}
  • nice, heavy silverware {i like 'em heavy yet dainty. opt not for wooden handles because they warp in the dishwasher. go for timeless because these will last you a long time!}
  • NICE QUALITY KNIVES {nothing infuriates me more than flimsy, cafeteria-grade knives. i'm serious, y'all. get them sharp and built to last!}
  • NICE QUALITY POTS & PANS {you just have to have them if you cook or plan on having anyone in your house to cook. i like copper, but stainless steel is great too. you can do the teflon-coated skillets but some naturalists are against them. see below.}
  • A CAST IRON SKILLET {yes, you need at least one. are you southern or not?! you can make literally anything in one and you can't live without it. trust me. get one in every size if you're truly southern.}
  • a casserole dish, preferably with a lid - monogrammed carrying case optional {ARE YOU SOUTHERN!? if so, you must. there is no question. we did not heed this advice until well after our wedding and it came back to haunt us at every thanksgiving, christmas, and potluck to come. BE WARNED!}
  • a kitchen-aid mixer {if you ever plan to bake anything}
  • a hand mixer {if you ever plan to make frosting, mashed potatoes, pie, or bake in a pinch or on the go}
  • a Silpat silicone baking mat {this is perfect and necessary for biscuit and cookie making. see also:  biscuit cutters, rolling pin, airlock cookie sheet}
  • airlock cookie sheet {this is a cookie sheet that has little air bubbles underneath the flat sheet to provide for even cooking. ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY for cookie baking, unless you want black-bottomed burnt nasty cookies or biscuits. also helpful for anything else you plan to stick in the oven, including toast. DO NOT EVER PUT THIS IN THE DISHWASHER OR IT WILL BE RUINED FOREVER!}
  • miscellaneous kitchenware:  rubber spatulas, a can opener, a bottle opener/corkscrew, flat spatulas, a whisk, a sieve, a cheese grater, a slotted spoon, an ice cream scoop, pizza cutter, garlic press, measuring cups for liquid and solid measurements (everything down from 1/4 teaspoon to 1 cup and 1/4 cup - 4 cups for liquid), pot holders, pretty kitchen towels and washcloths, the list could continue forever...
  • a food processor {despite the fact that i rarely used mine in college, drew and i use it on a daily basis now. do yourself a favor and get a mini one and the full-size.}
  • a blender {i recommend the glass ones instead of plastic. they blend better and don't drip or break nearly as easily.}
  • attractive bathroom accessories {ours are hammered silver and they just look so pretty! don't get ugly stuff because you'll be looking at it daily.} don't forget your shower curtains, hooks, and memory-foam mats!
  • coffee cups {i love really pretty ones that may not be super matchy-matchy but at least coordinate.}
  • mixing bowls {i recommend two (medium and large) metal mixing bowls, as well as a set of nesting bowls in all sizes. these come in so handy!}
  • baking pans {a muffin tin, 8" round cake tins, a long rectangular brownie pan, a roasting pan, a 9" square cake tin, a springform pan if you plan to make cheesecake.}
  • magic strips {for even baking in cakes and cheesecakes!}
  • a le creuset dutch oven, or similar {le creuset is the famous supplier of these amazing pots, but we have a similar one of a less-notorious brand and it still comes in handy ALL THE TIME! love love love. we also love our rachel ray casseroval!}
  • crystal glassware {i love riedel stemless wine glasses and also love our crystal highball and rocks glasses that we use for everything.}
  • glass "tupperware" {it doesn't have to be name-brand, obvs. but get something you can put leftovers in so you're not using old empty cool whip containers. and glass is safe for the science oven!}
  • entertaining things:  a serving platter or two, a serving bowl or two, serving utensils, cloth napkins, a table linen or two, some placemats, candlesticks, a cake stand
  • practical things:  a plunger, a toilet brush, trash cans, cleaning supplies, a broom, a mop, a bucket, sponges
  • outdoor entertaining things, if applicable {plan on spending some time partying with friends on your back deck or patio? i recommend pretty but plastic dinnerware, some anti-mosquito candles, and a lovely furniture set. we got ours from ikea and it can't be beat for an apartment entertaining hub!}
sources:  west elm, anthro, crate & barrel

sources:  west elm, anthro, crate & barrel

That's just a teensy bit of advice for you! Now, go grab that scanner and get to work! :)

the case for Month-of Coordination

From time to time, I will occasionally get inquiries asking about day-of coordination services for a couple's wedding. Some brides are disappointed or confused as to why my least extensive wedding package is for Month-of Coordination. I absolutely understand the concerns of a limited wedding budget, that some brides are fully capable of throwing a fabulous party with panache and just want somebody to be there to make sure no major crises occur, and also that it can sometimes be a little tricky to articulate exactly why having a third party involved for a few weeks pre-wedding is SO important.

For most brides, the wedding they're planning is their first -- therefore, they don't have the prior life experience of being a bride and living out their wedding day.  If they are anything like I was, they think, "Oh, everyone keeps telling me our wedding is going to fly by, but I just don't think it'll be that way for me. I'm so good at staying in the present moment and will definitely be taking all those mental pictures all day long. Piece of cake." Unfortunately, they are WRONG. Yes -- I STRONGLY recommend that every bride of mine takes mental pictures all day long. I strongly recommend making a conscious effort to stay in the present moment.  But I INSIST that they develop a keen sense for delegation early on. We are all humans and subsequently we have limitations. We cannot be in multiple places at once. It does not matter how fantastic of a party host you or your mom is, you will not be able to do everything by yourself. Or you and her. (Umm, don't you want your mom around to be with you on your wedding day, instead of setting up tablescapes in the reception hall while you're putting on your dress?)

This mom-helping-her-daughter-into-her-dress moment wouldn't have happened if Mrs. Bartley was trying to set up centerpieces!  Glessner Photography .

This mom-helping-her-daughter-into-her-dress moment wouldn't have happened if Mrs. Bartley was trying to set up centerpieces! Glessner Photography.

I cannot stress enough how VITAL it is for you to focus on your marriage as you're getting married. While YES, it is the most important party you'll throw... it's also the ONLY wedding you'll have (God willing and you take the covenant seriously). You need to be the bride. Your mom needs to be the mother of the bride. Your groom needs to be the groom. Your maid of honor needs to be your right-hand lady. (And NOT the slave labor.) Why would you trade a role you will ONLY get to play ONCE IN YOUR LIFE for a role you can play every single party you throw, from here on out? This is not a matter of your capacity to do something. If you are really that stubborn about doing everything all by your lonesome, you can probably do it... but you're going to be miserable. You're going to be stressed. You're not going to have fun. You're not going to be focused solely on your impending marriage.  Why go through that??

You may be reading this and thinking, "Yes, duh, of course -- that's why I want a coordinator. But only for the day of the wedding!" This is for you: 

Back to delegation. Let me just tell you from personal experience that from six weeks leading up to your wedding, time will elude you like nobody's business. Those days are going to fly by so fast until you're in the single-digits on your countdown and pulling your hair out. I seriously have not met a single bride who has ever told me otherwise. You are juggling not only the final details surrounding your wedding, you're making travel plans and buying camera cards and packing suitcases, you're attending your own showers and bachelorette parties and wedding-related festivities, you're writing eighty thousand thank-you cards, you're mediating family relations as people start trickling in from out-of-town, you're loving your future husband and keeping him calm as he does the same (as well as getting extremely excited and impatient to JUST GET MARRIED ALREADY)... you have a LOT on your plate. A lot.

I guarantee that if you try to do it all on your own in those weeks leading up to the big day, something will get lost in translation. Maybe that means you won't rent the trashcans that your venue doesn't provide but your caterer needs in order to bus tables. Maybe that means that some DIY project you slaved over for two months gets shoved in the back and forgotten. Maybe that means that the wrong song is played during your ceremony. It doesn't matter how detail-oriented or awesome of a party planner as you are -- you are human, and you will forget something. Something will not be communicated to an important party. Someone will show up at the wrong time. Something will be placed somewhere you didn't want it to. 

Even if you hire a day-of coordinator, how is she (how am I?) supposed to know you well enough to make big decisions on your behalf? How is she supposed to know your priorities and how they rank up to you? If (and when) something you've thought up isn't actually feasible the way you planned for, how is she supposed to problem-solve in a way that will satisfy you? How are you, someone who hasn't planned your own wedding before, supposed to know how to do everything leading up to the big day? Would you hire a contractor to just start building a house for you on the day you want it built? You can hand him some blueprints and a list of things you need taken care of, but is that really sufficient for something as important to you as your home?  Yes, you may live in that home forever and your wedding is just one party on one day -- but you're making a lifelong commitment. You will look back on your wedding photos and remember how you felt that day. Were you happy? Stressed? Frazzled? Why taint your own memories of how you started your marriage with regret and discontent?

It is a huge relief to hand over some of the responsibility to a professional wedding planner the month before you get hitched. To have someone act as your liaison, to review your contracts and make sure that the vendors you've hired deliver on what they've promised you. To have someone to answer questions about things you do not know. To calm your mother-in-law's nerves when she thinks you've inadequately planned everything (She's just nervous. Forgive her early on). To have someone devise a schedule based on how actual events ACTUALLY go (not just some vague idea of "well, maybe it'd be good if we did this then...") and write up a well-composed and organized detail sheet that EVERYONE involved with the wedding gets, so there are no substantial questions left unanswered. To communicate your desires and plans effectively with your vendors (because they will inevitably have questions in the weeks leading up -- they are probably not mind-readers), since you will probably not have unlimited time to keep answering the same questions time and time again.

Got a lot of personal items you're wanting to display? It helps to hire someone who knows you and your tastes well to ensure everything will be placed perfectly according to your wishes!

Got a lot of personal items you're wanting to display? It helps to hire someone who knows you and your tastes well to ensure everything will be placed perfectly according to your wishes!

Wedding coordinators are kind of like external memory drives. You need to load all of your information into my head in order to make sure your wedding turns out how you planned for it to. You need to load your vision into my head so I can see it the same way you do, and make it look that way. There is a relationship involved. An important relationship. How deep are relationships built over the course of a day? (Not very deep.) 

That's the long answer. Here's the short version, which I sent a bride this morning:

 

In my experience, it’s extremely important to be involved a few weeks in advance of the wedding day in order to ensure that every vendor is on the same page, all important details are communicated effectively, and that everything will be exactly how my couples want their day to go. There is unfortunately too much room for error in trying to throw everything together a few days before the wedding — you only get one shot at the day, and that’s it! I want to make sure that all of my clients and their families are able to thoroughly experience their weddings and get to play their roles of ‘bride’ and ‘mother of the bride,’ etc — not trying to answer questions and make decisions when they should be enjoying themselves and dwelling in the sanctity of the day.
The most important part of your wedding? The marriage.  Kristine Neeley .

The most important part of your wedding? The marriage. Kristine Neeley.

So there's my two cents! When making plans for your impending nuptials, think about how you want your day to feel, and how YOU want to feel on your wedding day. How important is your sanity? Obviously, you should do what you can afford and make the best decisions based on what your options are. But if you're debating between hiring a month-of coordinator and a day-of coordinator, do yourself and your sanity a favor and opt for the month:) Questions? Comments? Write me below or shoot me an email at kelly@kellydellingerevents.com :)