When you’re planning a wedding, things can get complicated quickly. Avoid these wedding planning mistakes to make your ceremony and your reception go more smoothly when the big day arrives.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. Today, I’m here with Faye Broderick, senior consultant at the Essex Room, a wedding venue on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Today, we’re talking about the biggest wedding planning mistakes and how to avoid them.
Faye Broderick: Hi, John.
Common Wedding Planning Mistakes
John: Faye, what are some common wedding planning mistakes that you see brides are making again, and again?
Faye: A lot times, brides don’t allow themselves enough time to accomplish everything in a way that’s going to allow them a little downtime before the wedding. One thing I like is if you’re having a Saturday wedding to have a Thursday rehearsal, so that if you get that done two days…
John: Often, it’s the night before.
Faye: If you have that rehearsal on Thursday, it gives you all day Friday, hopefully, to relax. Maybe that’s the time you have your nails done, do a bridesmaids luncheon, maybe get a massage, all of those things that are going to relax you going into the big day.
I would also say if you’re having a Saturday wedding, again, back it up to Wednesday. Just give yourself some time to relax.
Also, if you’re doing a lot of DIY, do it yourself, things, hand tying bows on 3,700 bags of saltwater taffy or something.
John: Making all the centerpieces or something like that.
Faye: Exactly. Try and do that as far ahead of time as possible. Get your bridesmaids together. Have a party. Grab some bottles of wine, have some cheese, order a few pizzas and get that done as much ahead of time as possible, so you can enjoy those last few weeks and get the rest that you need before the big day.
John: You don’t want to be up until midnight the night before your wedding trying to make your centerpieces for your tables and things like that.
Faye: Or your favors, which I’ve seen. I’ve seen people cutting the dust jackets for CD covers at midnight the night before the wedding and then someone’s racing to get them to the venue before the ceremony, so they can be set up and dropped off.
It’s not pretty. It’s added stress. You don’t want that at the day of your wedding.
Other Bridal Mistakes
John: What are some other mistakes that you see brides making?
Faye: A lot of brides are so excited that they’re getting married that they skip a step. They pick a date, they pick a venue, they set a guest list, and they send it out the Save the Dates. Save the Dates aren’t an engagement announcement.
Yes, you want to tell everyone that you’re engaged, you want to share the happy news, and there are many ways to do that. A formal engagement announcement is one way. In this world of social media, most everyone is hopping on Facebook and Twitter.
John: It’s so easy to do that.
Faye: Save the Dates should be sent only to your final guest list, those guests that are going to be invited to the wedding. If someone who gets a Save the Date isn’t invited to the wedding, the time is going to come for that invitation to be in the mail and they’re going to be wondering, “What happened?”
John: That actually happened to me somewhat recently. It was actually an older couple that we were friends with, my wife and I. They were getting remarried after some years and they sent out Save the Date cards or handed them to us at an event that we were at.
We actually had this magnet on our refrigerator for about a year. Then we kept thinking like, “OK, we’re going to get that invitation one of these days,” and then we never got one. The day came and went and we were like, “OK, I guess that something must have come up and they must have had to reduce the list.” It was one of those situations, like you said, when we were wondering, “OK, what’s going on?”
Faye: Save the Dates are especially important if you’re planning around a holiday, or a holiday weekend, or in the summer when people vacation the most, or if you have a lot of guests traveling. Those don’t really need to go out except in those instances. I would say, until six to eight months before.
Although, we are seeing a trend in brides and grooms sending their invitations out earlier in order to get the responses back sooner.
John: They don’t have to deal with that like right up to the last minute.
Faye: Exactly. Use your judgment, but again please don’t send those Save the Dates until you’ve finalized who you’re inviting to the wedding.
John: It makes things very awkward.
Faye: Just a little.
John: What else?
Faye: Another thing that we found is that people are spending too much on the minutia. To me, minutia is favors to other people. It might be food, beverage, or entertainment. Generally speaking, we tell people the things that their guests are going to remember most about their wedding is the food and the music.
That’s probably where I would spend my money in addition to the photos, but that’s me. Do people care about the little bag of Jordan almonds on the table? Maybe, maybe not.
In most cases, the favors are left behind. I think that it’s a nicer gesture to make a donation to a charity in honor of your guests in their names, something along those lines. A charity that’s close to your heart. Maybe something has affected your family and everyone knows it, a cancer, or a sickness, something of that nature.
Make the donation, put out the sign, and call it a day, rather than, again, tying the 300 bows and having 300 bags of saltwater taffy left behind.
John: Great advice. What else?
Faye: A lot of brides don’t always go over every single detail leading up to the big day with all of their vendors. I’ve seen an instance where a bride didn’t let her DJ know that she changed her timeframe at the reception hall, so the DJ was late. No one could find him. No one could get a hold of him.
There is spotty cell service areas in some places. We might have a cell phone number, but we might not be able to reach that person. You want to make sure of that. Even if you’ve gone over everything with your venue and maybe your florist and your efficient. If he’s performing the ceremony there, you want to make sure the DJ knows, the photographer knows, the videographer knows, the limo driver knows.
Make sure everybody knows every piece of information for your wedding day.
John: Do you go through and just call all of them the week before the wedding and just make sure that they have all the details correct?
Faye: You want to call them a week, maybe two before the wedding. Usually, what we do at the Essex Room is we’ll have a meeting with our couples a week or two before the wedding to go over everything one last time. Dot all the I’s, cross all the T’s, and make sure we’ve got everything right and make sure we’re on the same page as the bride.
At that point, we’ll hand over a timeline of the day as we see it. Go over that. Make any adjustments that need to be made, and pass that on to the bride. At that point, she can maybe send that off to her other vendors.
John: Are there other mistakes that you see people making?
Faye: I think people sometimes take on too much. Especially, when we’re talking DIY, which is such a big thing right now. Everybody wants to tie the bows, and paint the glasses, and make the centerpieces. We see a lot of origami these days.
Do you really need to fold a thousand origami cranes by yourself? You can order them online. I understand that you want to do it. You want to create your day in more ways than one. You want to be hands on, but it’s not necessary for you to take on every task by yourself, especially if you have a bridal party or friends and family that have offered to help.
Don’t Worry About What You Can’t Control
John: Is there a big gap between what brides worry about before a wedding and what can actually go wrong on a wedding day that they should prepare for?
Faye: Everybody worries about the weather. That is the number one worry of everyone, especially if they’re planning an outdoor ceremony. You can’t control the weather. Worry about the things you can control.
Again, going back to your vendors, making sure everybody knows what’s going on when. Your bridal party, your parents, your guests, making sure that everyone knows where they need to be and when. Don’t worry about the things you can’t control.
John: For the weather, is it a good idea to make sure that you do have a contingency plan for if it’s raining at this time in the morning before the wedding, then we’re going to call it and this is where the ceremony is going to be instead? That would probably give you a little bit of peace of mind to know.
Like you said, you can’t control the weather. Maybe it’s going to rain. Maybe you’re going to end up having to have the ceremony inside or the reception inside or whatever, but you know that you have a plan in that eventuality that that should take a little bit of that weight off.
Faye: Absolutely. We have multiple plan B’s in that case, whether it’s an outside cocktail hour, an outside reception, or an outside ceremony. We go over all of those options with our brides.
John: Should brides assign seating as much as possible to avoid issues on the big day?
Faye: Without a doubt. People like a sense of place. Another concern, I should say, is if you decide to do an open seating plan, you want to make sure that you have an abundance of seats so that your guests can mix and mingle, sit where they want, maybe move chairs once in a while.
What I found in attending weddings that have open seating is sometimes people end up without a seat. You might have four guests standing in a corner trying to hold the plate and juggle a wine glass or a cocktail glass and they feel left out.
John: Because maybe they don’t want to split up and there’s two seats available, there’s one table over here and there’s two seats over on the other side, but those four people really wanted to sit together. They won’t want to split up. They end up standing.
Faye: That and you might see a husband and wife who don’t want to separate from each other. Giving people that sense of place, “Mr. and Mrs. Mason, you’re sitting at table two. Mr. Johnson, you’re sitting at table 14.” Give them that sense of place.
John: You probably don’t get as much of that mixing of the families and things like that as well if you just let people sit anywhere, because people have that tendency to want to just sit with people that they know.
Faye: They’ll gravitate towards each other. The other thing about assigned sitting or a formal sitting is that, especially if you have family issues, per se, if there are divorced parents or there’s groups of the family that don’t mix well. We’ve come across that a couple of times in the past couple of weeks.
That gives you the opportunity to separate them on your terms as opposed to they’re coming together in a way that you might not prefer.
John: That’s really great information, Faye. I appreciate you speaking with me today.
Faye: Thanks, John.
John: For more information and wedding planning tips or to inquire about having your wedding at the Essex Room, you can visit the website at essexroom.com or call 978‑768‑7335.