How to Decide???

June 5th, 2017
How many decisions went into this one thing?

How many decisions went into this one thing?

Wedding planning (in a nutshell) is just making a whole lot of decisions, one after the next.  Where should the wedding be?  Who should officiate?  What is to eat?  What kind of music?  What color are the linens?  Who is invited?  The list goes on.  And decision fatigue can be a real problem.  So, how do you make the best decisions?  Here are a few thoughts.

I think the best way to proceed is first to decide how detailed you want your decisions to be.  Do you want to control every detail?  That is going to be more decisions.  Leaving small things to chance means fewer decisions.  Then, consider what is most important to you, and base your decisions on the things that are the most meaningful.

Take the question of whether or not you want your guests taking photos during your wedding ceremony–or even during the reception.  What’s the best way to approach this decision?  First, decide if you even want to make a decision.  This is something you can let slide, as it won’t make or break the wedding day.  But if you have already decided that having beautiful, perfect, remarkable wedding photos is a top priority, then it might be important to dig into this set of decisions and figure out what you want and what you don’t want–and what you don’t want to decide about.  But if making sure your guests enjoy themselves is a higher priority, then you have a different way to make that decision.

Some people dislike making decisions so much that they ask their planner to make most of the decisions for them, only reserving final veto power over the major ones.  That usually works very well, because planners are professional decision makers!

You Need A Day-Of Coordinator, Really

May 1st, 2017
The more pieces there are of the puzzle, the more challenging the project!  Photo by T & S Hughes Photography.

Someone has to keep track of all the little things. Photo by T & S Hughes Photography.

I was at a wedding show recently talking to couples who were about 15 months away from their weddings.  What I heard from them, over and over, was, “Oh, I don’t think we need a planner.”

What they didn’t know yet is that I get a lot of calls from couples who are about 3 months away from their weddings, saying, “We had no idea we would need a coordinator!”

If you’re in the very beginning stages of wedding planning, let me help you out.  Here are a few of the reasons you will likely say, “We need a planner/coordinator!”

Reason #1:  Wedding schedules baffle most people.  While I find them a breeze, about 95% of my clients need help making up a schedule for their wedding day.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of:  It’s a specialized skill.  If you don’t know how to create a wedding day schedule, your planner or coordinator does.

Reason #2:  Someone has to keep track of all the stuff.  You’re probably dreaming about all the little things that will help make your wedding day special and unique.  There are the place cards, the guest book, the favors, the centerpieces, the card box, the programs, the candles, the decorative objects, and so many other things.  Who is going to make sure that every object is in the right place at the right time?  Who will keep track of things and make sure that everything is set beforehand and packed up at the end of the night?  There’s one easy answer:  Your day-of coordinator!

Reason #3:  A planner or coordinator is an insurance policy with your vendors.  You’ve hired all these terrific vendors to help you entertain your guests.  You have a caterer and a DJ and a florist and a photographer.  Chances are, they will do a great job, since most wedding vendors are dedicated professionals.  But what if someone is late or forgets what you want?  Having a coordinator who works only for you to help them or remind them of what your wishes are can make all the difference between a good wedding day and a great one.

Reason #4:  Your planner or coordinator will solve problems–and often can prevent them in the first place.  My primary job, as your wedding coordinator, is preventing and solving problems.  I doubt there has ever been a wedding since weddings began where something hasn’t gone wrong.  Sometimes it’s something large; sometimes it’s a few small things.  But there’s always something.  If you don’t want to have to worry about that, you need someone there whose job it is to make things right.  Hiring a professional means you have a designated person for exactly that purpose–someone who is focused on the job alone and not also emotionally involved in your wedding day.

There are lots of other good reasons you might consider hiring a planner or a coordinator, but these are a few that you might not have thought of yet.  So, in addition to the financial benefits of hiring a coordinator, there are many practical reasons to do so.  What are you waiting for?

Re-run: DIY Weddings–Catering

December 12th, 2016

It’s time to revisit some articles about DIY weddings.  Here’s a good one:

Of all the things you might want to do yourself for your wedding, the one I would recommend against without hesitation is catering your wedding reception yourself.  You might think this would be obvious, but I have talked to people who thought they could do it.

Did I mention that presentation is a professional catering skill?  Photo courtesy of Artisan Events.

Did I mention that presentation is a professional catering skill? Photo courtesy of Artisan Events.

I have actually heard of self-catered weddings that were pulled off with a lot of help from friends and family.  I know it can be done, especially if there are people with special skills involved.  So, I won’t say you should never, ever do it.  I’m just going to give you a lot of reasons not to.

Caterers do a lot more than cook in quantity.  They also manage the kitchen; order and return rental items; keep the food (and so your reception) on schedule; hire and manage serving and bar staff; set up tables, chairs, and linens; set the tables; and clean up and take the garbage out.  Caterers also have food sanitation licenses, meaning there is a low probability of spoiled food or food poisoning from their kitchens.  They know how much ice to buy and bring.  Some of them own serving equipment that they provide at no charge.   And that is just the minimum of what a professional caterer has to offer.

On your wedding day, you are going to be very much occupied with, first, getting married.  Second, you will want to spend as much time as possible greeting your guests.  You’ll probably also want to have your photograph taken with many of your friends and family, not to mention with your spouse.  These things will take up most of your day, leaving you no time to be the caterer at your own wedding.

I would say that unless you are able to provide everything a caterer brings to the table, and unless you can also delegate all the catering on the wedding day to a trusted party, hire a professional and save cooking for a crowd for another day.

More on Catering vs. Full-Service Catering

October 24th, 2016
Full-service caterers can set out a beautiful buffet.

Full-service caterers can set out a beautiful buffet.

I’ve written in the past about the difference between “catering” and “full-service catering.”  After working with a couple of not-full-service caterers recently, I have a few more thoughts.

As I’ve said before, any restaurant, chef, or catering company can do “catering.”  That might be as simple as bringing big foil pans of food to your location and dropping it off–along with paper plates and plastic forks.  Especially when restaurants say that they do “catering,” often they mean only that they can make quantities of food for a crowd and bring the food to you.

There are also companies that cater parties–and some even bill themselves as “full-service”–that will cook, bring the food to you, serve it, and even do some of the clean-up.  They are almost always less expensive than the real full-service caterers.  The reason they can afford to cater for so much less is that they agree to be at your location for a specified amount of time–just enough to set out the food, serve, clean up, and go.

If you hire a full-service caterer at full price, in addition to taking care of the food, they will also show up early enough to set up the furniture (for both the ceremony and the reception, if it is a wedding); put the tablecloths on the tables; set the tables; move furniture, as needed; and stay until the very end of the party to clean up the room and put everything away.  Another advantage of a full-service caterer is that they will take care of rentals, including dishes.  You don’t have to have paper plates at your party or wedding.

Another thing I like about full-service caterers is that the bartenders are also their staff, and that means that there are no miscommunications between the caterer and the bartending staff.  It means that all the necessities for bartending will be available (ice, lemons, limes, and so on) without any last-minute trips to the store.

While I prefer to work with full-service caterers, I do understand that sometimes it makes sense to use a caterer who offers fewer services.  The best way to handle a caterer who doesn’t offer all the needed services is to facilitate communication between your caterer, your bartender, and your planner or coordinator to make sure that nothing is missed.