A common question that we get from brides and grooms-to-be is, “Why do you need to be at the wedding location for 12-16 hours, when my wedding and reception is only six hours long?” Fair enough, that might not seem to add up at first glance. The answer is it takes a lot of preparation to get the day ready for you and your guests. We arrive in the morning because it takes many hours to prepare and set up the ceremony and reception sites. Vendors start to arrive throughout the day and immediately look for the wedding planner because they have questions. Much of the job throughout the day is answering questions from vendors to ensure everyone is on the same page and handling last minute “surprises”. No less than one hour before the ceremony begins, we want the ceremony site and dinner/dancing areas to be ready for the photographer, along with being fully prepared just in case any guests arrive early. Once ceremony time approaches we greet guests, get the ceremony happening, ensure a smooth reception and then clean up everything after the guests depart. Our main job is to worry about your wedding so that you don’t have to. Of course, we do this all with a smile!
Here is a general timeline of the day:
- 9:00 am – We (the wedding planner and assistant) arrive at the venue prior to other vendors. First we check in with a site contact to discuss any last minute changes and updates. We spend the next few hours setting up items provided by the client, handle last minute “surprises,” oversee the rental delivery and set-up, answering questions from vendors, applying final touches to decor and tending to the bridal party. The list of responsibilities is really long and varies from wedding to wedding, but here are a few that are pretty common:
- A storm is blowing in and everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING) on the dinner tables is getting knocked over and blowing away. We run over with the catering staff and secure all the items.
- The ceremony musician arrived and can’t find the ceremony site, s/he calls for directions.
- The groomsmen are covered in lint, this is no good for photos! We grab our lint roller and clean them up.
- Two guests brought dates that you just found out about last night, yikes! We tell the caterer and make sure they have a seat at at table.
- Someone must do the daunting task of pinning boutineers to the groom and groomsmen. We are pros at that! For some reason the wedding party and family are always terrified of this task.
- Set up all the personal items that the client brought: table numbers, escort cards on welcome table, cute signs directing people around the venue, party favors at each seat, guest book, pen for guest book, basket for cards, family photos in frames (but the client forgot to take off the stickers from the front so we do that too) on the welcome table, place specialty drink signs on bars and more!
- Answer a stream of questions via text, along with calls from the vendors to keep everyone on schedule and the event rolling smoothly. Do you see a theme yet? Being the point of contact for vendors and keep the day on schedule are large parts of our job.
- 3:00 pm – The ceremony and reception areas are set and ready for guest arrival and for your photographer to capture all those details you worked hard planning for the last year.
- 3:30 pm – Guests start to arrive. We greet guests, assist with questions and check on the wedding party.
- 4:00 pm – Ceremony – We invite guests to their seats, line up wedding party for their entrance, cue musicians and cue bridal party entrances. The bride goes down the aisle and we can finally take a deep breath and enjoy how beautiful this day is and how grateful we are to be a part of it.
- 4:30 pm – Cocktail hour – Invite guests from ceremony to cocktails. Make sure that the wedding party and families have water during photos. Many guests ask where to find the bathroom and we point them in the right direction. We also collect the bridesmaids flowers and put them in vases, usually at the dessert/cake table, which saves you money on extra flowers.
- 5:30 pm – Dinner – Time to eat! We invite guests into dinner area for dinner. This takes a while, because guests always go straight to the bar rather than their seat. Next, we line up the bridal party for the grand entrance and make sure the MC has the correct entrance order and name pronunciation. Finally, dinner starts to be served, and five guests find the wedding planner because they have food allergies that they did not mark on their RSVP cards. We find out what they can/can not eat and work with the caterer to make sure they are appropriately fed. Don’t forget about the toasts! We make sure each of the toast givers knows when the toasts are happening and who they are going after.
- 7:15 pm – Dance party – Let the fun begin! We coordinate first dance, father-daughter dance and mother-son dance. Later in the evening we cue the cake cutting , locate the toss bouquet for the bouquet toss and a chair for garter toss. These items are brought to the DJ so s/he doesn’t have to run around locating the items. One person gets way too drunk and needs to go home early, we call the shuttle bus to come pick him/her up. While people are dancing we move the gifts and cards to a pre-determined location for going home at the end of the night.
- 10:00 pm – Event ends – Time for your guests to go to the after party, but no one ever wants to leave. I call this herding the drunk cats. We get guests onto transportation or direct them to their cars or assist people in calling taxi cabs. There is no Uber in Jackson Hole and it is sparse in Sonoma+Napa late at night. Clean up starts once all the guests have departed.
- 10:30 pm – Vendors strike/clean up/break-down – We clean up the client’s personal items and decor, supervise vendor clean up and make sure the the venue is looking as good as when we arrived.
- 12:00 am – When the venue is cleaned up and everything is quiet, it is hard to believe that there was a huge dance party going on just three hours ago! Time to head home for a good night of sleep.
And just like that all of our hard work is over. We absolutely love what we do and are so lucky to be able to participate in all of these lovely weddings with these amazing couples!