Time for Lessons Learned: Part 2 where I take a look back at this year and impart some knowledge (some silly, some very practical) which will hopefully help you with your own plans. Last week we focused on DIY lessons. Now some more general items:
Lesson #5: Remember to feed your vendors
Most people are remembering this in their plans, but I wanted to mention it again. It’s important that you not only request vendor meals (and don’t forget to check their contracts to see if it has to be a hot meal, or if a sandwich/packed lunch meal will do), but to consider when all the vendors will actually be eating and add it to your timeline. This not only notifies your vendors that you’ve thought of them (which is always nice for us to see), but it also helps inform the caterer so they know when to have those meals ready. Vendors often eat at different times (and some have specific requests, so always check with them first) - but in general, the photographer and DJ eat during dinner, once the guests have been served. There aren’t any huge moments the photographer will be missing (and pics of people eating are never very attractive), and the DJ is usually just playing a playlist they’ve put together for dinner - it’s not as interactive a portion of the evening (like post-dinner dancing). You want your vendors to have energy to do their job well. Most of your vendors are working very long hours on the day-of. So feed them, please.
Lesson #6: Let go
This is a hard one. It’s hard for me as an event coordinator and planner where it’s my JOB to do my absolute best to make sure there has been clear communication, the event is running smoothly, and it’s everything you want it to be. But no matter how hard you try, at the end of the day, you can’t control it all. I was reminded of this at a wedding this year. I’d had a very long conversation with the D.J. I’d sent multiple copies of the timeline with updates and changes based on his input. Despite all of that, as well as the usual confirmation the week-of, there were major issues. He showed up incredibly late for set-up. He didn’t have the couple’s do-not play list with him. He started the hora without my cue and without double checking the bride and groom were even in the room (they weren’t). It was a tough night for me because I couldn’t understand where all that prep work had gone. What he was thinking about during our conversations, what timeline was he reading when he got my copy, where had their playlist gone since I knew he’d been sent it and had confirmed? But I (and you) can only control so much. Despite all best efforts, sometimes people are going to not do a good job or not follow through. I did everything I could (gave him my extra copy of the playlist, worked around the awkward premature hora start) and then had to let go. I knew I’d done my best. And if you know that, sometimes you need to lean back on that and trust it. Let go and move on with life (or the party).
Lesson #7: Outdoor weddings in DC can be… rough.
This is going to be somewhat controversial, but I’m going to say it anyway: DC is a humid, fairly horrid place in July and August (not to mention the potential thunderstorms). Think carefully if you plan an outdoor wedding during that time. Do you have a rain plan? Are you prepared to sweat all day? Do you have adequate cooling devices arranged as back-up? Does the caterer know to provide extra water so guests stay hydrated? Who will buy the back-up umbrellas? Have you clearly let your guests know it will be outside so they dress appropriately? Are you going to be upset the day-of when there’s not a lot of dancing because the guests simply don’t have the energy? Don’t get me wrong - it can work. But you need to consider all the tough parts about the heat and the rain before making the final call.
Lesson #8: It’s ok to sneak away
I thought I’d end on a fun and romantic note. This summer I had a couple come up to me about an hour before their party was officially to end and asked if it was “ok” for them to sneak away without an official goodbye. When nowadays big goodbyes, with ribbon wands, sparklers and photo opps are the norm, I loved this request to sneak off. I told them they should carefully consider if they have any guests who would be genuinely hurt without a goodbye (the Mom who helped set-up, the Grandma who traveled across the country) but that at the end of the day - it’s their wedding. There are no real rules as long as you’ve considered your guests. I adored them quietly walking off together - it meant they were remembering quite clearly that this party was really about them, their marriage and their time together. So romantic and a lovely way to end the evening, just the two of them. (And for the record, no guests were upset or offended at all...they were too busy dancing their faces off).