The trouble with planning a wedding is that it’s most likely your first and only time planning one. Plus, you’re not an event planner, so how would you know all of the little tiny details that end up being super important on the most special day of your life?! It’s enough to make anyone go crazy! I just happen to be an event planner (now), I wasn’t when Aaron and I got married, but clearly I have a passion for planning, organizing and partying! 🙂 Same with Aaron – maybe that’s why we work so well together!
I thought long and hard about the top five things that were most important to Aaron and I at our wedding in the hopes that maybe you and your future spouse have similar priorities. Before you read what I ranked as our “must have’s” I want you to keep in mind that your Top 5 Must Haves are going to be super personal to your and your “future Mr. or Mrs. forever.” The most important part about your list is that you discuss it with your significant other and you both decide on your “must haves” together.
- Hotel and Transportation for Guests: Aaron and I knew we were going to have out-of-town guests at our wedding. We also knew that there’s nothing worse than being forced to go to a location that you’ve never been to and scrambling to figure out where to stay and how to get from point A to point B with little to no guidance. We went to a wedding before ours in an area where Ubers and taxi’s just didn’t exist (no it wasn’t a small town with one stop light – it was surprisingly a well populated area!) The bride and groom did not have transportation for guests and the hotel was not walking distance, so we had to rely on one person to be the designated driver for a dozen people in one rental car. Talk about the back and forth trips she did – lol! It was very important to us to have a hotel walking distance to the wedding venue, and all restaurants, bars, things to do, etc. in the area. To be honest, we just wanted everyone to be drinking as much as us and having as much fun as us. It’s never fun having to worry about logistics. Also, in the area that our guest hotel was there are Ubers, taxis, and pedicabs. Plus, the hotel was reasonably priced (With a heated pool!) and the location was close to the airport (and our house), which we were very happy about for overall convenience.
- Photos: I’m obsessed with them. Obviously! It was very important to us that we had a great photographer who we felt comfortable working with all day long. The true test was our engagement photos before the wedding. But, above all else, it was extremely important to me that our photographer capture all of the memories and the loved ones who took time out to share this special day with us. Aaron and I created an organized list of all the people we wanted a professional photo with. It’s not enough to say “Family Photos” because what if your parents are divorced? Do you really think your mom wants a photo of you, your spouse, her, your dad and his new wife? If she does then I’m impressed by how mature she is! For me, I didn’t want to forget to capture a photo with just my grandparents, and another photo of all the “Bloom” granddaughters (my cousins, sister and I), and photos of my sorority sisters and I. The list went on and on! Having a list allowed our photographer to organize the best plan of action beforehand and to task her second shooter in getting specific grouping of people “on deck.” When all else fails, ask your photographer for a sample list as a starting point. Also, having a hashtag to be able to crowd source photos from your friends is key! You might think it’s lame to create a custom hashtag, but honestly it’s so fun to look back at the photos your friends took. If the hashtag is too popular (#smithwedding) then you may never see your photos! Have fun with it and add it to your Save The Date, invites, menus, etc. We had a chalkboard sign of our ceremony instead of wasting paper and that was on it. We also had mini chalk boards on the bar, cake tables, buffet tables and some of the guest tables, which had the hashtag displayed sporadically too.
3. Run of Show – Okay, I’m kind of kidding by calling it a Run of Show. If you know me professionally, then you know I create Run of Shows for every event, media appearance, photo shoot, etc. A Run of Show is essentially a timeline and I live by timelines. When I am planning an event, I create minute by minute “Run of Show” or timeline that includes the people involved, the location, the task, etc.. I realize not everyone loves to create these. However, for an all day event like a wedding (yes, women start getting ready first thing in the morning, which makes it an all day event), it’s super helpful to talk to your vendors and understand the amount of time they need along with taking into consideration for travel, not just driving, but also walking to/from places. A timeline is a good parameter and a great double check for you to make sure that you’re within your timeframe, on time, and that you’re checking off everything that you’re wanting to do in one day. There’s a lot to keep track of and I don’t know about you, but my memory can’t hold all of that information. To be honest, I usually create a Run of Show, make edits a few times, that when it comes to the event I already know the gist of the timeline, but having one already made puts me at easy because I can reference it at any point instead of thinking, “oh crap what do I need to do know and what am I forgetting?!”
4. Officiant and Master of Ceremonies – Aaron and I didn’t want a super long ceremony, but we also wanted it to be meaning full. We’d been to those ceremonies where you can tell that the officiant met the bride and groom the day of and it’s kind of awkward. We’ve also been to those ceremonies where the vows are super emotional, which there’s nothing wrong with, but we knew we wanted the ceremony to be fun and entertaining first and foremost. We asked around. We talked to venues, wedding planners, friends, etc about the best ceremony they had been to and why, and if it matched our goals we asked about he officiant. We also interviewed our officiant to make sure we had chemistry, to get to know him, to allow him to get to know us as a couple, and also to understand how he would create the ceremony and our involvement. We were able to watch some of the ceremonies that he officiated and we had the ability to do further guided wedding classes with him too. Some officiants don’t offer wedding classes and some require it, so it really depends on what is important to you. As for the Master of Ceremonies aka the hype man akaka the EMCEE, we wanted to make sure we had someone who wasn’t cheesy, could get a room under control and pump them up at the same time… more on this below!
5. Dance Party – The entire flow of the “event” was very important to us, so we chose a venue that had a great flow from ceremony, to cocktail hour, and then to the reception. (This includes how you walk from each, the flow of traffic, stopping certain activities for traditional wedding activities, etc.) When there’s an event that has a very choppy flow of events, it can be exhausting for guests to have to move from place to place interrupting conversations and not allowing them to enjoy themselves. Plus, no one wants to go into a room that only has a dance floor and nothing else. If that’s the case then that means that the other areas where people would be congregating don’t have any music so they have to listen to that awkward silence. Lighting is also a huge help when setting the mood for a dance floor. No one wants to be able to really see each other when they dance, but if it’s in an area where other things are going on like a photo booth, you need to make sure that you have a powerful enough flash. Lastly, alcohol and dancing go hand in hand, try to think of a time you danced sober – not possible unless you’re a professional, it’s helpful if the bar and dance floor are close to each other, but not too close that it’s inconvenient to get a drink. It’s also helpful if your bar serves hard alcohol and not just beer and wine. Taking it a step further, it’s also helpful if your bar serves shots. If you’re worried about your guests getting too rowdy then tell your bartender to pretend like they’re not allowed to serve shots and keep an extra eye on the guests. Music also impacts the dance party. Even if you don’t like to dance or don’t like pop/dance music, it’s what keeps the party going and is imperative, just like the EMCEE, who needs to be a person who can commend a crowd, understand the timeline, not be afraid to check in with other vendors, like the photographer, to make sure everything is on time. I guess this is a LONG WINDED way of saying that the dance party / DJ was something that Aaron and I were okay with splurging on. I live for a good dance party and ours not only played amazing music, but they mixed music very well, created the perfect ambiance with lighting and controlled the crowd. Sometimes those things can be hard to do as a live band, but either way if it’s a DJ or a live band that you want I highly suggest watching their event videos or going to one of their events.
Those are our “Top 5 Must Haves!” If you’re married or going through the wedding planning process I’d love to hear what your Top 5 are. Comment below!