We all dream of a perfect wedding where everything flows smoothly and nothing goes wrong. But, of course, the reality is that nothing is perfect, and it is inevitable that something won’t go as planned. But don’t let the small problems upset you—just enjoy the day!
Book the Right Vendors (Early!)
But what can you do to make sure that problems are kept to a minimum? Let’s start at the beginning.
The location of your wedding will often determine how far in advance you need to book your vendors. As a former New Yorker, I know that you won’t get your first choice of vendors if you don’t book them at least two years in advance. On the other hand, when I tried to book the bus service to transport our guests from the hotel in town to our very remote wedding venue in Montana, I was told they didn’t open their books until six months before a date.
I’m a strong believer in booking as early as possible to give yourself the best choices. If you’re having your wedding in a hall that provides the catering, music, and flowers, or if your venue requires you to use their vendors, your choices will already be pre-determined. But if you’re responsible for choosing your own vendors, I always recommend getting suggestions from your friends and the venue. This is particularly important if you’re in a remote location where your choices are minimal.
First, you always want to make sure that the vendor you choose is reputable. Check their reviews online, and don’t hesitate to ask for references and call those references. Once you have decided on your vendor, make an appointment to meet them. If you’re planning your wedding long distance, you can set up an online meeting. Bring or email pictures and your wish list and establish your budget beforehand.
When planning my wedding, I met with countless florists because my flowers were quite extravagant. I shared the image of my dream tablescape and floral arrangement with each of them. I told them my budget, and I knew I found the right florist when he looked at my ridiculously expensive arrangement and asked me how I felt about replacing the absurdly expensive rare pink roses in the picture with a more common and available pink rose (that looked exactly the same, by the way).
I did the same for my caterer. The majority of my guests were from out of town, and most had never been to Montana. I wanted my menu to reflect our local cuisine; I wanted huckleberries and bison. Again, when I spoke with the caterer who offered up bison tenderloin in a huckleberry sauce, I knew I had found the right match.
Button Up the Details
So, you’ve picked your vendors. What’s next? Put everything in writing! Every single detail that you discuss and decision you make should be in your contract. If you make changes after the contract is signed, put it in an email and make sure that you get a confirmation of the changes.
One month before the wedding, call or email your vendor and go over every detail again. Confirm their arrival time and make sure that they have directions to your venue, especially if your location is remote. Ask them if there’s anything that you or the venue need to provide.
I’ve heard of DJs showing up without tables to put their equipment on because they assume that the venue was providing them. Make sure they know where they are expected to set up once they arrive at the venue. If your wedding is outdoors, make sure you have indoor plans in place in case of inclement weather. Don’t assume your vendor will know where to go upon arrival. Every wedding is different, and every bride has a different wish list. Create a timeline of your wedding day that clearly lists each vendor’s arrival time.
One week before the wedding, call everyone again! Yes, again! And confirm all those details one last time; you’re not their only wedding, and details can sometimes fall through the cracks. If you’re using a day-of coordinator for your wedding, they should make the week-before call. This way, they are already establishing a relationship with your vendors, which will ensure that everyone is on the same page. If you’re having a friend or someone in your wedding party take care of these details, make sure that they have your timeline, and go over the agenda with them beforehand.
When the Day Is Finally Here
When your wedding day arrives, trust that your day-of coordinator or whomever you’ve entrusted to handle your details is taking care of things. Your job is to relax and enjoy your day.
Trust me—there will be mistakes! Imagine my surprise when my husband and I arrived at our ceremony tent and saw a line inside the catering tent. Apparently, my day-of person didn’t quite understand that the appetizers were supposed to be set up in the reception tent. And believe me, there wasn’t a detail I hadn’t gone over repeatedly. So, we laughed and realized that the only thing that mattered was that our guests were eating delicious food and that we were married.
P.S. Everything else went smoothly the rest of the day!