As a wedding coordinator, my job is to take people’s wedding plans and make them happen. But since most people are novices at wedding planning, my job is to also guide them through all the logistics to make sure nothing is forgotten. That’s why I have spent hours upon hours developing our wedding planning guide that covers each and every detail of the wedding day. My brides usually are the ones who fill them out and I feel pretty good once we have worked through the whole guide. I’m often working on multiple weddings at the same time, so having a detailed guide keeps everything straight and gives ME assurance that we’ve truly covered everything! So how can it be that we get to a part of the wedding day that feels chaotic? Where people seem to look at each other unsure of their responsibilities? Where I, the “detailed” coordinator, have got burnt on more than one occasion before I learned to spell everything out in even MORE crystal clear terms? I am talking about how to avoid the most common wedding planning mistake – the part of the wedding no one seems to want to think too deeply about. CLEAN UP!
Clean Up Tips
Clean up is an event in the wedding day that needs to be planned for just the same as any other event. Before, I dedicated a page in my wedding planning guide to the dreaded clean up stage, informing people of what duties they need to plan and prepare for, and making sure they have asked volunteers to help. But I quickly found that this wasn’t enough. To help couples avoid the most common wedding planning mistake that leads to NO FUN when people are tired at the end of a long day, I had to spell things out even further. Here are a few tips that I can offer to help you avoid the same mistakes:
1, Unless you are using professional clean-up services, make sure you ask reliable people to stay and help clean up after the wedding. These should be people most likely to be of a sober mind. Ask them personally, let them know about how much time it will take, and tell them their name is on the coordinator’s list of clean up volunteers (just so they know it is official!) Doing these steps will insure a handful of people aren’t burdened with all the work, while everyone else goes missing in action.
2. Think through the taking home of leftover food and cake. Most people don’t think past “my caterer is bringing take-home boxes.” That’s great, but designate which people are going to take the food. Make sure the baker provides take home boxes for both the bride and groom’s cake, if applicable. Designate someone to take home the cake top, usually packed in a separate box.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Part of the reason for the chaos surrounding clean up time is that the bride doesn’t want to enlist specific people to help. You can’t simply mention you need help and then leave it to chance. Especially when it comes to things like your gifts, cards, and personal belongings.
4. Think about what to do with all the flowers – the arrangements, the centerpieces, the bride’s bouquet, etc. Even if you think you’ll just let your guests take some home, don’t count on that as your only plan. Make sure someone has a vehicle and space to transport the flowers in case people walk out without taking them. Also think about what to do with the flowers afterwards. Some people choose to take them to a nursing home or similar facility and donate them to the residents.
5. Read your venue contract carefully and know what the rules are ahead of time. Does trash need to be taken out to a dumpster? Every venue is different and you want to make sure you comply with the rules, especially noting the time everything has to be out. Plan and give your party plenty of time to pack everything up.
6. Know what your coordinator’s duties are versus your own. Here’s where I have had to get very specific. Some parties are helpful and cooperative, and some unfortunately will seek to take advantage by neglecting their responsibilities and expecting the coordinator to do their jobs. Your coordinator has worked a very long day and shouldn’t have to step in because you failed to plan accordingly.
These are just a few tips to help those “left behind” avoid a nightmare scenario while you drive off blissfully as the newly married couple. Take some time to avoid the most common wedding planning mistake and plan out the “clean up” stage. You want the ones you love the most to be able and leave as quickly as possible and still feel good about the special day you worked so hard to create!