Planning Makes Perfect

February 1, 2009 | By More

By Dianne Edwards

Unless you and your child have participated in a number of weddings before either becomes the bride or groom, be prepared to do your homework. If you decide not to hire a wedding planner, those directly involved with the wedding have a lot of decisions to make.

Some prospective couples are happy to have a family member or trusted friend help organize the wedding. Be sure that the vision you have is shared by the planner or assistant. There should be frequent discussions about the plans and the process. Don’t assume everything is being handled. 

Your children may opt for a “simple” wedding, and while that may be a perfect choice, it is seldom a simple matter. There is still the license to obtain, the minister or justice of the peace and location to arrange, clothing, invitations, flowers, the rehearsal dinner, a reception, the honeymoon – you get the picture.

Preparation is the key. Our daughter and her fiancé’ discussed every aspect of their special event from the moment he proposed. While not every groom will want to be actively involved in the planning stages, many do, and their opinions are as important as the wishes of the bride-to-be.

Also, please remember that this is your daughter or son’s special day – the choices they make may not be the same ones you would have made. Let them take the lead. Try not to worry over insignificant details. (She wants light green foliage; you prefer dark. Does it really matter? No!)

However, be prepared to step in when significant matters appear – especially where the budget is concerned. It’s very easy to agree to something at the moment, even when your conscience knows better. Discuss the budget early and often. With some young people marrying later in life, expenses are often shared differently that in tradition circumstances. Consultant the father of the bride, who along with his wife, will likely bear the brunt of the expense. Suggest he ask other dads he knows regarding setting a reasonable budget limit. Regional expenses differ and suggested limits will emerge.

When meeting with the florist and the photographers, don’t hold back. Be frank about your budget and see what they can do to help keep the budget in line. While most offer ‘package’ pricing, they will usually be willing to work to meet your needs whenever possible.

Do the attendants understand their responsibilities? Many of the bridal party may be ‘first-timers’ and would appreciate a list of what is expected (and appreciated.) The betrothed couple should visit with their maid or matron of honor and best man specifically.

Remind the young couple that their special day would not have been possible without those family members who came before them. Remembering any parents, grandparents or siblings that have passed away can be as simple as a placing a single rose in a vacant chair, or as elaborate as a photo-filled display at the reception. Discuss any memorial plans with your children. Make suggestions and be receptive to their ideas.

For those grandparents and special family members unable to attend the wedding, flowers or a card sent in advance will mean so much. Sending them an advance wedding program or schedule of events will allow the absent guests to follow along with the day’s events.

And, since a few of our older family members do not have a DVD player, obtaining copies on VCR tape from the wedding videographer meant the bride’s absent great-grandmother could enjoy the day, as well. Copies of the video or DVD also make wonderful gifts for all family members. When my daughter believed the videographer was beyond her budget, I insisted. (It was possibly the only thing I insisted upon!) Later, as we watched the event unfold and she and her husband watched their friends and family enter the ceremony, they were thrilled.

If the reception is set up buffet style and place cards are not being used for seating, mark a special table for grandparents and elderly guests who may not be able to stand in long lines. Designate a family member to assist the guests in being seated and served. They should enjoy the day as much as possible, as should the parents of the couple.

As the hosting parents of the bride, the reception will loom large as the day progresses. Don’t be afraid to make a list of the important details you’ll want to remember. It’s best not to rely on memory.

The wedding reception isn’t a time to visit at length with each and every guest — though many couples try. The couple should be encouraged to circulate among the guests but guests should realize, too, that the couple is being pulled in many directions.

Dads, humor your daughter or future daughter-in-law if she has you order those ‘great’ rental patent shoes to go with your tux. Wear them proudly throughout the ceremony, then, taking a hint from the mothers of the bride and groom, stash your favorite dress shoes under a reception table. Don’t think you’ll have time to return to the dressing room to grab them. I learned this the hard way at our daughter’s wedding. I had a great pair of flats to wear with my dress for the reception – only they were in our hotel room upstairs. After eight hours in a pair of ‘new, way-too-high’ heels, I spent weeks getting my feet back to normal. Lesson learned!

And no matter how hard everyone tries, feelings will rise to the surface on the very special day. Being well-rested will help. Remembering the real reason for the day, sharing a precious moment in time with the happy couple, will remind you to take a deep breath when someone acts out. Keeping the line of communication open with all involved will most likely remedy any situation. If that fails, bite your lip!

Detailing the entire rehearsal, dinner schedule, wedding day and reception events IN PRINT is, by far, the single best thing our children did before their wedding. They thoughtfully created an agenda and schedule of events and had copies made for everyone involved. That way, when the groom’s brothers wanted to know what time to have the kids down for the rehearsal dinner, all they (or their wives) had to do was refer to the schedule. When the groomsmen decided to go for a hike the morning of the wedding, they knew when to come back for their buffet breakfast. With more than 50 family members involved and scattered among three floors at the lodge, the printed agenda was a blessing!

Some of the best advice our daughter and her husband-to-be received came from their minister. He stressed the importance of getting things settled and planned early, then taking time the week before the wedding to enjoy each other’s company and rest.

The parents of the bride and groom, the attendants, and the guests should heed that advice!

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Category: Bridal

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