Yesterday I assisted in the coordination of a wedding for the very first time. My Ship had been contracted as a full-service coordinator for a wedding about a year in advance, but as the date got closer, and the couple kept changing things...and there were nearly 350 guests...she realized she needed help. I've been throwing and have helped throw more large-scale parties in my life than I can count. Plus I'm awesome. So clearly this collaboration was smart. Here are some things I learned over the course of the day:
Great caterers totally make or break a meal-centric event. And I don't mean by food quality. These people were on.it. They had a fleet of, like, 27 staff. And were totally unfazed when the pre-bagged vendor meals went missing. And the band demanded plated meals because they didn't like the bagged ones. If they hadn't been so fabulous and we'd had to babysit them...the whole day would've been a disaster.
Hiring friends isn't necessarily a good idea. See above. Part of the reason the caterers were great was that they were not friends of the couple. Unlike nearly all of the other vendors. If your photographer is a family friend, and the two of you have an uncle/niece sort of dynamic, and he's uncomfortable seeing you in your undergarments...you're not going to get any getting-into-the-dress pictures. Maybe that's not important to you (it probably isn't to me), but maybe choose a photographer based on style and vision and isn't the father of your bridesmaid. This guy took pictures like they were going in Spark Magazine. Pose, smile, tell me your names, done. Nothing candid, nothing remotely artistic. Blah.
If you have a planner...talk to him/her. Showing up to your reception with toasting glasses which you've never mentioned before, AS you're being announced is a bad idea. Emailing your planner and the emcee the "script" for the evening, as they're both on the way to the venue and have no printer is also a bad idea. Scrawling a list of names and numbers and scratches and scribbles on the fronts and backs of 2 pieces of paper and calling it a "seating chart"...very much a bad idea. Communicate with your vendors!
350ish guests is too many. Especially when you haven't hired any sort of trolley service to go between the church and the reception. Which are both in downtown Baltimore. Especially when it takes AN HOUR to get people from cocktail hour to dinner, because there are only 2 small elevators that go between them. It's just too many.
20 Bridesmaids/Groomsmen = sh*tshow. Need I say more?
I am so glad that our ceremony and reception are in the same place, that the site is so easily accessible, that our guest list is totally manageable, that we're not dealing with a band or emcee, that we won't have a sweetheart table, that we're not obsessing over flowers, that our photographer freaking rules (and that she's become our friend but didn't start out that way), and that we're taking our pictures before the ceremony...so so glad. I am so excited to not feel confined by so many arbitrary wedding traditions that we end up with a crazy-packed timeline, and only 20 minutes of dancing.
Show up. Get married. Hang out. Eat. Drink. Dance. Not necessarily in that order. Man, I'm pumped.
I'm not linking to vendors because I don't want the couple or non-awesome vendors to somehow find this post and be p*ssed. Plus, the only couple I know getting married in Baltimore already has everything planned, so I don't think anyone I know would benefit from the links. But if I'm wrong, email or comment to ask about specific ones.