Close your eyes and picture your perfect wedding. Come on, it will just take a minute…
What does your wedding venue look like? Now, think about what you are doing before the wedding?
What are you doing after? What are your bridesmaids doing? What is your mom doing? What are your parents doing? What about your groom’s parents- where are they?
What you are probably not envisioning is all the work must be done to have your wedding look like the one in your dreams. If this isn’t you and your wedding party, who do you envision is doing all the work?
As brides design their wedding and start pulling the pieces together, there are key mistakes they make that sometimes prevents them from having the experience that they dream of. Being aware of these five wedding mistakes and fixing them early on, can make your wedding planning easier. These fixes can help you, your wedding coordinator, your bridal party and everyone else that is supporting you on this special day. Simple Pleasures, built in Americana decor, makes for a fun wedding experience.
At Simple Pleasures, we have many wedding venue options to choose from and many reasons why brides select each one. A few of my brides book Simple Pleasures because their dream wedding includes less work on their end but, they still want the decor and charm the space offers. Many envision their wedding day as one where they and their wedding party are pampered all day. They don’t have to worry about decorations or hours of set-up. Selecting a location that already has lots of charm and decor in place reduces the work you have to do on your end.
Some brides pick places like Falling Waters because it has the simplicity of a beautiful waterfall and landscaped grounds. You can add as little or as much decor and personal touches as you envision and that fits your theme.
Other brides like to start with a “fresh pallet” and have an empty, blank room like at a hotel or rented facility to just go all out in decorations that fit the theme. This can require more work but, allows you to shape the space however you want to.
As you begin designing your wedding, an important factor is deciding what amount of work you want to put into it before, the day of, and after and how this also impacts your family and friends. This wedding venue mistake can be a big one if scheduling is not done right.
The Fix: Read these five big wedding venue mistakes to learn what not to do.
1. Brides are not upfront about what they really want
Once my bride and groom have selected Simple Pleasures as their location, what typically happens is the groom steps out of the main supporting role. My brides typically have someone else with them to support their decisions – like the men’s equivalent of a “wingman”. In many cases, this is the bride’s mother or best friend but, sometimes they hire a wedding planner.This person helps take some of the pressure off the bride and their family and to better guide them through the decision-making process.
Over the years I have worked with many brides and their “first ladies” and I am amazed at how many times the bride will say, ” I want… (fill in the blank).” Then, their first lady will give them a look like they are crazy, pauses, and then goes on to say something like, “Well, you could do that BUT…..”. Every time this happens I see the flicker of excitement leave the bride’s eyes. There is no further discussion and it never comes up again. That’s the end of the dream.
No matter if it’s the first lady, the groom or the wedding planner, I find that sometimes brides will either not bring up what they truly want, maybe out of embarrassment, to avoid confrontation or, they won’t politely argue or defend what they truly want (no matter how ridiculous it sounds).
Brides, you must be up front with what you really want. Mothers, friends, supporters, and wedding venue coordinators ultimately want to give you everything you want and more. Comments will be made on your pairing of teal and pink napkins and if you don’t like those comments, say so. Remember, these people love you for your unique style, even if they don’t love it themselves. This is your special day and unless you are like Jackie Christie, where you get married every year on your anniversary, you will only have it once. Speak up and make this event what you want it to be.
2. Brides don’t know how to work with the wedding venue coordinator
There is a lot of confusion with brides on this topic and I know it’s not just the brides in Northwest Arkansas. When I Google “what is a wedding coordinator”, I see fifty-plus blogs that explain the difference between a wedding planner and a wedding coordinator.
What is a wedding coordinator? This is a person that coordinates your wedding. They are typically associated with a venue and help ensure that the vendors deliver and set up everything they need to, the people arrive and are directed to where they are supposed to go and you are set up for success.
As a wedding director (coordinator) here, I am responsible for working with you to make the wedding day activities at Simple Pleasures or Falling Waters and keeping everything running according to that plan.
What is a wedding planner? This is the person responsible for all aspects of your wedding events. They help you pick out your flowers, make recommendations on your cake and delivery, remind you to have your dress altered and help you determine what car you will ride into your venue and if you need to drive up from the south to avoid your soon-to-be husband from seeing you before the wedding. This person will drop what they are doing to make sure you have what you need.
Can these activities change depending upon the wedding planner or wedding venue coordinator you hire? YES, they can.
I am very clear and upfront with my couples on what I do for them. For example, I won’t help you pick out your flowers but, I will ensure they arrive on time and get where you need to go for each onsite event. If you cater your food from Simple Pleasures, I will ensure everything is prepared and out at our agreed upon time. If you have another company cater it, I will make sure they have the tables and utensils they need to set it up for you.
I encourage my couples to ask lots of questions when we first discuss booking their wedding to ensure they understand what I am responsible for and what they are. In the weeks before the wedding, we review my checklist and are in constant contact. They or their wedding planner have my cell number, email address and we are using both to communicate to finalize all of the details for their big day.
Not every wedding venue coordinator does the things that I do so, it is very important to ask lots of questions and understand what they do and don’t do.
3. They build their wedding a-la-carte style
With all of the amazing wedding ideas out there, it is hard to choose just a few. Many of my brides have a core set of elements they want at their wedding. They might want a band, full dinner, ice cream social and they decide the theme and core wedding colors.
What starts happening, is as they start the planning and dig into the details, they start adding on lots of elements, sometimes turning their wedding from a small package wedding to a large one with everything added a-la-carte style. Adding an additional building access, expanding your wedding list by 50-100 people, extending the wedding reception time to accommodate a full dinner vs. just a cake reception, adding furniture vignettes which requiring a moving truck and added set up time, and on and on.
This is fine to do but, it can cost couples more money than if they had selected an all inclusive package and added just a few elements. In one of our weddings, the bride had changed her mind so many times that by the last few weeks before the wedding, she went way over budget, booked more space than she needed and had bought more things than her family could set up before the wedding.
Find a “first lady” or a wedding planner that can help keep you accountable to everything you are wanting to do, to buy or to schedule. Keep in mind who is going to have to set it up, tear it down or pay for it at the end. Also ask yourself, is it really that important to me to have this and will my guests even notice it?
4. They book too much set up and tear down time
This one really relates to number #3 above. About a week before the wedding, brides start pulling together all the new decor and memorabilia they have purchased for their wedding. More times than I can count, I will get a frantic text or call, asking for more set-up time because they are scared that they might run short. This turns their 6-8 hour rental into a 10-12 hour rental.
While this is good for my business and brings in more money in rental fees, do they usually need that time? No, they don’t.
While I agree that having the peace of mind of not going over allotted decorating time or getting kicked out when you still have rooms to pack up is worth it, in most cases, it’s extra money spent by the couple that goes to waste. Will all wedding coordinators or venue managers tell you that? No, of course not as it is more money in their pockets but, when your true intent is to help the couples that you serve like we do here at Simple Pleasures, I have to at least give them those facts to help them decide whether to add time or not.
If your venue is not Simple Pleasures, adding time might be something that you can’t do. Many venues book weddings back to back or in some cases, multiples in different locations. Remember the flexibility factor we talked about in a previous blog on how to find your Northwest Arkansas wedding venue? It’s another question to ask your wedding coordinator up front.
There are two options here:
Keep yourself in check: Only select enough decor and activities that you and your staff (aka. your family, friends and hired help) can comfortably set up in your scheduled time. Find a “first lady” or wedding planner to help keep you out of trouble.
Book enough time for set-up: Select a venue package that is right for you and allows for plenty of time. Typically, 6-8 hours for everything is plenty of time, even with a dinner reception. Which leads me to my last point.
5. Brides schedule activities after the cake is cut
Historically, the tradition was that wedding guests stay at a reception as long as the wedded couple did. Typically they would leave at a certain point with a rice or birdseed send-off for good luck. Guests that had to leave early would never leave before the cake was cut as it was seen as bad luck to not have a slice of happiness. Now, it is more customary for the couple to remain until the end of the reception. The average reception lasts four hours. So, when you look at the
Fast forward to the twenty-first century. It is more customary for the couple to remain until the end of the reception. The average reception lasts approximately four hours but, when the cake is cut, tradition takes hold and guests still find it acceptable to leave. And they do. According to Brides.com, around 70% of the guests leave after the cake is cut and I have seen this happen at every wedding I have managed.
Whether the wedding reception is shorter or longer, most guests will depart after the cake is cut and many couples are disappointed when their post-cake activities have few attendees. Things like the bachelorette flower toss, garter flinging, and even father/daughter dances can sometimes go unseen due to post-cake departures.
Don’t end up with cake on your face.
Plan activities that you want your highest attendance before the cake is cut. Look at moving as many things before the wedding like your family and bridal party pictures so you can more quickly move into your guest involved activities and to give them more of your time.
The great thing about these mistakes is, they are very fixable. By making these small changes, brides can save time, money and have a better wedding experience. Brides, be upfront about what you want and don’t be afraid of “helpful” comments made about your ideas. Take everything into account but go with what you really want. Confirm what you wedding coordinator does and does not do. Determine if you will need a wedding planner to support you or who you want to be your “first lady”. Make sure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities and clear up all misunderstandings immediately. Don’t order a la carte. Determine your major wedding items and stick with the plan. Before you change something major, consult all involved to determine if it is right for the budget, can be pulled off and will add an incredible happiness factor for all.
Don’t have more decor than you have time and don’t book more time than you need. Remember, this should be a day of enjoyment for all, not a hard day of work.
Plan your activities before the cake is cut. Plan on saying good-bye to most between cake and the next activity and be disappointment free.