I recently attended my daughter’s wedding and I would like to offer a “what to expect” wedding guide for those yet to marry. This has nothing to do with the venue, dress, hair, makeup, food or flowers. Instead, this is about logistics and planning.
Katie and Nathan’s wedding consisted of a formal gathering for 45 immediate family members, plus bridesmaids and groomsmen, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and then, a week later, a second more casual party for about 100 friends and extended family in Ohio.
In the invitations, we indicated the following dress codes: the wedding in Wisconsin was cocktail attire. The rehearsal dinner and day-after breakfast in Wisconsin were casual. The party in Ohio the following week was dressy-casual.
I figured guests would ask Google for specific outfit suggestions that fit these dress codes and if that failed, I figured the men would just ask the women what to wear. In general, I was right, but I was still surprised at how many guests remained flummoxed. Some assumed that they had to dress up for the rehearsal dinner even though we said it was casual. When I told them I was wearing my “Mother of the Bride” T-shirt, they got the idea. Regarding the cocktail-attire event in Wisconsin, one guest texted: My mom is freaking out. She can’t fit in any of her old dresses. Can she wear pants? (We told her she could.) Others needed to see a picture of what Katie was wearing to the week-after dressy-casual party before choosing outfits for themselves.
We also underestimated the number of guests lacking in RSVP skills. We opted for old-fashioned paper invitations and an RSVP card that required people to check a few boxes and return the card in the addressed, stamped envelope we provided. But, we still had to email, text and call a lot of people to personally ask if they planned to attend. Up to a couple days before the wedding, we were still learning whether or not some guests were bringing a plus-one guest and in the case of several others, we just gave up on ever hearing back from them. Luckily all our events were buffets without assigned seating.
When deciding whether to tip the officiant, photographer, florist and other vendors, check your contract with each. Some specifically include a gratuity. Others have a service charge which is basically the same thing. If you plan to tip on top of whatever is in the contract, bring actual cash, sealed in envelopes marked with each person or company’s name so that at the wedding, you don’t have to count money and remember who gets what. Instead, you can just hand each person their sealed envelope.
As each out-of-town guest checked in to their hotel room, the desk clerk handed them our welcome bag. Among other things, the bags included chocolate buckeyes, and popcorn balls from the Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop. The welcome bags for guests in Wisconsin also included a post-card printed with the schedule of events including the time and specific location of the rehearsal dinner. We also indicated at what time the super-stretch limo would be taking guests from the hotel to the venue, the time of the day-after breakfast, etc. Our guests were grateful.
Katie, Nathan and I shared wedding documents in Google Docs. This will probably be a no-brainer for any bride and groom under the age of 40. It’s an easy way to share invite lists, schedules, to-do-lists, budgets, contracts, etc. without having to email different versions to each other each time someone updates something.