Thursday, March 20, 2014

5 Steps to Share Your Wedding Weekend Schedule

Phew, the big weekend is quickly approaching, and you have planned out (just about) every moment. How will you share your vision with your guests? Your family? Your vendors? Your wedding party?

There are many ways to do it, but the key is...don't forget to do it! This is a very important step and I've seen it left out until a day or two before the wedding, causing some unnecessary confusion and frustration. You have been in the center of the planning for some time (in many cases, a year or more) and during your wedding weekend, you'll want everything to flow smoothly while you step out of Planner Mode and into Bride/Groom Mode. Keep your loved ones in the loop so that they can help make that happen! Sending an email or a letter with the weekend's itinerary will help get your favorite people prepped and pumped for a picture perfect party and weekend- and maybe they'll think of things you haven't thought of so that you can work out any would-be kinks ahead of time.

A Wedding is a Production
A Change of Perspective...
You start out as a Writer, then become Producer, then a Stage Manager, and even a Director, 
but then, suddenly, you have one of the Lead Roles and can't help out behind the scenes anymore. 
How does everybody else know what to do or where to go after turning to you for all these months? 
In a show, you would have a script.  On your wedding weekend, you have an itinerary 
and lots of communication before that point. 
You provide each cast member with the information that he/she needs to succeed ahead of time, 
but allow some surprises for your audience (aka your guests) along the way. 
You want to create an experience that is almost magical, so choose your characters, your scenery, 
your lighting, your script and your score wisely, involve all the senses when they arrive, and have fun!  They'll be sure to leave with the word "wow" on their lips and in their eyes. 

Here are the 5 steps to prepping your crew so you can take on that lead role and soak in this momentous occasion in your life. 

1st- Write Up an Itinerary of Your Entire Wedding Weekend Timing, including (but not limited to) Day/Time/Location for:
- Final Dress Fitting/Pickup
- Hotel Check-in (for first guests) and OOT bag drop off
- Rehearsal & Rehearsal Dinner, Out of Towners Dinner
- After Rehearsal Dinner Plan (Bar? Out? Home? Hotel? Movie? Bowling?)
- Arrangements for Bride & Groom Overnight the Night Before
- Drop-Off, Final Appointment at Your Reception Venue
- Eyebrows (about a week before), Nails, Hair, Makeup Appointments
- Breakfast/Lunch on Wedding Day
- Bride/bridesmaid and Groom/groomsmen Prep/Activities on Wedding Day
- Vendor Arrival/Drop-off/Setup/End Times
- Photo Plan
- Ceremony: Guest Arrival, Ushers Ready Time, Start Time, Approx. End Time
- Transportation: Shuttle/Bus/Limo/Party Bus, etc. (Time Range or Specific Pickup/Drop-off Times Before Wedding, Between Ceremony and Reception, and After the Wedding)
- Cocktail Hour/Reception (and Any In-Between Time for Guests)
- Toasts
- Dinner, Dessert, Dancing
- Child Care Arrangements
- After Party
- Pickup arrangements for items at venue at the end of the reception/the next day.
- Overnight Arrangements for Bride & Groom After the Wedding
- Breakfast/Brunch the Next Morning
- Final Hotel Check Out
- Honeymoon Prep/Sendoff/Arrangements to Get Going

This Sample Wedding Day Itinerary shows the Time, the Event, any Notes and Who is Involved. 

2nd- Check and Confirm the Itinerary, Note Important Details 
When making this itinerary, look back through your vendor contracts to be SURE of your timing.

You'll want to schedule in a little downtime without plans, as the most memorable moments can happen when you least expect them. 

If there are any questions that arise, address them immediately. Not sure how long the girls' hair will take? Get in touch with the hairdresser and find out. Shorten the time by using an additional hairstylist.
Not sure what you'll eat in the morning? Make arrangements so that your maids/groomsmen and you are fed!
Not sure how long the ceremony will last? Ask your officiant.
Not sure when people are checking in or out in your hotel block or who is planning to stay at the hotel? You can reach out to your contact at the hotel and ask!

Do you have a block of time open one day and want to get together with family or college friends? Do it! If you plan it and they're around, I'm sure they'll be happy to get that extra time with you and vice versa.

Note any important details that you feel will help your wedding party and guests get around during wedding weekend.
For example, if the hotel has any special amenities, such as a breakfast buffet, free wi-fi, a pool and hot tub, a fitness center, a spa, a salon, etc., you can share that great info with your guests!
If GPS has a hard time getting you to your reception venue, do something! Your guests could get lost in an unfamiliar area. Equip them with an address that will work, and directions just in case.

If there is a Visitor Center or an online calendar of events for the city/town where your wedding is taking place, check it out and see if anything else is going on that weekend. Notify guests if they need to prepare for extra traffic in a certain area (due to a concert, sporting event, race, etc.) at a particular time or let them know if something cool is going on and they want to check it out (before/after the wedding, of course)!

3rd- Send the Itinerary to Your Vendors and Parents
Ask them to look over any part that pertains to them and confirm that the timing is accurate/realistic. Ask if anything is missing. Make necessary changes. At this time, you should also send the itinerary to any friends/family members who are playing music, helping with setup/breakdown, etc. and if you have a wedding planner, (s)he should already have all of this information, but you can send it to her/him anyway, just to check!

4th- Send the Itinerary to Your Wedding Party
(Note: The terms Bridal Party & Wedding Party are sometimes used interchangeably, but I use BP to refer to the girls and WP to refer to everyone in the wedding). 

These wonderful individuals have agreed to fill your Supporting Roles, not just in the wedding, but in life. Do them a favor and keep them in the loop with the timing for the weekend. They just want to know where to be and when, whether they should bring anything and whether arrangements have been made for them to get there/back. You can keep some things a surprise from them, too, but give them the basic info that they need, keeping in mind that they're setting aside an entire weekend just for the two of you. This itinerary can be cute and fancy, or it can be as simple as a typed up letter or email. Totally up to you :) Just try to get it to them a few weeks in advance so they can plan accordingly. 
- If you want the girls to stay over at the hotel with you the night before, let them know that you'll take care of the cost of the shared room(s). This is proper etiquette, as they are there as your guests for that night. If you'll be staying at somebody's house together, note what they should bring. 
- Let them know what costs you'll be covering, so they can plan ahead and prepare themselves (or brace themselves) financially. 
- If transportation is going to be provided, let them know. If they'll need to get themselves to/from any part of the weekend, let them know that, too. Are they bringing a guest to the wedding? How will that person get around? If guests are not invited to join for the limo/bus ride, that's okay, but talk to your friend about it and explain. This will avoid them wondering and feeling awkward about asking. You could even connect two or more guests at the rehearsal dinner and they could potentially go together.
- If you need help with something during wedding weekend, don't hesitate to ask your wedding party. We were in a wedding recently that the bride & groom provided all of the alcohol and mixers for, and they hired a bartender to mix & serve. This meant bringing all of those drinks to the venue the day before, and picking them up the day after, which would've been a lot of work for 2 people. They asked for help, and we ended up having a little crew go over each day, which made it faster and more fun! We were happy to do it and make the task a little easier. 
- If you have any special visions or ideas and want them to bring something special along to make it happen, just ask. Sunglasses? Props? Signs? DVD's to watch while getting ready? Something silly for their reception entrance? Let them know now :)

Know that there may be parts of the weekend that not every wedding party member will attend, and that's okay. While they are expected to come to the Rehearsal, Rehearsal Dinner, and all parts of the Wedding Day festivities, they are not required to come to a separate Out of Towners dinner, come out for drinks the night before the wedding, stay at the hotel (especially if they live close by), come to brunch the next day, get their hair and makeup done with the girls by the same salon/hairdresser, and so on.
   Each wedding party member should put his or her best foot forward and should still look as nice as everyone else, but if a bridesmaid wants to go somewhere else and meet you later in the morning, she should feel free to do it. If a groomsman wants to go home to be with his wife and kids after the rehearsal dinner while the rest of the guys go out and drink, he shouldn't be shamed for it. That being said, as a wedding party member, you want to do your part to make it a great weekend for your friends, so do what you are able and willing to do, and communicate throughout the planning process so you don't spring your plans on them at the last minute. They're doing a lot of organizing and coordinating and they want to know your plans asap.

5th- Prepare an Abbreviated Itinerary for The Rest of Your Guests
Now that you have everything figured out, you can put together a fun, simple and informative Itinerary for your guests! Pinterest is buzzing with them, and your creative universe is the limit. Many times, brides & grooms will place this itinerary on or in their Out of Town Hotel bags, so that guests see it as soon as they arrive. The most important information (location, date, and time of the wedding ceremony and reception, and perhaps even directions) were on your invitations, but now you can include newer, better information that they might want to know! Go through your itinerary from Step 1, pick out the most important parts, and type them up. Also, if you have guests who are not staying over at the hotel, but you do want them to participate in certain parts of the weekend, send them an email or a letter, or give them a call with the request. If guests are unfamiliar with the area, you'll want to provide an address for each weekend destination.
*Note: You don't need to include the Rehearsal Dinner info for guests who are not invited to it. If guests see that an event is happening and they've arrived, they may assume that they should be there. Avoid unsure assumptions and add who is involved in each part of the weekend, or just include the parts that everyone is involved in. You could print different versions of your welcome letter for those in the wedding party, but you do not have to as long as they have that information somewhere.

A few samples: 

Explore and see more here!

Phew, now you can relax and enjoy your big day!

By the way...

Want to check out some great wedding tunes? Check out this post, which is updated often!

Putting together bathroom baskets? Click here for great tips and inspiration! 

Are you (or your wedding party members) in a wedding party and not quite sure what to do next? Check out this post  to get prepped and rock it! 

Have you thought about what you'll do with your dress after the big dayThis post has some great ideas!

Check out the most popular posts along the sidebar (scroll up!), including Weddings Across the Board- a series devoted to the cultural & traditional awesomeness that goes into wedding celebrations around the world- with coordinating Pinterest boards.

Don't forget to check out, follow & share the Wediquette Pinterest page!  

Do you have a request for a wedding or party-related post? Leave a comment! 

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