Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Card Box, Gift & Wedding Security

Wedding guests customarily bring gifts, cards and well wishes for the newlyweds.

They look for a card box (or cage, suitcase, crate, house, mailbox, vase, etc.), 
place their card inside and continue on to the party. 

 They usually don't give it another thought...unless something goes wrong. 

It's unfortunate but a truth we must address when planning a wedding- wedding crashers exist. Sometimes they're fun, like these guys...
...and sometimes, they're not welcome at all, like this guy. Last year in the suburbs of Philadelphia, in the height of wedding season, a man entered two wedding venues a couple weeks apart, roamed around for a bit, then when the coast was clear, grabbed the cards (and monetary gifts inside) intended for the newlyweds and ran. Luckily, he was caught (one of the venues got him on surveillance camera), but not before he left with over $10,000 in gifts and caused a great deal of distress to the hosts and guests. Fast forward almost a year- he's now in jail for up to 25 years and going through treatment for a drug abuse problem.

We can only hope that he is feeling some remorse for what he did, but the truth is we have no control over that...just as we don't have as much control as we'd like regarding who comes into our wedding. Yes, we send invitations, but in many cases, if somebody else has intentions of coming in and taking gifts/money, they could probably find a way to do it. They might not have a place card, a seat or a favor, and they may not actually be welcome, but that may not bother them because that's not why they came. A wedding is an occasion that is often full of familiar and unfamiliar faces, so it's not difficult for somebody to sneak in and out unnoticed.

When it comes to such a fun, celebratory occasion as a wedding, we want to believe in goodness, kindness, trust and love, but you need to keep security in mind, just in case you get someone whose goals for your big day are not in line with yours.  

Party/Room Security:
- Some brides & grooms hire a security guard who either stands at the door or dresses up and blends in with guests, who is there specifically to watch and make sure everything is safe. Sometimes, venues will provide security as a part of their fee, especially if it is located in a busy part of town or a city.
- High profile event? Consider a guest list at the door.

Security of Your Personal Belongings:
At the end of the night, you want to say goodbye, get out and making a timely appearance at your after party. If you've been at the venue for a majority of the day getting ready, you'll have a lot to take with you. Try to bring/send what you can out of the venue to somebody's car, back to the hotel, or even back home if possible, before the party even begins. If you remove what you don't need at that point in the day, it'll make leaving at the end of the night SO much easier! Then you can just hang onto what you do need, and try to keep it with you or locked up safely.

Gift/Card Security: 
- Oftentimes, a majority of the gifts and cards are given during cocktail hour, so one option is to remove them as guests go into the reception and lock them up in a safe/a separate room at that point until the end of the night.
- A parent or grandparent can be responsible for receiving and holding additional cards after that point. This is an important job and an especially big honor for a trusted guest who will be at his/her table for most of the night.
- Another option is to move cards into the reception space after cocktail hour, but make sure that they are in a locked box (as far from the entrance/exit as possible) and box is attached to the table with a chain or a carpenters vice attached to the back.  This sounds intense, but I've seen it done tastefully and feel that it's incredibly smart, considering its value.
- Designate somebody to keep an eye on any gifts/cards throughout the night to ensure their safety.
- Consider having a gift table attendant during cocktail hour (who could also encourage guests to sign your guest book!), who could help move all gifts and cards to locked room with a manager’s help. This could even be your Ring Bearer, if he's old enough and up for the job.
Oftentimes, venues ask you to provide your own card box, ask you to take your gifts with you at the end of the night, and ask that you (or a close, designated family member) be the one to move gifts & cards from one place to another. This removes the liability from the venue and its staff members if something should go wrong and from a legal standpoint, it makes complete sense. You can't change the rules, but you do want to know them in advance so that you can plan accordingly. 

Questions for Your Venue:
- Do you have security cameras aimed at entrances, exits and the gift table?
- Do you offer a secure box, safe or locked room for cards and gifts for the night? Overnight? What is the procedure for this?

As a Wedding Guest:
- Always write a check and keep track of the number!
- Do not bring credit cards, a lot of money, etc. and secure purses under seats/tables (or keep your things with you) throughout the night. Try to avoid leaving phones and cameras on tables to avoid anything being picked up.

As a Bride/Groom:
- Request that guests not bring large gifts to the wedding due to transportation limitations. Suggest that they send these or deliver them at another time.
- Consider putting something noisy (i.e. wedding bells) on your gift box to draw attention to movement nearby.
- If you see somebody who you do not recognize, check in with your hubby/wifey and parents and then notify a staff member immediately.
- Close and lock your card box and make sure that it's in a closed container (I'd avoid open bird cages, open suitcases, etc. at all costs)
- Consider wedding insurance from a company such as wedsafe, which is affordable and will cover theft if reported right away.
- POST-WEDDING: If you're staying overnight at a hotel, ask the front desk if there is a safety deposit box where they can place their gifts overnight.  Recommend that they leave gifts with a trusted family member while on their honeymoon if they are leaving before they will have a chance to open them.

I love this locked photo box. The fact that you need a key to get anything out 
could keep a thief from taking it in the first place. 

Once you have your security plans in place, relax and enjoy your day. Then don't forget to bring your gifts and cards home with you (hope you kept track of that key!) and open them when the time is right.