The Home Stretch
Plan Along with Me Series – Step 10: Wrapping up your wedding plans
At this point in your wedding planning adventure, you should be about one to two months out from the big day!
We’re in the home stretch finally, and it’s time to finish up all those final details items and wrap up any loose ends still left to do.
Final Details Meetings
You’ll want to start by scheduling your final details meetings with all your vendors. Most of these will happen about one month before your wedding. In these meetings, you’ll review and confirm every detail for your wedding that they’re involved with and make any decisions you have left to make.
The perfect vendor to meet with first is your wedding planner! This is because they’re the one vendor that is in touch with everyone involved in your day. They’re responsible for the whole picture & can help guide you in deciding things like delivery & pickup timing, setup questions, and knowing the order everything should be done in.
With our couples, we begin by making a big list of what each person hired is providing and setting up, along with anything that you’ve DIY’ed and where it all is supposed to go. We then make a timeline for the ENTIRE day – from when hair & makeup starts until the very last song & exit. We also put together a ceremony processional plan for your rehearsal. By looking at the whole picture, we can fill in the important details like when your cake should be delivered, when the ceremony should be set for the first guests to arrive, and when you’ll need to get dressed for photos. We make sure each and every vendor receives this timeline two weeks in advance, so we have plenty of time to tweak anything needed. (for more tips on a wedding day timeline, check out Step 7: Deciding What Traditions to Keep)
Before a Final Details Meeting:
Get as close as possible to your final guest count and have that number ready for your vendors. For your caterer, you’ll need the number of kids and special meal requests as well.
Gather a list of any and all setup needs you have. If applicable, bring photos of what you want it to look like when they set it up day-of.
If you’re providing anything to a vendor, (ribbon, lanterns, plates, napkins, etc.) find out if they’d like you to bring it with you when you meet.
If they’ve given you any worksheets to complete (like photos and song lists), do them before your meeting.
Be prepared to pay your final balances as well, if due.
Based off your timeline, know delivery and setup timing for each vendor.
Create Your Seating Plan
Once you’ve got your final guest count and picked a layout with your venue, you’ll be able to create the seating chart for your wedding. This is probably the biggest hurdle in the home stretch! It’s one of those wedding details that is extremely helpful but might make you want to pull your hair out at the same time.
I know! They can be a pain, but they really are great to do, and here’s why:
Your guests LOVE them! Trust me – guests love knowing exactly what to do and where to go sit down. It’s so much easier for them when they know where their assigned seats are, rather than trying to figure it out themselves.
If you’re having a plated meal, this is a must for catering. This is the only way for the right meal to get to the right guest efficiently and quickly.
It saves you money! If you don’t create a seating chart, you’ll need extra tables – at least two or three, depending on how many guests are attending. Think about it, as families and couples find seats, there will usually be at least one or more seats left empty at each table that you have to make up for somewhere else = extra tables, which means extra centerpieces AND linens AND place settings...IT GOES ON! When you create a seating plan, you can utilize each and every chair at the tables, completely eliminating this problem and saving the extra expenses.
After the final details meeting with your venue, you should know the number of tables that will fit in your space, which ones will be closest to the DJ, Sweetheart Table, etc., and how many guests fit at each one. Armed with this knowledge you can put together your chart.
Start with the chunks of guests you know will complete a whole table, assign them a table and cross them off. Then move onto couples that are friends and family that prefer to be together. Group them together appropriately to complete each table set. You should be left with the smaller families and couples and friends who might not know each other or don’t make up a whole table. Now think of it like the weirdest puzzle ever and fit the rest together!
You can do it! Here’s some extra tips:
Usually, you’ll want your immediate family at the tables closest to you, then the rest of your family and closest friends in that next section, with the farthest out being your “newest” groups like college friends and co-workers.
You can have different numbers of people at different tables. Don’t feel the need to make all the tables match. You could even have the tables themselves be different shapes and sizes if that works best for your guests and venue size.
For those awkward and hodgepodge groups to seat, consider grouping them by shared experiences. Maybe by age group or interests? Doing it this way will insure they’ve got some things to chat about at dinner because of similar life experiences.
Don’t stress TOO much about these groupings being PERFECT. Remember, your guests will only be here for about 45 minutes to an hour during dinner itself. As soon as dinner concludes, they’re able to move around, get on the dance floor and hang with whomever they’d like. Don’t feel pressured that wherever you seat them defines their entire night and experience. It’s just a brief period, so don’t get too worried about it!
If you have more than about 50-75 guests attending, ALPHABITIZE the list!!! Whether you’re doing a chart/sign for people to read or creating escort cards to get them to their tables, when these are in alphabetical order it’s SO MUCH faster! I know grouping them by table is super popular, but when it’s a larger group, it’s much harder to find your name and creates a bottleneck around the sign while everyone searches.
Final Dress Fitting
In the home stretch to wedding day, you’ll also need to get those dress alterations completed. You’ll probably have your final fitting and will want to take it home perfectly steamed, ready to go.
For that final fitting, make sure you’ve got the exact undergarments that you’ll be wearing to try the dress on with. You’ll also want to make sure you’ve got the shoes you’ll be wearing as well to check the hem length.
If your dress has any type of train at all, make sure the seamstress has added a bustle to the dress during fittings. This is the way you’ll be able to tuck up the long train during your reception to avoid carrying it around all night on your arm. If you’re planning to change shoes for the reception, have the seamstress create the bustle based on those, rather than the ceremony shoes, so that it comes up high enough not to drag when you take off your heels. Ask her to reinforce the hook and loops so they don’t break throughout the night and ask if there’s a way to make them easy to find by adding a bead on top or possibly a button underneath. Those little loops can be super hard to find sometimes!
Complete your DIY Projects
The final step in the home stretch to wedding day is finishing any DIY projects you’ve committed to. (For more tips about wedding DIY projects, check out Step 3: Deciding What to DIY) Get these done as far in advance as possible. As things get closer, you won’t want to be worrying about finding the time to finish these projects. When it’s crunch time, they just add stress, rather than the fun and joy of creating.
Once everything is completed, make sure you pack everything up to transport to the venue or to drop off with a vendor. Before turning them over for setup, make sure all the tags and plastic wrap have been removed. This is a HUGE step that saves enormous time for anyone in charge of setting up your décor. Only use the minimum amount of bubble or tissue to keep the items from breaking but try not to go overboard. There just are not many places to re-box and store lots of wrapping on a wedding day.
Check back next month for some final reminders in Step 11: The Week of Your Wedding
Until then, happy planning!