When you start planning your wedding you usually start buying a lot of things. You end up with several closets full of wedding decor, flower girl baskets, unity candles, ring bearer pillows, signs, candles, lanterns, linens, and much more!
Leading up to your wedding, it is so important that you go through your items and take an inventory of what you have. I use to see it all the time, brides bring boxes to the rehearsal to give to their planner and they have no idea what is in the boxes! Their "few" items turn into 5 boxes of individually wrapped favors, 8 boxes of toasting flutes that are wrapped in both cellophane and styrofoam and have a price tag sticker on the glass, then another 8 boxes of pictures and assorted items to place on the guest book table and cake tables.
This may not seem like a big deal, but when a planner has allocated 30 minutes to an hour for the set up of the reception items and not planned for unpackaging and removing of stickers, this can be a disaster! In my early years of planning, I saw this a few times. One bride would brought me boxes of toasting flutes that needed to be set out at each placesetting and I didn't get these boxes until the wedding day. No big deal. Until I opened one of the boxes. Each flute was wrapped in bubble wrap. Each flute had a label on the side that needed to be taken off. It took me about 3 minutes per glass to unpackage and remove the very sticky sticker. Three minutes doesn't seem long does it? But multiply that by 200! You guys! It would have taken me 10 hours of work to get the glasses clean and ready to place out by myself! Seriously!! At the rate I was going, I would have been still unpackaging after the wedding was finished. Now, this isn't something the bride and groom would have thought of. They have never unpacked 200 toasting flutes before. I should have made it more clear in the planning process, which I have done since! Luckily, the venue coordinator was a peach and helped me open the glasses and then her catering staff helped pull off the labels from each glass, and we ran them through the venue's dishwasher to clean them. Thank goodness for a team that can work together!
Another time I was tasked with putting out the centerpieces. Again, no big deal. I asked the bride and groom to just make sure that everything was unpackaged and labeled very clearly so I could do this quickly. Again, I allotted 30 minutes for centerpiece set up and 30 minutes for escort cards and favors. NOT. ENOUGH. TIME. When I arrived, I found the boxes and boxes and boxes of unpacked "centerpieces". I had a very detailed word document explaining how to set these centerpieces up with a photo of one example. You can probably guess where I am going with this...Each guest table (we had 30 of them) had 3 assorted sizes of Chinese Lanterns that needed to be unpackaged and assembled. Each piece of the lantern was separately packaged! The centerpiece also included 5 different candles and candles stands...all individually wrapped and packaged with, you guessed it, sticky labels on them. Luckily at this event I had 2 interns earning college credit. So, their task was opening each item and prepping the centerpieces. Now, if I wouldn't have had the interns with me that day, the reception wouldn't have gotten finished!
I am telling you this because it is so important to have everything ready to go BEFORE the wedding week! If you want your wedding planner to do this, that is perfectly fine. But, they need to be aware of the time and effort that will be put into the prep! Or, you can invite your bridesmaids over for a night of wine and fingerfoods while you all work together to prep your wedding!
After these two weddings I learned that how important it is to discuss this with my clients. Before this, I would just verbally tell them to make sure every thing was ready by unpackaging and removing stickers and labeling everything. After these two weddings I began including a packing list in my final planning meeting. This list is very detailed and includes everything I will be responsible for setting up at the wedding. It states that the client agrees that all items will be properly prepped and assorted prior to the delivery to the wedding planner. It also gets signed by the bride. This covers me and it also gives my client an understanding of how important this is. When we are reviewing the packing list, I always tell these two stories and how I almost didn't have everything set up in time for the reception. This also puts it in perspective because brides want their days to be perfect!
So, if you are planning your wedding, make sure to prep all of your items well before the week of your wedding! There is nothing more stressful than last minute details like this!