Stories from Your Wedding Friend - The Wedding Planner's Blog
A wedding planner spends an awful lot of time working behind the scenes in the lead up to the big day. Wedding admin aside, you might wonder what does a wedding planner actually do on the day of the wedding? Well, let's take a look…
Depending on the venue, some or most of this may be done the day before the wedding. Typically though, hotel venues tend to insist on on-the-day set ups, which is obviously not great for most couples, so my first job of the day is to check on progress or to get on with the set up. This usually means working alongside a team of venue staff as they lay out tables and chairs, crockery, glasses and cutlery, or if none of those things are being supplied by the venue then I will work with my own team to set all these things out along with the ceremony room decorations and other table décor items. This usually takes anything up to about 4 hours, depending on how much is to be set up. The ceremony is obviously the priority as it's the first part of the day, so once that area is perfect, we can finish off the reception room.
A quick freshen up and a change of clothes and I'm ready to start receiving your guests. This usually involves letting your guests know where they can hang up coats and leave gifts/cards as well as the usual directing to toilets and letting them know what the plans are with the ceremony (seating plans or sides, timings, what happens next, etc). Many guests are a little awkward when they turn up, so having a welcoming friendly face to answer their concerns helps to relax them pretty quickly. I've also helped with broken buttons, blister plasters, mints for fresh breath, and so much more. Another part of pre-arrival is ensuring that the music is ready to go and that whoever is operating it knows what they're about to do, we'll test sound levels, run through volume controls, etc (it's funny how many people forget how to use a device when put under pressure!).
Depending on how you intend to do your walk down the aisle, the next part is about co-ordinating your pre-wedding meetings with the registrar/vicar and generally making sure everyone is seated safely in place before the grand entrance. In a traditional English wedding one half of the couple is positioned with the registrar or vicar, and everyone sits awaiting the arrival of the other. Your arrival can be however you want it, so if you're really not bothered who arrives first or about arriving in secret, or even if you both want to walk the aisle together, whatever you want to happen is what I will make sure happens. I will usually work with the person who will lead the ceremony to make sure we're all on the same page and once everyone is ready and happy I will lead the cueing of the music and the guests stand, and if we're inside I will cue the opening of the doors (my stage management background really set me up for doing this with theatrical precision).
I generally don't stay in the ceremony space once it's underway so that I can make sure any reception drinks and serving staff are ready to go and do a final check over the reception space, or co-ordinate with whoever is doing the room change round if necessary. All whilst making sure I'm back in place for the couple leaving the ceremony so that I can open the doors and offer them their welcome drinks and a congratulations. If we're doing a receiving line so that guests can congratulate them, I'll help guide guests and steer them to their drinks if they're having them. I'll often get involved in helping photographers set up confetti shots and gather the group shots. I also do a scout round the ceremony space to make sure nothing important gets left behind (bouquets, flower girl wands, marriage certificates, for example). Once the large group shots are out of the way the photographer will usually want to take the couple off for private shots so depending on the weather I (or one of my colleagues) will stay with the couple to hold brollies and glasses of drinks, or to help the photographer with all their stuff or just generally be there in case anyone or anything is needed.
Pre-wedding breakfast, the focus is on making sure all the guests and the couple are in the room ready to eat, on time! Sometimes harder than it sounds, especially when a photographer is trying to make the most of the light/weather, but imperative with hot food that you don't want to spoil. I'm always there when the meal is underway just in case of any questions or problems - sometimes couples find it easier to talk to me about something not being quite right, rather than talk directly to the catering staff. If there are speeches, I'm usually making sure everyone has a drink and is in the room for the start - sometimes that also involves helping brides to the bathroom and back (big dresses are hard to pee in!).
During the break between wedding breakfast and evening reception, I'm usually co-ordinating the room turn around and making sure the evening suppliers arrive on time and get set up as quickly as possible and in the right place. Photographers often take this time to do a few more pictures or couples take a quick break away to gather themselves, so I'll be where-ever is the priority and if I'm needed in two places at once I will have a second pair of hands help me out. Again, during the evening I'm there for whatever is needed including cutting cakes into portions, making sure things run to time, and at the end of the night I ensure gifts, cards, décor, basically everything that needs collecting up is safe and ready to be taken away.
I'm often called upon to make announcements or chase after wayward guests or find a member of staff to deal with a venue problem or pop off to collect/drop something in hotel rooms. I also keep an eye on disappearing children and smokers. Suppliers are generally briefed well in advance of the wedding day, but sometimes changes have to be made and if I feel they need a warning before they arrive I will contact them and make new arrangements as necessary. I'm also the suppliers and venues point of contact should they have any issues on the day. But primarily I am there to make sure everything is as easy as possible for the couple.