The 3 Essential Tips for Finishing Strong
One of the most joyous, yet naturally intense times before your same-sex wedding is the last few weeks leading up to your special day. There are myriad details to attend to and final arrangements to sweep up. During these weeks you’ll make final payments, confirm requests with your professionals and likely field last-minute RSVPs and a stream of questions from your guests. You need to be organized and focused, but also intentional in your efforts to stay calm, work together and even relax! Grab your smartphone, or an old-fashioned pencil and notepad, and prepare yourself to finish strong.
1. Designate a Point Person
If your wedding includes a significant amount of DIY décor, complicated logistics or will be held at a venue that doesn’t traditionally host weddings, consider investing in an experienced wedding day coordinator. Services generally include consultation time in advance of the wedding for constructing an event timeline and hashing out the details of the ceremony and reception motions. Your coordinator acts on your behalf during set up, manages your many events and oversees “pack up” and “break down” periods. He or she troubleshoots any glitches that may arise and deflects the millions of questions vendors and guests will inevitably have from you, offering you peace of mind so you can actually enjoy your day. Choose a coordinator who is savvy about gay weddings and sensitive to your unique needs. If you do not plan to employ a professional coordinator, choose a responsible friend able to stay calm in a storm to be your point person for the day. Someone organized, diplomatic and resourceful who is not in the wedding party can help ensure all things go smoothly while you’re attending to the business of getting married.
2. Make a List
Nothing is more powerful than a well thought-out list or three as you prepare for your wedding day. Some helpful ones that you should create include:
- Emergency Contacts: All of the names, email addresses and mobile phone numbers of your wedding party, wedding professionals and important folks like your house or pet sitter.
- Ceremony Packing List: Include your rings and marriage license documentation, if applicable, any ritual unity items like candles or sand you might be using, extra copies of your readings and DIY décor items you plan to supply, along with instructions for how and when you want them set up. Include with your ceremony list any items you may need at your rehearsal dinner, including attendant gifts and certain final payments due just prior to the wedding.
- Reception Packing List: Create a checklist of your personal décor items and other important things you might need such as an autograph book or matte (and the pens to sign them—commonly forgotten item alert!), favors, engagement or family photos you plan to display, toasting glasses, sparklers, bubbles or glow sticks for your departure, and an iPod if your entertainers plan to draw from your personal playlist during their breaks
- Honeymoon Packing List: In addition to your clothes and travel items, don’t forget copies of important identifying documents like your passports, copies of your marriage license, if available, and both travel and medical insurance documents.
Your lists may be simple, or you may choose to flesh out each item, including a note about whom you expect to deliver, set up and return each piece, along with when this should take place and in what manner. If you’re super-organized, you can include illustrations or photos of DIY items, especially helpful for friends who are setting up your centerpieces and displays. A good inventory will save you stress before the event, along with time and effort on the big day for your set up and break down crews.
3. Remember: Money Matters
As the last few weeks approach, you must triple check your budget. Take an honest account of what you’ve already spent, what you’ve committed in your vendor agreements and what’s left to still purchase or pay. Make a printed copy of each of your contracts for your wedding day coordinator or point person and a list of final installments with due dates and your plans for remitting payment. Budget surprises this late in the game can be unpleasant, so keep track throughout your planning and make adjustments (either to your services, or your expectations) as soon as a potential issue arises.
Don’t forget to account for gratuities. There are some contracts that will require one payable directly to your driver on the wedding day. This most often occurs with transportation agreements, so read those contracts carefully. While service fees are usually built in to catering agreements as well as some entertainer payments, gratuities are extra considerations granted for a job you consider exceptionally well executed. Amounts vary regionally, and if you’re planning a destination wedding, consult with a local source, as there are cultures that eschew gratuities. In most places, however, they’re highly appreciated and an appropriate expression of gratitude on a very special day.
More important than any final detail, and any list, however, is to remember why you have embarked on this wedding planning adventure to begin with – to celebrate the joining of two lives among the people you love most in the world. Don’t get so bogged down in the details that you miss the fun and the meaning. In other words, don’t forget to take some time to breathe!
S. Walker is a freelance writer for GayWeddings.com.