planning the perfect wedding

(Image via becca.peterson26)

No matter how carefully I plan and design my weddings and events, something always goes wrong. It’s inevitable. However, some things are very much IN your control. Here’s my list of the 10 things that can and should be perfect at every wedding and event:

1. Wedding and Event Invitations. On this, I am old school! Never, and I mean never, send invitations by email. Take the time and spend the money to carefully select and send paper invitations. Yes, I know, this is not good for the environment. However, when I get a great invitation in the mail, I keep it to remind me of that special occasion. Remember, too, that the invitation is the event’s first impression. It sets the tone for everything else that follows. It’s important.

2. Wedding and Event Installation. When it comes time to install an event, make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to finish the installation. You should be done at least an hour before guests begin to arrive. Keep in mind that a few guests always arrive early. You do not want to be caught rushing around and cleaning up when they walk through the door. You should be out of sight and out of mind by then!

3. Wedding and Event Ceremony.  In some cultures, it’s fashionable to start weddings late. However, I strongly suggest that you never start the wedding ceremony more than 15 minutes late.  It’s very rude to list one time on your invitation, and then keep those guests, who have arrived promptly, waiting.

4. Wedding and Event Flowers. A flower is at its most beautiful when it’s fully open. Make sure your flowers open fully on the day of your wedding or event. You want to catch them at their best. It took me years to learn this trick. Nurturing your flowers to open perfectly when you want them to, takes time and lots of care. But it’s possible, I swear, and it will make your wedding and event centerpieces and arrangements all the more stunning.

5. Wedding and Event Flowers. Again. What can I say? You know I love them! Never, ever use flowers that are beginning to wilt or turn brown. While it’s true that most flowers are a lot hardier than clients think, always have a few additional fresh flowers ready. Right before the event, examine every single centerpiece and arrangement for wilting flowers and replace any that look questionable. Hydrangeas, lilacs and gardenias are especially delicate and often don’t last as long as other flowers.

6. Wedding and Event Food and Catering. Obviously, you want to make sure that every course is presented in a smooth and timely fashion. Additionally, don’t serve plated food before guests have sat down. When guests arrive at their table and find their food already there, it begs the question of how long it has been there and how fresh it is. Presenting food to guests once they are seated is much more elegant. If you’re planning a buffet, do whatever you can to prevent long lines. Hungry guests holding bare plates and waiting in a long line is a big no no. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth just thinking about it!

7. Wedding and Event Music. Even if you have the best band and DJ in the world, you still have to manage your music, so that people can continue to socialize and hear themselves speak. Time the volume of your music. I’ve seen more than a few guests leave early, because the music was too loud. Don’t drive your guests away!

8. Wedding and Event Lighting. Please remember that the event is not the super bowl. Make sure your lighting is controlled and appropriate to an intimate and inviting environment. Two additional cautions:

a. If you add spotlights to show off your centerpieces, make sure it’s not directly in guests eyes.
b. If you plan to use lots of candles, be careful. Candles can create an inferno. Heat is no joke.

9. Wedding and Event Timing. Every successful wedding and event should be very carefully timed. From the first dance to the food service to the cake cutting, etc… Everything should be accounted for. Be prepared, however, for last minute changes. Part of your job is learning how to go with the flow, and STILL make it all work.

10. This is the most important thing to remember for a successful wedding or event: Stay close to your clients. Check in regularly, and make sure they’re happy and having a good time. This can be tricky. Most of my clients love and enjoy every minute of their wedding or event. However, some clients get so nervous and uptight that they forget to enjoy their own party. It’s your job to reassure them and remind them to have a good time.

The beauty of any wedding or event is that it happens only once. It’s not a dress rehearsal. I honestly don’t think there is such a thing as the perfect event. I completely agree with Jean Neuhart, of Weddings From The Heart, who commented on my blog yesterday. She said, “There’s no perfection in real life. All we can strive for is the best that is humanly possible.”

Questions for you: What’s your best advice for creating a memorable wedding or event? Is there one thing that really drives you crazy when it goes wrong? What is it, and how do you ensure it goes smoothly?

Please share your thoughts in the comments!