Read an Excerpt
my work is cut out for me
It's ninety degrees in Oklahoma. The special candy from New York is being shipped. "Dry ice in October...what, are you crazy?" from the mouth of the C.O.W. (Candy-Maker of the Wedding). So it goes.
I continue to write and laugh in hopes that this little tome will provide a few sorely needed chuckles and lots of helpful advice for other M.O.B.s.
Seating kits are available through party planners or party stores. They are a huge help in arranging your tables. If you cannot find them, here is an easy way to do your seating:
Buy packages of sticky notes (my favorite invention since sliced bread) in the smallest size in two different colors: one for bride's guests, one for groom's guests. Use regular sheets of 8.5 x 11�inch paper. Write the last names of each guest on the appropriate color sticky note, using one for each unit (a unit being a single person or a couple). Arrange the sticky notes on the sheets of paper in numbers corresponding to your table size, i.e., eights or tens. At a glance you can see your guest "mix." Each sheet is a potential table. Once you are reasonably sure that a table is complete, transfer the names to a seating chart. Write in pencil or have lots of white-out handy (my second favorite invention). Next to the name, you can write in any dietary requests in order to facilitate the servers. (See Fig. 6.)
Obtain the configuration of the reception room with the placement of tables from the caterer; then assign table numbers. Know where the band risers will be and how much room to allow for them, where the cake table will be, and which table will be for the bridalfamily.
Arrange the guest's names alphabetically with the corresponding table numbers on another list in addition to the seating charts. Make copies for yourself, the caterer, the party planner, the calligrapher (tablecards/place cards), and anyone else needing this information. Understand that at the very last minute things will change. Be prepared to rearrange those sticky notes. Have extra place cards on hand or with the calligrapher. Once everyone has copies of the seating charts, it is easy to call in changes by table number and/or alphabetical names.
Those Pesky Business Details
Obtain all contracted services in writing-contracts, signed by all parties, fees and services specified.
Exactly how many band members are expected? What equipment will they bring, and what will they need at location? Who is responsible for what equipment? What will they wear? What time is set-up? We had a printed agenda down to the minute: when each course was to be served, when each special event or dance was to be announced, when to take the breaks. Be sure they know how to pronounce the names correctly. I'll never forget a wedding we attended where the new Mister and Missus were introduced by the bandleader. Their names were mispronounced so badly we thought we were at the wrong reception.
All food and drink must be itemized. Most prices per person do not include service charges and gratuity. Specify liquor brand names if serving call drinks. Ask that refills on wine at dinner be by guests' request; do not automatically refill glasses.
Be definite about the final head count before you pay the bill. At the M.E., have someone pick up unclaimed seating cards to verify your final count. Under-guarantee by 5 percent. This means if you are expecting three hundred guests, you "guarantee" 285 (i.e., you agree to pay for 285 people minimum). You and the caterer will account for final numbers. Speaking of percentages, expect 15 percent regrets if you have at least 25 percent out-of-town guests, slightly less if all guests are in-town.
The Bridal Consultant
Just what exactly will she do and not do; how many hours will she be needed? This is the person with the emergency sewing kit, extra socks, panty hose, bow ties, bustling expertise, and big shoulders to cry upon. Her duties involve the wedding ceremony and bridal party.
The Party Planner
What exactly will she do and not do; how many hours will she be needed? Her duties begin after the ceremony with the reception.
The Photographer and Videographer
The best way to choose a photographer or videographer is to view sample albums and videos. Ask to see complete weddings from beginning to end. You'll notice "style" when you look at different photographers' works. Make sure the professional has back-up equipment and assistants. Professional photographers usually send their work to binders who fashion the album. Make sure you're familiar with the process.
Insist that photographers and videographers attend the rehearsal. Let them know ahead of time (in writing) of special photo requests. They need to see placement at the ceremony of props and players in advance so that they can position their microphones and other equipment unobtrusively. Check lighting. If the lights are too low, the video will be too dark. If they are too bright, it will look like a theater during intermission.
Take along a camera for candid shots during planning-the wedding-dress search, fittings, florist, etc. Your bride will have a wonderful keepsake of all the preliminary stages of planning.
Place disposable cameras (they come decorated for weddings) at tables during the rehearsal dinner and wedding reception, allowing guests to take candid photos. Some folks think the cameras are favors to take home, so it's a good idea to be specific with instructions.
Present a budget, and stick to it. This is one area where it is so easy to go wild. My B. wanted cascades of white roses in October (of course). I had forgotten in all the excitement that I was highly allergic to roses. I was reminded by my runny nose and elegant sneezing during dinner. My florist created the illusion of roses aplenty without having each and every flower a white rose. His eye was so critical to me that I asked him to attend the tasting as well as the rehearsal.
Don't forget the emergency extra boutonni�res, corsages, and bouquet flowers.
Checklist for Your Photographer/Videographer
These people may be your most important choices. Their work will provide you with archival memories of this most extraordinary day. If the photos or video are failures, you will regret it. There are no retakes!
1. Check references. Carefully view their finished product.
2. Understand the contract and the different photo packages.
3. Who will be the photographer at your wedding? If possible, get it in writing. You don't want substitutes.
4. Check out sepia and black-and-white photos. They have an air of timelessness about them and have become quite popular again.
5. Insist that the photographer and videographer attend the rehearsal. They need to know where to stand, put equipment, etc.