As a professional project manager, my brain is wired to do certain things — one of these is to conduct a “Lessons Learned” review after each major project. Let me assure you, our wedding was a major project. So here goes with the lessons learned:
1) Five hours at a reception is no time at all
1a) Do a “drive by” visit with all your guests at their tables as early as possible in the reception. Do not stop to talk with them in any detail. Otherwise you’ll never finish.
1b) Target a more leisurely visit with key individuals later in the reception. Seek out folks you don’t otherwise have an opportunity to talk with much in person, especially if they have traveled a distance to be with you. But still don’t tarry long, your time is precious during this event.
2) Delegate and trust – things will happen that you did not anticipate. If you focus your energy on them, you can’t be “there” for your guests or enjoy your day yourself. Find someone you trust to hand the issue off to… people will step up and take care of it for you.
3) Write out your speech’s key points and list of people to recognize. You will need it, your brain will be fuzzy. You don’t want to forget Aunt Agatha after she knitted all your favors, etc.
4) Keep track of invitation responses and gifts as they come in. Send thank-you notes right away. We did this and it really helped to keep things organized and flowing. We used Google docs for key lists so we could both update them and always stay in synch.
5) People really enjoy having more information available before the ceremony. We did a wedding website with a background story on each of us, our love story, details on the events and venues, and a means to log invitee’s responses via a web form. With the exception of just one individual, this went over really well and we got positive comments throughout on it.
6) Everything is negotiable, and it never hurts to ask. We were willing to pay a fair price, especially for great service, we just didn’t want to pay more than the next person. This is something that was uncomfortable for us to do, but we did it and it worked out for us wonderfully. We got price breaks or were able to negotiate lower cost packages with most of our wedding vendors, just for asking.
There’s likely many more we could share, but these are the ones that come to mind now. We’re happy to share with others following our path…