Published Apr 1, 2010

OK, now that you invited everyone — actually, before you invited everyone, but, hey, it made more narrative sense this way — you’ve got to get a venue. (Seriously, get the venue first, folks.) Our experience was clear: get one place that can handle as much as possible for you, it’ll save money.

This actually came as quite the shock to both of us. I know I for one had expected to be shopping around town for the cheapest flatware and cheapest tablecloths and wondering how I was going to get the cheap tables and chairs delivered. Nope. All of those little details add up quickly; we actually got noticeably better prices by going with venues that could provide everything from the space to the tables to the food itself.

Make sure to actually go through all the details of what you need and confirm that you’re getting everything:

  • Flatware & silverware
  • Tablecloths & napkins
  • Any seating you need
  • Serving items
  • Salt & pepper
  • Any glasses you need
  • Specifics of whatever water, wine, etc. you’re pouring, especially at meals, where they’ll try to cheap out
  • A table to put your gifts on

It may help to draw out a picture of what your set-up should look like. Another advantage of going with a venue to provide everything is that, if you remember something at the last minute, they’re likely to have it for you, rather than you having to track it down the day of or the day before your wedding.

Also, make sure you’re clear about who will be providing things like:

  • Seating cards & charts
  • Signage to direct your guests
  • Menu cards, drink signage, etc.

Wherever you’re getting all your stuff, know how you get it in place on the day of. Will you need someone there to receive an item? When can items be delivered? Stuff will have to happen day of, don’t get surprised, and do rely on your closest friends and your wedding party to take care of it (no matter how late your ceremony is, you’ll be out of commission the whole day).

That’s an important point: think about the whole experience of your wedding. What you want most is the day itself to be worry-free, but don’t underestimate the number of things you’ll need to do during the days leading up to the event too. The more you can outsource, or otherwise have handled without too much commitment of your time, the better. You’ll appreciate it, your future spouse will appreciate it, and the family and friends who are excited to see you will appreciate it.