Long-Term Planning for a Stress-Free Wedding Week
I’ll never forget that sick-to-my-stomach feeling. It was the week of a big wedding and as I went to prep some floral foam, I realized we were totally out. I did the only thing I could do, and I scavenged any store in our small town and all the neighboring towns that might have some foam. No luck.
I ended up having to rig together a solution, wasting mental energy and time worrying and problem-solving. While I ended up delivering on the end result and gave the couple exactly what I promised, I knew I never wanted to feel like that again. Frustrated, out of control, and behind.
Ever since that wedding, long-term planning remains one of the most important components to our wedding day success and client satisfaction. It’s funny-- one on the best ways I can serve my clients is by perfecting a process they never see, and should never know about.
Let’s talk about why your team should start preparing for a wedding the day the contract is signed, and why this long-range preparation will completely transform your wedding experience, putting the fun back into the wedding week.
As soon as I have a signed contract and paid deposit, I mobilize the planning process.
Even if we’re nine months out from the wedding date, I start finding my contracted labor. When you book a wedding, you need to know how many freelancers you’ll hire to execute the wedding vision so you know what to charge your client. Since I already know how many freelancers I’ll need and for what days, I can go ahead and begin that search, finding who is available and having them sign their contracts. If you want to see what our exact contracted labor agreements look like, click here.
There is nothing worse than realizing you’re a few weeks or even days out from the wedding and you don’t have any freelancers available.
I also have a tote for each client. Throughout the planning process, we inevitably collect items that we’ll need for the wedding day. Whether it’s a piece of a grandmother’s wedding dress that’s going to wrap the bouquet, or a sample of the paper goods, or velvet styling ribbon, I want to make sure that all of the crucial and irreplaceable elements for each wedding stay together. By placing them in a designated tote, I can keep my studio organized, and be ready to grab it and go on the wedding day.
I like to make a list of all the items I’ll need for the wedding day, and gather them together as far in advance as possible. Then, I can check them off my list, and the list of what’s left to be done the week of the wedding grows smaller and smaller!
For example, if I know I’m going to need garland foam, or candles, or vessels, I’ll check my storage and see if I have what I need. If I don’t, I’ll go ahead and order what I need for this wedding. I know I’ll be able to do better design work the week of the wedding if all other planning is taken care of ahead of time. This also helps us stay on budget. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to stop and pick up candles on the day of the wedding. It’s so annoying!
This is why we have clients agree that if they make any design changes, there is a fee. This allows us to purchase items ahead of time, knowing that the designs will stay the same. Of course, we always keep receipts.
A few weeks ahead of the wedding, I’ll have the hard goods actually prepped and set out. That might mean putting foam in vases, or sharpening snips, or prepping our tool boxes and emergency kits.
Anything that can be packed ahead of time, is packed ahead of time. Candles, urns for on-site arrangements, table runners, etc. If we don’t need it until we’re at the venue, it gets packed. Before the wedding week. This way, all we have to worry about the week of the wedding is flowers.
Aside from hard goods, we also make sure we have accurate information going into the wedding week. While it might seem redundant, we like having information like contracts, vendor information, and venue access times not only on our computers and google drive, but also in the client clipboards we hang on our wall. If I keep the clipboard updated as soon as any changes are made, I know that my information will be accurate and easily accessible the week of the wedding.
The truth is, during a wedding week, time is limited and finite. There truly is only so much you can do between Monday morning and ceremony time on Saturday. That week can be a miserable scramble to get things done. You can lose sleep at night stressing about what you’ve forgotten to do, and skip meals because there just isn’t enough time in the day.
At some point, however, you’re going to burn out. Your life doesn’t have to get put on hold every wedding week. You can still have family dinners during wedding weeks. You can still get coffee with a friend on wedding weeks. You can still love your job on wedding weeks. So many of us work incredibly hard to book clients, and then when the week for their wedding comes, we’re miserable. We can’t even enjoy our work, because we’ve set ourselves up for failure. It doesn’t have to be this way.
If you get serious about long-term planning, you can love your job, even on wedding weeks. You’ll deliver better results, create more personal balance, and maintain healthy boundaries.
Hopefully you can get started with these strategies right away! And we have more of the good stuff coming-- check out Part II here! How to Maintain Boundaries and Maximize Wedding-Week Efficiency.
To help you out even more, we’re including a brand new and totally free resource with this post: Jessica’s Wedding Week Sample Schedule! This is a real schedule from one of my past weddings. Hopefully this will help you plan your wedding week efficiently so you can experience freedom and joy as you masterfully execute your next wedding! You can do it!