I was fortunate enough to be a part of my son’s wedding, recently, and it was a truly beautiful experience. The truth is, I can’t say I would change anything about that day, because it was as perfect as I’d hoped, but I do have some tips and advice for other families who are planning their own perfect day. So in this post, I will highlight things that I recommend and point out some things that I just never thought of, in the hopes that these observances will help you!
I first want to reiterate that I didn’t feel like anything went wrong at this wedding. I learned a lot that day, and I wanted to share with you some things that you might want to duplicate and some things that you may want to change. My son and daughter-in-law’s wedding took place in June of this summer on our property, under some beautiful oak trees, surrounded by most of their favorite people. My daughter-in-law and son planned this wedding, with the rest of us family members pitching in and helping everywhere we could.
tip #1: Keep the rehearsal dinner simple, so that you have time to take a beat before all the activity of the next day hits.
The night before the wedding, we hosted the rehearsal dinner in our backyard with a very casual barbeque and the wedding party and immediate family all celebrating together. I know that a lot of people have a more formal rehearsal dinner in a restaurant or nearby venue, but I loved that we had it at our home, with the bride’s dad and brother barbequing, the side dishes catered by a great local BBQ place, and everyone else just hung out together and relaxed before the big wedding day.
That night, my daughter-in-law, Marissa, and her maid of honor slept at my house, while my son stayed at his own house just 5 miles away. I loved that she slept here. I mean, it made the most sense because the wedding was taking place at my house and her mom’s house was in the process of being built, but as the groom’s mom, sometimes I can see where you might feel a bit excluded from some things. I was very lucky to have been a part of everything from shopping for the wedding dress to having the bride sleep at our house the night before the wedding. I only have sons, so I’ll never be the mother of the bride, and Marissa was very conscious of that and made me feel very included in things.
TIP #2: If your wedding party is a reasonable size, have everyone come together to get dressed and ready in one location, and be sure to have food and drinks for everyone, including the photographer(s), hair & makeup people and any other people helping out.
The morning of the wedding, we served champagne, cinnamon rolls and fruit, and the bride’s mom and her wedding party came over to all get ready and start having pictures taken. Her hair and makeup people came over and they were all able to get ready in my bedroom, my bathroom and the guest room. We had the breakfast foods, and then we also had a few trays of little sandwiches for everyone to munch on whenever they got hungry. You want to make sure that nobody starts this day out on an empty stomach.
TIP #3 : Save enough of your budget to hire a wedding planner for at least “the day of”. I promise, you won’t regret it!
Marissa and Kevin were working within a budget and Marissa was great about keeping her lists and writing everything down and staying on top of the expenses. When she told me that she thought she would hire someone to be a “Wedding Planner for The Day Of”, I didn’t give it too much thought. I understood that this would be sort of a “go to” person for the other vendors, so that we wouldn’t have to stop and tell people where to be or how to set up, etc. That was probably the most important money we spent on this wedding! The planners were a mother/daughter team, and these women were there for the rehearsal the night before and were back the next morning to start getting everything set up. They had contacted all of the other vendors ahead of time, they made schedules and suggestions, they handled so many things that I know we will never even be aware of! They worked like crazy from the morning until after the last vendors had left that evening and were cleaning up and making a lost and found area for guests who had forgotten things. If it seems like I’m gushing – I am! I cannot imagine what we would have done without Melanie & Katie. And, through the heat of the day, the pressures they were dealing with and the non-stop work, they could not have been sweeter to the wedding party, the vendors and the guests.
TIP# 4: Do a dress rehearsal for the reception tables, taking pictures and labeling everything that goes on that table.
Since Marissa (the bride), her mom and I had done most of the decorative planning, we did somewhat of a dress rehearsal of the tables that would be featured at the reception. So the week before the wedding, we got all of the decorations together, planned out how each table would look (cake table, food table, sign in table, head table, etc) and actually placed the fabric, signs, candles, and décor exactly how we wanted them to look for the wedding. Then we took a picture of the finished table, took everything for that table and put it in it’s own bag labeled “head table”, for instance. This made things so easy for us on the wedding day, because we could hand over the picture with all of the materials to other people to set up for us so that we could be getting ready ourselves.
TIP #5: Hire good people who will enhance the happiness of the day, not rob your vendors of their cutlery!
Listed below are our incredible vendors, because they all really deserve some acknowledgements. These vendors are in the Sacramento and El Dorado County areas in California.
We had incredible vendors for the wedding. Not only were they professional and very good at their jobs, but they were all really nice people, and that’s who you want surrounding you and your loved ones on such a special day. When I got married (30 years ago), we went to a bridal fair and hired our photographer from that. His pictures looked really nice and we thought we had made a good choice. This guy turned out to be such a jerk! Because he was probably in his 50’s and we were in our early 20’s, he obviously felt like he was in charge and could do and say anything he wanted. I had a lot of little nieces and nephews at my wedding and when he would try to gather them for a photo, he would yell, “Little Ones! Little Ones! You need to get back over here!”. There were many more examples, but the worst thing was when I returned to work after my honeymoon, my boss told me that she saw our photographer stealing silverware from the banquet hall. He would just walk by a table, pick up a knife and fork and put it in his suit pocket. Holy cow!
Our Wedding Team: (Click on their links for more info about them)
Photo & video – Megan Goetz Photography
Day of coordinating – Best Day Ever Cal
DJ – @specialdaysentertainment
Bar – @parknpour
Taco Bar – @kmemotacobar
Desserts – @frankviltscakes
Photo Booth – @ourdiylove
Makeup Artist – @emeraldmariesifford
TIP #6: Really give some thought ahead of time to what pictures are going to mean something important to you in the coming years, and speak up about wanting to capture those pictures and those people.
The photographer/videographer were a team, and both of them were such nice people and produced such great products. They did everything exactly as they were asked to do them and had really great artistic ideas. I wish I could go back in time and ask them for some more specific photos. For instance, I don’t have a picture of my husband and I alone with the bride and groom and I don’t have a picture of my husband, the bride & groom, our other two sons and myself. There were certain guests that I wish I had thought to ask for pictures of and/or with. Again, this was not the fault of the photographer. I just don’t want you to have any regrets about not thinking about or asking for photos that you want.
TIP #7: Understand that it just isn’t physically possible to spend the time you want to with all of the guests that mean so much to you.
And forgive yourself for not somehow making it happen. Do the best you can, and give yourself the time to really take it all in that day. This is your child getting married, and you want to watch him/her experiencing all the joy that this day is bringing.
We had a lot of guests who traveled from other states to be at the wedding, and it meant so much for us to have them with us that day. I knew ahead of time that with so many guests, it would be impossible to make time to sit down and visit all of them. Even though I knew that would be the case, I spent some time in the days following the wedding feeling guilty about not having sat and talked with some of the guests. I did the best I could, but the time goes so fast and you can’t be everywhere you want to be. I was the person who hired the photo booth, and 30 minutes before they were leaving, the owner came up to me to let me know that I hadn’t yet visited the photo booth and she didn’t want me to miss it. First of all, that was so incredibly sweet of her to tell me about the time, because I never would have remembered. And second of all, I had really expected to get lots of pictures taken in there with friends and family but I just never had the chance.
I hope this blog post has been helpful and maybe given you some things to think about that you may not have known about. I hope you are fortunate enough to love the person that your son or daughter is marrying as much as we love our new daughter-in-law. And I hope that you have such good luck with your new in-laws, the way we have, because we are so grateful for her family. I mostly hope that your take-away from all of my tips is that this should be a very special day for your entire family, so during all of the noise and chaos and emotions of the day, take it in and commit it to memory and celebrate it.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I hope you celebrate something this week! xoxo