The next three items are relatively easy, but there are a few little nuances here and there. But since they’re not complicated, I’ve lumped them all in the same post.
The accommodations question comes up if you have many out-of-town guests — they need somewhere to stay, presumably. And most people organizing a wedding will suggest location x or y, somewhere near the venue (or if you’re in a traditional banquet hall, perhaps the attached hotel itself). Hotels will sometimes be helpful when you book these rooms. If you’re doing a wedding with them in their ballroom, they know you’re spending a ton on food and alcohol, so they might give you a small group rate on the rooms. You can negotiate for better rates than they first offer you, but often they’ll only give you a better rate IF you guarantee the rooms. For example, they’ll offer you a special rate of $150 a night, but if you guarantee all 25 rooms for that night, they’ll reduce it to $125. Great deal, unless of course you end only needing 20 of them. Then your guests are paying for their individual rooms and you’re covering the extra 5 empty rooms yourself. Most couples don’t want this, and so it’s hard to get a great rate. Which means most couples set up a preferred/recommended hotel, a basic group rate that isn’t guaranteed, and tell people to “book early” to secure the rooms.
We visited three different hotels as we were trying to decide which hotel to recommend — one was in a good location downtown and would be the location for Sunday brunch after the wedding; the second was right next to the theatre where we got married; and the third was closer to the boat where we were having the reception. Everyone opted for the first one, which was the best option anyway. [Week 5-6]
However, we had some extra accommodations needs too:
- Andrea went to the main hotel the night before, stayed with her mom, and then got ready the next day at the hotel (so I wouldn’t see her before the wedding), so we needed that room the night before (however it was her parents room, so no “extra” room required, but some people get a separate room for the bride for that night);
- We went to a small inn for our wedding night, a little more intimate and romantic than a room with the cast of dozens at the main hotel, and therefore a bit more private, but we needed that booked, with EARLY check-in since during normal check-in times, we’d be at the CEREMONY and late check-out the day after [Week 15]; and,
- Since Andrea was going to the hotel for Friday night, wedding all day Saturday, inn for wedding night, and then Sunday brunch the next morning, she had to pack for both the pre-night and the wedding night, including all her jewellery for the ceremony and extra events.
You know what else often goes into this category? Identifying any extra things to give out of town guests, like suggestions for other entertainment during their stay…after all, the wedding only ties up part of their weekend.
Flowers and Decorations
Guys, I know you probably don’t give a rat’s butt about flowers or decorations. Stereotypically, this is also where a lot of people get stressed and end up fighting. One person (often in the stereotype, the bride) really wants to debate all the floral options; the other person doesn’t CARE. And after already dealing with a couple of dozen decisions around venues, and ceremony elements, flowers can often be the breaking point for discussing wedding stuff. I know three couples who got along fine about just about everything, regardless of everyone turning into squirrels, but they fought about the flowers. Because one person was “whatever”, and the other was “do you like this or this flower?”.
The half-saving grace on this element is that regardless of whether you are using a non-traditional venue or a straight-up church plus banquet hall, the florist is usually the same outside contractor doing it. Pick your florist of choice, tell them you’re getting married, and they’ll say, “Great, option A or B or C or D…or Z”. They have a FULL menu, and just like with traditional venue, they will guide your fully through all the options. Some will upsell the crap out of you, others will keep within your budget. Depends on the florist. But you know what? The florists at Loblaws can do it too. Seriously, they have options. And they’re quite reasonable. [Week 8]
We chose a florist that Andrea knew near Peterborough, and I wasn’t completely convinced it was the best of ideas. It would mean that the parents of the bride would have to do pick-up and bring everything with them to Ottawa. So we supplemented some of the “bigger” pieces with Loblaws and we picked them up ourselves. However, we did get the personal bouquets from the first one.
What are your frequent options?
- Bouquets for the bride, maid of honour, and potentially each bridesmaid (although they may be more corsages)…we did two bouquets, for the bride and maid of honour;
- Corsages for the mothers of the bride and groom, and potentially for other female members of the immediate family (we didn’t do those ones);
- Boutonnière (lapel flowers) worn by the men, which some people do for the groom, fathers of the bride and groom, all the groomsmen, and then often any extra “men” helping — brothers, brothers-in-law, ushers, etc…we did them for myself and the father of the bride, and we somehow missed doing one for the grandfather;
- Pew bows — flowers to go on the sides of rows of seats at whatever venue you have (i.e. the sides of pews if you’re in a church, to line the main aisle); and,
- Free standing floral displays that combine colours and flowers with the boutonnieres and corsages and bouquets, oh my.
We did the last ones through Loblaws, using some of the same flowers as the others items from the other florist, and it was all good. We had them at the theatre when we were doing the ceremony and then at the boat.
Do you see a small catch there? Someone has to get them to the theatre, and put them up. Then someone has to take them down and move them to the reception and set them back up. And then after the event, they have to take them with them too. Particularly if the stands are returnable to the florist (often they’re loaned bases). So you need people to volunteer to pick up the materials for the decorations, pick up the flowers, deliver them to the venue, decorate before the ceremony, clean up and transport to venue 2, redecorate, cleanup at the end, and take the flowers home. Fortunately, I had siblings and their young adult children who helped with all of this.
While guests are usually on the hook to get themselves from venue to venue, there are some people who often have different transportation needs:
- Groom has to get to the ceremony — if he drives, will he be driving away later, or going in a limo? Where does his car stay? Does someone take it for him?
- Bride has to get to the ceremony — often, if you have a limo for the day, the limo is with the bride since the bride has all these extra layers of dress to deal with, and a limo makes it easier (or a mini van with a wide loading door and the middle seats removed), otherwise someone has to drive her…in short, she’s unlikely to be driving a car in a wedding dress;
- Wedding party is likewise potentially limited for movement — do they all meet at the venue, or as is tradition, do all the bridesmaids attend the bride for initial makeup, getting dressed, getting to the ceremony, etc., and how do they get around the rest of the day?;
- If there are formal photos somewhere, and the wedding party plus immediate family are going off to do that, how are they all getting to the same place in time?;
- After the photos, how is everyone getting to the reception?;
- After the reception, the bride and groom would most likely leave by themselves — so if anyone came with them, how are they getting home or back to the hotel or back to their cars?;
- If there is alcohol at the reception, are there arrangements for designated drivers to get everyone home safely? Are there buses back to the hotel?;
- If the bride and groom are driven to a hotel by a limo, for example, how do they get home the next day?; and,
- If anyone super important (i.e. parents or grandparents) have mobility issues, is someone responsible for helping them get to the event?
Few of these issues are insurmountable or difficult but they can be a bit nebulous to nail down. And no one wants grandma left at the church while everyone drives off to the reception. [Week 14-18]