Into every wedding, a list must fall.
Most weddings, several lists come into play. If you have a wedding planner, he or she will have a list for you. If you’re planning it yourself, every bridal book and magazine and website has lists for you to follow.
The thing about those lists, is that it’s hard for 1 person to come up with a list that’s going to fit your wedding perfectly. So you’re either skipping over the things that don’t apply, or writing more stuff into the margins. And that’s no good.
Instead, I suggest you take your top 3 lists, from whatever source they came from, and create your own master list.
Sounds scary, and like a lot of work, but once this bad boy is put together you’re going to feel really good about what’s ahead.
Right now I’m a couple weeks out from our big, mostly-annual Halloween party. Now, considering how many times I’ve thrown this party, you might think everything gets done in my sleep by now.
In fact, each party I throw is always a little different because I tweak things here, add things there, ditch stuff that didn’t work, and so on. And even if it was a cookie-cutter operation, there are still things that need to get done each year and if I don’t have them written down, there’s a good chance I’m going to forget something until the last moment and have to scramble.
As a hostess, I prefer not to be scrambling when the guests arrive.
Granted, this is a party for 20 or so friends and family, not exactly the scope of a wedding, right?
Think about it this way: my parties include mailed invitations, a menu, decorations, seating, activities management, and even party favors. The difference between one of my usual parties and a wedding is only a matter of scale.
And there have been plenty of small, backyard weddings that took less than the planning and prep for my average Pumpkin Party or Fairy Fest.
Back when I was planning on becoming a professional event planner (end of high school, early college; pre-Culinary School, obviously), one of the best tips I ever learned was to do a mental walk-through of the event as a guest. In your head, your imaginary guest is going to do everything you’ve planned for them to do, and it’ll point out things you might have missed like making sure there’s a trash can nearby.
To build on that, for a wedding list, I’d say go through each part of the event–starting with the rehearsal dinner–and mentally attend it, asking yourself the big questions.
Who‘s in charge of it?
What do you see? hear? taste? feel? smell?
Where‘s it gonna be?
When is it?
How will be people know about it? get there?
Why is this important?
We’re incorporating the “reporter questions” with the 5 senses and filling in the blanks. Not all questions will be applicable to all settings, but it’s good to run through them in case something jogs your memory. As you think through those items, write down or type everything that comes to mind.
Thinking about our rehearsal dinner, my answers would look something like this
*bride & groom
*People–family and out of town guests, music–supplied by site, food–small group, off the menu?
*restaurant (make reservations)
*November 1, time tba, depending on venue schedule
*Guest list for the rehearsal, send out with invitations, arrange shuttle or carpool for guests in from out of town
*So that we can relax with our friends before the frenzy of the next morning.
So, from thinking this through, I know that I need to add the following to my Event Master List
- Create rehearsal dinner enclosure for select guests, include with invitations
- Get count for rehearsal dinner
- Firm up rehearsal time with ceremony site
- Make reservation at La Fiesta
- Ask about fee for resort shuttle for guests staying on property
- Alternately figure out how many people will need transport and how many cars will be available
- Ask about limited menu vs a la carte at the restaurant
- Decide if we’re presenting any gifts at rehearsal dinner
- Make/purchase gifts (optional)
- Decide on payment method (credit/debit/cash, etc.) for dinner
- Make sure to have cash on hand for tips
Because my goal is to relax at the dinner, I’m not going to worry about decorations (the restaurant we’re planning on reserving has lots of natural decor anyway, it’s not a blank slate by any means).
Then you just keep going through your event, working with whatever rough (or specific) timeline you’ve got.
When I get to the walk down the aisle, I’ll “see” the decorations that I want, so they go on the list as something to make, along with the flowers (or whatever) in my hand, and so on and so forth.
Once you’ve got the Master List compiled, then you get to play jigsaw puzzle with it (because different things get done at different times), arrange things in the order that makes sense to you, and it’ll start to look like one of those lists you see in the magazines. And speaking of those lists, use them as a template as far as distance from the event staging, transfer over the things from those lists that apply to you along with your own mental walk-through list, and what you’ll end up with is an Event Master List that is perfect for your event, and not cookie-cutter to the average wedding, etc.
If you make your list in a spreadsheet program, you can color code your text and fields to make it easy to glance at. Or, if you prefer lots of mini-lists, feel free to make sub-lists (like a Packing List, a DIY Project list, a Payments to Make list, etc.) from your master list so you avoid overwhelming yourself with 1 big list.
And if you absolutely hate lists, find a friend willing to channel their inner Monica and send up a flare.