14 March 2015

Throwing a large event.

So you’re getting married. What now?

First and foremost, schedule your panic time. It’s not realistic to say not to panic, because that’s silly. It’s more workable to know that the panic is going to come, and give yourself the space for that to happen. But, like I said, schedule the amount of time you’re going to allow yourself to wallow in those feelings.

Even if things are busy, and you have a million things on your plate, tell yourself, “I’m going to allow myself to whine, complain, cry, scream, and do whatever else it is to have the release of the emotions. These emotions are perfectly natural, and there’s nothing wrong with me for feeling out of control. I’m not crazy, and I’m not a horrible person for wanting things to go right.”

Once you’ve let yourself have those feelings, they’ll give way to a sense of relief for having been given the chance to just come out. However, if you don’t set yourself a time limit, you can very well start heading into self pity party, or endless negative feedback loops. My friend Dr. Melissa (you can find her on the twitter: https://twitter.com/melissalaughing) shared a story where she started feeling sad at a graduation ceremony. She looked at her watch, and gave herself 60 seconds to just feel those things, and let them happen. At the end of the sixty second mourning, she felt able to face the graduation, and truly celebrate the rite of passage that the students were participating in.

Find someone that you trust to be point person for the day of itself. You may not want someone to plan out the specific details of the wedding itself, but you will want someone who can answer the phone, and deal with coordinating the whole mess on the day of. Caterers will get lost, and be running late. The wedding hall will have issues with setting up the tables correctly. Someone drank all the wine, and one of the wait staff needs to make a run down to the store and grab a bit more. Whatever the issues are, let you and your (soon to be) spouse off the hook. Frankly, if you’re wearing a wedding dress, you likely don’t have pockets anyway.

Answering the phone to give directions to wayward folk isn’t really a thing you want to deal with. Having that point person be there to take those calls, and coordinate things is a huge help. Most of the successful wedding parties I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a LOT of them) are the ones where the point person is NOT the mother of the bride or groom, or a best friend or sibling. Why? Because those people will also be participating. It’ll be someone who’s able to nip out for a few minutes to get things done, while not pissing off the photographer, who’ll insist on photos with all the people, or make the marrying person feel abandoned. I’ve been best man (and man of honour) for a fair few weddings by now, and it’s hard for me to be out of sight at the critical moments. It’s when I wasn’t in the wedding party itself that I was able to be a good point person.

For food, variety IS quantity. The thing is that you’re not going to please everyone. That’s fine. What is going to happen, however, is that you’ll be given the ability to make a variety of choices when you’re planning on what to get. If I’m about to throw an event, and the things on a menu cost all different prices, I’m going to hedge my bets and order smaller quantities of ALL the things.
Why? Because then there will be an automatic desire to try different things, and nobody tries to fill up on any one thing. The most successful parties (wedding or otherwise) were the ones where they set up multiple tables with all different things on them. 

For example, there would be a table for dips and things to eat with the dips. Hummus, white bean dip, black olive tapenade, various spreads, tiny pickles (gherkins? Cornichon?), olives, cut vegetables, various crackers, breads, pita, spicy and sweet sauces, and so on. Then there’d be a table for salad and salad accessories. Various things of cut up vegetables, various proteins, beans, a few dressings, and a selection of greens. There’s another table for soups, like bean soup, vegetable soup, etc. There’s a table for grains, one for grilled or roasted veg, one for various proteins. But here’s the thing. You don’t need to order huge amounts of anything, because not everyone is going to eat everything.

There’s only so many things one can fill up on, and having a bunch of choices guarantees that if someone has dietary restrictions, allergies, or just plain doesn’t like certain things, you’re making it possible for them to find more things to eat. Even those who eat everything will still have their likes and dislikes. Also, by setting up all the food on various stations, you get the crowd control easier to manage. Not everyone will want to attack the same things at the same time. Some people will want to nibble for a bit before eating properly. Some prefer to only eat the salad. Whatever the case, spreading out where the various offerings are kept will keep people moving through the room, and mingling with people they’d normally not mingle with.

Figure on a total of 1 lb of food per person, from start to finish. Figure on 5 lbs of lettuce greens being enough for 25 people. Figure on about 1 lb of protein being enough for 4, as long as you have at least ¾ of a lb of other things to fill it out. Some people will want less of the protein, and others will want more. Figure on 1 baguette for 3 people. For drinks, get 1 litre of beverage per person, whether that be juice, sparkling water, or soda.

Try to explain the significance of things if they’re important to you. I can’t tell you how many weddings I’ve been to, where there were all these lovely little touches, but nobody who attended knew how special those touches were, because the couple didn’t mention it in the program. I went to one wedding where the bride and groom bought beautiful centrepieces from a shop that they both enjoyed, and decorated them with flowers that meant something to the couple. I didn’t find out about the significance of it until well after the ceremony, when the meaning was lost on me. If I’d have known on the wedding day itself, it would have been so nice.

No matter how long-winded you think that the printed material is, I’ve seen it be a great conversation starter on the tables. If you’re holding a wedding ceremony that has traditions from both of your families, mention them! If you have decorated the space with little trinkets you’ve picked up as a couple, say so in the program! If you are honouring a particular culture with your wedding ceremony, mention what those traditions are, and why they’re important to you. Even the best planned weddings had plenty of hurry up and wait time. If your printed material has interesting little things in there about the couple, or about the wedding itself, it gives the guests something to do while they’re waiting in those boring moments. It also sparks conversations amongst the guests. I love a good wedding program.

This is just a few suggestions to help you get through the planning and execution of the party successfully. If anyone else has suggestions, feel free to weigh in!