When my oldest daughter got married, we were able to go into the church and reception venue the day before to decorate. Our decorations were elaborate and it took us hours to get everything ready for the next day.
For our most recent wedding, the ceremony and reception would all be at one venue with the ceremony in the rotunda (sun room) and reception in the ballroom. Immediately, this eliminated some of the major decorations. My oldest daughter had envisioned a dance floor that friends built for her, but this place already had a dance floor. In the first wedding, we had to set up tables and chairs, as well as put on the tablecloths. In our recent wedding, the venue set up the tables and chairs exactly as requested and the caterer would supply the table linens and set the tables.
It will be a breeze! I thought to myself.
Oh how naive I was!
We still had to set up the welcome table, the wedding favor table, the card/gift table, the photo booth, the arch for the ceremony, the cake table decorations, and all the centerpieces.
Not as much decorating, but still a lot of work! And we only had an hour to get it all done. Sigh.
I was so excited when the Lord gave me a plan to include the wedding party and family to help plan, make, set up, and tear down the decorations.
The plan helped things to run smoothly and let people serve where they enjoyed serving.
First I made a list of every thing we needed to do, including each place we needed to decorate.
Jenny Rose, Diego, and I talked about what style they wanted and we spent lots of time on Pinterest, finding "looks" that she liked.
Once we knew the style Jenny Rose wanted, we started collecting things we'd need to create that style: crates, small wooden wagons, ivy, flowers, wooden frames, twine, and burlap ribbon. We already had burlap runners, lace, tulle, rose garlands, and lanterns from our last wedding and other parties. We used coupons and looked for sales. It took us five months to collect everything we needed.
Once we had a lot of materials, Rose and I went to the venue and chose where everything would be set up (guest book table, welcome sign, seating chart, photo booth, favor table, arch, gift table, and cake table). We took photos of all the locations.
We decided to keep our decorations as simple as possible while trying to get the look Rose wanted. If you look at the guest book table below you will see it is simply the guest book and two crates with a lantern and flowers in it. The photo booth (see below) was alternating rows of tulle and rose garlands. For the favor table, we used a wagon, a basket, and a vase of flowers, filling the wagon and basket with the wedding favors.
Our next step was to hold a night of creating and putting together with the wedding party and family members invited. We set up stations around our house with materials and a photo of where the finished decorations would go. Some folks created and others put together the centerpieces. (You can read more about his night here)
When all the gluing and putting together was done, I took photos and we packaged everything in separate totes. Later I added a photo of the location where it would be set up, a photo of what it should look like, and a map of the venue with a big X on the location.
I assigned the totes to the people who were setting up. So the arch people had the arch tote and knew how and where to set up the arch. The photo booth people brought their materials and set up the photo booth.
I divided all the set up jobs up and gave each job to a different person, except for the bigger jobs (arch, photo booth, centerpieces) which had teams with one person in charge.
This minimized folks coming to me and saying, "What can I do to help?" which can be annoying when you are stressed or overwhelmed.
One thing I realized is that many people want to help, but they don't want to slave away, so if you give people small tasks that are easy to finish quickly, they stay happy, and often want to help with the next project, party, or wedding that comes along. Whenever someone said, "Can I help with the wedding?" I always replied, "Do you mean that?" and gave them a job.
We had a team of over 20 people helping with wedding set-up and tear-down. (Yes, my friends are wonderful at serving and they know they can count on me when they need help!)
I also matched people's skill set to their task. Marielle and her sister Madelynn are creative and artsy with a good eye for what looks nice together. I had them set up the tables the guests would see first. Julianna is a detail person so she set up the first table centerpiece as an example for everyone else to imitate. Marla is both detailed and a strong leader, so she oversaw the set up of the arch with all its tulle and flowers. Brooklynn, another detail person, was in charge of the photo booth--not a hard job, but a time-consuming one so I gave her a team.
Julianna found an easy, disposable chair decoration for the ceremony chairs made of lace doilies, tulle, roses, and ribbon. That made clean up easier.
Since Marielle wanted to help with the wedding and she wasn't a bridesmaid, I put her in charge of everything outside the ballroom. This included the foyer with guest book table and welcome sign, as well as the rotunda with the arch and chair decorations. She had only one simple task and the rest of her job was just to check on people and make sure they were doing fine. If they needed help, she helped or sent someone else to help.
She and I worked very closely together before the wedding, visiting the venue and discussing the decorations, as well as the set-up.
I think she enjoyed the set-up and she certainly blessed me with all her help.
Marielle also brought a tote of extra flowers and decorations in case we needed them.
The bulk of the work was inside the ballroom. We had to wait for the caterers to put the linens on the tables before we could begin.
I put Justin, who has a background in catering, in charge of the ballroom. I had worked with him before and knew he stayed calm and had a good eye for arranging tables.
The table centerpieces just had to be taken out of totes and put together. The table number and table number holder was right in the tote.
The biggest challenge would be the long bridal party table in the middle since I would use the girls' bouquets as part of the decoration, this was a little more confusing to set up. The centerpieces were a long line of lanterns alternating with mirrors that would be topped later with bouquets. I made a decoration and seating chart to make it easier and that is the table that I helped out with.
To sum everything up, decorating can be made easier if you...
I hope this is helpful for you as you plan the "Big Day" with those you love.
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