306: Little Wedding Details That Make a Big Difference

by Erica Greenwold Reisen

Sometimes it’s the little details that make a big difference especially when you are focusing on planning a big event like a wedding. In this episode of the Bridechilla Podcast, I’m joined by wedding coordinator and planner Erica Greenwold Reisen from Folie à Deux Events who shares some of the most essential smaller details that are often forgotten or left to the last minute that will make your wedding plans run smoother.

Listen to episode 306 of Bridechilla

Catering & Bar Setup

Non-traditional venues often will require renting items such as tables, chairs, and sometimes even coolers or hot boxes to ensure that your food remains at the proper temperature until it is served.
When you are visiting and considering venues, an often overlooked detail is where and how your caterers and bar will be set up. One of your questions while touring the venue should be where do caterers usually set up shop and what amenities are available for the caterers to use. Some venues have full kitchens, others simply have a catering prep or staging area, and some venues have no such thing at all, leaving caterers to set up in tents outdoors or create their own makeshift prep areas. This is a particular issue at non-traditional or atypical event venues and historical properties that do not specialize in weddings. It may even be a good idea to visit the venue with your caterer well in advance of the wedding so that they can formulate a game plan for setup, staging, and serving. 

Ok, now onto the bar. Where does the bar usually set up in your venue? Is there water or a sink to rinse glassware? Who will tend bar and who provides the booze? Who gets the liquor license? What about liability insurance? These are all questions that must be asked upfront and can significantly affect the overall costs of your bar. 

BONUS: Who supplies your place settings and serving dishes? Some caterers include this in their quotes while others do not. You will likely need to rent plates, silverware, glassware, etc... discuss this with your bartender as well, they may provide glassware for bar service, and they may not. 

Marriage License & Officiants

This may seem silly, but getting legally married is kind of the whole point of this shindig, and yet it is something we get questions about all the time. The two key details you need to make sure are in order are your marriage license and that you have an officiant who can legally perform the marriage. 

Every county/state/country/jurisdiction is going to potentially have different processes and rules for getting a marriage license. The best thing to do is hit up Google to find out what local department handles marriage licenses in your area and then pick up the phone or pay them a visit to get the details. Government websites are often hard to navigate and it will be significantly less hassle to just talk to a live person.

Photo by Ben White

The same goes for your officiant. Counties/States/Countries all have different laws about what makes a person qualified to legally perform your marriage. Before you assume your friend can get "ordained" online and do the wedding, check with your local government as to what rules they have regarding ordination and whether they recognize online or non-religious officiants. If all else fails, you can perform the legal part of the ceremony at the courthouse ahead of the wedding and then do what you want for the public ceremony.
Do not leave either of these things to the last minute - they are the most crucial parts of your wedding!

Photo by Nicole Honeywill

Listen to episode 306 of Bridechilla

Event Insurance & Risk Assessment

Some venues will require you to get Event Insurance, and others will not... but regardless of whether it is required, it is always a good idea and not very expensive. Not convinced? The best thing to do when you are determining the risks and your potential liability is to do an Event Risk Assessment. Many wedding planners include this in their services, but you can perform one yourself using this handy spreadsheet! The purpose of an Event Risk Assessment is to identify possible areas where things could go wrong and create a game plan to remove or mitigate that risk. This will help you get an idea of what kind of wedding insurance you should get and what levels of coverage you will need. 

Bathrooms!

The most glamorous detail of wedding planning! Are there enough bathrooms to accommodate all of your guests comfortably. This should not be an issue for a traditional event space that was built with the purpose of hosting large events, but it can be an issue with non-traditional and atypical or historic venues. Ask your venue upfront if you will need to arrange for additional bathroom facilities because this can end up being a big ticket item. There are lots of options at a wide range of price points, but generally speaking, for a wedding you will want to do a nicer bathroom trailer with flushing toilets and sinks for handwashing. 

Photo by cindy baffour 

Directions and Parking Information

Usually I advocate for trusting your guests to be adults and handle themselves as such... but it is also kind to give them a little direction and guidance. Provide your guests with some information on where to park and how to get to your venue on your wedding website, or in printed directions that are sent with your invitations. Confirm ahead of time with your venue where the best parking can be found in the area. You do not want guests getting lost or discovering that their cars have been towed! This can be a particular issue with downtown/city venues or historic sites. 

Transportation for Wedding Party

Transportation is often one of the first things to go in the Fuck-it Bucket because of the cost. But as a planner I love when couples book transportation for their wedding party. This guarantees everyone who is crucial to your wedding day is where they need to be on time. Plus it allows your wedding party to let loose and drink without worrying about driving afterward. This is an especially good idea if your event has multiple locations throughout the day. 

Overnight Bags

Are you staying at a hotel the night of your wedding? If so, you will need to pack an overnight bag and have a game plan for how it will get to your hotel room. The common issue is that if you didn't stay in the same room the night before the wedding, you may not be able to check into the room before it is time to start getting ready for the wedding. Arrange for a family member or friend to delivery your bags and get you checked into the room. It may be helpful to contact the hotel staff prior to your arrival to let them know as well.

Photo by Alasdair Elmes 

Who takes the gifts home?

You have just had your grand exit and are off to the after party or your hotel! Did you appoint a family member or friend to collect all your cards and gifts? Who is going to be responsible for delivering these items safely to you after the wedding? This is a detail that is often overlooked and definitely needs to be discussed prior to the event.

Decor Breakdown and Pickup

Similar to the question about gifts... who is breaking down your decor and making sure that rented items are returned to their proper owners. When will the rental companies pick up their items? Does the venue require rentals to be put someplace specific? Does the venue even allow your rental company to come back at a later date? Find out what needs to be broken down and picked up the night of the wedding and have a game plan for who will do that. Confirm with your florist as to whether they need the vessels returned and if they do, make sure no one walks out the door with your arrangements! 

Some rental companies charge extra for same day pickup because it generally requires longer hours and very late hours for their team. Florists often need their vessels and vases back soon after the wedding, but may not be able to come that night to break down. These are all questions to be asked prior to finalizing your timeline for the day. Make sure all of your wedding pros have provided you with their schedule and that their plans match your expectations and timeline for the event. 

You will need to confirm with the venue regarding drop-off and pickup of rentals to make sure that your plans and rental deliveries do not interfere with other events that may be happening the same weekend.

Be prepared for the little things!

Every wedding is different, and every venue is different... there are likely to be some small details that we have not mentioned here that could make or break your event. The best thing is to be prepared. Take your time to really dig into the details and never assume something is included or handled by someone else. Ask tons of questions of your wedding pros and venue. Make a list of little things you noticed at other weddings and how you felt they were handled. Plan for the worst and hope for the best. 

About the Author: Erica Greenwold Reisen is the lead planner and designer at Folie à Deux Events. She specializes in authentic, unique events for couples who like to challenge traditions and do their own thing. She is the founder and editor of Secularly Wed, a wedding blog dedicated to meaningful, non-religious wedding planning.

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