Common Mistakes

  Well…a year and a half has come and gone with our new business venture.  We have seen weddings that differ in dozens of ways. We have seen brides come in with a decorator and a crew of helpers and we have seen do-it-yourself brides who are pinterest regulars and etsy customers.  We see expensive weddings and thrifty ones. We see fancy and frilly do-dads and those with quilts and mason jars.  I don’t dare say that I have seen it all – for with a flexible venue like we have and tout – it just encourages brides to come do their own thing.
  Organizing a wedding is basically like planning a large party – a very large party. Some of our brides (and their family) have had lots of experience with hosting parties and some have very little experience.  I am sure that if anybody had the notion to “do it all over again” that they would’ve learn from their mistakes and found a way to do it better the second time.  Well….nobody in their right mind would do it over again or want to.  That said….I have seen a fair amount of mistakes – common mistakes – that I want to share so that you can maybe avoid.
1.  The Bride tries to handle too many of the details.  This is indeed the brides day and if should reflect that. She choose the place, the dress, the colors, and in fact….should choose virtually every aspect of this wedding day.  This is likely the only day in her life that she can have such a luxury – so let her have it.  But…some brides think that they can handle it all….the set up…..the decor…..dealing with the caterer, etc. etc. etc.  On wedding day…she needs to have a short list of her responsibility.  If she needs to go oversee the layout of the venue – do just that.  Oversee it…have a crew of helpers (or hire this out) but convey how you want it…and let them do it…..On the decorations – the lay out – the table decor, etc….do your work ahead of time – set up a table decor at home – take pictures of it..put the stuff in a bag labeled Table One…pack the stuff in the bag….and then on wedding day…delegate this to some one else.  Time slips by….the day gets consumed…you need to primpt and prep and enjoy this time with your family and friends so you need to do only those very specific things in regards to the barn and reception area…then delegate it to somebody else.
2.  Mistake number one also applies to the mother of the bride.  Many of our mothers are use to giving parties so they think that they can handle all of the setup and decorating.  Setting up and decorating for 100-200 in an unusual venue is much different than doing the same for a group of 30-40 at your own house with your usual decor.  It takes time to decide how to space the tables – do you want the runners going all the same direction or mismatched – do you want the cake table in the corner or under the tree – do you want the ceremony chairs 12 ft. apart or 8 ft. apart – does the sign in go here or there.  These are all fair things to ponder…but point is…these little things take time….and time is precious on this day for you – the mother of the bride – need to be in that role too…be the mother of the bride and not the hired hand.  Yes – if you are on a budget – you may need to help over see these things but find a die-hard friend who would be happy to donate their time as a gift to the bride. 
3.  Communicate thoroughly with your vendors and preferrably in writing.    Doing it your own way means that you can get your uncle Joe to bring your food or you can hire your own caterer.  Your caterer is concentrating on the food but you need to make sure you talk about every aspect that is needed regarding the food.  Who will bring the ice and how much?…i.e. fill the cast iron tub plus drinks plus galvanized tubs?  What about dinnerware and napkins?  Does he need tables and how many?  Does he need electricity?  Will he bring tablecloths for his tables?  Is he bringing food  only or serving food?  Who is in charge of the garbage?  Also….when deciding on your wedding cakes…tell your vendor that you are getting married in an outdoor venue and the cake will be set up on a table in a barn.  If you are getting married during a “warmer” month…they may then discourage you from using certain icings that would tend to melt.  You need to know when they will arrive to set up the cake – for they can’t rightly come at 3 p.m. for a 6:30 p.m. wedding.  Don’t assume anything.  Ask and ask and then even ask them if there is anything left you should ask.
4.  Don’t overdress your groom and groomsmen when you have a summer wedding.  Being a farm wedding venue – we are outside the box.  All the rules can be fudged because we are unusual.  What you wear – mismatched bridesmaid dresses – what you eat or don’t eat – what kind of photos you have taken – your vows etc….So…if you have a summer wedding…don’t make your groom and groomsmen wear long sleeved shirts and jackets.  Typically…many of the photos are taken prior to the ceremony….so that means the guys are out sweating in the hottest part of the day.  By ceremony time (7ish…if they follow our advice), they will be fine….but….being decked out in full gear will mean heat stroke and the guys looking around for a way to escape.  So…whether that means just no jackets?….and maybe suspenders….or whether that means them rolling up their sleeves a bit….but just be practical – in order to make it a pleasant time for your best guys!
5.  Unlimited beer.  Yes – this is a common mistake.  In order to have beer at our venue – you have to get insured to cover the liability that comes with serving alcohol.  In essence, our requirement that you get  insurance for this is protecting  YOU.  If one of your guest drinks and drives and wrecks – they could sue YOU.  So…take this liability and responsibility to heart. Providing alcohol is your choice but we have seen several weddings where the tub was full of beer and by late evening – there were quite a few of buzzed guests.  This puts them and you at risk.  We are a long way from anybody’s home – Walker County police know we are here – and driving tipsy is the same as driving drunk – and this is no favor to them or you.l Even if most of your guests will drink responsibly, consider either having a bartender, or limiting the number of bottles that you provide.
6.  Garbage detail.  Some of our old contracts are still being fulfilled. These older contracts did not include garbage disposal.  This was an option giving initially in order to hold down the costs.  Some brides have readily assumed that responsibility thinking that they will save some money – and besides…what is the problem in taking home a few bags of garbage by your brother or uncle.  First…if you are going to do this – please let them know ahead of time that this is your request so that they bring the appropriate vehicle and be prepared to haul it off.  Also remember that depending on your particulars – whether you have lots of beer bottles, water bottles, and disposables – you may end up with a slew of garbage bags…and it isn’t easy to stash a dozen bags into your car.  Point is…communicate a head of time about this with your helper crew to make sure they are prepared.  We have since altered our contract to include a certain amount of bags “in the package” and then automatically charge for each extra bag which can be taken out of the security deposit.  This just avoids having the problematic issue of one of your friends exasperated at the unprepared thought of hauling off tons of garbage in their small fancy vehicle. 
7.  The Bridal Prep Room.  The key word is “Prep” i.e.  preparation.  The Farmhouse is occupied by my daughter Jill and her family. She opens up her home’s front room for the brides so that they can have a clean, cute, and air conditioned place to prepare. She allows access to her bathroom. This room is meant to be a place just for preparation and not to be lingered in and out of for the rest of the evening.  We request that the bride be totally out of the room by 7 p.m. so that Jill can bathe and put her children to bed and that they resume their lives in their own house again.  The Bridal Room needs to be left as clean as she found it.  Sometimes the brides – and more often than not – it is her bridesmaids will continue to pop back into the bridal room during the evening in the hopes of “refreshing their make up” and such.  We have even had guests show up in the bridal room thinking that they could use the bathroom “in the house” instead of the barn.  We try to be sympathetic with the needs of our brides but it is very important that Jill and her family can not lose their privacy and domain over their own house beyond the hours that we give.
8.  Table decor needs to be meant for an outdoor event.  We see every sort of table settings. It is quite interesting and fun for me and Jill to pop into the barn to see how a wedding is being set up and decorated.  Occasionally we see things that surely looked real cute “in a magazine” but wasn’t logically smart for an outdoor venue.  A couple of examples that come to mind are 1. cut out paper hearts or  such on the tables.  Sprinkled about…saying love or marriage etc….may look cute on a table in a fellowship hall where there is no breeze but when you do this on tables set out side or even in the barn…by the time the ceremony begins…half of  your “words” are scattered all over the floor.  2. On the same theme…if you set out silky sashes or runners on the tables….any little bit of breeze will blow these into a roll or in a twist.  The center piece may keep it from falling in the floor but it requires constant attention from your overseers.  Point is…keep in mind your venue…and if you have any questions….just shoot me an email.  I check those daily and answer lots of questions.
9.  Heels.  If you are a short bride – I know that you want to give yourself some inches but remember your surroundings.  You will be prancing all over the farm for those quaint and interesting photos plus back and forth from the farmhouse to the barn….and we have grass everywhere….and we are a farm venue – not a fully manicured park – so our landscape is uneven.  So – rethink the heels – and try to find something cute and pretty but comfortable.  Also…pass this tidbit along to your bridesmaids and your mother (and extended family) and maybe even find a way to make a bit of a comment on your invitations so that your guests will come “comfortable.”
10.  Don’t forget to check in with Jill about 5-6 weeks out from your event so that you can go over any of the add-ons that you may want to include.  This gives you an opportunity to tell Jill about the time of your event, to make sure all of the paperwork is provided, and to ask any last minute questions.  Plus – she can verify your total before writing that check. Remember – you will include in your total the $300 security deposit to cover any damages or last minute purchases/add-ons. 
  Luckily – even with all of these common mistakes…the weddings have always been successful and enjoyable.  So far – no rained out weddings.  Even with one of those very hot evenings last month – the wedding went off as a true success with guests peppering the bride and groom with compliments about the wedding and the venue.  There have been many a mother that had tired and sore feet that night but still with happy hearts.  It is a big party with lots of details.  A To-Do list is a smart thing….an “organized friend” to help trouble shoot is worth their weight in gold.  Deciding which of these “chores” you can hire out and which you can handle is a thing to ponder.  And…always feel like you can ask advice from us – we are happy to help.