Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Final Countdown, Part 1. - (Last Minute Add-ons)

I know that in my re-telling of the wedding planning process, I defiitely skipped some details. I went from a couple of months out and our fairly leisurely picking of wedding doo-dads and the Do-It-Yourself projects, straight to the wedding day itself. Well, there were definitely some things that happened in between. I will do my best to remember them...but as the Big Day drew closer, (and It came one week after the bride graduated from college,) the pace of things understandably got more frantic and the stress level didn't always leave me or the bride very clear-headed. Nor did I have much extra time or energy for reflection and blogging.

About  3 weeks out, a few things happened that kind of moved things along in a faster, more frazzled (and more expensive) direction. First, our wedding coordinator finally kicked into last-minute mode and was on top of things, reminding of us details that we hadn't really addressed yet. Secondly, my daughter attended the wedding of a friend, and she came away with her head swimming wih new ideas for her own wedding and reception. Third, it became apparent that if any coordination and arrangements for a limo or car for the couple or their bridal party were to happen, it would have to be me or my husband doing it.

Some of the big details that were left to be addressed included wedding programs and menu cards. My daughter had always been good at that kind of thing so I had assumed she would take care of it. But as it turned out, she really had no interest in menu cards, and at this point she was so focused on her final projects and exams for school, that she had decided not to do the programs either. So, she basically turned it over to me...if they were to happen, I would have to make it happen. Well, under normal circumstances I think I would have been up to the challenge. But we just were running out of time, and low on energy and focus. I still had to keep going to work every day. I couldn't spend hours pouring over ideas on the Internet and finessing the design, locating a suitable printer, etc.

So we punted...about 2 weeks away from the Big Day!  I put in a plea to Denise, our wedding coordinator; she had done them before for other clients, so we let her run with it. We gave her some basic suggestions...I wanted to tie in some of the earlier themes we had touched on, like the custom monogram my daughter had designed for the Save the Date cards, the favorite scripture from the Song of Solomon which was used on the formal invitations, and of course the light blue and ivory color theme. Denise did a great job in the end, incorporating our suggestions into some simple, but very pretty programs and coordinating menu cards.  She was literally finishing them up 2 days before the wedding!

At the wedding my daughter attended a few weeks prior to hers, she noticed that they had some specialized linens that she thought really added some creativity to the decor of the wedding. She also noticed that like hers, this wedding featured a pre-function time in a separate space before the actual reception began. She did not like that the guests had to stand around, balancing plates and glasses, for nearly an hour waiting for the doors to open for the reception. My husband and I had previously discussed this as well, with some concern for our older guests.  So, just a few weeks out, we bit the bullet and started looking into some colored rental linens to add to the monochromatic white/ivory linens the hotel offered, as well as some extra furniture to scatter around the pre-function area.

I did a little research myself, even visited one of the rental companies in Waco during a day-trip there to get ideas and pricing, then weighed the options. I concluded that it is definitely cheaper to buy the items outright from one of the many wedding linen on-line stores, than it is to rent them. However, if you purchase them, you will have to transport the linens yourself and then after the event, transport them back home, wash them, and try to re-sell them, store them, or donate them.  In our case, we would have to transport them for the 2 1/2 hour drive to Waco from our home, . We were talking linens for 18 to 20 tables.  For us, that would probably require another vehicle just to transport the linens.  As it turned out, our vehicle was already stuffed to the gills with wedding favors and other paraphernalia (including the wedding dress itself) when we left town.

So in our case, it made more sense to rent, but it definitely was looking like an expensive alternative, and we would have to arrange for delivery, set up, etc. Once again, Denise our coordinator came to the rescue. She has an ongoing relationship with one of the event rental companies in Waco, Action Rental.   Denise worked with Jennifer Vera there, and was able to get it all set up for us at a fairly reasonable cost. We rented blue overlay cloths for the guest tables.  Denise suggested going a bit darker than the light blue we had chosen for the wedding colors, to blend better with the carpet and decor in the ballroom, and just for some contrast to avoid a sea of light blue.   For the pre-function area we decided on some cocktail tables with white cloths and a blue tie to go around them, and some white benches for extra seating.  Below are photos showing the blue overlays used with the hotel's ivory linens, (and a sample of the menu card), and also a shot of a cocktail table serving its purpose in the pre-function area; there's a punch glass resting on it!

The dancefloor in use!
 (It definitely got busier as the afternoon wore on!)
Meanwhile, I was second guessing not having a dance floor installed. Originally the hotel literature said a dancefloor was included in the price of the rental, but our banquet coordinator informed us early on that they had discontinued that. A dancefloor would be up to us at an extra cost. At first we thought, hey, the guests can dance on the carpet, why bother? But the more I thought about it, it just made sense that if people saw there was a designated dancefloor in the room, they would be more inclined to dance! And since we had already gone to the expense of hiring a DJ, we definitely wanted people to do some dancing. So, you guessed it - about a week out, we contracted with Action Rental to put in a 14 X 14 dance floor.

Finally, the idea of a limo of some sort kept coming up in the discussions, especially considering the short time alloted for the events of the day. Many of the bridal party were not from Waco, and the church was a convaluted 20 minute drive away from the hotel venue. My husband and I wanted to transport the bridal party together from the church after the ceremony to the reception venue as quickly and efficiently as possible, so as not to keep the guests waiting any longer than necessary. I was only too happy to let my husband take the lead on this project!

My daughter was actually only interested in having a "nice ride" of some sort for her and her new husband as they were leaving the reception. But as far as my husband and I were concerned, the ideal scenario would have been to have a limo pick up the girls, who were all staying at the hotel the night before the wedding, then wait during the ceremony to take the entire bridal party back to the hotel for the reception, then remain there again to whisk the newlyweds away at the end of the event. But the cost of that was going to be very prohibitive. We were also running into another roadblock...this was May; prime prom season in Texas! So availability of cars was limited and asking prices were high.

The bride emerges from the limo
at the reception site.
In the end, my husband booked with Luxury Limousines of Waco, reserving a 14 passenger white limo to take the entire bridal party from the church to the reception. The car was then free to depart for a few hours, to return later in the afternoon to be the getaway carriage for our newlyweds.

So, this was some of the last-minute stuff that came up that we had to spring for and make decisions on. Resulting in more lost sleep, and more ka-ching, ka-ching added to the budget! But at this point, you have already spent so much, that you think..oh what the heck...its just a bit more and if it will add to the comfort and entertainment of our guests and the bridal party, and to the wedding memories afterwards, it will be worth it.

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