Saturday, May 21, 2011

Step 71 - Revisit your Wedding Reception with the Wedding Vendors

(2 Months to 3 Months before the Wedding)
Once you have your seating chart figured out, you want to revisit your reception facility and make sure everything makes sense. You first want to check in with your wedding vendors that have a desire to scope the wedding reception venue out and find what dates and times they would be free. Next contact the person or people coordinating the wedding whether it be the wedding coordinator, the reception hall, the caterer, or wedding planner and find a good place and time to meet with all parties that have an interest in scoping out the facility.

Make sure you bring your seating chart along with copies to share with wedding vendors which shows them floor layouts and where they will be located. Let them know the seating chart may not be final though, if there are any changes to the arrangements you will forward them changes in a week or two. You might want to invite along your wedding planner or day of wedding coordinator (if you have one), the caterer, the decorator, the florist, the disc jockey, any musicians, photographers, and videographers, any vendors that may have need to scope out the facility. If someone other than yourself coordinates the wedding day activities then they should be the ones to answer any questions the wedding vendors may have.

If you or family is doing the coordinating, you want to inform the wedding vendors where they will be located and should they have any questions you will answer them or provide an answer them within a few days (on answers to questions for which you may have to check out with the facility).

The key thing the wedding vendors need to know is where they will be located during the wedding reception and are they okay with the location you assigned them to. Also, is what the wedding vendor plans will it be all right with the wedding venue. For example, is the wedding venue okay with the special effects options offered by the disc jockey. The disc jockey might use sequenced lights, pyrotechnic explosions, special effect projections, foggers, bubble machines, confetti cannons, etc.

Also is the facility okay with decoration plans whether it may be the use of updraft lighting, decorated hanging fabrics, balloon drops, or have extravagant table centerpieces. You want to be sure what one wedding vendor has planned does not interfere with another wedding vendor. The hanging fabrics might interfere with the sequenced lights. Is there a limit on the amount of musicians that can perform at the venue?

Also, you need to discuss vendor electrical needs. Is there a need for electrical outlets by any of the wedding vendors, the disc jockey and his equipment, the musician's electrical guitar, the speakers for the emcee, and is there a need for charging of any equipment for photographers, or videographers or any other wedding vendors?

Also,will any extension cords be needed? How might they be secured, under the carpet or a tape job? You also want to be sure the DJ and musician's equipment don't conflict with one another, are their locations too close, it often happens you hear screeching on speakers because microphones are picking up sound. You want to try to get the wedding vendors in and out of the location and get answers to any questions they have and not take up too much of their valuable time.

You also want to have the rental contract available and start scoping the reception hall yourself. Check for access times and when do you have to be out. Usually you need approximately 3 hours to set up the reception facility. Is it possible to start setting up the facility the day before or maybe at 11:00 in the evening after the function is finished? Might there be a need to clean the reception facilities yourself, sweep, mop, and wax the floors, clean windows, dust and clean the kitchen, bathrooms, and other areas. Where are fire extinguishers located at the facility, and what if should an emergency situation arise at the event; a locked door, a broken toilet, or something other who should you contact?

The next matter to address is all the spaces at the reception facility. The most vital table at the wedding is going to be the head dining table in which the ceremonial bridal party is going to sit. Verify this table is front and middle and all the seating at the reception has an unobstructed first class view. You might want to think about jacking up the bridal head table so all the wedding guests can gaze upon the wedding couple. Make sure the head table decorations aren't too overboard and obscure the view.

Next up you want to review all the wedding reception tables and do they all have a good view of the head table. You might want to move a couple of tables a tad because wedding guests seated may obstruct the view of the wedding couple at the head table. You also want to be sure musicians and disc jockeys are not playing music right on top of wedding guests. You also want plenty of elbow room for each guests as they get in and out of their chairs and all seats are easily approachable by the wait staff.

Do you have enough reception tables and chairs, do you have all the linens, all and enough dishes that go along with each place setting, do you have all the tableware, and flatware you need, the napkins, glasses, the cups and saucers, butter dishes and creamers, sugars and sweeteners, all the extras like the salt and pepper shakers, and enough room on the tables for the wedding favors and the table centerpieces?

You also should check, are any exposed beams need to be covered in the wedding reception area, or are there any eye sore spots. Maybe add updraft lighting or hang a neat picture into a blank space on the wall.

You want to make certain that there is plenty of space for wedding guests to dance. The rule of thumb is for every dancing person you have 10 square feet of dancing space. On average, anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of your wedding guests will dance. A wedding reception of 150 guests, you should reserve enough space for 30 to 60 people or 15 to 30 couples. You should have a total of 600 square feet of dancing space, which can be 30 feet by 20 feet or if the floor is square 25 feet by 25 feet. Do you need to find a dance floor that goes over the carpet or does the facility provide a dancing area?

You need to check out all the other tables that will be needed for the wedding reception. You will need a table or nice location for the wedding gifts, a table area for the disc jockey, a space for the musicians, a table away from the wall for the wedding cake (for picture taking of cutting the cake), a table for desserts (if you have any besides the cake), a coffee station, buffet tables, candy buffet, chocolate fountain, ice sculptures, what have you. You want the photographer and videographer in a convenient location near the dance floor but on the back side away from the wedding couple, they may need a table for their equipment. If the DJ is also the emcee, you want him/her in a good spot to communicate with the bride and groom and for the sound system to be in a good location to be heard by all without blaring too loud. They need to be heard by all at the bridal party entrance, the best man's toast, the blessing before dinner, the cutting of the cake, etc.

If the reception center is in a long narrow room, the recommended layout is for the bridal party to be along the long wall in the middle, the dance floor also in the middle and the musicians to be situated across the dance floor, and all the reception tables off on each side of the dance floor. The wedding cake and gift tables and other tables off to each end near the narrow walls.

The entrance way also needs to be reviewed. What is the best location for the guest registry, is there a decorative table for that? What about seating tags, is there a table for them or will seating assignments be placed on an easel. Is there a coat rack and are there any other areas such as a photo booth that needs to be addressed?

Is there somebody to look out after the wedding gift table, the wedding gifts should be rearranged into a pyramid or wedding cake type structure with the bigger gifts situated on the bottom. You will want them to look nice so a nice picture of the gifts can be taken and the person responsible will get them to a final location after the reception is over. The wedding cake should be situated away from the dance floor, music areas or high traffic areas. You don't want the cake to be exposed to vibrations or a dancing couple running into them but away from the wall and you want to identify a cake cutter who is responsible and have someone else to distribute the cake.

You will want to check out the bar area too, is the bar area well equipped, where will the wait staff be stationed, is there enough supplies, bar glasses, bartender equipment, ice deliveries and liquor and if more bar supplies are needed where might they be stored. A similar story with the kitchen, what cooking supplies are needed, is there enough refrigeration, is there enough storage space, is there enough preparation space, are there enough dishes for everyone coming? Do you have enough kitchen supplies, serving bowls, serving utensils, all the right type of utensils, garbage cans and space areas for everybody that is preparing the wedding.

You want to go through all the supplies that are needed for the wedding and to create a checklist that everything is accounted for and if there is a need to rent any more supplies. You also want to create a pert chart and timeline for the reception wedding day. What need to be done after what and when and where? There should be a timeline chart for every wait staff at the wedding and a master timeline chart that shows all activities.

All activities and who is doing what should be laid out for the big day, where do all deliveries go and where should everything be stored, when should all the foods should be cooked, and hors d'oeuvres be readied to cook, and when should they be prepared and distributed. Who checks in with the bartenders and where are supplies to be picked up such as ice, liquor, and bar fruits? What order do the foods get distributed and how should the wait staff cover the tables? You want every last detail covered for the big event including a chart would be helpful of what foods should be delivered to every spot and time to every table.

Every last detail does not have to be nailed at this particular meeting with whomever is coordinating the wait staff for the wedding day, the important thing is that every detail is covered for the big day and a type of pert chart and time line is put together for all food preparation and the setting up of the tables. How long does each thing that needs to be done take. The bottom line are any more supplies need to be rented for the big day and is there enough staff on hand to cover every need.

A pert chart and timeline of activities should be shared with the bride and groom about two weeks before the wedding and assured everything is in order by the day of wedding coordinator, whether it's the caterer, wedding planner, event planner or from whomever is running the event. Each activity should be scrutinized, is there enough time and enough people to handle each activity. Make sure every person knows what they are responsible for and that they can perform every function asked of them (such as carrying trays, opening wine bottles, preparing foods, putting foods out on plates and decorating a plate a certain way).

If the bride and groom are running the wedding themselves, they may be heavily involved in bringing together all the activities needed but need to find someone to handle wedding day coordination. This person may be their mother, sibling, or close friend of the family, and oversees the activities of the wedding. The bottom line, it's a no-no for the bride and groom to act as the coordinators for their wedding, the wedding day they have assigned duties and must act their part.

Finally, a meeting and bit of time is needed for each wait staff to review their functions, the preference is a few days before the wedding but sometimes staff is unable to get off from other jobs, it may be, a few hours before the wedding reception to review each and every activity that needs to be performed. Also needed to be covered is the cleaning up activities after the wedding, should a special cleaning crew be hired or can the wait staff handle the cleanup.

Some upscale hotels and wedding reception facilities and caterers have their methods and procedures and all the wait staff have their assigned duties and the groom and bride have no worries about wedding day activities, the facility has everything under control.  Or it may be the wedding planner that is running all the activities and has experience and has everything under control. But if you have neither, the bride and groom needs to be sure that everything is planned out and taken care of, and a pert and timeline chart is helpful of what is after what and when and where and all wait staff understands their responsibilities for the big event.

See you on the other side!

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