Taking Care of Your Wedding Party
The best compliment I received on my wedding that the day was more about Brady and I taking care of our guests than anything else. Although I hadn't articulated it, this was exactly what we had hoped for. We had handmade clay pots for each guest and the pots matched so that a family would take home a color-coordinated group of flower pots that reflected their family. We did everything in one location to make it easier on grandparents and altered the time of the day to avoid the heat for our guests too. For us, the day was not only a day to celebrate our relationship growing to a new stage but also to thank all of the people that had grown us in love throughout our lives.
We often spend so much time planning the wedding though that we forget to take care of the best friends and closest family that are standing for us on this day. Even I forgot this detail despite our trying to make the day so guest-focused. This article is all about how to best care for your wedding party specifically and immediate family that are present all day for the wedding and to watch out for the well being of everyone. Ready? Here we go!
When the bridesmaids get together early to get hair and make-up done, it's wise to plan something for lunch. Even if your budget is tight, if you have lots of bridesmaids, that is your responsibility to care for them as they care for you. I've photographed enough weddings that I've seen a pretty wide gamut- from trying to order lunch (and not really having enough time for everyone to get through that) to having lunch catered or providing snacks, to providing nothing at all. If you don't think about it in advance, bridesmaids and groomsmen are often not sure of the time line available to them and are afraid to run out and get something since it would be rude to leave your side. Now, they are grown-ups and can probably manage to get through the time without much of a problem. However, in heat and sun (when weddings often happen) a hungry person is slightly more likely to get a tad grouchy.
Here is my advice on how to prevent hangry wedding party members and what to do for any budget.
Consider having snacks and sandwiches ready for your family and bridal party!
Snack & Lunch Kits
1. Disposable Basket Basics
Get a large empty gift box. Cut a piece of corrugated cardboard to fit and then place it in the bottom of the box to give it some extra strength for heavier items. The basket being disposable will save anyone from worrying about it when the wedding is done.
Make two of these!
Make one for the groom, groomsmen, fathers, and any possible ring-bearers that may be with them and one for the bride, bridesmaids, mothers, and any possible ring-bearers or flower girls that may be there too!
2. Wrap it Up!
Wrap the box in paper that coordinates with your wedding colors and add tissue paper to support items and allow all of the items to be seen easily.
3. Pantry Snacks In Advance
Way ahead of the wedding, stack up on pantry-style snacks that you can have pre-arranged in the gift box in the month leading up to the big day.
Snack ideas: a few types of granola bars, fruit cups with plastic spoons, candy bars, bottles of water or gatorade, packs of crackers, small bags of pretzels or popcorn or Cheez-Its. I recommend avoiding chips or Cheetios because if they fall onto a tux or dress, they'll leave grease and cheese stains that you won't be able to get out before the ceremony! Also, remember your flower girls and ring bearers with juice boxes and fruit snacks. Don't forget napkins and gum!
4. 2-3 Days Before the Wedding
3 days before the wedding, add in fresh fruit too like bananas and apples - things that are easy for someone to pick up and eat but not terribly juicy or messy like oranges (to protect clothing).
5. 1-2 Days Before the Wedding
The day or so before the wedding, buy or make chicken salad and egg salad and buy croissants so that each person has a small sandwich. This is easy to buy at the deli. Fill the croissants and wrap each in wax paper. Label with sharpie and a label if you'd like and if you have more than one type. Doing chicken or egg salad saves condiments and they keep quite well with the croissants since croissants are naturally soft and don't feel soggy when they're pre-made.
6. Ask a Friend to Help!
Since you had the whole thing inside of a cellophane bag, the day of the wedding, add a doubled zip-top bag of ice near the sandwiches and lay the sandwiches on top. Make it all pretty really quickly and tie up the bag. (This last step can be saved for a family member or bridesmaid that you give the job to if you're not going to be staying in a room with guaranteed refrigeration but you can hand it all to them ahead of time!)
Avoid Alcohol Before the Wedding and Reception
I know some brides and grooms and members of the bridal party may get nervous and think that this may "take an edge off" but those jitters are so normal and I've seen drinking get out of hand before a ceremony. It is indeed better to remember the day and all of the jitters later - it makes it all so much more of a tangible memory for the rest of your life!
There are lots of ways to care for everyone on a wedding day. Avoiding alcohol or drugs before the wedding is important for so many reasons. If a member of your wedding party is intoxicated beforehand, unpredictable behavior can be a big stressor to you. If you are intoxicated, you become a burden to your wedding party to take care of.
I was recently at a rehearsal where the officiant gave a warning that he said he gives to all brides and grooms and wedding party members. Getting married involves signing a legal document. In no other situation would we ever get drunk before making legal decisions, so why would we do it for this one? He said he wouldn't feel comfortable marrying people who were perhaps not in their right mind to make a legal decision as it would be unwise for both parties.
I've been the photographer at a wedding where members of the bridal party were so drunk that they couldn't manage to follow my directions on how to sit for the group photograph. Make a rule and communicate it early as well as at the rehearsal dinner about your expectation for family and wedding party members.
Leave the celebrating for after the reception has begun (and after bridal party portraits are taken!)
I recommend having a small kit prepared with extra straight pins for pinning corsages, etc. Sometimes the pins can be small and cheap and even bend. Having a few extra long pins will help reduce stress at this last-minute detail.
In your kit, include safety pins too. I recently photographed a wedding where the bride's dress wasn't bustled correctly. The buttons weren't there for the loops. Tiny safety pins would have really reduced the last-minute stress of that situation.
In your kit, include tissues, deodorant, a Tide pen, dental floss, a small mirror, and maybe even a few bandaids. (Even a small cut that happens could leave blood on dress clothes that is really obvious!)
I sincerely hope you don't have any need for any of those emergency supplies, but in the event that Murphy's Law happens to make its appearance, you'll be ready!
This section is all about having and sharing a wedding timeline. You should begin making a wedding timeline as soon as you know your location vendors for sure. After you get their availability and book your event, you'll need to layout a timeline. If you're in the midst of that now, this link has some great timelines! One week before your wedding, you should review the timeline you've been building and go over any last-minute things that would need to be adjusted and then email or text the schedule to your immediate family and wedding party members so they know exactly what is expected of them.
Some brides and grooms are all about the timeline and some want to be more relaxed about their day. Actually, both personality types benefit from a timeline. Even if you're a couple who loves to leave things up to spontaneity, you'll benefit from a timeline. The frustration of a bridesmaid who isn't dressed when the wedding is about to start actually would take time away from whatever beautiful spontaneous things may occur on the day of your wedding. By creating structure, you can comfortably go through your day knowing that the day will have flow.
When it comes to planning spaces for your photography, I recommend checking out this photographer's page on Ideal Times for Your Photography.
By creating structure for your family and wedding party, you're actually allowing them to relax and enjoy themselves. Take care of your guests and wedding party by taking care of them!
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Have you ever been to a wedding with a really easy-going bride and groom? Those weddings reflect that - everyone there is able to relax and enjoy the celebration. This bride and groom really understood that this day was the beginning of their lives together and that so much good would continue to come! Come along and click the link to hear more about James and Jen joining their lives and families!
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