Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Decorating Race

One hour is all we get to set up for our reception.

You know, that one hour, when Sak and I are at the altar getting married?

I have no idea what we're going to do. I didn't bother with a coordinator or wedding planner since Sak's family assured me they could handle it. Plus I thought I could handle it. Someone we spoke to at our venue said we could set up earlier if there was no event prior to ours, giving me hope I shouldn't have allowed myself to have.

I made it a point to ask every so often, and was happy knowing there was nothing going on before our wedding. Well, I asked again yesterday and received the e-mail stating that there is now an event prior to ours. Thus giving us just one hour before the reception to get tables arranged, chair covers on, place cards in the right order, flowers where they are supposed to be, and the DJ set up. And whoever decorates will not be able to be at our ceremony.

I wanted to cry when I read that e-mail. But I guess it's something I should have accounted for, knowing that the place we chose is more geared towards business functions rather than wedding receptions. They are following the letter of their policy; it was wrong of me to believe they'd be more accommodating just because it's a wedding.

Chin up, Penga - time to figure out what to do with this mess.

1) I could hire a coordinator. Would he/she be able to do it on her own? Coordinators are awfully expensive, especially if all I need is someone to decorate. Can I hire decorators? Can I trust them to implement my vision?

2) I could ask my brother's friends in Hawaii. They don't know us at all, so missing a ceremony wouldn't be a problem. I'd have to add them to the guest list, and once again trust them with my vision. If my instructions were clear enough, it might be okay.

3) We could ask some of Sak's more distant relations to set-up anyway, and miss the ceremony. According to Sak's aunt and mom, this isn't a big deal and happens all the time - but it just feels wrong to me.

4) We could have a huge family decorating crew run over to the venue as soon as the ceremony is over, and do a decorating blitz in the 20 minutes or so between ceremony and reception. This scares me on so many levels, but Sak's family is confident they can pull it off. Though not knowing what they have to set up, I'm not sure where this confidence is coming from.

One thing for sure, I will make separate bags or boxes for each table ahead of time, and put all the stuff that goes on the table inside. Hopefully that will speed up the process. I'll have to make detailed mock-up pictures and floor plans, too.

Right now I'm leaning towards a mixture of #2 and #4. Penga-Bro's friends can help with the big, easy stuff like chair covers and such, and Sak's family can swoop in and make sure place cards are correct and aunt so-and-so is sitting next to her bff and not some-sworn-family-enemy.

How long do you have to set-up your reception? Can it be done in under an hour? Who is helping you out? I envy you brides that get to set-up the night before. There is nothing I'd like better than to oversee the set-up myself, *sigh*. Perhaps this is a lesson in "letting go"?


  1. All I can say is schematics and detailed ones, they should be helpful to any of the 1-4 that you decide to go with. :o)

  2. Ugh, that stinks.

    Have you actually priced day of coordinators? You pay by the hour, not a percentage of the budget like a planner. And they're PROS. If you have the time, and haven't already met with a couple to discuss prices, I'd say do more research. Good luck!

  3. This is a great question and I have no idea what the answer is! I need to ask our venue and find out! I think it will be great if friends and family could help out. You can always ask, see what they say, and as a last resort, hire a coordinator if no one else can help out.

  4. Ok this is going to be long (probably) but I'll try to help as much as possible.

    Idea #1: I agree with Amberdawn, my DOC is a student assistant in my office (who interned with a wedding coordinator last semester). She won't give me a price so I've bought her about $50 worth of goodies and a $100 gift card. for $150 I'm getting a novice who will stick to my ideas and is excited about gaining the experience. You could probably call a few DOC's and explain your situation (you only need someone for an hour, two MAX) - they might be happy to suggest someone who is new.

    Idea #2: Your brothers friends is a good idea but if there aren't any girls in the mix, I'd be a little suspicious. Have you ever been to a pre-prom decorating event? (Sorry, I was on Student Council in High School and its my only good reference.) The girls told the boys what to do and they just climbed on ladders and did it. There are definite differences in communication styles between women and men and you wouldn't want gender differences getting in the way of your vision!!

    Idea #3: This idea is great if he has some distant relatives who happen to be 20-30 year old girls and guys who don't really care about a ceremony. They would feel like they're special, not have to sit through a ceremony for people they really don't know & they would get the entire hour.

    Idea #4: I feel like this would be rushed. Its great to have family get there 20 minutes before - but that's to make sure everything is already set up and to make minor changes. The last thing you want is to arrive at the venue while a hurricane of decorating is going on. This is a day to celebrate and relax!

    Quick Question about this though - I have my venue reserved all day knowing that there is an event the night before and my crew would have to set up the day of. Was this never an option? Would there be any way to pay for two hours before to ensure more time?

    So those are my suggestions/ideas/comments! You will DEFINITELY get this worked out and there will be no reason to stress. You've done an awesome job and I know it will be beautiful :)

  5. This is a question I need to go back over with our venue. I remember asking about setting up the night before and was told that if there wasn't an event, we could but nothing was said about the same day. I really hope things work out for you.

  6. thanks for your insight and support ladies! I'm sure we'll work it out *somehow*

    @gator - yeah, i totally understand on the #2. If there weren't any girls involved i'd say no, definitely. but as it is my brother is somewhat of a girl magnet, so I think it might be okay.

    The venue is sort of weird because there was never a "venue fee"..only a food fee. So i guess if I had bought a lunch too, then I'd get the whole day? I'm sort of kicking myself now for choosing a "non traditional" wedding venue. It's certainly a lot more headache, and I can't take things for granted.

    I'm going to try talking to Sak's aunt today to see what she thinks. I also talked to the venue again last night and was told i'd get a little help from the staff for decorating. "we'll put the centerpieces and favors on the table for you" was about it. Somehow I think it'll be a little more complicated than that, but it's a start. I was also told there'd be a grad party going on next door to us...which is a whole 'nother story that i'd just rather not think about at this point. *sigh*

  7. Could you hire some of those brothers friends you mentioned? We hired one of my little brother's friends and I sent my MOH to supervise for a bit, and he was great! He set up our entire ceremony space and got it all cleaned out in about 30 minutes during the cocktail hour.

  8. I was gonna vote for number 1 but they are expensive. And your combo of #2 and 4 seem like it could work! I'm doing the detailed floorplan, mock ups, galore! I think it'll work out. ANNNND guess what? If everyone shows up to the reception and nothing is set up? THEY CAN HELP TOO! :-P