Planning a Wedding with Rebecca Rose Events | Part 1 - The Logistics
Over the next three days, we want to share a glimpse into our tried and true process of planning a wedding. If you have spent any time exploring our website (which we’d be delighted if you have), hopefully you’ve stumbled upon and read all about Our Process.
Our approach is something we are so very proud to call our own and we feel we have truly perfected it over time. This process is unlike any other and as far as we know, it's a process that is truly unique in our industry. Becca, Nicole and I work on every single Rebecca Rose Events wedding, corporate/social event together. Each one of us has our own specific role within the broader process and none of us do the same thing. There is no such thing as a one “lead” for an event as there may be at other planning companies because we just don’t operate in the same way. We each have our own separate specialties. Each of our roles does, of course, overlap, so the three of us work very closely on all projects and meet at least once a week to discuss all the details. This week, you’ll get to hear more about what each of us does (so I won’t get into it too much now).
Today I’d love to tell you about what I do, and the name of that game is planning and logistics. Event planning and weddings have been around since the dawn of time. Royal families would host magnificent parties in their homes to celebrate the joining of two families. The truth is there may not have been a wedding planner in those stories, but I can promise someone was there, behind the scenes, pulling together all the details and making sure everything ran smoothly. Just as with many things, wedding planning comes in many shapes and sizes.
My role within our company is to handle every fine detail of the plans. In the scope of wedding planning sizes and shapes, I would consider our approach to logistics as “leave no stone unturned.” There is no detail too small for this part of the process. The easiest way to explore all the fun details is to think about planning in three steps: 1) Getting Started, 2) The Details, 3) Event Phase.
1) GETTING STARTED
BUDGET: When we first start working together, before we discuss any detail or make any plan, we start with a budget. Although this may not seem like a fun way to kick start wedding planning, this is such an important step because it sets the parameters for every other conversation and decision. Over the course of the planning period, we want to make sure that we all on the same page because there is simply no place for unnecessary financial stress. We want to take uncertainty out of the picture. I map out all the anticipated costs based on research, past experience and each client's known aesthetic preferences. Throughout the entire process, I create and maintain the budget document. Remember when I said, Becca, Nicole and I overlap in our roles? This is one of those examples. I rely on them to update pertinent details for their areas of expertise. For example, Nicole will update the estimates for wedding invitations and Becca will update the floral design, linen rental, and décor line items.
VENDOR SELECTION: Once we are all comfortable with the budget estimates, we move onto our next step, which is to create the team. Although RRE does handle all planning and design elements there are some things that our team can’t do... like baking a wedding cake or playing as a wedding band! We approach vendor selection a little bit differently than most wedding planners. We don’t keep a preferred list of vendors on hand because each wedding is so incredibly different. Based on the couples' style and preferences, I do individual research to find options for creative partners unique to the event. It is very important that whomever is selected will serve as a cohesive part of the team so that everything can run flawlessly behind the scenes. Let’s take a band as an example. I use the budget details, music preferences of the couple, geographical considerations, date and time of the event to begin research on available options. Often times booking agencies will send back a list of 20 bands that fit my criteria. I go through those 20 bands and hone in on key characteristics we discussed and if our team hasn’t worked with the band before, I reach out to other industry friends and partners for references. In the end, I send our clients 3-4 recommendations for a band to listen to and review; they can rest assured that the band fits within budget, is available on their date, is a great stylistic match with their preferences, and would be a good fit with the creative team. If the couple doesn’t love any of the groups, they just let me know and we start the process over (but truth be told we’ve rarely - if ever - had to do that!). Once the bride and groom select the band, I negotiate and review the details of the contract. I’m not an attorney and don’t profess to be, but I do look at event contracts all day long. I make sure things like load-in times, access requirements and talent considerations are reasonable and make sense for the specific event/venue/date. Once I have the contract in the best shape, I send it to the couple to review and sign. Then, we repeat that process for the cake baker, videographer, string musicians, hair and makeup team, lighting crew, and anyone/anything else that is needed!
2) DETAILS, DETAILS & MORE DETAILS
TIMELINE DEVELOPMENT: On average our team spends over 400 hours working on an event before we even reach the event day. This is where the bulk of that time is spent- pulling together the details of how the day will flow. This process is not something that can be done quickly because there is so much communication that happens between steps. The first thing I do is shell out the basics of the day like ceremony time and end time. I factor in the sunset time, the couple’s decision to do or not to do a first look and the constraints/needs/obligations of venue contracts. The rest is a bit like a puzzle to allow enough time for food service while making entertainment, photography and videography contract timelines work. Shelling out the basics is the easy part. Filling in the details takes strategy and lots of back and forth via phone and email, in a logical pattern. For this example, let’s take hair and makeup. It is likely that we have booked hair and makeup artists before we have completely figured out all the details for the timeline. The hair and makeup artists held the date with the signed contract and a minimum of 5 services but will wait to hear from us with… “The details.” So it begins. If I’ve figured out the ceremony start time, I’d back up and leave plenty of time for photography and will essentially end up with a “camera ready” time (there is a lot that goes into this “back-up” step but I’ll gloss over that so I don’t lose you). Typically “camera ready” time is 3.5-4 hours before the ceremony but can vary based on wedding party size, family size, travel time required between locations. For this example, let’s pretend the ceremony starts at 5:00pm, then camera ready time could be 1:00pm. Since booking the original hair and makeup contract, the bride also decided that they wanted to add lots of new services (think bride, all the bridesmaids, both moms, grandma, two aunts and a flower girl’s hair). This information came to me in 3 different emails over the course of 2 months (grandma kept changing her mind). So I would go back to the hair and makeup team, give them the updated list of services and time that services needed to be complete by- the “camera ready” time. The hair and makeup team would then get back to me and let me know what time they need to start. And that’s how we figure out the beginning of the day. I then use that time to make sure the location where the bride and her maids will be available and set up beverage service so everyone can get a cup of coffee for their morning. That process of communication happens for each and every detail of the day from how to announce the bride and groom onto the dance floor for their first dance, to who will be giving toasts, to what time will the band be loading in (using the loading dock), etc, etc, etc. And you can easily see where 400 hours go!
FOOD + BEVERAGE: Some of the most important details are the food and beverage service logistics. F&B is the most costly line item on the budget (as it should be) and can take quite some time to figure out. I work side by side with the couple and the chef (venue or caterer) to create the menu and bar details that are appealing to the couple’s preferences, fit within the budget, make sense for the timeline and will accommodate the guest list and flow of the day. This can include meetings with the chef, menu tasting, cake tasting, and beverage tastings, depending on the specific details for the event. I always try to schedule these appointments on the same days as our meetings, so couples can maximize their time away from work. Aligning multiple calendars is never an easy feat but we value everyone’s time so much and know that having appointments back to back is invaluable during a wedding planning period (with limited time off work over the course of the year).
3) EVENT PHASE
VENDOR COMMUNICATION: After spending almost 400 hours figuring out the details of the day, it is just as important to remind all the key players of what we decided. I take the master timeline document (usually many, many pages) and distribute it to everyone involved in the wedding. This includes our team of staff, the venue, the photographer, videographer, band, cake baker, hair and makeup artists, ceremony musicians, rental companies, lighting crew, and anyone else involved. Not only can they see their individual roles, which I highlight, but they can see how their role plays into the broader picture of the day. For example, if the band doesn’t load in during the time they requested, they can see that later on the cake baker will be unloading, followed by our team with flowers and finally followed by the ceremony musicians with instruments. Those details matter tremendously because one late load-in can jeopardize everyone else's production schedule. I review all these details with each creative partner and during the event I serve as their main point of contact. Each vendor reaches out to me with questions or concerns. I check in with them upon arrival at the venue and if they don’t arrive at their scheduled time, I call them to anticipate any potential problems. If problems arise (and some almost always do!), I develop a contingency plan to deal with it behind the scenes. Sometimes no one ever has to know the band was stuck in traffic and 4 hours late to unload (yes, that happens)!
EVENT DAY: I am the first to arrive on site with our team and the last to leave at the end of the day. I am the point of contact for all deliveries and am onsite to oversee the installation logistics (if we are working in a custom built tent, sometimes this process actually starts days or weeks prior to the event day). For the wedding party and family, I am also the face and name that everyone remembers. Together with our team, I direct the wedding ceremony, help transition guests from ceremony to cocktail hour, then cocktail hour to dinner, then dinner to dancing then dancing to the exit. We make sure the bride and group are announced into the room for their first dances with the attention of their guests. We make sure toasts and cake cutting moments happen flawlessly. Our goal is to keep the day running and make sure not a single family member or member of wedding party has to lift a finger or look at their watch at any point during the day. We keep things running as close to the original timeline as humanly possible and if we get off course, we make adjustments so that no one (outside the behind the scenes crew!) ever even knows the difference.
So there you have it! That’s a brief (oversimplified, but hopefully insightful!) look into logistics and my role in planning an event. But as I said earlier, what I do is just a third of the piece of the pie. Becca, Nicole and I work together as a team to produce amazing events. Be sure to come back each day this week to learn what Becca does, what Nicole does, and why we do what we do!