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December 26, 2017

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Wedding Planning: Lessons Learned

Wedding planning is one heck of a learning experience! Nearly every newlywed I know has valuable advice to offer to those who are about to embark on the same journey. That is why I am introducing a new column on Jewish Wedding Network called Lessons Learned, so those who have “been there and done that” can impart their wisdom on others. I will start with my own lessons learned, and the advice I have to offer:

Hire Vendors Who Have Previously Worked at Your Venue

I got married at The Angel Orensanz Foundation, an event space on the Lower East Side of Manhattan that at one point had been a synagogue. The ketubah signing was at the basement level, the ceremony and reception on ground level, and cocktails on the upper balcony. There are no elevators at the venue, so the only way to get from one level to another is via the stairwell. Needless to say, it’s a tricky venue to navigate – particularly if you are the caterer and your waiters have to carry food and drinks from the basement level to the balcony, which is two flights up. We were about to sign a contract with a caterer we really liked, when all of this had been brought to our attention.

The caterer had never worked at this venue before, so we would be his “learning experience” and there was potential for disaster. At the last moment we hired another caterer who had worked weddings at the venue on numerous occasions, and all worked out well. My advice is to stick with vendors who are familiar with your venue.

Communicate With Your Photographer

Our photographer took the most amazing photographs. So many friends have commented that they are the best wedding photos they’ve ever seen. We absolutely loved them, but were disappointed with one thing: many of our closest friends and relatives were omitted from the photos.  Photographers tend to be drawn to the most photogenic people. It’s only natural. In our case, we ended up with more photos of our neighbor who was sporting a mohawk, than our own immediate family and best friends.

It is always important to convey to the photographer who the most important people are at your wedding both prior to the wedding, and on your wedding day. Photographers who offer packages will most likely put together a shot list, but photojournalist style photographers like ours may not.  If you want a shot of you and your childhood best friend, be sure to pull the photographer over to take one of you, or that photo may be missing from your album like it was from mine!

Hire a Day Planner, If Need Be

Prior to my engagement, I never knew what a day planner was. Once I found out, it seemed to me like a needless expense and a great waste of money.  Boy, was I wrong.  A planner is much like the ringleader at a circus. He makes sure that the lions and tigers and bears come out on cue and that the circus starts and ends on time.  Many venues provide a point person like this for you. Our venue did not.

We mistakenly thought that we would be able to coordinate our own rehearsal, and keep the timeline of our wedding going.  The result was that we ended up working really hard on our wedding day – we rounded everyone up for the rehearsal (it’s much harder than it sounds!) told the DJ when to stop playing the dance music and start playing the dinner music, and instructed the caterer when we should cut the cake.  We should have just been able to sit back and enjoy the experience, and you should too.  My advice – splurge on a day planner!

Newlyweds – do you have advice to share? Please post your advice in the comments section!