The Day Before: Setup
To call the day before the wedding chaotic is an under-statement.
Friday morning we needed to go to the reception hall to set up by 11, and we had until 1 to finish. Most of the stuff had been packed up and staged Thursday night (what needed to go where when), but we still had to load the cars, so we got up and had a good breakfast, packed, stopped by a friend’s house to pick her up since she had volunteered to help, and made our way over. We got there just before 11, and we thought we would have no problem doing the setup we needed to in the 2 hours we had. There wasn’t much to do, and Geoff had even suggested calling Laura and my dad to say that they didn’t need to join us when they made it to town.
Good thing we didn’t, because we would have been SCREWED.
When we showed up, the table layout was in serious need of some help. We had apparently made some errors in our room measurements, and the number of tables we thought would fit on each side of the dance floor didn’t exactly fit right, and the dance floor was pretty much non-existent. Here’s how the room was supposed to look:
But when we showed up, it looked more like this:
So we have a ridiculously open avenue to the side, a cramped dance floor, and some of the tables are almost on top of the head table. Not cool. So our first order of business was to play the table moving game. Here’s what we ended up with:
Notice anything? We started out by moving 2 of the tables from the top down to the other half of the room to give us some more space up there, and filled the tables into that empty space on the right. We ran into a small problem trying to spread out the remaining tables up top though…turns out one of the tables was strategically placed to cover a gaping hole in the floor. Whoops. Apparently someone had gotten a little too over zealous in their dancing the previous weekend. So, since we had to leave that table in the really awkward place, we had to move the photo booth to make room for the other tables.
Moving the tables around took the longest obviously, but the rest of the setup took longer than expected too. We had votives to set out at each table, dried flowers to place in between those, table numbers (which now have to be rearranged since we moved tables, but we can’t change who is assigned to what table number), hang the backdrop canvases (yeah I still haven’t shown you those…working on taking a good picture to share that DIY project!), remove the extra chairs (since 8 were placed by default at each table, but we didn’t have 8 people at most of them), put out the favors at each space, and probably other stuff I’m forgetting. What we thought would take maybe 45 minutes or an hour took the whole 2 we had allowed ourselves, and there were still things that we had to say “well, I guess we’ll do them in the morning” about (and by “we” we meant “Geoff” because I was going to be busy getting all pretty). Here’s what it looked like when we were all done though!
Why do I tell you all this? To share with you the lesson that we learned throughout the day: plan for what you expect, plan for what you expect could go wrong, and plan for about double the time you think it’s going to take to cover all the things that could go wrong that wouldn’t even occur to you as things that could possibly go wrong.
Seriously. If you reasonably think it should take you an hour to set up, allow for 2. Trust that something you trusted to someone else will not be as it should and you will have to fix it. Be prepared to feel totally unprepared. Most importantly? Have help. It will not only cut down on your setup time, but having other people there who are slightly removed from the process will help you keep your sanity.
A major thanks to my crew for helping!