Recently, I went to my home town to help my mother and my sister with the final planning for my sister’s wedding. Every member of my family is a “Do-It-Yourselfer”, so we had an unbelievable amount of flower arrangements, pew decorations, garlands, candles, silver – you name it, to set up. We were working with a total of four hours to decorate the church, a huge reception hall, a large lobby and two gazebos.

When I arrived at home I felt a little bit overwhelmed with the amount of time allotted and the sheer volume of decorating which we had to execute within the tiny window. But we were able to pull it off with time to relax and enjoy the beauty of all of the work which had gone into it during the many, many months prior.

Step by Step Wedding Planning

The first thing that had to happen was to figure out how many people were able to come and help us to decorate. It really helps, but it is not totally necessary to have a group of people with an eye for design. Anyone who is willing is completely capable to come and lend a hand.

Arrange and Label Ahead of Time

My mother and I set up all of the arrangements in my parents’ basement, just as they would be set up in each of their locations around the hall and Church. With a digital camera, we snapped a photo of each so that if necessary, we had a visual reference for all of our helpers and our intentions for the finished product. A digital camera and a computer with a color printer are the handiest tools to have at this point. But regular, 4×6 photos are just as helpful, it will just cost a bit more and take a little longer to get them printed.

While everything was arranged in the basement, we numbered each piece with a small piece of masking tape and a number so that the set up on the big day of hustle and bustle always started at one and went from the left to the right.

Banana Boxes?

Then we packed everything for transport in banana boxes from the local grocery store. You may be saying, “Why banana boxes?” They are very strong and also very light, so you can fill them with just about anything and not have to worry about the bottom dropping out. The top of each box was labeled with the exact location of its contents, ie: On top of the piano in the lobby. We then loaded all the boxes in a logical order, with similar decorations grouped together, into a rented box truck.

When we arrived on the morning of decorating, there was crew of 12 waiting for us, so we hopped out of the truck and handed out instruction sheets to each person stating how everything was labeled, what the general layout would be, what to expect once they opened the boxes, and who they could come to if they had any questions at all. From that point, everyone was off and running. It went like clockwork, and everyone let us know that they were very thankful that we were all on the same page. Due to the extra time that we put into organizing before we arrived, we finished early and were able to enjoy all of the work that we had done and got a few photos of the venue that was decorated beautifully, before any of the guests arrived.

The day of the wedding was very relaxing since we didn’t have to go back for last minute touch ups. We could spend the time casually with our family and friends until it was time to get the show on the road that afternoon.

Contributed by Penny Olson