After months of careful planning and trying on and tasting and crafting and shopping and addressing and compromising, the BIG DAY is finally here. Family and friends and loved ones gather and vows are spoken. Toasts are made. Dances are shared. The perfect couple glows with warm wishes and floats through the party on a cloud of tulle and lace and laughter.
It is the BEST DAY of your life and then you are whisked away to begin your HAPPILY EVER AFTER…
Only first you have to load up all your stuff. Your mom is tired and your bridesmaids have been drinking for a couple of hours and no one knows how to repack the adorable table decorations you worked so hard creating. Some of the guests are trying to help, but they just keep asking where things go. Are the table runners trash? Do you want to keep the favors that were left behind? Who has space in their trunk for the gifts? What do you want to do with the flowers and all these glass vases? Can’t we just come back tomorrow or next week and do this? What about the leftover cake?
Suddenly the lovely warm, glow of the BEST DAY EVER is replaced by fluorescent lighting that reveals a flurry of late-night tasks and hurried decisions.
This is when a wedding planner or day-of coordinator really earns her money. A good coordinator works with you to itemize all decorations, floral, etc. and creates and executes the clean-up plan so you don’t have to. If you don’t have a wedding coordinator, reach out to trusted friends and relatives early and give them a specific list of tasks. Even if you do have a coordinator, she will need the cooperation of your friends and family to take your things home for you. So be sure to plan for this.
Make sure you understand your venue’s policies when it comes to clean up – and make sure to pass it along to your clean up crew. It is a shame when, after a beautiful evening, a family-member gets upset because they think the venue is being less than cooperative about clean up.
Most venues will allow a 30-45 minute window for removal of all decorations, rentals, floral, and gifts. It is important to remember that the staff at the venue have often been there for several hours prior to your arrival time and probably still have a couple of hours of work after you leave – setting up for the next event. So, if your reception runs late, or if you don’t have helpers at the end of the night, your venue will still expect you to adhere to the agreed upon end time. Your venue may or may not have staff to help carry out or load your items – and if they do – they may expect additional compensation.
It is not appropriate to expect the venue to store your items until a future pick up date or to allow you to come back the next day to pick up. The same rule applies for rental items. If your rental company cannot return to pick up furniture, linens, vases, etc. that evening, your venue may charge a small fee to keep items overnight and to pay staff to come open up the venue the next day. If there is another wedding the next day, this may not be a possibility at all.
For many venues, it is standard procedure to throw away all leftover cake, all ribbon and décor left behind, all koozies and party favors, and to throw away all floral. It is a shame, but a necessity as most venues don’t have the extra space needed for storage and must focus on making the venue ready for the next event. If you want to keep everything left behind, make sure let your venue and your coordinator know and have plenty of boxes held back to pack it up.
So while you are planning the perfect day, spend a few minutes detailing the clean up. It will go a long way to keeping the warm feelings of your day with you forever.