Small things, big difference

In my many years of coordinating weddings, I've learned that the smallest touches make the biggest difference at any event.  I see it as an art I am always refining for the enjoyment of my clients and their guests.  Here are my top tips for making your wedding that much more memorable, fun, and stress free! Tray pass the first drink at cocktail hour - after a long or even short ceremony, guests (especially emotionally charged family) are looking for relief and something for their hands for comfort while mingling.  This classy welcome to the party portion of the evening also alleviates the inevitably long bar line.  Tray passing wine, cocktails and non-alcoholic refreshments is customary....beer should be kept at the bar.  Sorry guys.

Two-side your buffet - if you dare to have a buffet where a line is necessary, at least make it go quickly for guests.  Make sure the food options are doubled on either side of the table, so people can walk down both sides.  Also make sure you have planned a rout for guests to get back to their seats without having to double back through the line.

Have an obvious welcome with clear directions for guests - guests are always looking for what's next, what to do. They don't want to make a mistake during this emotional event. To ease their anxiety, have a welcoming committee at the front door to: actually say "welcome to the wedding", take their coat, take their gift or card, offer them a program and give them a preview of what's to come: "Feel free to be seated for the ceremony, cocktails and dinner will be on the lawn after."

Make sure lighting is adequate. No, actually awesome - over head lighting should be used at a minimum (still love you chandeliers,  lanterns and strung lights!). Floor lighting creates a cozy mood, flattering hues on everyone's skin, and crescendos the energy of the night.  Uplighting should be a staple item.  You need to have it on the walls of your venue (white or amber if you're conservative or in the color of your wedding, if you dare).  I've done uplighting at both Pravda Studios and the Seattle Tennis Club.  It's not just for the clubbing crowd anymore.  Pin-lighting on what's going on is extra fun and then Gobo stencils of everything from your monogram to themed designs...don't even get me started!  The creativity is limitless and gives that "wow" factor every client is looking for.

Book transportation for the bridal party - spend the extra dough to make your day stress free.  Yes, I mean you.  Not the bridal party.  If everyone is together, not having to navigate or park, everyone will be on time and ready to go for the photos and ceremony start time you want.

Serve hard liquor only during the first hour of your event - you will save yourself $$ and DUI liability by only offering your guests hard liquor during the first hour of your celebration.  It's a great kick-off to the night, but beer and wine are just fine for the remainder.  Hard liquor drinks will be chosen first and are the most expensive.  You will cut down on the pass-out crew (or worse) and ultimately, you are responsible for your guests' behavior after they leave as you were the host of the event.  Food for thought.

Have a water and coffee station available all night - I have now made this a requirement for all of my weddings.  See above.

Make a family groupings photo list reviewed by the key players before the big day - this is so key for making this part of the day painless.  Whether its big families or political ones, having a list of names for your coordinator or photographer to rattle off will get you to your party quickly and with fewer battle scars.

Start toasts before the meal is over - toasters are nervous, guests get bored, get it over with.  I always suggest once everyone has their entrée served (or have gone through the buffet line) that we start the toasts.  The guests have something to do and the toasters don't feel so put on the spot.  You will also get on the dance floor to show off your moves a lot sooner.