Wedding planning advice: Focus narrowly and communicate clearly

Blueprint for bliss

Story by Jane Kaufman

An elegant table sets the mood for a festive event. | Genevieve Nisly Photography / Elegance on Loan

Learning from the mistakes of others can help brides avoid some last-minute stress for themselves and their bridal parties on their wedding day.

“Brides will make their bridal party get up at 6 a.m. when a bride starts hair and makeup,” says Whitney Neidus, a full-service wedding planner who is general manager of StoneWater Golf Club in Highland Heights. “It’s just the whole day, and the bridesmaids want to jump off a bridge.

“It’s one of those ‘bridezilla’ things,” she says, adding, “You just want it to be relaxed.”

Neidus says brides should limit their focus to three main ingredients as they start planning their wedding day: food, bar service and music.

“Nobody remembers your beautiful centerpieces,” she says. “Those are the three things I would tend to focus on.”

In addition, she recommends contracting for an open bar rather than by consumption of drinks. It leads to less sticker shock among the parents of the bride, or whoever is footing the bill.

Planning menus with mass appeal makes things easier for guests. 

“You can go crazy, but just make sure there’s a wide array of things if you’re going to do that,” Neidus says.

Cake tastings can be complex when there are more than four, says Whitney Neidus of StoneWater Golf Club. | Emma Scheer / StoneWater Golf Club

Yitty Dessler, owner of Elegance on Loan in Beachwood, says brides need to choose their vendors carefully.

“There are, in this city, competent planners who don’t create more hoopla,” she says. “As far as planning out that day to be a relaxed day and getting the right people on board, (there are options) such as having the right hair and makeup people that are not attitude-y and keeping it relaxed, having a director that’s right there to help you, to be your person and keep everybody calm so a lot of the hysteria of the day is taken care of.”

Neidus says at the rehearsal, it’s not uncommon for brides to arrive without a plan for the processional.

“You need to know who’s walking down the aisle,” she says. “They’re always having to write it out two seconds before.”

Neidus advises having a backup plan in case of bad weather, right down to the shoes. She advises in addition to heels, which can get mired in the mud in a rainfall, to bring a pair of flats just in case.

Whitney Neidus of StoneWater Golf Club recommends making provisions for all sorts of weather. | RAD Photography / StoneWater Golf Club

Brides need to plan for their own transportation from the event location. As the last to leave, it may be that the hotel limo isn’t prepared for that final late-night or early-morning run. Neidus says she has called an Uber for a bride and groom who were stranded.

Blended families can also pose challenges to brides, Neidus says. 

“The more organized the family dynamics are, the smoother it will be for the bride,” she says, adding that tastings – which are generally designed for four people – can be particularly tricky when there are more than four involved. “Tastings are always interesting with blended families that don’t get along. I find myself being like a psychiatrist. I have to put out fires.”

Destination weddings might be something to consider for those whose family dynamics are particularly fraught, Neidus says.

“You either have to include all the key planners in the planning or nobody in the planning.”

She recommends the bride and groom plan their wedding with financial assistance but not personal assistance from family members.

“I like meeting the parents, but sometimes when they’re too involved, sometimes the bride and groom get super-stressed.”

There are some simple ways to keeping stress to a minimum.

“Planning nice little gifts and fun things, and having food around for everybody,” Dessler says. “Those are the little things that just make the day easier. I always make sure that we have nice platters of food and pastries that are not messy and things like that so that everybody’s happy.”

Yitty Dessler, of Elegance on Loan, recommends having food – like ice pops – available during the day of the wedding. | Genevieve Nisly Photography / Elegance on Loan

Calling a meeting the day of the wedding so that the wedding party is aware of the timing and plan can help make everything run more smoothly, Dessler says.

“I always call a meeting in the afternoon with everybody,” she says. “Getting the different parties together a few hours ahead of the ceremony and … including the entire wedding party in what’s going to happen that night is very, very helpful.”

On the week or day of the wedding, sometimes unexpected events occur.“I always say if something’s gotta happen, we pray that it happens two days before the wedding, not the day of the wedding,“ says Dessler, acknowledging the latter does in fact happen. “Being able to deal with them in a calm fashion, that’s really the name of the game.”  

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