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Expert Wedding Planning Tips

By Jen Masseau

A wedding is likely the biggest event you’ll ever plan. It’s a dream for Type A super-organizers. But for the rest of us, it means a lot of checklists to make sure your nuptials stay on track, long before the big day. Sound intimidating? It can be, but wedding planning is a mountain that can easily be conquered, according to Kelsey Desrosiers, a wedding planner with Calgary’s White Copper Weddings. Follow her wedding planning tips to help ensure a stress-free day.

Desrosiers loves spreadsheets. She advises using them for everything from tracking your budget to building your guest list. Take advantage of cloud storage services such as Google Drive or iCloud, which make it easy to share documents with vendors and collaborate on timelines and to-do lists with your fiancé(e) and wedding party. To manage the influx of digital correspondence, create a wedding-specific email address: “It’s a great way to keep things organized and all in one place,” Desrosiers says. Another bit of advice from the planner: Add reminders of important dates, like deadlines for vendor deposits, to your phone’s calendar to ensure you don’t miss any.

Accepting help from—and assigning tasks to—loved ones may feel awkward at first, but trust that if someone has offered, it means they genuinely want to help. The key to avoiding potential mix-ups, according to Desrosiers, is making it easy for them by giving explicit instructions. “Communicate through email on what you would like them to do and include all the details,” she says, so both sides are clear on what’s needed.

Map out your wedding day timeline by using a workback-schedule approach: “Start by solidifying your ceremony and reception times, and work out from there,” Desrosiers says. Remember your vendors are experts (that’s why you hired them!), so ask their advice on how long each part of day will take, and then slot each element onto the schedule in the order it needs to happen.

“It’s so important to send out a rough copy of your wedding timeline to all of the vendors and the people that will play an important role in your big day,” Desrosiers cautions. Do this two weeks prior to your big day. “They may not need all that information, but it’s always better to be prepared.”

Perfect presents for your wedding party

Pack into boxes or totes any decor items that you’re supplying yourself, and write itemized inventory lists for each box. This will help to ensure you’ve packed all the items you need, and that everything of yours is collected at the end of the evening.

Step one on your big day: Give your phone away. “Appoint one of your bridesmaids to handle any calls and questions to come your way,” Desrosiers instructs. “This is the day you have worked so hard to plan for you and your fiancé(e). Do not let any minor issues get to you.” Instead, focus on being present, connecting with your partner and, above all, having fun.

wedding planning tips toast

Special Event Rentals’ event coordinator Elyse Colman answers pressing wedding rental questions…

We’re engaged! Where do we start?
Start by crafting a “wedding mission statement”—the look and feel you want to achieve. It’s the common thread that ties everything together and will guide your decision-making.

What do we need to rent for our outdoor ceremony?
While no two weddings are the same, the basics of al fresco vows are benches or chairs, an archway to stand under and a welcome table for programs. Some brides and grooms go all out with tall pillars, aisle runners and candles.

Your wedding’s “personality”—how to choose the right style

What’s the typical width of the aisle?
Between six and eight feet wide—enough space for two people and a big dress to walk down comfortably.

Any tips for renting a tent?
For tent weddings, you’re building your venue. Consider how much space you have and the ground surface. Next, figure out the style you like: a pole tent with high peaks or the more industrial look of an A-frame. Then we’ll work with you or your wedding planner to build the atmosphere inside.

Any rules for dance-floor size?
Plan for five square feet per dancer. Assume half your guests will be dancing at any given time. A 20-by-20 space works well for 150 people.

AMA members save 5% on dishes, arches, chairs, tables, tents and more at Special Event Rentals in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer and Banff.