This is a time in your life when everyone wants to assist in making your big day (and engagement party, and shower) unforgettable. That's good news because, while wedding planning is tons of fun, it's also a lot to do on your own. When you have a planner, delegating tasks is clear-cut. But when it's friends and family offering assistance, you want to make sure everyone feels like an honored guest pitching in (not a hired gun pulling overtime!). Follow my suggestions to keep loved ones whistling while they work.
Accept offers graciously—and strategically.
The minute you announce your date, people may pipe up saying they want to help. Take them up on it if a task (A) fits their skill set and (B) can be done ahead of time. If a bridesmaid dabbles in calligraphy and wants to address your invites, get them to her in plenty of time (and let her know that you consider this her shower and wedding gift). If your grandma is famous for her cookies, let her share her talents, and her recipe, as favors.
Don't make pals work the party.
As talented as your friends and relatives might be, there are some jobs they just can't do and still enjoy your wedding. Leave those roles to the pros. Your photographer, for example, has to be shooting—not mingling. And while lots of folks enjoy arranging flowers at home, making 20 giant centerpieces would have most of them frantic right up until it's time for the vows.
Put it in writing.
With vendors, you've got a contract to keep everyone on the same page, but that's not appropriate with a loved one—here's where e-mail comes in. Send a note specifying the quantity and timing of a chore, and make your expectations clear and your gratitude obvious. That way, the recipient can refer to it. Try something like, "Nana, I'm so thrilled to be giving guests my all-time favorite treat! Mom can drop off the ingredients on Saturday the 6th, and my bridesmaids are coming over on Thursday the 11th to package the favors. Is six days enough time to make 200 cookies? I know you're a baking machine, but I don't want you too tired to dance the night away on the 13th! Let me know, and thanks so much for the sweet offer."
Line up post-party assistance.
You'll be so busy celebrating, you're liable to forget your mementos. Designate a responsible pal to pick up any heirlooms (like Great-Grandpa's hankie, which was wrapped around your bouquet), grab place cards for keepsakes, and take charge of cash gifts you may be given. Not having to worry about these little-but-important details on the day of is priceless.