Wedding planner Elaine Roberts of Events by Elaine provides duties that friends and family can help with to ensure the wedding day goes smoothly sans venue staff.
Make a list
Set up and tear down will be much easier if you know what items you're bringing to and from the event, including any serving family heirloom serving dishes, DIY centerpieces, chair adornments, the seating chart or the wedding card holder. "Nothing is worse than getting to the wedding and not knowing who is bringing the guest book," Roberts says. "Place one person in charge of making the list and overseeing the details."
Keep the dance floor busy
Make your dance floor the main attraction of your reception, Roberts says. Place the dance floor right next to the band or DJ, so that they have the ability to easily adjust the speakers and see the action. "Keep all attractions in the main area so that guests won't leave," she adds. "Placing a few cocktail tables around the dance floor lets guests have a place for drinks without leaving the dance floor."
Place the bar strategically
The bar will have some steady traffic throughout the evening, so make sure to place it somewhere away from the dance floor, yet easily accessible to your guests. "Bars too close will create a line that interferes with dancing," Roberts says. But, "If bars are placed too far away, guests won't return to the dance floor," she adds.
Keep an eye on the trash
Make sure to have enough trash cans and assign someone to empty them throughout the evening. "No one wants to finds trash cans overflowing with no place to set down their items," Roberts says. She notes to keep an extra eye on trash cans near the bar, as those will fill up the quickest.
Have a plan for cleanup
Double-check what the venue's requirements are when it comes to tidying up. Some venues handle all of the post-event cleaning, while others will expect you to sweep and mop, Roberts says. "Know the venue rules so that there won't be any issues after the wedding," she adds. Then, make sure you have a group of people willing to stay after the reception is finished and help out. Make a list beforehand of duties for each person—including taking specific items home.
Plan for weather
Because Mother Nature can be quite unpredictable, make sure you have a backup plan in case the weather doesn't work out in your favor. "Check the weather a few days before the wedding," Roberts says. "Know your options ahead of time for a rain plan or unexpected cold weather. Trying to make changes on your wedding day add unneeded stress that can be avoided."