Almost as soon as you start spreading the news of your engagement, well-meaning aunts, in-laws, cousins, and friends will start volunteering to help with "Whatever you need!" on your big day. And it's tempting to take them up on it—especially when you start tallying up the cost of all the people you need to hire and imagining how you could redirect that money if you had enough willing volunteers (hello, Fiji honeymoon). Hiring your sister—the professional pastry chef—to make your cake, or asking your college roommate (a graphic designer) to help with your invitations may be a no-brainer, but you're probably better off leaving the bulk of the tasks to the pros. "When delegating any sort of wedding-planning task beyond the role of a hired professional, it's important the job be as simple and risk-free as possible," says event planner Rhiannon Bosse of Rhiannon Bosse Celebrations. "Your family and friends' role on your special day is to be present with you. Having them carry the weight of responsibility beyond their traditional duties can make it a stressful day for everyone involved."
Don't delegate: The reception setup.
A full-scale reception has so many parts and involves so many vendors that asking an amateur to oversee it on the day of your wedding is unfair to everyone involved. "Your friends and family should not be in charge of setting up any kind of rentals, linens, décor, florals, or food at your wedding," says Bosse. "It might save you a little money but usually these types of arrangements end in disaster. Aunt Kathy doesn't want to be the one to drop your wedding cake, and your sorority sister can't remember which centerpiece goes where because she needs to get to the church herself." Professional planners carry liability insurance that protects both of you (and your event)—a benefit your enthusiastic second cousin probably can't say of herself.
Don't delegate: Just because someone volunteers.
An offer to help with your wedding may just be part of casual conversation—which means it's very likely that your Aunt Rose already forgot she was supposed to be making her famous raspberry bars for the dessert table. "Delegating to the friends and family who are simply available isn't always smart," says Bosse. "Try to think of the most responsible, courteous, organized, and quick-thinking guests to lend a hand." And don't leave it to the last minute to ask for their help, either: Give them plenty of notice that you'd like their assistance so that they can either back out with time for you to find a replacement or be fully briefed on their task. "If you do end up delegating tasks to someone, make sure they are clearly communicated in advance," says Bosse. "Even better, loop in a third contact person for accountability."
Do delegate: Small but essential tasks.
Like a constant drip of water that turns into a huge leak, the number of tiny, day-of tasks that you'll be trying to remember can end up being more overwhelming than you think. Along with traditional jobs—like the best man's toast and the maid of honor keeping track of the bouquet—Bosse suggests delegating low-effort but critical jobs that you wouldn't necessarily ask of a professional: "Making sure the bride's clutch gets from hotel to church, helping her to the bathroom, or bringing a bottle of water to Grandma." Ask your sister-in-law to get the kids' reception activity bags to the planner, have your cousin make your mom a plate of appetizers, have the best man hold onto the groom's sunglasses, and ask your cousin to be in charge of bringing home your personal items from the reception. The end result: Everyone will feel important and involved on your big day, and you can leave the high-stress tasks to your coordinators and their team.