Tips From a Wedding Planner

Think there's no place like home for your wedding? New York City-based wedding planner Laura Chavis agrees and offers tips on how to make your wedding a dream come true.

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Do Make the Practical Fun
If you do want to allow people into the host home, be creative: "If you’re worried about your floors or carpets, you could make a rule that guests have to take off their shoes. And then create cute personalized doormats or placemats for them to put their shoes. Or have circles in the wedding colors as shoe holders." The whole idea is to make something practical have a bit of your personal style. That’s what guests will remember, not that they had to remove their shoes, she says.

Do Anticipate all of the Guests' Needs
"I have some rules for my clients for keeping guests happy. They can’t be too cold or too warm and they must be well fed and given enough to drink," Chavis says. If the basic needs aren’t met, guests get cranky and unhappy and it makes for a less than great party, she points out. "Anticipate what’s needed to keep them comfortable from extra shawls to little personal fans to extra umbrellas. And get ready to trouble shoot if needed!"

Do Your Tent Research
If you’re going to rent a tent, consider: your climate, whether the wedding will be day or evening, how many people have you invited, what will you be doing in the tent. Some tents are more weatherproof than others. Some have flaps to close in the event of bad weather. Do you need a heater or cooler? Does an electrical setup come with the tent? Is there a place for the band, the buffet, the cake, the dance floor, the bar?

Don’t Forget the Importance of Lighting
"Lighting can be a design element," Chavis says. "You might have these beautiful floral arrangements that you want to highlight with pin spotting or do some lighting on the dance floor." Beyond the artistic element of lighting, don’t forget that guests will need to be able to see where they’re walking.

Don’t Forget the Day After
Know that there could be wear and tear — everywhere, Chavis warns, including the lawn (think of the effects of hundreds of high heels). Don’t forget to arrange for extra garbage pickup, if necessary.

Do Consider a Planner
Even if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you’ll need some help at some point leading up to or during the big day, Chavis says. "Think of it as a production. You wouldn’t all of a sudden say 'I’ve never done a theatrical event but why not I’ll just do it myself' — that’s lunacy. It’s the same thing if you try to stage a sizeable wedding by yourself."

Don’t Panic!
"It can be a little daunting when you have 100 people coming into your home or yard, but just think of your four favorite friends and go from there!"

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