2010 15/07

It’s all in the logistics

By Lauren and Haney

Sun Tzu said in The Art of War, “The line between disorder and order lies in logistics.”  Seems a little stark and gloomy quoting an ancient strategist when blogging about wedding planning, but trust us when we say that you cannot overstate the importance of smooth flowing logistics in planning a destination wedding.

Of course, this focus on the background makes a huge difference in how the foreground plays out in front of your guests.  Perhaps we look at it too seriously, but how the events and guests flow, whether the communication has been smooth, whether items are staged and ready to go when needed—all of these are our first opportunity as a couple to show those people who are important to us and who have helped us grow into the people we are today that we are a solid team.  We see this as an opportunity to show the world how we operate as a couple—that’s one of things that we wrote on our wedding vision together.

The most important thought to share with respect to logistics is that you have to set aside time to think through these things thoughtfully—apologies for the long alliteration there!  Invariably, details will emerge that complicate plans, or you will talk with someone in your family or one of your friends who will mention a good point, one which you had not considered.  You absolutely need time to consider—and literally imagine in your head—how things will execute on the “day of!”

You have to talk through together what you both envision—and then check it against the expert knowledge of those vendors who are supporting your wedding.  Ask for their recommendations, but make your decisions based on what you want.  If things are starting to get complicated on sequencing and staging and flow, it may be telltale sign to rethink your approach—or come up with strategies to mitigate the complications, like easy-to-use checklists for your wedding party or coordinator.  One thing we would recommend is to put yourself in the shoes of your guests, and go through the weekend from landing in San Francisco to flying out to head back home.  Logistics is not just about you; it’s really mostly about your guests.  Do your guests know what to expect and what resources they can utilize when coming out to spend time with you?  Do they know what the schedule is and where everything is located?  While it seems unfathomable to the couple for anyone not to know these details (you’re thinking that you put it on the website, you sent an email, it’s on the invitation), your guests will still need some help, and you will do yourself a favor to think it through from their perspective.

Like we said last week, it is important for us to value our guests’ time and resources, so we worked hard to make things easy for everyone.  Through regular (but not too frequent) email communication, phone calls to follow-up with our guests, and extensive use of online collaborative workspaces (like Google Docs) to document what information each of us was gathering, we were able to make sure our guests could utilize the airfare discounts we arranged, the lower hotel rates that we blocked, and avoid renting cars if they didn’t really need to by matching up some of our guests with other guests who are renting cars.  We put the information on our website, but we have also printed welcome packages that our guests will receive upon check-in that contains information they need.  We thought through contingencies: “What’s his phone number?  I forgot to charge my cell phone, and now I don’t have it!”  Oh wait, says Lauren and Haney: we printed that information for you in your welcome packet!

You’re probably wondering what we’re including, so here’s a list:

  • If we know you’re using public transit, schedules of public transit.
  • If you are driving, driving directions to the destinations where you will need to go.
  • If you are driving someone, who you will pickup and their phone numbers; likewise, if someone is driving you, that person’s name and phone number.
  • If you are a part of our Korean wedding ceremony, information on the ceremony’s sequence and who our coordinator is.
  • If you are a part of the family photos, when we will take those.
  • Information on our wine tasting.  Information on the bus transportation to the church and back.
  • If you are a swordsman, a ceremonies reference for the Arch of Swords.

All of this we captured in two simple documents: a welcome letter and a special information card, each personalized for their visit—only the details they need individually.  You’re probably thinking: what a nightmare!  Not so!  If you think ahead about your trackers and documents, it’s really easy to use them together with the mail merge features of any document processor like Microsoft Word to create the personalized documents for your guests.  In fact, once we had the main template, it took us about one hour to generate the electronic file and then to print them.  No kidding!

And even with easy-to-use references and documents, you still want to make sure the event flows smoothly for your guests—something will go wrong!  Ask your wedding party and friends for help: we asked our swordsmen to help usher people in the church, as well as onto the busses.  Talk through the sequencing with your coordinator, if you have one, and make sure that everyone not only understands the same thing, but envisions the same final product!

Bottom line: it takes time to work through all the details, but if you take the time to think through what your guests will need, you will create an event that is a much better experience for them, while also showing them how well you work as a couple.

One Comment

  • We live in Boston and are getting married in San Fran on 1.1.11 – I know how important and tricky getting the logistics are! sometimes I feel like I am planning my wedding through google! (which has it’s ups and downs) :)

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