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Venue only allows same-day decorating

When my sister got married they allowed her to decorate the day previously so right after the rehearsal dinner my parents, aunts, cousins, and the bridal party decorated the entire hall. For her wedding we had to lay out the china and plates but mine is providing it. Hers also had a 300+ guest list. For my wedding they are only allowing a 1 and a half to 2 hour window from 8-10 am to decorate and then after that no one is allowed inside until cocktail hour at 5. My mom doesn't want me to be involved in the decorating at all (my sister and her husband weren't allowed in until their wedding either) so that me and my FI will be surprised. However, now my mom, and my sisters, who are really the only people I trust on this because they are bigger perfectionists then I am, will be with me getting around for the wedding. The only people available to decorate is maybe my father, my two aunts (one of whom has grandchildren to wrangle) and possibly my cousin. I just don't know if it's feasible. I only have a guest list of 150 so that may cut down on cost but I just don't see how it's possible. We have our own centerpieces and although they will be almost ready then have one final thing that has to be added that same day and I'm concerned that it wouldn't work out. I feel this is a ploy to get us to pay them to decorate but with the centerpieces they can't help.

Re: Venue only allows same-day decorating

  • AddieCakeAddieCake Beyond the Wall member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    We could only get into our venue at 7:30 the morning of our wedding, which started at 10:30. My bridesmaids and my aunt did the setup for us while I got ready.
    What did you think would happen if you walked up to a group of internet strangers and told them to get shoehorned by their lady doc?~StageManager14
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Wait, so does that mean even your vendors would need to set-up from 8-10am and then come back at 5pm?  Why is no one allowed inside the venue between 10am and 5pm?  I am thinking that you rented the venue for the entire day since you can decorate in the morning and leave it, right?

    I would be questioning the reason as to why the venue has such a large "you can't come in here" gap.

  • Our venue didn't let anyone in to decorate until 2 hours before the reception started. That included caterers, florist, DJ, you name it. So we were getting married while most of the set up was going on and obviously no one attending the wedding could do set up. 

    We hired a DOC. One of the best wedding decisions I made.

  • Hire a design person--either a florist that does event design, a party planner, a wedding planner...  Take one thing off your list of things to stress about.
  • I agree with @atlastmrsg -- hire someone to do this for you. It sounds like the venue will do it if you pay them extra? I think it will be worth it and save yourself some unnecessary stress.

    Hiring a day-of coordinator has been the biggest stress-relief for me.
  • How much do they cost? I have a tight budget and I don't like the fact that they are shutting down the venue for no other reason then to get more money out of us. I would trust a professional but I also don't want to spend more then I have to. We are a really crafty family and we are making all the flower arrangements, garlands, and centerpieces our selves. 
  • Honestly, I love that your mother and sister want you surprised, but if the venue is that difficult and money is that tight, then you may just have to jump in, for your own sanity, if nothing else.  DOCs are great, but that person might not have your vision of how things should look.  If you are out by 10:00, then you still have enough time for hair and make up. 
  • We might have a little later wedding ceremony because it's on a Friday. So it would by at like 5 and the dinner could start at 6 or 6:30. I probably would have enough time to get around but my mom hates that idea. What could be the reason for closing it down? Our Centerpieces are really special to me and I'm concerned they wouldn't take care of them properly. We are making terrariums and putting a tiny frog inside each. Later the frogs will either be released into the wild or if they are pet variety my fiancee and I are going to keep them in a home Terrarium. We are being really really careful about this because I love frogs and nothing would ruin my day more then one of them dying. The reception venue knows they are there (and they are actually former Veterinarians) but my father wasn't going to add them until just an hour or two before the wedding to reduce stress on them. Maybe I can just ask for it to be opened for him. He was going to also bring a home built arbor for our sweetheart table
  • I don't get the issue with your vendor, but I don't know what type of venue they are or how their insurance works.  Maybe they have to have an employee on site for decoration to be done and they don't want to pay the salary.  You really should read the fine print in your contract.  If this specification is not in the contract, you may have some wiggle room.
  • We too can only set up the day of because we are using a public park so the set up of everything is on us. To get around this I hired a day of coordinator. Pricing on coordinators varies widely so call around and get quotes. For our coordinator we are paying $1450 but just an hour north they start around $1800 and go up from there. The selling point for the DOC was that 1) my family won't be stressed the day of the wedding and 2) we are getting discounts by using vendors that she works with on a regular basis. With the discounted pricing she is helping pay her own salary. As far as table and chair set up, we have a local sober house where you can hire the clients who live there to work for the day. It is a really great program. People who are in their program want to work but have a hard time finding work so they opt in to do day work. For decoration set up, we have asked some of my mom's friends to help decorate so we can get ready. We aren't paying them but they are invited to the wedding and we planned to provide the wine for their next ladies night :)
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    I'm not surprised at the fact you have to decorate the same day in a short amount of time.    A lot of venues have events the day before and often times 2 in the same day in the same room.   My own venue had an event the day before so there was no way we could have decorated the night before.

    That said, the timing is strange.   8-10am for a 5pm wedding is a little odd.  I would have expected the time to be 2 hours before the event.

    I think the frog idea is a bad one.   I'm not a fan of live animals as decoration.      I also  know people who have strong adversions to frogs themselves.  I have one friend who would run out of your reception in tears if she saw a frog. She is that terrified of them.   No way she would be able to handle a frog on her table.

    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • I agree with @Viczaesar - it's totally inappropriate and cruel to use animals as decorations. 

    You can still the terrarium without the frogs. 

  • wrigleyvillewrigleyville Chicago member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    I agree with @Viczaesar - it's totally inappropriate and cruel to use animals as decorations. 

    You can still the terrarium without the frogs. 
    This, or maybe use fake (but realistic looking) frogs? Not only would you be able to keep the frog theme, but you wouldn't have to worry about them all day/night.

  • tammym1001tammym1001 Akron, Ohio member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    The idea of trying to eat dinner with a frog staring at me on the table makes me want to vomit. You may think frogs are cute, but not everyone feels that way. I won't even touch the humane issue of exposing the frogs to all the people, noise, etc. at your wedding.
  • Yeah, it might be more trouble then it's worth. We have an ethereal woodsy theme and thought frogs would be great because we both love them and wanted some as pets anyway. We were going to have the terrariums we make certified by a local great petstore as appropriate for the frogs before we get them but I would hate to make them stressed out or anything. As for non-frog loving guests, we only were going to have eleven frog tables, the rest would be something else and we'd seat the other guests we knew weren't keen on them. But I definitely don't want to be cruel. That's why I was afraid of someone else handling them. I would want to take care of the whole thing so nothing bad happened to the little guys. Probably not worth it for me and the froggies to be stressed out like that.
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    I agree with the PPs-don't use frogs or other animals in the terrariums.  Whatever your guests think of frogs or any other animals, it is cruel to use them as decorations.  I think you can still use the terrariums if they don't contain wildlife of any kind.

    With regard to the gap between decorating time and use time, I can understand a relatively short gap of time to decorate, but if they're only going to let you decorate between 8am and10am and then you have to disappear until 5pm, that doesn't make sense to me and I would question it. 
  • princessleia22princessleia22 Oceanfront Property in Arizona member
    Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Answer
    Do a mock setup at home of how you want all decorations: tables, garlands, etc., then photograph them.  Then, you can provide photo to whoever you assign to do the setup so they can actually see what you envision. That way you aren't having to trust them understanding verbal instructions. Also, sketches of where you want everything can work wonders too.


  • I'm an artist so doing some concept sketches of the venues with decorartions is totally within my abilities. Great idea. 
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    nicoann said:
    Do a mock setup at home of how you want all decorations: tables, garlands, etc., then photograph them.  Then, you can provide photo to whoever you assign to do the setup so they can actually see what you envision. That way you aren't having to trust them understanding verbal instructions. Also, sketches of where you want everything can work wonders too.
    This is a great idea, especially when you can't make decisions on the spot.
  • No frogs!!! Do terrariums without animals. And if your mom really doesn't want you to help, how about 8-10 she and your sisters set up, and 8-10 you lounge in your pjs, and then after that you get ready.
  • I love frogs, but some varieties stress out really easily, I would leave them at home. I don't think it's animal cruelty to have terrariums on display, restaurants and lobbies have aquariums and terrariums all the time.  This isn't that different, because pets like these are mostly see-only.  However, putting them near people, adult or children, who might want to take them out, shake the terrariums, etc, it would be better to leave them out, since you can't monitor everyone.

     As for decorating, I added on a day of coordinator to my venue contract and it was only $400. We only had 1 hour guaranteed to set up before our ceremony, since someone may book a day time wedding before ours. This relieved a lot of stress, because they would have staff put out everything exactly as we wAnted, without any family to WP worrying about it and trying to get ready.  

    We just have to organize things in labeled boxes, alphabetized escort cards, and take pictures of how we want things set up.  We give them everything at the rehearsal and then it's out of our hands!
  • We only had two hours. The groom was insisted he could set up. We had 7 people working setup. My DH was correct! He had to do all the audio and then set up our wedding arch and chandelier. Some guests (my side) didn't realize he was the groom. He cleans up to GQ level in nothing flat. The troops can be rallied and pull off your wedding beautifully if there are enough of them AND they know your vision well.
  • I don't think it's a big deal to decorate on your wedding day. We have to decorate the day of as well and I figure with me, my 3 bridesmaids and an aunt we can have it done in an hour and then we can go get ready. I think you should just do it yourself with some helpers -then there won't be any surprises when you arrive later on.
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