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A Wedding Daze

Amidst the chaos that undoubtedly ensues while planning the wedding of your dreams, some small things may get overlooked. By avoiding these eight wedding day mishaps, you can avoid having a ‘small thing’ turn into a huge headache. Amanda Nelson, owner of Blue Haven Barn and Gardens in Sioux Falls (and an expert in wedding day execution) offers some valuable advice.

Capacity probably doesn’t mean what you think it means.

Before you even begin collecting bids for a venue for your wedding or reception, you should have a guest list put together. It can be tentative, but you need an idea on the size of the space you will need. When a venue says they have a specific capacity, that is usually just for chairs and table seating. If you have other needs (bar, photo booth, dance floor, etc.) you will need to know the floor plan to ensure you have enough space for your dining guests AND your extras. For example, Blue Haven Barn and Gardens has a specific “wedding capacity” of 300 so you don’t have to worry about squeezing in all your fun stuff at the last minute.

Photo of bridal party getting ready - photography by greg and larae photography

People power.

Who’s moving what, where?

A common practice, especially in smaller venues, is to fill a ballroom with tables for dinner and then remove some for the dance. It’s important to discuss beforehand and decide who is in charge of moving tables. Is that the job of the venue itself or the host and hostess? Just make sure someone is designated to do the job.

Read the fine print.

Venues may advertise a certain price for their services so it seems they are the cheapest option. They won’t always be upfront about any additional fees that might come up. Before signing a contract, ask about any additional fees (bartender fee, cleanup fee, technology fee, setup fees, etc.)

“We feel like our brides and grooms become our extended family,” said Amanda. “We don’t want to be misleading or give them any extra reason to stress. This is their special day and we want the only surprises they have to be good ones.”

Photo blackout.

You only get one chance at your first dance so decide which is more important to you – a romantic, dimly lit ballroom with a single spotlight on you during your special time, or natural lighting so the photographer can capture a perfect photo that you can relive over and over again. Share your ideas with your venue and photographer so everyone is on the same page.

Stress is an expense.

On paper, it might make sense to choose an outside caterer as opposed to full-service catering. But ask yourself these questions: Will they use plastic or dishware? Does that mean they bring a knife for the cake? Drinks for the tables? The madness is never-ending and odds are you will still forget something. Using a full-service or in-house caterer provides a comfort knowing everything is onsite and at your disposal.

Desert before dessert.

Most bridal parties are opting to take a joy ride around town in a bus or limo with their bridal party to celebrate saying their “I do’s.” Just don’t forget about the other 300 or so guests patiently waiting for dinner to be served. Alleviate their temptation to bolt and schedule appetizers or activities they can do while they wait. Some venues offer outdoor facilities where guests can eat and drink or play games to keep them entertained until the bridal party returns.

Be prompt or be flexible.

Wedding day schedules are so important but so hard to follow. The excitement and chaos of the day usually wins. Most couples are choosing to stage a first look before the wedding so that all of the professional photos can be finished in advance. This usually helps keep a strict schedule because if you run long, you miss the wedding (and that’s actually not even an option).


A wedding isn’t complete without at least one Pinterest fail in the books. Fight the statistic. Plan ahead and ask your venue for suggestions before attempting anything you found on Pinterest – especially if it involves hanging heavy items from the ceiling or any potentially flammable material.

Keep these tips in mind before your big day to keep your day stress-free and on schedule! As you plan your wedding, look at venues like Blue Haven Barn who are dedicated to making your wedding day perfect.


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