Here's a list of notes for the bride and those helping her, from Cyndy Cadenhead at Ambience Rental. I loved it. I'll insert my thoughts in italics.
1. Keep a list of names of those who offer to help, and assignments you have made. People really do want to help and be involved if they ask what they can do.
2. Make a map of your site's electrical outlets. This will help you figure out how many extension cords you need, and where you can put lighting, etc. You should see my drawings. It was so fun to have the plan ready to go, but we had to be flexible once we got there, too.
3. Have friends, not family, in charge of clean-up and trash. If family has to make a choice between cleaning up and seeing other beloved family members, the greater love wins. We had little cousins help with clearing tables, but not for the whole reception. We had shifts, and they loved having a job.
4. Tip for Moms and Dads: There is a "magic time" after the guests leave, in which the family can sit down and enjoy their efforts before tear-down begins. Hold the reins on the guy-machine by telling the men ahead of time to hold off a bit after the bride and groom leave. The short breather will refresh you and bless your memories. We felt like we had enough down time to enjoy the reception, and we were on a time schedule, so down it came. I did enjoy watching my dad sit down at the end of my sister's reception this summer to eat a piece of cake and enjoy the beauty of all his work. He deserved to have a break and enjoy it.
5. Be sure to have a closed and, if possible, secured receptacle for cards. Many have had their gift envelopes stolen at their receptions, usually at the very end.
6. Save part of the budget for the last week of the wedding, to "throw at the fan." Whatever happens, or didn't get ordered, or needs replacing, will be provided for without financial stress. If you have nothing go wrong, you're supernatural; become a wedding coordinator. True.
7. You will need a staging room to put supplies, boxes, etc...usually, in a church, it will be a room next to the kitchen. Label dressing rooms BRIDESMAIDS or GROOMSMEN. We rented a small room for Kari to change in, and stored supplies and boxes in a room off the stage.
8. Have an emergency box on hand which includes: 2 threaded needles, one white, one dark, safety pins, paper towels, bandaids for knife cuts, little scissors, wire cutters, tape, hair pins, hair spray, lotion, a couple diapers, etc. Be sure to take a small kit to the temple, too, in case something comes undone. Also, if you have a post-potty-training child who is still young, take extra undies and tights or pants. There is so much fun stuff going on that they can become forgetful. It happened twice to us on the wedding day!
9. Brides: take a honeymoon basket/bag besides your suitcase to the reception. Perhaps someone would want to do this for you. Tell them that's the gift you REALLY need. It should include healthy foods and goodies for the first 36 hours of the honeymoon.
10. Set up outdoor electrical 2 days before the wedding, because it takes the longest. Try to use green, beige, or brown extension cords to camouflage. Make sure they are three-pronged, to be grounded. Borrow outlets from willing neighbors, if needed. Break up sets of lights to different outlets.
11. For yards: make sure sprinklers are turned off at least 1 1/2 days ahead, so the ground is not at all wet. this is especially important if you have structures to set up the day before-they shouldn't get wet with sprinkler water. It also helps those who will be wearing high heels.
12 Silk flowers and greens should never be left out all night. Spiders like to travel at night and stay in the silks.
13. Mom: get a neck and shoulder massage 1-2 days after the reception! It is worth every cent, and puts you at least 3 weeks ahead in getting back to a normal stress level (is there such a thing?) Dad might need one, too. Still waiting for mine. But I'm almost recovered. . .6 weeks later.
14. How to get out of the receiving line: have a pre-arranged signal to the Master of Ceremonies or whoever will watch for it, and when signaled, they will announce that it is time to cut the cake. We waited for a break in the line, then had our ten-year-old be the MC. How cute is that?