Hint: It's not your family or your bridesmaids.
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Cleanup is without a doubt the least glamorous part of any party, and weddings are no different. Still, once the music fades and the lights come on, someone needs to deal with the remaining mess and décor. And if you're planning a DIY fête or celebrating at a nontraditional venue where cleanup is not included, that someone should be a professional—not one of your wedding guests. "It is unwise to rely on family members and the bridal party to clean up after a wedding," explains Merryl Brown, president and creative director of Merryl Brown Events. "While everyone agrees to do these things with the best of intentions, after a night of dancing and drinking, there are very few people that actually want to do this late in the evening."

Brown recalls one such situation when the breakdown was delegated to the groom's friends who flaked, leaving others to do the dirty work. In addition to being awkward and annoying for those forced to pick up the slack, Brown notes that cases like this can result in unanticipated fees for not returning the venue to its original state of cleanliness—a breach of contract.

Instead, Brown recommends doing as the pros do and securing a "strike crew," so called because they "strike," or remove, whatever's left at the location. "When event planners do events at any type of venue, we are always responsible for bringing our own strike crew, and each vendor sends one as well," Brown says. "Everyone is responsible for removing their own rental items."

This includes everything from lighting and décor to florals and rentals. As a planner, Brown says she usually handles the removal of stray stationery (think menus, programs, and place cards), as well as any decorative items she provided or organized, like linens that need to be returned to the rental company. Planners also usually oversee the rest of the strike, serving as point person for the length of the process. "At hotel venues, the janitorial staff manages the restrooms and, while we still remove all trash at the end of our events, a cleaning crew comes in after vendor strike to vacuum and reset the room to its original state," Brown continues.

Of course, when the event space is unconventional, so must be the strike crew. Oftentimes, the responsibilities expand to include that of a cleaning service as well. "When we do events at unconventional venues, we bring in our own teams to service restrooms during the event and then to sweep up and haul trash to the dumpsters after strike, ensuring that we have brought the venue back to its original condition to avoid being in breach of contract."


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