Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wedding Logistics Documents

I started this adventure with the benefit of knowing how to organize multiday events. I understood the need for call lists, timelines, and paperwork I would need to bring. I understood the preparations we would need. And I still flailed. It was still really hard to pull this together. So I thought I'd help some of you out by providing a modified sample of the logistics documents I compiled. Copy, paste, adapt as works for you. Learn from our hell and benefit from my obsessive organization (without which, we would have failed miserably in pulling this together). I kept each of these documents on me at ALL times all weekend, in addition to working through a shared ongoing to-do list on Google Docs.

Upfront advice:
Google Docs is your new best friend. Seriously, the fact that you and your partner can both be editing wedding lists at the same time is a huge benefit. The fact that you can share a document with your photographer, caterer, and friends that are helping out is HUGE. They can edit and update things, as needed. You can all be looking at the same things while you talk it over on the phone. It's genius.We used Google docs to: track our budget, manage our guest list/thank you card list/email list, create an embedded rsvp form on our wedding website that dumped everything in excel, develop all weekly to-do lists, develop all logistics documents, and more.

Call List
You need a call list for everyone involved in the wedding: vendors, helper-friends, family members, wedding party, and anyone with a role to play. You need to be able to immediately phone someone if there's an emergency or if a vendor doesn't show up or whatever. Some of these will apply for you. Some won't. We had a lot of friends doing these things. They still need to be on the list

Bride/Groom Cell: (let people know you will NOT be answering your phone on the wedding day. You will be handing it over to someone else. Period)
Bride/Groom Cell:
Coordinator (or whoever is going to be managing the wedding day, paid or not):
Day-Of Cell Contact for Bride/Groom: (for me, it was a bridesmaid)
Day-Of Cell Contact for Bride/Groom: (for Jason, it was a groomsman)
Becca's Dad's Cell: (he was the contact for my Mom and Dad)
Jason's Dad's Cell: (he was the contact for his Mom and Dad)
DJ/band/friend setting up soundsystem:
Caterer/Person Delivering Food:
Ice: (if you're having a DIY wedding, someone needs to bring ice. 1 pound per person. For us, that was 150 pounds.) 
Ceremony musicians/soundsystem setup:
Set-Up Staff/helper-friends:
Clean Up Staff/helper-friends:

Important Addresses
If you have all the weekend directions in one place, it makes it a lot easier. We also have important people - especially out of town guests - the google maps printouts for directions between locations. 

  • Address of Family Brunch:
  • Address of Flower Mart:
  • Address of Mexican Deli (to pick up appetizer salsa):
  • Address of Uhaul:
  • Address of Rehearsal Dinner:
  • Address of Getting Ready:
  • Address of Ceremony:
  • Address of Reception and Cocktail hour:

Day-Of Payments (In labeled envelopes)
You are probably going to have some day-of payments that you need to make. These could be tips, cash payments, or final credit card reckonings. I researched appropriate tips (this and this were helpful for me, though I adapted), asked some of our vendors outright about standard industry tips, and came up with amounts I thought would work. I figured out exactly what we needed, including denominations of bills, and went to the bank the week before to get cash (it was over $2000 in an exact breakdown of $100s, $20s, $10s, and $5s). You then need to quickly home quickly from the bank. Stuff and label the envelopes. Give them to your coordinator or a trusted person who will handle all payments. This isn't something you should be dealing with on your wedding day.

Speaking of tips... I'm someone who errs on the side of generosity when it comes to tipping. I know your wedding is expensive, but if someone deserves a tip, they deserve a tip. Don't hire them if you can't afford it, the same way you shouldn't eat at a fancy restaurant if you can't afford to pay the waiter.

  • PAYMENT Venue Clean Up Staff: $200 cash
  • TIP Border Grill Truck Staff: $25 per truck staff (=$125 cash)
  • TIP Border Grill Table and Bartender Staff: $50 per 3 floor staff 1 bartender (=$200 cash)
  • TIP Shuttle Drivers (three): $80 per driver ($240 cash)
  • TIP Rental Guys: $20 apiece (Assume 5) ($100 cash)
  • PAYMENT Hair and Makeup: $550 cash ($250 per hour plus $50 tip)
  • MISC DAY OF CASH NEEDS = $200 (don't forget this one. We ended up needed some random items from Target and CVS during out set-up. 
Bonus: if you have vendors who don't deserve their tips (shuttles, cough) then you can keep the cash and bring it with you on the honeymoon.

Note: this all went to hell. But having a full-weekend timeline helped us reorganize and reassess on the spot. Having it in Google Docs allowed me to edit while I was at my parents' house (setting up the welcome dinner) or from my smartphone (in the middle of running errands). These were both timelines and running to-do lists.

Also note: I did this in a word-doc format after talking it through with our photographer, Kelly Prizel (photographers know a ton about timelines and Kelly has some VERY helpful advice here, here and here). Emilia did a muuuuuch more efficient version of our wedding day timeline in excel, but that's her work product and I can't share that. Excel allowed her to identify who was responsible for which tasks at which times, which was very handy for making personalized timelines for key people.  You can also check out Liz Coopersmith's recent timeline articles (here and here) over at BrokeAss Bride for some great advice too.

Even if they aren't professional-level timelines, my personal word documents provide a good starting point for timelines (and full amount of detailed ridiculousness) you'll need to consider in the days  leading up to the wedding. Our timelines start with Thursday, because that's the first full day off we had before our Sunday wedding and it was full of wedding errands.  I also included some commentary/explanation of tasks, so you'll get a "fun" glimpse into my specific wedding whirlwind. And whirlwinds inevitably happens when you workworkwork through the Wed before your wedding and you're doing the wedding logistics yourself.

8:15am Cat Nail Clipping and Flea Treatment before leaving them with parents for honeymoon (drop-off at cat place)
9:00am Get Marriage License in Beverly Hills
12:00 Calls:
    •    Topanga Inn to coordinate check-in timing/key pickup
    •    CALL FRAME STORE to get Ketubah!!! (which we had somehow forgotten to pick up the week before. it's always something.)
    •    Ask Dad to pick up ketubah

12:30: Home for Misc Packing/to-dos:
    •    Iron chuppah and add ribbon
    •    Put stones on succulents
    •    Finalize suitcases/packing organization - Wedding Attire, Rehearsal Dinner Attire, Morning run-around attire, Get ready shirt, Makeup, Honeymoon bags
    •    Lay out clothes - Friday nice clothes and getting ready stuff for morning brunch

3:30 - Loehmans to remove security tag b/c they @#$%%^*#%^* forgot to take it off for my Friday night dress
4:00-5:15 - Urth Cafe for time with OOT Family (Jason and Becca drive separately)
8:30 - Wi Spa for Becca (2700 Wilshire Blvd, Just past Hoover at Rampart. Appt at 8:30. Leave by 7:30.) Jason has massage at Massage Garage
Before Bed:
    •    Remember to pack Aunt’s card for Friday night
    •    Wrap parent gifts and write card
    •    Wrap bridesmaid gifts
    •    post "leave deliveries in back" sign on front door of apartment


10:00am: Costco for Temple cheesecake and sangria fruit
11:30am: immediate family brunch @ parents' house
After Brunch: email bus company re: driver contact info.
3:00pm: Becca Nail Appointment
5:30pm: drive separate cars to parents' with cats and cat stuff, leave Becca’s car for honeymoon due to apt streetcleaning, drive to Temple together
6:00pm: Auf ruf @ Temple
7:00pm: dinner @ Temple
10:00pm: drinks @ hotel bar w/friends

7:00 am - Load car with: succulent palettes, spare succulents for bouquet, bouquet images, one jar & one vase (for flower mart shopping), rehearsal dinner clothes, makeup, curling iron, all cash tips and envelopes, rehearsal info
8:00 am: Becca goes to Flower Mart with JM (Flower Mart needs: 22 white bud vases, 21 silver flower jars, bouquet flowers)
9:50am: BW meets Jason, picks up rental car at Hertz  Conf. # XXXXX
10:00 am: Becca goes to Mom and Dad’s house for drop off of flowers/other and to load car/pick up booze
10:30am: AS and CY pick up Uhaul at National Blvd Storage
11:00 Jason meets friends at home to load Uhaul and rental car
- Load Uhaul with all wedding stuff, load rental car (honeymoon stuff + wedding attire, light-weight wedding decor (lights, papel picado, signs, other TBD)
- load RENTAL car with: wedding attire, rehearsal attire, snacks for getting ready, prosecco, scruffy getting ready attire, yellow ties, initial decor (if possible)
- load JASON'S car with: as much booze as possible to make room in uhaul
11:30 (in Jason's car) Becca picks up SS at hotel to make booze run
12:00 Becca meets Joe at venue to unload booze, return to Mom and Dad's house
Sometime after 12:00: OL picks up salsa from Gallegos (closes at 3pm!!!)

Sometime after 12:30: At Mom and Dad’s:
    •    Cut flowers
    •    Cut sangria fruit (if possible)
    •    unwrap kippot
    •    unwrap table number frames and insert printed info
    •    placecards: stamp table numbers and fold placecards cards
    •    make signage (ceremony, menus, any remaining other)
    •    make bouquet
    •    give AS uhaul money
    •    get cleaned up for rehearsal
    •    review rehearsal info to lead

3:30pm: get ready for rehearsal (clean up, prep materials)
4:00pm: wedding rehearsal walkthrough @ Mom and Dad’s house
5:30pm: Family portraits
6:00pm: guests arrive for Welcome BBQ
9:00pm: Load Mom and Dad’s car: ketubah, ceremony box

8:00 am - AS and CY load uhaul with salsa, soundsystem, their wedding clothes/makeup
8:30am - 11:30: set up wedding site (Becca, Jason, Wedding Party, friends). Unload all decor items, drink items. cake, appetizers, other wedding shit (MK brings cake via MH’s house and ice via store, AS brings tons of wedding crap in uhaul, We bring crap via our rental car.
We need to: set up reception tables and chairs, set up ceremony chairs, string papel picado from ceiling, cut flowers for centerpieces and around room, make sangria so it can soak, set up photobooth/guestbook area, set out linens, arrange outdoor bar/cocktail/heaters/buffet set up, string white lights, centerpieces and table numbers, arrange placecards, set candles around the room)
9:00 : friends arrive to help set up
BEFORE 10am: Rentals Delivery from Burbank Party
11:00 Emilia arrives at venue
11:30: Girls leave to head to B&B to get prettified
11:45 - Prettification begins with Mandy
12:00 Kelly Arrives at B&B
12:45: Boys leave to head to B&B
1:00 - Boys arrive and clean up.
1:25- Dress goes on, accessories (my girls are DONE by 1:25, my dress and accessories go on starting then. We need a deadline for our girly bride moment.)
1:45 - Boys photos
2:00 - First Look
2:15 - Girls photos/Wedding Party/Sibling Shots/Get shots of Rabbi and Witness Photos
2:40 - Ketubah signing at Topanga Canyon B&B
3:00-3:30 (on the dot) family and wedding party portraits
3:00-3:30 - Shuttle pickup from Hotel Angeleno
3:00 - Bartender and Service Staff Arrive at venue
3:00 - Michael (DJ) arrives atvenue
3:35-4:00 Couple Shots at B&B
4:00: Bar Open for early guests/pre-ceremony. Bartenders mix Sangria & prepare for serving. Guest shuttles begin arriving. Some cars begin arriving
4:10 - Couple/Officiant/Family Leave B&B for venue (it's less than a mile)
4:30 - Ceremony
5:00 - Cocktail Hour/Music Starts (and shuttles return mobility-impaired guests to reception area) Jason and Becca have their private yichud
5:00 - Border Grill Truck Arrives at venue
5:15-5:30 - Couple Shots, post Yichud
5:30 - Ceremony site breakdown (Joe)
5:40 - Couple enjoys the end of cocktail hour
6:00 - cocktail hour ends, dancing begins
6:00 - Announcement for guests to join bride and groom in hall for first dance
6:05 - First Dance
6:10 - Dancing/Mingling
6:25 - Hava Nagila (get chairs with arm-rests from Penny Room)
6:30 - Buffet is ready (bride, groom and wedding party get food followed by parents and then tables of guests)
7:00 - Toasts (parents, siblings, wedding party)
7:20 - Dinner ends, dancing continues
7:50 - Announce cake cutting and churro ball desserts
8:30 - Border Grill Truck departs
8:45 - First shuttle starts loading
9:30 - Second Shuttle starts loading
10:00 pm – Final Guests Departure via shuttle
10:00 pm - MK drives Becca and Jason to their hotel. Give MK all our wedding attire/jewelery for safekeeping during the honeymoon
10-midnight: site breakdown, leave full uhaul/other car by Joe’s trailer at venue
11:00 pm – Border Grill Staff load-out
11-midnight - Burbank Party Rental Pickup

Rehearsal/Ceremony Breakdown
You need a precise ceremony breakdown to run the rehearsal. And YES, you need a rehearsal, even if you can't do it at the venue (we couldn't).  No one understood why we insisted on a rehearsal and everyone was happy we did one. Questions came up about how to walk down the aisle with the chuppah, where to sit for readers, who would pass the microphone to whom, and other teeny questions that could have made the ceremony really disorganized. We also realized that people had mixed up their readings, so we were able to sort out some really important confusion. Here's some great info from Liz Coopersmith at BrokeAss Bride about planning your rehearsal.

And below is the overview WE used for our rehearsal walkthough. Yours will clearly be different, but examples always help me.

2:30 Ketubah and Marriage License
    •    Modern Bedeken (Rabbi, Couple)
    •    Sign the documents (Couple, Witnesses)
    •    Blessing read by parents (Parents)

4:30 Ceremony (~25-30 min)
    •    Procession (Chuppah with 4 friends, then groom and his parents, then bride and her parents)
    •    Egalitarian circling outside chuppah (Becca first. Then Jason. Then together. Then step under chuppah)
    •    Rabbi"sermon" (Rabbi)
    •    First cup of wine/blessing (Rabbi)
    •    Ring exchange with Hebrew vows (Jason then Becca repeat after Rabbi)
    •    Read Letters aloud (Becca and Jason)
    •    Read Ketubah (Rabbi reads)
    •    Second cup of wine/Seven Blessings (Heb and Eng) – Blessings read from seats by chosen family members, Rabbi brings them the microphone (M&D, M&D, G&G,, N&P, R, A&S)
    •    Introduce readings/poetry chosen by couple (Rabbi. Share chuppah holding - MH)
    ◦        MK
    ◦        OL
    ◦        MH
    •    Wrap in tallit – (Rabbi, Couple)
    •    Explain glass-breaking  - set up glass - 2 glasses break (Rabbi, Couple)
    •    Couple processes out, followed by chuppah holders. (Couple goes to the side for yichud. Chuppah to the back)

Group Shot List 
It turns out that wedding portraits aren't as easy as snapshots. Add in some serious time constraints and it's smart to start with a list of exact portraits that you want. List out individual names so someone can do a roll-call and organize the photos efficiently. Assume each picture will take about three minutes to set up and take, at least. So 10 shots = 30 minutes. Have a few extra OPTIONAL configurations you want in case you're lucky and finish early.

    1.    Becca with parents (ex: Becca, John, Jane)
    2.    Couple with Becca's parents (ex: Becca, Jason, John, Jane)
    3.    Couple with Becca's immediate family
    4.    Couple with both siblings
    5.    Jason with parents
    6.    Couple with Jason's parents
    7.    Couple with both sets of parents
    8.    Couple with Jason's immediate family
    9.    Couple with Jason’s extended family
    10.    Couple with entire extended family

Wishlist for more group shots if you have time:
    1.    Couple with one set of Jason’s grandparents
    2.    Couple with both Jason’s sets of grandparents
    3.    Couple with Becca's grandparents. 

Shots taken before Ketubah (first look, attendant shots):
    1.    Jason with attendants
    2.    Becca with attendants
    3.    Becca, Jason, all attendants
    4.    Becca, Jason, Brother, Sister
    5.    Becca and Brother
    6.    Jason and Sister

Special/Different moments Photographer should be aware of (besides the obvious. Please don't tell your photographer to take a photo of you kissing at the end of the ceremony. If you need to tell your photographer to do that, then you probably should consider hiring a different photographer. Hire/ask someone you trust to get the standard ceremony, first dance, cake cutting, etc moments. This list is for unusual/specifically cultural moments):
    1.    Hava Nagila Dance
    2.    Getting Lifted on Chairs
    3.    Our Thank You to everyone
    4.    Spitty Face photos. We really want these
    5.    Lining up for churro balls at the truck

DIY and other Details:
    1.    Chuppah! We’re painting it ourselves. And it will be connected to birchwood poles.
    2.    Centerpieces (we planted them!) with bud vases and a succulent pot
    3.    Table numbers (quotes about love that we couldn’t include in the ceremony)
    4.    Candlelit and flower-filled jars on the fireplace mantle (spray painted silver and frosted glass)
    5.    Escort cards/Placecards table (we stamped them and wrote notes to each guest)
    6.    Papel picado around the room/outdoors
    7.    DIY “photobooth” and guestbook (fabric on the wall and fun dress up stuff, instax cameras, guest book displayed on wall)
    8.    Cake table “toppers” (not DIY, but they’re cute little pinata mascots)

To-Bring List
I started developing this list a few months before the wedding, when I realized how hard the logistics were going to be. I added as things struck me. We kept things organized on various boxes ("Ceremony Item box" "Serving Utensil and Food Prep Box" "Decor Box" "Photobooth Box" and so on. In the last weeks, we actually started compiling these boxes, and these lists were a godsend. They also helped us figure out our "to buy" list when we realized we didn't have spare bottle openers for the bar or a long BBQ lighter for candles, for example. We also kept the list on hand during the wedding setup so I knew exactly where necessary items were. 

As for the physical boxes themselves, our early wedding gifts were a godsend. We had tons of boxes from Crate & Barrel and Amazon. I also grabbed boxes from Trader Joe's when I bought wine and juices and supermarkets are generally a good bet for free boxes too.

Ceremony Box
Marriage License
archival pen
photocopy of ketubah language
extra copies of poetry/readings
extra copies of transliterations and blessings
Letters to each other for ceremony
Two wine glasses (polished!)
White wine and bottle opener
Two lightbulbs
Two napkins, tied with ribbon, for the lightbulbs
Basket with kippot
Chuppah cloth and ribbons

Large Items
Chuppah poles

Boxes of Drinks
Wine (White)
Wine (Red)
Non-alcoholic drinks
Sangria Wine, Triple Sec and Sprite

Snacks for Helper Friends
Dried Fruit
Beer (for getting ready)
Champagne (for getting ready)

Beverage Box
Beer bottle openers
Wine bottle openers
Sangria dispenser
sangria ladle
coffee cups
coffee cream
coffee (baggie of ground coffee in portioned packets, filters)
Coffee Maker
Sangria fruit
knives to cut fruit

Friend Pick Up

Food and Serving
cake cutter
recycled paper plates (appetizers)
recycled paper napkins (appetizers - need to get)
plastic serving bowls (chips and salsa)
bamboo serving utensils
All appetizer foods: chips & salsa

Reception Decor
Succulent Pots (planted, need to remain upright in two boxes)
Bud Vases (wrapped so they don’t break)

Jar Box
Jars for flowers
Jars for candles

Decor Box
table candleholders
taller candles for table
framed online dating profiles
Table numbers
Sangria sign
Salsa labels
Gift Table Box for cards
Placecard box (alphebetized)
Toilet Paper
White Lights
Extension Cords
Papel Picado

Buckets of flowers

Bar chalkboard
Menu chalkboard
Ceremony Directional Sign

Photobooth Box
Box of costumes
Box for finished cards
sturdy double sided tape and tacks
archival pens
fabric backdrop
basket for new film
basket with blank sheets of paper

Undergarments (bra, undies, spanx)
Shoes (flats AND heels)
Clutch for makeup/other
Rings (and boxes!)
hair gel

Paperwork Folder
Call lists
Living Social Topanga Inn Voucher
List of personal items vs rentals

Honeymoon Packet
List of all travel info (hotels, flight info, dates, itinerary)

Guatemala book

Emergency Box (Emilia has)
Stain remover
Plastic ties
First Aid

Like I said, DIY logistics are a pain in the bum and extreme organization was the only way to manage it. But they CAN be managed with careful planning, especially when that planning starts well before the week of the wedding. Hopefully these lists and organizational processes can help some of you too.


  1. *copies link, emails it to fiance, every bride i know*

    Jeez, this is useful. Thank you!

  2. Thanks! This is great and a huge help.

  3. Holy cow, Becca. This is one of the most useful posts I've ever read in wedding blogland. Thank you!

  4. Yes, super helpful for those planning. I will try to share this link with engaged friends!

  5. Oh, man, you rock so hard for posting this!

    Seriously - I'm a project manager and I've thrown parties for a crowd before, so I do have a general idea of how to run things (we're looking at getting married in a year or two). That said - just the specifics of this list is invaluable. And the way it shows very clearly when things have to be done because if they don't get done THEN, there is absolutely no time afterward to get it finished!

    Much heartfelt appreciation. Seriously. Your how-to posts (though I just found this blog!) are some of the most helpful I've run into!

  6. Thank you so, so much for taking the time to put this together. Thank you so much!

  7. You don't know how unbelievably helpful your wedding blog has been for me (well I'm sure you've gotten that comment many times :) )

    Thank you for posting this amazing timeline! I'm so antsy about our wedding next May.

  8. I am printing this, along with your original DIY-logistics-are-hell post, to keep me sane as I enter the last month of wedding planning. Thank you so much!

  9. This is fabulous! I had spreadsheets galore in the weeks leading up to our wedding (former event manager here too) and they saved our collective butts.

  10. This is amazing! My first reaction was *thud*, as my head rolled back because of all of the things I'll have to keep track of 9 months from now. My second reaction was to promptly email this to my fiance. :) And overall, I am so thankful that you wrote all of this out! It is so helpful!

  11. Just want to but out a little beware on Google docs. I used it throughout the wedding, but when we were writing thank you notes it started mysteriously deleting rows. The only reason I know is because the people that were gone were people I absolutely knew gave us a present (i.e. Grandma). I think it had to do with us having it open at the same time and trying to update at the same time, but I know others who have had similar situations.

  12. @Jessica - Woah. So maybe it's worth exporting into excel one a month (general) and once a week (around the wedding time) and working on the Thank You list from your hard drive. Thanks for the heads up.

  13. Re: Google Docs--if something gets deleted you can/should be able to recover it via opening a previous version. I have saved a few mangled docs this way.

  14. Thanks Becca. This is the awesome.

  15. Very, very helpful! Thanks for sharing this!

  16. This helped a TON! I just started a Google Doc of "Things to bring" and added to some of the others I had already started. Thanks for pulling all of this together!

  17. So helpful, Becca! I'm saving the link.

    Also, my eyes bugged out when I saw that you need a pound of ice per person. Oh my god.

    Re: food service tips - I've been confused about how to handle that and was thinking that I am supposed to do a 20% tip as I would at a restaurant, which is really hefty. I also wasn't totally sure how to divide that up.

    Thanks for the amazing outline! I have a lot to figure out.

  18. @Lauren Elizabeth - Yeah! The "to bring" list was an anti-panic lifesaver, especially because I compiled it slowly, as I thought of things.

    @Rachel - the pound of ice per person isn't as bad as you think it is! Get two friends and one car with a big trunk and you'll be FINE.

    Also, because I know you hired the Border Grill too: I asked the Border Grill what the expectations were for tipping by staffperson type. (They have a service charge included, but I'm never sure how much of that goes to the people working) We took our cue from that.

  19. Becca this couldn't have been posted on a better day. I took the day off because of my finger and was able to tackle it right away. Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is amazing.

  20. Yay! BW made the Saturday schedule!

    Would love to show your my google calendar for this weekend. Especially Friday night. And the section where we hacked our way through a jungle, and found a dead body!

  21. @Brock - unless you had "deal with ambulance and drive stranger home" in your Friday calendar, there's no way it captured your real life wedding help tasks! And Topanga doesn't have jungles (or dead bodies, right?) just underbrush between the shuttle and the venue. Stupid shuttles.

  22. Oh, yeah. I'm pretty sure that signage got made on Saturday.


    Listen, I read every single word of this post, even though I got married eight months ago. Or nine. I forget. Anyway. Can I tell you something? I've never been more thrilled to NOT HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS AGAIN EVER. It made my heart and head ache with the memory of my own frantic wedding weekend. Then again, it also made me a little nostalgic. Oh, to be swept up in the chaotic emotion once more!

    Or, you know... not.

    Seriously though. I know a lot of this is lifted from your spreadsheets, but you did a lot of organizing and formatting for this post. You deserve a massage just for putting this thing together. Kudos!

  23. GENIUS. Thank you so very, very much.


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