So many elements go into planning the perfect wedding day for each couple. The last thing they want to be doing on their wedding day is deal with kinks that could have been figured out in the planning process. Here are some tips we have come up with along the way to ensure that the couple can sit back and enjoy their day to the fullest as well as enjoy the planning process.
1. Start planning early.
Now I’m not saying that every couple has to plan their wedding 12 to 18 months out. However, if you’re already engaged and have a date picked out, do as much planning and booking as possible in the early stages so you can sit back and actually enjoy being engaged and the wedding planning process. When I am helping a Bride plan her wedding, we usually sit down and plan the main details right away, such as booking the venue, a photographer, the caterer and the florist. This way you can take your time on the remaining details and enjoy the decision process without feeling overwhelmed.
2. Plan your timeline around the light!
You have to figure out what time you are starting your ceremony pretty early in the planning process. This is because you have to tell your hair and makeup team what time to start, advise your caterer on what time you want to serve dinner, and you will have to know how many hours to book your photographer and DJ. Always take the time the sun sets into consideration! Depending on the time of year you get married you don’t want to have a 5:00 pm ceremony when it gets dark at 5:30 pm. If you plant to take pictures after the ceremony, especially outside, you want to give yourself and the photographer plenty of time to get your family and bridal party shots. If you don’t have a planner, consult with your photographer and ALWAYS get their opinion on when you should start your ceremony.
3. Chat with your partner about whether or not to do a first look.
Guess what? YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU WANT!! Most people know right away whether or not they want to have a first look. They either want that intimate moment before the ceremony to take pictures and get a chance to talk, or they want that classic walk down the aisle seeing your significant other for the first time. Do not ever feel like you have to sacrifice your preference because you feel like you are pressed for time. If your timeline is done correctly, you should have plenty of time to take family, wedding party, and couple’s pictures in-between the ceremony and reception. This will take around an hour, give or take depending on how big your family and wedding party is. If you give your wedding party plenty of time to get ready in the morning, your photographer can take wedding party pictures prior to the ceremony to cut down on the list of photos to take after the ceremony. There are several ways to adjust your timeline so the couple can have their first look the way that THEY want to. Whether that is before or during the ceremony. Don’t think you have to sacrifice what you want for the timeline’s sake, there is usually a way around that.
4. Don’t leave last minute payments or details for the week or day-of.
The last thing you need to be doing on your wedding day is worry about trying to find that check you wrote for the DJ. Aaannnnd there is a good chance you will probably forget……especially if a few drinks are involved. And if you do remember, you will have to take time out of your reception to deal with it. I promise your ceremony and reception will fly by, you might not even get a chance to talk to all of your guests. You don’t want to cut into this time worrying about details that could have been handled earlier. If you have a vendor that doesn’t except payment until the day of (some will have you settle up dependent on guests count, like your alcohol vendor) put someone else in charge of it. Of course…. this is a great reason to have a wedding planner or coordinator.
5. ALWAYS have a plan B.
Always. I mean it! Don’t think you can get away with it because “the temperatures are usually pretty nice this time of year, or it usually doesn’t rain too much in this month”. NOPE. Not worth it. Nothing can ruin a couple’s mood more than it pouring on their wedding day with no backup plan. Whether it’s a tent on rain reservation or an indoor space that can be used for backup of an outdoor ceremony. Write your plan B down, make it known. Here in Florida it can rain 5 minutes after being the most beautiful day you have ever seen. It can also be hot or cold in December, you will have no way of knowing until the week of your wedding. Pay the extra to put those tents, heaters, fans, whatever you think you may need in the space you are getting married. It is always worth protecting your sanity the week of the wedding.
6. Confirm… everything.
About a week or two before the wedding, you need to make it a point to contact each and every vendor to confirm your details. What time they are arriving, what they are providing, and how many hours they are providing service. Send out your timeline to each vendor to see if they have anything that conflicts with what you have down. This is a task that will be completely off your plate if you work with a coordinator or planner (which of course I always suggest). Someone who does this all the time will quickly catch something that is conflicting or if something has been missed.
7. Accept what you cannot change.
Most weddings will come with at least one small glitch because of all the moving parts. It could be as small as forgetting a special detail at home and having somebody run get it in the middle of getting ready, to as big as the caterer getting stuck in traffic and your food being held up. Do not stress...and just go with the flow! This is just one of the reasons I will always recommend AT LEAST a professional day-of coordinator for your wedding. They will be able to adjust the timeline and be as accommodating as possible. Like the example above, I have had a caterer arrive over 2 hours late due to an accident blocking traffic and only the Father of the Bride noticed. Quick thinking, some store-bought appetizers, and timeline adjusting can make your guests none the wiser.
8. ALWAYS allow time to sit down and eat your dinner.
Something I constantly overhear is “you won’t even get a chance to sit down and eat your food, so it doesn’t matter what you serve”. This is a HUUUUUGGGEE pet peeve of mine. Wedding days are draining. Although it will go by quickly, if you don’t make it a point to eat throughout the day you could easily look at the time and think, “Oh my gosh I haven’t eaten in 10 hours!” You do not want to leave your reception starving. I suggest having breakfast or snacks in the getting ready rooms of the couple, as well as making sure you designate time to sit down and eat dinner at the reception. The caterers or your wedding planner/coordinator will personally make the couple’s plates so they can sit down and eat while the rest of the guests are going through the food line or being served. This way you are done eating by the time your guests want to start talking to you.
9. Let your personality show.
Your wedding is all about the two of you, so try to incorporate as much of your personalities into the day as you can. Guests should say ‘that’s so them!’ You will look back at pictures and love the tiny personal details. One of my favorite times on the wedding day is when the guests start trickling into the reception space. They will go around and look at each table and marvel at all of the details. Whether that is a specialty cake that’s a replica of your favorite vintage car or a cake topper that is specifically designed for the couple. Don’t forget what is important. Don't try to make everyone else happy. I agree that you should be considerate and be good hosts for your guests, but you need to create an event that is reflective of you as a couple.
10. Ask for help.
My last tip would be something that I obviously can’t go without saying. Get some sort of help in the wedding planning industry. Now I get that this may not apply to every single couple, and every couple may not want to splurge on a full-service planner. But I promise you would be doing yourself a huge favor consulting with a planner or coordinator. You may know right off the bat that you want someone to help you every step of the way, or you may be that couple that actually enjoys the planning process and elects just to hire a day-of coordinator to take the stress off in the remaining weeks. But unless you have some experience in the wedding industry or you have no restrictions on budget, you probably want to talk to a planner. Did you know some planners even offer hourly consulting? A planner in the city you are getting married can give you realistic budgets for each category for your guest count, or an estimated price per person for the type of reception you are wanting. The last thing you want to do in unknowingly book your dream venue and accidentally commit 50% of your budget not knowing what the rest of your vendors cost. I like to lay out a realistic budget for each vendor first and go from there. That way if my couples go over budget, they are making a conscious decision versus a surprise in the end.
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