While planning a wedding, most couples work through a list of must-dos as they bring their vision to life. But many are left with one thought: What if we miss something?
Check every box and design a day that you, your partner, and your loved ones will remember for years to come by looking at what these industry experts recommend.
Always Have a Backup Plan
Despite your best efforts, some things will go differently than you planned on your wedding day! Fortunately, having a backup plan will give you peace of mind in case things take a turn.
Peter Mitsaelides of Brooklake Country Club and Events says, “Are you planning an outdoor ceremony? Make sure you have a Plan B in case of bad weather and review it with your venue manager and day-of coordinator.”
Beyond weather, consider how you’d address other challenges, such as a no-show vendor or a sick wedding party member. Preparing for the worst ensures nothing gets in the way of your day!
Hire a Professional Caterer
“Couples should not skip hiring a professional caterer with staffing,” she advises. “Without proper service, your family will be stuck cleaning up at the night’s end instead of celebrating. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but hire catering and staffing to serve and manage cleaning and breakdown at the night’s end so everyone is focused on the celebration rather than the logistics!”
Not only do pro caterers take care of the heavy lifting, but they’re also well-equipped to make last-minute adjustments if needed. So if the venue’s fridge shorts or a certain ingredient is out of stock, you can trust that they’ll know exactly what to do!
Make a List of Priorities
Let’s face it—wedding planning can be overwhelming! There’s so much to consider, so before you dive in, make a list of what truly matters to you and your partner.
“Do not skip making a list of your wedding priorities,” cautions The Garter Girl’s Julianne Smith. “As you’re going through your wedding planning and trying to decide what to include or not include in your wedding, you’ll want to come back to your list of priorities. Always ask yourself, how does this item, tradition, or thing fit into our wedding priorities? If [it doesn’t], it’s an easy skip.”
Priorities make decision-making easier and take emotions out of the planning process so you can plan with confidence every step of the way.
Remember Your Lighting
A category that many overlook, lighting can make or break your photos. Working with your venue to ensure proper lighting is something your photographer will thank you for. And you’ll be grateful you took the time to ensure you got your money’s worth!
“You could have the most beautiful flowers, linen, etc., in the world for your wedding, but if you can’t see it and highlight it properly with lighting, it won’t matter,” Megan Estrada of NSWE Events reminds us. “There’s no use paying for an incredible photographer if the lighting is bad, so all your photos are useless. What about a fabulous band with too-bright lighting, so no one feels comfortable dancing? Lighting is the do not skip item for all weddings, and we will die on this hill!”
Looking at galleries of past events at your venue can provide inspiration. If you find a design you love, ask for a referral to connect with the lighting specialist!
Consider Your Guest Experience
Guests often travel far and wide to celebrate a couple’s love. Though your day should always return to your marriage and vision, don’t forget to keep your loved ones in mind.
As Jen Avey of Destination Weddings Travel Group says, “Your loved ones have made an effort to travel to your celebration, so it’s important to show your appreciation to them and provide an unforgettable experience.”
Whether that means luxury accommodations, thoughtful favors, or an upscale menu, consider how you can give your guests a night they’ll remember for years to come!
Think About Hiring a Planner
If planning an event as significant as your wedding doesn’t exactly light you up, it’s okay to look elsewhere! A professional planner can take a massive weight off your shoulders, helping you enjoy the process instead of pulling your hair out at every turn.
“A planner is the most important thing that couples should not skip when planning their wedding,” shares Meredith Ryncarz of Meredith Ryncarz Photography. “Having a planner ensures you can enjoy your wedding day stress-free and focus on spending time with your loved ones. In addition, a planner will ensure that all the small details often overlooked by non-wedding industry pros are taken care of.”
You don’t want to carry the weight of coordinating on the big day itself, but you also don’t want to burden your friends or family with planning responsibilities. Hiring a planner is the best way to soak in every moment of your wedding day, so you can step back and enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Have a Shot List for Photos
You’re paying good money for your photographer! Make it easier for them to provide you with your dream photos by creating a shot list before the big day.
Marissa MacLeod of The Treasury on the Plaza shares, “We often see couples just taking photo after photo, thinking about who they need to call over, deciding where they want to go, and not enjoying the wedding they spent months planning. Instead, list what photos you want, where you want them, and who you want them with. This will help you enjoy your day and make being able to capture the memories easier!”
Not only will you get the photos you want, but you’ll also save time (and headaches!) during portraits so you can get to the party sooner!
Pencil In Your Planning
With everything else you and your partner have going on, planning might get pushed to the bottom of your to-do lists. To ensure you don’t miss any details or deadlines, be sure to add wedding-related tasks to your calendar.
“Schedule time for planning—make it part of your calendar, like any other task,” suggests Betsy Scott of Hudson Valley Weddings at The Hill. “And when you’ve accomplished a group of planning chores, reward yourself!”
Treat wedding planning like any other chore, such as grocery shopping or laundry. Of course, dreaming up your big day is far more enjoyable, so you might find yourself squeezing it in throughout the day! However, setting blocks on your calendar ensures you won’t fall behind on planning or miss important deadlines.
Don’t Forget About Your Vendors
Your vendors will work hard on your big day to ensure everything goes off without a hitch, so keep them in mind as you progress through your day-of timeline.
Frank Guertler of Bunn DJ Company—Richmond, VA, notes, “While wedding pros don’t expect to be served the same meal as your guests, a sandwich, pasta salad, some fruit, and a cold drink will keep us fueled for your event. Be sure to ask your caterer about vendor meal options.”
When your wedding team is well fueled and energized, they’re better suited to serve you and your guests. So don’t skip the vendor meals, and let them take breaks as needed!
Opt for a Seating Chart
Developing a seating chart might not top the list of exciting wedding planning activities, but it’s vital for couples looking for a smooth transition from ceremony to reception. Your guests will spend less time wondering where they need to be and more time mingling with one another.
“Not using any type of seating chart and allowing guests to sit wherever they please brings a whole host of potential issues.…[These] leave your vendors scrambling to troubleshoot and guests feeling unwelcome or, worse, offended,” explains Sarah Blessinger of Kindred Weddings and Events. “This could leave important people, like parents or grandparents, in undesirable locations, unable to see you during the reception toasts. Or you run the risk of not having enough seats at each table, and then family groups are split up, causing unhappiness…to settle into your event.”
Special events thrive on order, and weddings are no exception. So while it’s nice to give your guests some flexibility to mingle, let them do so during cocktail hour and on the dance floor. During dinner, provide them with a clear seating plan to maintain the flow and timeline!
Perhaps most importantly, make sure to find some private time to take in the experience as newlyweds. Any married couple will tell you the wedding will go by in the blink of an eye—and it’s true! Mitsaelides emphasizes this point, saying, “Don’t forget to carve out some time on your wedding day for just the two of you to be in the moment.”
So make sure you take time to be with your partner without all the noise. Your loved ones are amazing, but it’s this one-on-one time you’ll cherish once the party ends.