It takes a lot of time and effort to plan a wedding! And it can feel all-encompassing and stressful at times. If you don’t know where to begin there are many helpful resources online and in the bookstore that can help. Also, ask a few married friends for their advice on how they planned their wedding. Find out what they wish they’d done differently and what they were so glad they did.
One of the most helpful things I did was to make a list of everything I needed to do and put it into a timeline working backward from my wedding date. That way I knew I had plenty of time planned for each agenda item ahead of the big day and it helped keep me on track.
Here’s a list of 15 other helpful things I’m glad I did or wish I’d done in planning my wedding.
1. Pick a budget then decide which 2-3 aspects of your wedding you want to spend the bulk of the money on. Maybe having the dress of your dreams or amazing food is more important to you than a swanky venue, or vice versa. Spend the bulk of your budget on the aspects most important to you and your fiance.
2. Get everything done before the week of your wedding. Plan well enough in advance so you aren’t running around, majorly stressed in the days before the wedding. This will give you more time to spend with family and friends in the lead up to the ceremony, especially those whom you haven’t seen in a while.
3. Do the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner 2 days before the ceremony. The place where I was married was only available for a rehearsal two days before the ceremony instead of the night before. This turned out to be so helpful because it freed me up the day and evening before the wedding to spend time with friends and for last minute things. One less stressor.
4. Plan one “down day” before the honeymoon. Having the entire day off the day after my wedding (and then flying out for the honeymoon the following day) was so helpful! My husband and I had time to sleep in, relax and pack. The lead-up to most weddings is tiring. Having this day to relax was priceless.
5. Have enough seating for all your guests. This includes seating at the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception. It’s no fun to have to stand for hours, even if you aren’t wearing heels. Inviting 100 guests and having seating for 50 doesn’t fly. You guests will mind if they can’t sit down.
6. Have plenty of food to feed hungry guests. It’s never fun to go hungry at a wedding, especially when you are expecting to be fed. Also, if you’re going to take an hour to take pictures after the wedding definitely have plenty of fun and tasty food and drinks for your guests while they wait for you! One friend offered Italian sodas in a variety of flavors. Delicious and fun idea.
7. If the ceremony is outdoors… It is thoughtful to offer umbrellas or a covering over the seating area to guard from sun or rain. Consider offering refreshing drinks (like lemonade) when guests arrive, individual blankets if it’s chilly or inexpensive flip flops for women to wear if its on the beach and they need to take off their heels.
8. Confirm all vendors. Two days to 1 week before the wedding call and confirm all vendors, including the officiant. Make sure they have the correct date, time, address and contact info. You’d be surprised by how many people have staved off “wedding disaster” by taking the time to make confirmation calls.
9. Wedding day contacts. Make a list of cell phone contact info for all people involved (including vendors, bridal party and main family members). Designate one responsible person who is not in the wedding party and is not a close family member to be the “go to” contact person that day if there are questions, vendor issues, a no-show bridesmaid, etc. That way you don’t personally have to be “putting out fires” at the last minute.
10. Eat something an hour before the ceremony. Have a friend prepare small finger sandwiches and cut up fruit for you and your bridal party to eat ahead of the nuptials. And remember to drink plenty of water. No fainting allowed!
11. Record your wedding. Even if you can’t afford a videographer have a friend record your wedding. You will be so glad to have it on film later!
12. Respect your guests’ time. I once attended a reception where for four hours we were fed only chips, salsa and pretzels as an appetizer and then they decided to hold off on serving dinner till later. (Later? How much longer is this reception going to be?) I promptly left. No one wants to attend a 6-8 hour reception, especially on an empty stomach.
13. Don’t make guests use a porta potty. I once attended a back yard wedding where we were not allowed to use the restrooms in the house but had to walk down a dirt hill to use a porta potty. It was gross. Need I say more?
14. Do not go into debt over your wedding. Please. Having a good financial start to your new life together is more important than going into debt over one day.
15. Don’t put more effort into your wedding than your relationship. Some people are more excited about the wedding celebration than they are about being married for the long haul. It should be the other way around. Pre-marital counseling is very helpful and your true compatibility should not be overlooked. As Gary Chapman says… “Enjoy the wedding. Love the marriage!”