One question that I hear often during the wedding planning process is, “What are we forgetting?” This is such a great question, especially if you’ve been planning your wedding for a while.
These 11 little things can make a really big difference in your wedding day by helping the day flow a little better. I’m sharing them so that YOU don’t forget to plan for them along your wedding planning journey.
Check for big local events before booking a specific date
Before you officially select your wedding date, check for big local events, like festivals or sporting events. (Pro tip: Google is your friend here) Oftentimes, these events can add traffic, parking complications, and make for very limited hotel availability.
Obviously, there may be things that pop up after you book your date or venue. But if you checked going in, you did your due diligence and there’s only so much you can do.
If this does happen, try to book your remaining vendors a little earlier. Also, give your vendor team a heads up about the event going on so that they can adjust their travel times accordingly.
Look at your venue at night (or whatever time your wedding is taking place)
Although it’s very common to tour and have meetings at a venue during the day, it’s equally important to also visit your venue around whatever time your wedding is taking place. Venues can look different depending on the time of day.
This extra visit will let you see what your guests will see during your wedding. You may notice that you don’t necessarily like the lighting for parking, or that one particular corner is really dark. You might want to bring in additional lighting to set a slightly different mood.
At the same time, sunset and sunlight play an important role throughout your wedding day. During a final walkthrough, it is common to visit where the ceremony will take place. You want to know where the sun will be around your ceremony time, because if your ceremony is in the evening, there’s a high chance that the sun will be in someone’s eyes.
Taking that extra visit around the time of your wedding allows you to observe and prepare any extra details, or shift your plan slightly if you don’t like where the lighting falls at a certain time. This extra consideration will also be appreciated by your photographer.
Budget for gratuities
Many couples forget to include a line item in their budget for something that can really add up quickly – gratuities. There are certain vendor categories where it’s required to tip and may be included in your contract – particularly for the catering. (Remember that a service charge is not a gratuity) For other categories, it’s simply a nice way to say thank you.
To help you navigate which vendor categories to tip, how much, and when, I wrote a guide breaking down gratuities here.
Budgeting for these gratuities early is one of the best ways to avoid sticker shock, or blow your budget at the very end of your wedding planning journey. And if you need some help keeping track of your budget (including these gratuities), I created the Wedding Budget Spreadsheet which includes a spot for gratuities and much, much more.
Plan for food on the wedding day (outside of the reception)
There are so many conversations and meetings about the appetizers, the cocktails, the desserts – and yet, it’s so common to overlook the hours that take place before those meals.
On any other day, you need fuel for your body – and that fuel is especially important on your wedding day. There’s a lot going on, and you need to take care of yourself. (Reminder: a mimosa is not breakfast)
Make a plan to have food easily available, and incorporate eating into your wedding prep. Whether you’re arranging it with a hotel, or takeout, or delivery – make sure you’re staying hydrated and adding real fuel to your body. How else do you expect to keep up until the after party?
Some fun ways of making sure that you (and your wedding VIPs) eat are to make sure there are snacks when you are getting ready, and in between the ceremony and reception. I’ve seen some breakfast baskets delivered to hotel rooms, or snack packs for shuttles. Either way, do your future self a solid and make sure you (and your VIPs) have something in your stomach to fuel you on such an important (and busy) day.
Photo by Brittani Elizabeth Photography of Cassidy and Sean’s Lake House Inn Wedding
Account for extra buffers in your timeline
A wedding day is a 24-hour day where some things will go according to plan, and others won’t. Extra buffers of time allows for life to happen without throwing the entire day out of whack. While there are many ways to add these pockets of time in your day, here are some common spots to do so:
Aim to have your hair and makeup completed at least 30 minutes before you need to get dressed. Sometimes, your beauty pros will add this into their timeline, but this allows for any of the unknowns, and allows you to enjoy the process rather than feeling stressed or rushed.
Factor at least 30 minutes for just putting your attire on. I know it doesn’t take you 30 minutes to get your clothes on, but you need those little pockets of time so that you can use the restroom, powder your nose, reapply deodorant, or – let’s be honest – maybe you just need time to breathe. Remember that you are human.
Transportation needs one of the biggest buffers in your timeline. Whatever Google Maps says, add extra time for potential traffic. You’ll also need to include extra time for everyone to get onto and off of the shuttle. There is usually at least one person that left their phone or sunglasses behind that the shuttle will need to wait for. Make sure there’s plenty of time for this.
Another popular spot to add a little extra time buffer into your schedule is a “wedding day time out.” Right after the ceremony, take 5-10 minutes to just sneak away with your partner. Even if my couple is doing family photos right after their ceremony, I like to gather the family and then bring the couple back. Taking these few moments to connect with your person and really soak in what’s actually happening is so important.
And remember, rushing through the day and packing it with #allthethings only makes it go by faster. The more you can do to put yourself first, and plan a realistic schedule to the best of your ability, sets you up for success and an enjoyable day.
And if you need help with this, time is my superpower and I will have your back.
Practice the First Kiss
I don’t think it’s super common to kiss your person in front of your parents, grandparents, and all of your friends – especially with everyone watching. That’s what’s happening when you kiss each other at your ceremony. It can be weird, so it’s good to have an idea of a plan for your first kiss.
You don’t have to overthink it, but you don’t want to make it awkward by leaning the wrong way, kissing too quickly, or by making it uncomfortable for everyone by kissing a little TOO much. Take some time to practice the first kiss in private at home AND at the rehearsal in front of your VIPs.
With practice, you can get that weird kiss out of the way ahead of your first kiss at the ceremony, and make sure you are coordinated, in the moment, and picture perfect.
Talk about the Rain Plan
The idea of the rain plan is not our ideal option. No matter where – or what time of year – there’s a chance of not great weather happening on your wedding day.
But I have a theory: the more you talk about the rain plan, the less you need the rain plan (unlike Fight Club). And, yes you need a rain plan for the entire day. Not just for the BIG moments, but little moments of the day too, like photos.
Avoiding it in the planning process will only add substantially to the wedding-day stress if you need it. So keep an open mind, and know your rain plan. That way, if you need to pivot, your plan B or C can be just as beautiful and easily executed.
Photo by Brittani Elizabeth Photography of Cassidy and Sean’s Lake House Inn wedding
Feed your wedding pros
Anyone who is on-site at your reception and there for longer than 4 hours should be offered a meal. The only exception is typically the catering staff as they take care of their own. It goes beyond being a thoughtful and gracious host. It’s also often built into your vendor contracts.
Ideally, vendors should be fed BEFORE the guests and right after the VIPs are fed so they’re done eating when you are and no one is waiting. This allows your photographer, wedding planner/coordinator/manager, DJ, band members, or other wedding pros to be able to eat their meal to fuel themselves while your guests are eating (because no one needs photos of people stuffing their faces, right?). And, they’ll have time to finish their meal and be ready for action before their help is needed for toasts or special dances.
Make sure your wedding website is updated before your invitations go out
You likely built your website several months before finalizing your invitations. And you might not have had all the information at the time (which is fine). Take some time to check your website before sending invitations, because at this point, there may be information that you need to add or update.
If you’ve had a shower, check your registries to make sure there’s still some gifts left, or at least a way to contribute to any honeymoon/cash funds. This way, guests that would like to purchase a gift or contribute will be able to do so immediately after receiving your invitation while your event is front of mind.
Confirm that your accommodations and transportation details (like shuttle times and pick-up locations) are up to date. Are the links correct for your hotel blocks? Is the timing correct? People are checking those websites before they book their travel, and during your wedding weekend, so make sure they’re looking at accurate information.
Not sure what to include on your wedding website? No worries, friend. I’ve got the Ultimate Guide to Wedding Websites to help you out.
Photo by Brittani Elizabeth Photography of Cassidy and Sean’s Lake House Inn wedding
Bring some back-up attire and accessories
Wedding day garments are usually tried on for short periods of time, and then all of a sudden – you are in the clothes for 12 hours or longer on the wedding day. Be sure to have a change of clothes (including undergarments and extra toiletries like deodorant) on site, just in case. Knowing that you have the backup there is such a relief.
If you’re wearing a suit, I suggest a fresh white shirt and/or fresh undershirt – especially if it’s a hot day. It’s easy to sweat in a suit, and having a fresh undershirt waiting can make a world of difference in your comfort.
If you’re wearing heels that maybe you haven’t had a chance to break in (or worn for that many hours), bring a change of shoes so that your feet can keep dancing a little more comfortably later in the night.
Give yourselves some time after the wedding before leaving for the honeymoon
Honeymoons are now much larger trips than they were in the past. For some couples, it’s smart to take a look at what you have to do the week of the wedding, and whether or not you realistically have time to pack within that same week.
There doesn’t need to be a lot of down time before your honeymoon, just a little. Maybe you sleep in the day after your wedding, finish packing, and leave then. Or give yourself an extra day or two to recover. Either way, give yourself a little time to wind down, pack thoroughly and with less stress, and time to get excited about your honeymoon again.
Want to hear more?
Check out this episode of the Put A Ring On It Podcast, where my co-host buddy, Dan, and I talk about more specific examples of things that couples forgot about on their wedding day.