Feel like you're forgetting something? We've got you covered.
Nobody forgets the cake tasting, but there are some less compelling wedding-planning details that often fall through the cracks. Here are 23 things that are easy to overlook during the planning process—and should be added to your to-do list!
1. Build some cushion into your wedding budget.
It's almost guaranteed that you'll run into some hidden fees or other unexpected expenses, so make sure to give yourselves a cushion. We recommend using about 5% of your total budget as a buffer to cover any unanticipated costs.
2. Prepare for an inbox explosion.
You may want to consider creating a separate email address specifically for your wedding, because all the e-newsletters, wedding show follow-ups, vendor correspondence, etc. can get pretty overwhelming. It's much easier to have it all in one place—where both you and your fiancé can access it—without having it clutter up your main inbox.
3. Factor in plenty of time for your gown order—and alterations!
Unless you purchase a perfectly fitted and ready-to-go gown, you'll need to begin your dress search 9–12 months in advance of the big day. To be safe, you'll want to allow 6–8 months to receive a custom-made dress. And leave plenty of cushion (and a bit of room in your dress budget) for alterations, with your first fitting scheduled at least 3 months out.
4. Keep vendor contact information on hand.
Use a service like Google Drive to keep a running list of all your vendors along with their contact information, in case you need to get in touch with them quickly (or on the go!). These files are hosted online, can be shared with anyone, and can be accessed anywhere from your computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Sodo Park by Herban Feast | Ryan Flynn Photography
5. Check with your venue on décor limitations.
You may love how sparklers look in photos, but many venues just don't want to deal with the fire hazard. Your barn wedding venue could use some sprucing up, but they may not allow you to hang anything from the rafters. And rice is no longer thrown during weddings because birds can choke on it! Read your venue contract carefully and talk with your venue manager about the vision you have for your wedding, as there may be restrictions on what you can and can't include.
6. Build some cushion into your timeline.
Hair and makeup always take longer than you'd think, as does wrangling up all your nearest and dearest for formal portraits. Building a bit of wiggle room into your wedding-day timeline will ensure that a minor delay here and there won't throw the entire event off track.
7. Have an RSVP-tracking strategy in place.
The struggle with tracking RSVPs is real, people! You'd be surprised by how many guests will fail to write their names on the RSVP reply card. All you'll know is that 2 people are coming, and they both want the salmon. To circumvent this problem, write a little number on the back of your RSVP cards that corresponds to your own numbered guest list. That way you'll know who each reply card belongs to.
8. Update your wedding website regularly.
Create your wedding website before you send out your save-the-dates, and keep it updated as you go. For example: link your gift registry once it's been established, add hotel room block information so guests can begin booking, add maps to your venue(s) along with nearby attractions, and include the weather forecast for the big day. Well-informed guests are happy guests.
9. Bring your MOH to the final fitting.
Or whoever will be bustling your dress. They'll learn how to do it and get a bit of practice at your final fitting, so that it won't take as long (or be as stressful!) on the day of.
10. Pay attention to the weather—and the sunset!
You'll definitely want to have a bad-weather contingency plan in place, but you may not realize that it's important to keep an eye on what time the sun sets, too. Ask your photographer about the infamous golden hour, the period shortly before sunset that's usually the prime time to take outdoor wedding photos. It's definitely worth fitting in to your timeline!
11. Put together a wedding-day emergency kit.
This is a small makeup bag filled with "just in case" items that can fix most of those little wedding-day problems. Got a pounding headache pre-ceremony? Pop an Advil. Corner of your eyelash coming unglued? Whip out that tube of DUO. Did you spill some red wine or bust a seam? Luckily you've packed some Shout Wipes and a mini sewing kit! From double-sided tape to deodorant, an emergency kit can be a real lifesaver on the big day.
12. Bring along your rings and marriage license.
Many couples forget one (or both) of these items on the day of. Sure, your wedding is going to be a fun party, but the main point of it is to actually get married. So don't forget to bring your rings and marriage license to the ceremony, along with a pen so you can sign it!
13. Bring a nice hanger for your gown.
Most wedding photographers will take a photo of your wedding dress, hanging in all its glory in front of some picturesque setting before you put it on. Make sure not to use the same wire + clear plastic hanger you got from the alterations shop.
14. Consider an "unplugged" wedding.
You're paying for a professional photographer, and the last thing you want is 27 iPhones making an appearance in your ceremony photos. Ask your guests to keep the phones, tablets, and bulky cameras at home (or at least under their seats) so your trusty photographer can get that gorgeous, unobstructed shot of your walk down the aisle...and subsequent "I do"s. And you'll definitely want to remind everyone to put their phones on silent before the ceremony begins!
15. Ask your MOH to fix your veil and/or hem when necessary.
As you're standing up at the altar getting photographed like a Kardashian on the red carpet, you'll want to be sure the train of your dress is beautifully laid out, and that your veil (if you're wearing one) isn't awkwardly folded up on itself. Ask your MOH to keep an eye on these things, and have her discreetly fix them during the ceremony if needed.
16. Kindly ask your officiant to get out of the frame during your first kiss.
Unless they're a seasoned pro, after the "You may now kiss the bride/groom" directive your officiant may hang out awkwardly in the center of the shot—overcrowding your photos. Remind your officiant to get out of the frame ASAP to let your photographer capture that perfect "first kiss" moment.
17. Designate someone for "wedding photo round-up" duty.
During your formal portraits, it'll be handy to have a close friend or family member in charge of gathering together the necessary VIPs for their photos.
18. Figure out tips and gratuities in advance.
You've itemized your wedding budget down to the last cent. But with all the numbers tallied up you might be forgetting a costly, but necessary, expense: Tips! Check out our guide for tipping your wedding vendors. We recommend going to the bank before your wedding, pulling out cash, and putting each tip into a labeled envelope. Then you can assign the most responsible member of your bridal party to hand them out over the course of the event.
19. Ask about vendor meals.
Vendors aren't superheroes who can work a full 8-hour wedding with no food or water breaks—so please remember to feed them! Ask your caterer what they offer for vendor meals, and give them the final "vendor meal" count at the same time you confirm your final guest count. It's also a nice gesture to check with your on-site vendors in advance regarding any dietary allergies or restrictions.
20. Bring along some comfy shoes.
Yes your Jimmy Choos are magnificent. But no, they're not exactly dance-floor friendly. Bring along a fun pair of Converse or cute-but-comfy wedges so you can dance the night away without being crippled by blisters.
21. Assign someone to pack up your gifts/belongings after the reception.
This could include personal items but also wedding accessories like your guest book, toasting flutes, and cake-cutting utensils. And don't forget the top tier of your cake, if you want to save it for your first anniversary!
22. Have a plan for guests who will want to keep the party going.
If your wedding ends relatively early, many of your friends will want to keep the fun times rolling! Scope out the local dive bars or late-night hotspots near your venue, so that guests who aren't ready to call it a night can get there easily—and won't be loitering outside the wedding venue asking, "Soooo, where's everybody going now?" Also, don't forget to bring your IDs!
23. Don't neglect honeymoon prep.
If you're jetting off to your honeymoon right after your wedding, it's easy to get so wrapped up in the big day that you neglect the logistics of what happens next! Ask your MOH or best man to be in charge of returning the tuxedo, or any other rentals like linens or décor items. Also, make a honeymoon packing list well in advance, and have your suitcases and (unexpired) passports ready to go!
CalUp – A refreshingly simple app to keep your big day on track.
Keep your guests informed with CalUp! From event itineraries to pinpointed maps, CalUp effortlessly guides your wedding party and guests to where they need to be—at exactly the right time. You can rest easy knowing you can send real-time updates and text alerts to everyone quickly.
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