Wedding planning is no small feat. It requires a ton of planning and by the time you are getting good at it, it’s over! It seems so unfair that there is such a big learning curve to planning a wedding. I’m in the wedding industry and I still felt overwhelmed and lost at times while planning my big day. If wedding planning seems like A LOT to you… don’t worry, you’re not alone.
There are so many different moving parts to keep track of and so many to-dos to check off. After years of photographing weddings, I have seen tons of things missed or forgotten. I’ve compiled a list of the most common things that everyone overlooks to keep them from happening to you!
1. Gents: Practice with your bow ties, pocket squares and learn how to put on a boutonniere ahead of time.
Bow ties are especially tricky and if you have never tied them before, they can require a bit of practice to get it just right. Make sure the groom and all the groomsmen have a chance to practice with their bow ties before the big day. The same goes for pocket squares, especially if you want them to look uniform in all the pictures. Don’t forget about the boutonnieres too! If you and your bridal party have never worked with them before, request magnetic ones from your florist. They are much easier to manage than the pins. Both pocket squares and boutonnieres go on your left side in case you’re wondering.
Pro tip: One other thing to remember: Don’t polish your shoes the day of the wedding! You don’t want to be the one to ruin the bride’s white dress with black shoe polish!!
2.Makeup and Beauty: Cry proof mascara and fake eyelashes and extra glue. Practice ahead of time with spray tans to make sure it won’t rub off on your dress.
It’s important to try out your make up look ahead of time. We recommend having your hair and makeup trial done for your engagement photos so that you can see how it will look in photographs but also how it will hold up all day. Make sure to get cry proof mascara as well as cry proof fake eyelashes. It can’t hurt to have back up eyelash glue and a backup pair of eyelashes just in case!
For those ladies planning on doing a spray tan, try it ahead of time to get the right color and combination that’s right for you. Also, test out if it will stain white clothing. It would be horrible to get a big orange stain on your wedding dress before walking down the aisle.
3. Heel Stoppers for shoes to walk on grass and an extra pair of comfy shoes
Two common things I always see is ladies rocking absolutely gorgeous heels but their heels immediately sink into grass or the ground. If your wedding or portraits take place outside having heel stoppers can make a huge difference and keep you balanced.
Having a backup pair of comfy shoes to dance the night away is also a must! Try to break in your heels as much as possible ahead of time but remember that you will be on your feet a lot during your wedding day and your feet will thank you for having something comfortable to change into late in the night.
4. Allow enough time for hair and makeup before your photographer arrives
This is a big one I see all the time. Allow more time than you think you need to get your hair and makeup done. I can take several hours. One of the biggest spots where the timeline gets off track is in the morning because there was not enough time for the entire wedding party to get ready. Check in with your hair and makeup artists and get a realistic timeline of how long it will take to get ready. Keep in mind, you may need touch-ups before leaving for the ceremony or first look.
5. Don’t Forget Your Wedding Details for Your Photographer!
When we arrive, we begin with all the details. That means that all of the rings (both the engagement ring and band as well as the groom’s ring) need to be in the bridal getting ready room. Don’t forget a ring box that compliments your colors or wedding theme to put them in!
Bouquets can also be delivered to the ladies’ getting ready suite so they can be incorporated into the detail shots before the ceremony. Boutonnieres can go the groom/groomsmen’s getting ready room.
What to bring to each getting ready room:
Bride & Ladies or Main getting ready room: All rings, wedding dress, shoes, jewelry, hair accessories, perfume, extra stationery suite (save the date, invitation suite and envelopes), extra ribbon, garter, any special trinkets/ something borrowed, bridesmaids gifts, cute glasses to toast with (and straws to keep your lipstick on your lips), getting ready robes or outfits.
Gents getting ready room or secondary getting ready room: Suit/Tux/Wedding Outfit, cufflinks, shoes, ties, boutonnieres, watch, groomsmen gifts, glasses to toast with.
6. Clean your rings
Speaking of your details, don’t forget to clean your rings ahead of time. You can either take them to the jeweler or get at-home kits. Your rings will be in lots of photos so having them look their best is a must.
7. Getting ready playlist & speakers
Get yourself into the right headspace with a playlist of your favorite jams. Get the day started off on the right foot and get everyone in the party mood. You can also play something relaxing too if you want to have a chill morning.
Pro Tip: Spend a few minutes with a cup of coffee and tea and write out a sweet note to your soon-to-be spouse for them to read later. It’s a great way to take a moment and take in this truly special day in your life!
8. An overnight bag for your wedding night and wedding day clutch or purse.
In the flurry of activity that happens the week leading up to the wedding, this can get overlooked. Make sure to pack an overnight bag for the night before your wedding and the night of your wedding with everything that you will need for those two nights. If you plan on leaving for your honeymoon the night of your wedding, pack that bag ahead of time so you can just grab it and go. If you are leaving directly for your honeymoon, don’t forget to have a person take your wedding dress and drop it back off at your home so it doesn’t get left behind.
One other bag you should plan for is a small clutch or purse to hold a few essentials the day of your wedding. Things like your ID, cash (in case you need it or if you happen to keep the party going after your reception ends and head to a bar or club), makeup for touch-ups, tissues and a compact mirror will come in handy. Just don’t forget it at the end of the night.
9. Plan meals for the whole day for the wedding couple and the wedding party
This is huge! With so much happening all day, it’s important to have a plan in place for when you can eat. Don’t forget about your bridal party either. This goes for breakfast and lunch. You don’t want to be starving during your ceremony and have to wait all the way until you’re seated for dinner. Chances are there will be lots of guests that will want to visit with you during dinner, so you may not get much of an opportunity to eat during dinnertime.
If you are serving a buffet for dinner, plan to go through it first or have a member of the bridal party grab you and your spouse plates so you can eat at the beginning of dinner. If dinner is plated, make sure to let your caterer know to serve you first.
CEREMONY & FORMAL PORTRAITS:
10. Make sure bridal party and family members involved in family formals know when and where they need to be during the day.
One of the biggest reason why family formals take so long is that the family members you want in the images don’t know they are needed for photos. Let each of your family members that you plan on involving know that you will need them immediately following the ceremony and to be ready to take portraits.
When we have to hunt down individual family members that have gone to the bar or disappeared, it takes a ton of time and some family members may miss their family portraits all together for the simple fact that they didn’t know they were needed. It’s a good idea to have a person or your day of coordinator be your family wrangler to help find family members and help organize family groupings during portraits.
Don’t forget to let your bridal party know where and when they will be needed and what tasks they need to do. This makes a huge difference in how smoothly things will go.
11. Marriage license: what and who you need to sign it.
Before your big day, read over the license to know what you will need to sign and any boxes that need to be checked. Let your witnesses and officiant know when you plan on signing it and when they will need to be there to sign it as well.
Don’t forget to have a plan in place for what you will do with the license once you sign it. Have a safe place to put it or assign someone to be in charge of making sure it makes it home at the end of the night.
12. Have a backup plan for bad weather
Weddings are unpredictable and even weddings during the mildest part of the year can have some expected weather. When I was planning my own wedding, I picked a date that hadn’t seen rain in decades and guess what day it rained? It was the biggest downpour I had ever seen and was the storm that helped to end the drought in California. So take it from me, have a backup plan…just in case. It’s better to have a plan and not use it than scramble the last minute and get stressed out because you don’t know what you will do.
13. Practice Vows out loud & write them ahead of time.
This one seems obvious but is one that a ton of people skip. Usually, I see vows hastily written the morning of the wedding. If you are planning on writing your own vows, take the time to sit down and give them the attention that they deserve. Once you have written them, practice in front of the mirror and someone else. This will help get out the jitters before you say them out loud in front of all your guests.
14. A point person for vendors to contact if there are emergencies
You don’t want to worry about fielding calls from vendors the day of the wedding, especially if any issues arise. Ask someone in your wedding party or a close friend that will be on hand for the day- or even better yet, ask your day of wedding coordinator to be your point person for your vendors. Make sure to give their contact information out to your vendors ahead of time when you confirm their arrival and departure times.
15. Give each other a long kiss at the Ceremony
Another thing I see a lot of is that the wedding couple will just give each other a quick peck at the end of the ceremony. Make sure to give each other a nice, long kiss. That way we will have enough time to capture lots of different angles and we won’t miss such an important moment.
Pro Tip: Ask the officiant to move out of the way (practice this at your rehearsal) so that your first kiss as a married couple is just the two of you in the image!
16. Know when Golden Hour will occur and plan portraits for that time
There are certain times when natural light is at it’s most flattering and creates a golden glow. This is called Golden Hour and it occurs at and around sunset. Ask your photographer or figure out when sunset will be and plan your romantic formals around this time. Romantic formals will look their absolute best at Golden Hour.
17. Transportation for Wedding couple and wedding party
Think through each point of the day when you will be traveling from your getting ready room to the ceremony & reception as well at the end of the night. You will need transportation for both the wedding couple and the bridal party. Keep in mind that you will need separate transportation before the first look or ceremony as well as transportation separate from your bridal party at the end of the night.
18. Make sure you and members of your bridal party know how to bustle your dress.
Wedding dresses are complicated and bustling them can be…involved. Having several members of the bridal party that know how to bustle your dress will save you so much time and headache. Don’t forget to practice ahead of time, especially with the people who will be bustling it for you.
Pro Tip: Take a video of how to bustle the dress when you go into the final fitting. You can refer to it if there are any problems.
19. Pens for the guestbook
This is one of those things that seems like a no-brainer but when there are so many things to remember and set out, this is the kind of thing that gets left behind. It can be handy to have a list of all the little things and when you need them throughout the day so you can gather them all up at once and make sure they make it to the wedding.
20. Vendor meals
Your vendors need to eat too! They have been working hard, especially your photographers who will be with you for most of the day! This is a common thing that vendors put into their contract. Make sure to let your caterers know the headcount that includes your vendors. Some venues have special locations away from the reception area for your vendors to have a moment to eat. One thing to note, if you are planning on having your vendors eat in a different room, make sure that either your photographers eat when everyone else is eating or have a seat or two for them so if any special moments happen they can jump up and capture them. The best time to have your photographers eat is when everyone is already eating because photos of guests eating is not very flattering and this will be the best moment to have the photographers take a break.
21. Organize tips and envelopes ahead of time and have someone to pass them out to vendors.
One of the best pieces of advice I can give brides and grooms is to delegate and make sure they have as little work to do the day of their wedding as possible. You should just be able to sit back and enjoy your special day. So that means planning for a few things ahead of time. If there are vendors that your would like to tip, make sure to set up their tips in their own envelopes ahead of time. Plan on having someone you trust to keep track of them and hand them out at the end of the night.
22. Where to put bouquets after portraits
This is a question that I get a lot. After all the time spent planning on which flowers you would like, nobody seems to know what to do with them after the ceremony and the formal portraits. There are a couple of different options that you have but you are by no means limited to this list! You can get creative! Some ideas of what to do with your bouquets are: lay them on the head table to decorate the head table/ sweetheart table, use them to decorate the cake table, place them in vases and use them to decorate any other tables or the guest book area.
Pro tip: If you are looking for something other than a bouquet toss, a good alternative is to have a special married couple dance. Have your DJ announce that this is a dance for all the couples. Every minute or so, the DJ will announce that the couple that has been married for a day, a year, two years, ten year, and so on to leave the dance floor until the only couple that is left is the couple that has been together the longest. You can give your bouquet to that couple instead of singling out all of your single friends.
23. All things wedding cake
This is one that no one ever thinks about! It sounds really silly but talk about how you plan on cutting the cake together. Don’t forget to check if your caterer will be providing the cake cutter set or if you will need to get that ahead of time. Designate either the caterer or someone else to set that pair out for you along with plates, forks, napkins and two flutes of champagne.
When you cut a wedding cake, you want to stand in a prom pose of sorts. The bride can be in front with the groom behind- or mix it up if you’re feeling sassy! You each hold the cake knife with one hand (each of your right hands, if you are both right-handed) and cut into the bottom tier. Then you both use the cake server to lift the piece of cake onto your plate. From there, you can feed each other a piece of cake. Don’t forget to cheers with your champagne and finish it off with a sweet kiss!
24. Clean up at the end of the night
It’s always a bummer when you’re ready to leave the party and you realize you don’t know how you’re getting everything home or who will be charge of the cleanup, giving out centerpieces and picking up the gifts and cards. Figure out a plan ahead of time for the end of the night so you can leave your reception without having to deal with that headache.
25. Take a moment to slow down and just be with your new spouse.
Weddings go by so fast and with everything that needs to be done, it can feel like you blink and the day is over. A nice way to take a moment just for the two of you is to grab a glass of champagne and head to a private spot for the just the two of you. Take a few minutes during your reception to just be present and enjoy the moment with your new spouse. It will really slow things down and let you take in the day together.
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