“To keep your marriage brimming, with love in the loving cup, whenever you’re wrong admit it, whenever you’re right, shut up.” – Ogden Nash
So, not sure if you know this about me but weddings are kind of my thing. I love everything about them and always have. That being said, they can be extremely stressful and a lot of work. After planning my own wedding as well as serving as wedding coordinator for several friends and family members, I put together a list of helpful wedding tips that I send to all my girlfriends who are planning a wedding. And since its June, the most popular month for weddings, I decided to share them with you too!
LORI’S HELPFUL WEDDING TIPS
Assign the following duties;
- Master of Ceremonies
- Prayer at Ceremony (if someone different from Officiant) & Reception Prayer
- “Go-To” Person (if you do not have a wedding planner) This is very important. This person will handle any and all problems the day of the wedding. You should not be running around stressed on your wedding day. Once they are assigned, give them your wedding notebook so that they can handle everything and introduce themselves to vendors, notifying them that they will be their contact should any problems or concerns arise. This person can also be at the rehearsal to help the bridal party, it’s difficult for the bride to be orchestrating her own rehearsal and, again, you want to be de-stressed and enjoy yourself as much as possible. Even though walking down an aisle seems very simple, there is a lot more involved and people will need direction, more than once, trust me.
- Someone to tell bridesmaids when to go to keep in time with music
- Guest Book Attendant-someone personable to greet guests, make sure they sign guest book, hand out programs and/or maps to reception, etc.
- Ushers- ushers can also be groomsmen and their duties are to escort guests to their seats, making sure family aisles are properly reserved, rolling out aisle runner, and making sure chairs are moved back after ceremony or any other breakdown that is necessary.
Next are some tips that will make your day go a lot more smoothly. I always say, the more detailed you are the less mistakes there are to be made. You will thank me.
- Make a spreadsheet (landscape size not portrait) of everyone on the guest list. This will not only be helpful to have everyone’s name and address at your fingertips but also will help you when getting a final RSVP count, keeping tracks of gifts and amount of money received, and sending thank you cards. Even after the wedding instead of searching for everyone’s addresses you’ll have everything on one sheet. Also, give a copy to your maid of honor so when its time to plan your shower she won’t have to ask you for a guest list. Trust me, DO THIS, YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT.
- Always compare prices. Even though you may meet with one vendor and fall in love with that person’s ideas, keep looking because someone else may be cheaper and may give you more for your money. Some vendors will be very attentive to your needs, and the level of their devotion to your wedding will be outlined in their proposal, and during your initial consultation. When you see a vendor who is willing to go the extra mile for a client (like staying later than necessary during the day of, is always prompt when returning your calls, listens to your concerns), you know this is the person you can count on for the big day. Also, make sure all vendors are paid before the wedding day so it’s less stress on you or your bridal party. You never get anything you don’t ask for, so if you want something, ask for it. You might be surprised what you get!
- A piece of advice that should not be ignored is to get everything in writing. From your vendors, to your reception location, it is in your best interest to have your wants stated in a contract or agreement. It’s always important to have your desires written to avoid any confusion with your vendors regarding your dreams, and it also acts as an insurance policy if they do not comply with your ideas in the end. Also, if you are planning on doing something unique (using unusual flowers, for example), it is most important that it is written so everyone is clear and understands what his/her responsibilities may be. A contract enables both the client and vendor to know exactly what they both need to do in order to make the day a success.
- Keep a “wedding notebook” filled with clear plastic page protectors and all your information including guest list, sample invitation, vendor contracts, all receipts, and pictures from Pinterest, magazines, fabric/color swatches and honeymoon information. Bring it with you everywhere you go.
- When meeting with your photographer give him a detailed shot list of specific poses and shots you would like him to take. Look through pinterest, magazines, or other photographer’s websites for neat ideas. That way you can be sure you’ll be happy with your pictures and they will have more of a journalistic feel than just the standard “smile and pose” shots. See if he can come to the rehearsal dinner. This is good for many reasons, you’ll have captured memories of the rehearsal and dinner, and it gives him a chance to find his way to the ceremony site, meet the Officiant, and get to know important family and bridal party members so he can be sure to look for them to take their pictures on the big day. Also make sure to confirm times with him the day before to make sure he knows when he needs to be where. Decide if he will be taking pictures of the guys at their location and then going to the bride’s location so he can get shots of you getting ready. You may want to consider being ready early so that he can get some of the shots of you with your bridal party and family out of the way. If you are having a videographer, you may want to ask them to set up a screen outside of the banquet room where people can give a message to the bride and groom in the camera. Also, if the ceremony is in a house of worship, you may want to discuss with both the photographer and videographer about proper conduct and dress, asking them to dress appropriately and to respect the arrangement by not filming during the prayer or getting on or too close to the stage and therefore disrupting the ceremony.
- Make an itinerary with specific details and times for all parties involved in the wedding including family, bridal party, photographer, Officiant, etc. Start with any pre-wedding activities such as spa appointments, rehearsals, etc. This way everyone will know where they need to be and when and there will be no excuses for being late! With such a large event it really helps to be extremely organized in order for things to go smoothly. This is especially helpful with a destination or out of town wedding when there may be several days of activity.
- When meeting with the DJ, once again, specification is key. Give him a list of songs including those you like, those you DO NOT want played, and of course, the important songs such as your dance, father daughter/mother son songs, cake cutting song, intro songs, etc. Decide who will be making the announcements at the reception. Some assign it to the DJ and some leave it to the Master of Ceremonies. Whoever may be doing it meet with them ahead of time. Go over somewhat of a script for what will be said at the reception and when, like when you will be cutting the cake, doing your first dance, etc. Let them know how you want everyone to be announced; ex: “and next the brother of the bride…is escorting cousin of the groom….”. Make sure he knows how to correctly pronounce everyone’s name in the bridal party so all can be properly introduced.
- When registering for gifts, go around your Mom’s (or the current place your living in) and make a list of essentials that you use on a regular basis. This will help you to make sure you get what you really need. Sometimes you get “gun happy” with the scanner and may register for something cool like a chocolate fountain and forget to register for a vacuum. And trust me, people for some reason seem to always go for the silly non-essentials and you get home from your honeymoon with no forks but plenty of fancy napkin rings! So focus on the big ticket items and people can go in together to purchase them. You can go back later with the money and gift cards you get to buy smaller more decorative items. Make a special envelope for all your gift receipts, People will put them in your card and they easily get lost. Keep track of them because returning gifts (and you will return/exchange some) without the gift receipts can be very difficult and frustrating.
- Call or meet with all vendors week of wedding to confirm time and ensure that everything is being done the way you want it. At my wedding I had said over and over again “NO baby’s breath!” and I met with the florist two days before and she had baby’s breath written down as a yes! So always check the details. Make sure the cake can be delivered directly to the reception site and that the facility has a fridge large enough to hold it. Decide where flowers are being delivered. Make sure all boutonnières and corsages for Groom’s side go to his house and Bouquets and corsages for Bride’s side go to her. Also, don’t forget to order enough corsages and boutonnières for officiant, grandparents, and anyone else who is playing a special part as a thank you and honor to them.
- Make sure all groomsmen have followed through with tuxedo/suit measurements and orders and they all have ties, shoes, haircuts, etc. before the day of. If you do choose tuxedos, many places will give the groom a free rental if all the groomsmen order from the same place. So don’t be afraid to ask!
- In most states you can get your marriage license a few months ahead of time but no later than ten days before the wedding. So do not wait, go get it as soon as possible. You both need to be there and you need your driver’s license and birth certificate. Some states require a blood test but nowadays they just make you swear on the Bible and sign a paper saying that you are NOT brother and sister. Be ready to spend anywhere from $30-$100. Assign someone to keep the license safe and make sure they bring it to the ceremony, it must be signed there by the officiant and your two witnesses (usually maid of honor and best man) Also assign someone (like your mom) to mail it away day after the wedding so that you’ll actually be married!
- Give someone (again, most likely your mom) a key to your home. That way they can drop off all your gifts and make sure everything is nice and neat for you to come home to. You may also see if they can take your wedding dress to the cleaners.
- When making travel reservations for lodging and dining do not be afraid to tell people you are newlyweds. Just by saying something simple like, “we are on our honeymoon so anything you can do to make our stay more special would be greatly appreciated”. They will put flowers in your hotel room or bring you free champagne at dinner, all sorts of great stuff. This is your only chance at being treated like royalty so enjoy it! This will go a very long way and make your trip even more enjoyable. If you are obtaining a passport for the first time to go on your honeymoon or making a cruise reservation, make sure it is NOT in your married name. Your name will not be changed until you get home from your honeymoon and you will need your current legal name on all important documents in order to travel successfully.
- Be sure to pack for your honeymoon ahead of time so you’re not rushing around packing the night before. Brides always bring a wrap to dress up an outfit and keep you warm in a restaurant and grooms bring a suit jacket as many fine dining restaurants require one. If you are taking a limousine to the ceremony/reception then assign someone to drive your car (with the luggage in the trunk) to the reception so you can leave when it’s all over!
- If you are decorating at the ceremony site be sure to bring everything with you on the night of the rehearsal so it’s there and taken care of. Keep it all in a box, the aisle runner, guest book and pen, ribbons for family aisles, etc. That way everything will be there and it can be set up early on the day of by the ushers without you having to worry.
- Don’t forget to purchase attendant gifts for your bridal party. Even though you usually get the same gift for each person think about engraving the item with their initial to give it a more personal touch. If you search for bridal party gifts on the computer you’ll find tons of great ideas. A good website to go to is www.memorablemoments.com.
- Look through pinterest and wedding magazines while planning. You can get ideas for dresses, hairstyles, reception décor, honeymoon spots, bridal party gifts, and even interesting photo opportunities. Don’t get discouraged by some of the extravagant pricing, you can use them as an inspiration and translate the ideas for your budget. A word of advice though, once you have your final decisions made, STOP looking. If not, you’ll keep changing your mind and second guessing yourself and you’ll make yourself crazy.
- Be sure to do a beauty consultation at least a week before the wedding so you can be confident with your hair and makeup before the big day. Just remember that your makeup needs to be a little heavier than normal, so don’t freak out when you see it. The makeup artist is a professional and knows what they are doing. Plus, you are the bride and need to look extra special and that makeup needs to last ALL day through crying, pictures, and dancing. If you plan on getting a facial or doing a spray tan do it AT LEAST three days before the wedding. Also if you’re wearing new heels make sure to break them in because you will be on your feet ALL day and need to be as comfortable as possible. Grooms shouldn’t be forgotten either. Most spas do amazing male facials and clean up their eyebrows so they can look extra handsome on the big day. Also for brides AND grooms, clean up your nails! Even if you don’t get a manicure make sure nails and cuticles are neat and clean because close-up pictures of your hands WILL be taken.
- Have extra favors and blank place cards at the reception, there always seems to be a surprise guest or two.
- Be sure to have an emergency kit for everything you might need on the big day including hairspray, deodorant, lint roller, bobby pins, safety pins, needle and thread, breath spray, shout wipes, band aids, baby wipes, aspirin, nail file, Chap Stick, tissues, and a mirror. This will come in handy many times on the big day AND on your honeymoon, it’s a ready-made travel kit!
- When deciding on processional music, make sure the song you choose is long enough. Depending on the size of the bridal party, you may need to loop the song. Decide if music will be playing as the mothers and grandmothers are escorted down the aisle or if it will begin when the bridesmaids walk down. It is extremely helpful to time how long it takes to walk down the aisle and then practice this at the rehearsal. That way the procession goes smoothly and the song doesn’t run out while the bride is halfway down the aisle. Having instructions for the person doing the music and inviting him to the rehearsal is also helpful and again, the more thorough you are the less room for mistakes! Another nice idea is if you know someone who plays the guitar or even the harp, ask them to sit at the front and play music during the procession.
- Make a list of announcements for the officiant to make after the wedding before the guests are dismissed such as informing them that the reception is invitation only, no smoking, and where directions can be found.
- Keep all your bridal accessories such as stockings, undergarments, hair accessories, shoes, etc. in one box and label it so they are easy to find and well cared for.
- MAKE SURE YOU GET SOME SLEEP!
- Don’t forget to eat the day of the wedding. You will most likely be a bundle of nerves and feel like you can’t eat but it is a LONG day and if you don’t eat before the ceremony it will be several hours before you get a chance to. This is especially important if you will be drinking alcohol, you don’t want to do that on an empty stomach. It might be nice to put some cheese and crackers and champagne in the limo or other car you are riding to the reception in. So assign someone to get some lunch for you and the rest of the bridal party that you can munch on as you get ready. You will be a happier bride for it!
- Although it may sound funny and you’re probably doing plenty of this anyway, practice your wedding kiss. Sometimes men have a different idea of what the appropriate wedding kiss is!
- This is a pet peeve of mine but I promise you it makes a huge difference in pictures. Teach your bridesmaids how to hold their bouquets!!! Unless it is an arm bouquet, they need to be held at your belly button with both hands. Too many girls hold them up at their chest and cover up their dress or they hold them with one hand off to the side which looks casual and just bad. So please show them and emphasize the importance of how to correctly hold the bouquet! Remember the 3 B’s, belly button bouquet!
- Programs are a newer wedding trend but something that is appreciated by your guests, especially at an out of town wedding. They are helpful in letting the guests know who the officiant is, who is in the bridal party, where they’re from, and what their relationship is to the bride and groom. You can also include the processional song, a nice picture of the bride and groom, and perhaps their favorite scripture or quote. It is also a good place to put maps to the reception. Programs keep the guests busy while they are waiting and are a nice keepsake.
I hope these tips will prove helpful and may you have a wonderful wedding day and a successful marriage!
“Success in marriage depends on being able, when you get over being in love, to really love…You never know anyone until you marry them.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt