You’ve been dreaming of your wedding day for years, and you deserve to have it go off without a hitch. But, let’s be real: planning a wedding is not easy. At best, the tricky parts are stressful. At worst, they’re totally overwhelming, and you feel consumed by the fear that something will go wrong on the big day. That’s why we’ve curated our best expert tips on how to ensure that your wedding day is as wonderful as you’ve always imagined. Read on for how to say “I do” to a smooth wedding day!
Planning ahead is one of the most surefire ways to ensure that things run seamlessly on the day of. The key to successful wedding planning is to leave yourself enough time. That’s why you should start the process at least one year in advance.
The first thing to do when making your plan is to set a budget. Once you have your overall budget, research your options for all the aspects of the wedding on which you will need to spend money. Think venue, catering, decorations, dress, invitations, etc.
When you have an idea of the various price ranges for all wedding-related expenses, decide how much of the total budget you want to allocate to each expense.
After getting a feel for how much these things are going to cost you for which quality, you might decide to adjust your overall budget a little bit–but avoid the temptation to overspend beyond what you can really afford. Starting a marriage off from a position of financial security is more important than tying the knot in the fanciest location in town.
After setting your budget, you might have some anxiety about which of the wedding planning tasks to tackle next. There are so many of them, and they all demand your attention. Our advice? First decide on the approximate number of guests you’ve like to invite. Next, select and reserve an appropriately-sized venue before worrying about anything else. Why? Because your choice of venue will impact other decisions. For example, it will impact the type of decor and the catering style you pick out, and how much money you have left to spend on other things.
Take your time when selecting a venue. Tour several venues (by video if you are not able to visit in person) and ask plenty of questions before making a decision.
After selecting a venue, turn your attention to hiring vendors. This is when you start checking out caterers, photographers, florists, and DJs or bands. At this stage, research is your best friend–and another reason why it’s so, so important to start planning early. Read reviews of any vendors you’re considering; in particular, make sure you read any bad reviews and weight them against the positive ones. When you start communicating with vendors, be explicit about your expectations and any specific or personalized requests you have.
Your next step is to create a timeline. This will help ensure that everything runs smoothly leading up to the wedding. Make sure to include all important dates: wedding rehearsal, vendor meetings, dress fitting, deadlines for sending invitations and for writing your vows, and anything else you need to accomplish before the wedding. Sticking to your timeline will ensure that you stay organized, which translates into less stress for you, your partner, and your entire wedding planning team.
Finally, you should also create an additional wedding day timeline for the big day itself. And voila, your wedding plan is complete!
Clear communication is absolutely crucial at every step of the way. That means frequent, open communication with your partner, wedding party, vendors, and everyone else involved in the planning process. Here’s your playbook for effective communication.
Be as specific as possible with your requests and with the information and instructions you give. Provide your vendors and and wedding team with a detailed outline of tasks–but also, seek their input and feedback and encourage them to ask questions. This will prevent misunderstandings and get you all on the same page.
Make sure that everyone in your wedding party, your vendors, and your family members understand what their roles are and what they are responsible for. But also, remember that expectations go both ways, so ask them what they need from you in order to do their jobs well. Setting clear expectations translates to an efficient and smooth preparation process, and it helps everyone to avoid tension and conflict as much as possible.
Being specific and setting expectations gets everyone on the same page, and regular check-ins ensure that everyone stays on the same page. Schedule frequent meetings with your vendors and wedding party members in order to keep things on track. However, this doesn’t mean you should micromanage them or breathe down their necks with constant requests for updates. Let them do their thing, but do check in at regular intervals.
Even with the best communication and the best team, you might feel swamped sometimes. When you’re swamped, it’s all too easy to let communication fall by the wayside if you’re not careful. Make it a point to respond quickly when vendors or wedding party members reach out to you with questions or requests. This way, you’ll avoid unnecessary miscommunications and delays and your team will work better knowing that you’re reliable.
These communication hacks will keep the planning process moving along at a good pace, help ensure a successful wedding day, and contribute to a good connection between you and your wedding team.
Assigning tasks to your vendors and wedding party helps ease the burden on you and your partner. Effective delegation means assigning specific, clear, achievable tasks to everyone involved in the wedding–friends, family, your best man and maid of honor, your wedding planner (if you have one), and all your vendors. It also reduces the chances of encountering last-minute snags that cause stress and panic. Here are the best delegation pointers to optimize the wedding planning process:
Before delegating, first you must identify what needs to be done. Create a list or outline depicting everything involved in wedding planning, and do take note of important details even if some of them seem trivial. Here are a few tasks to put down as a starting point: Setting up and decorating the venue, ordering flowers, making a seating chart, selecting invitations…add your own onto this list! After you have all the tasks down on paper, you’re ready to start delegating.
Assign tasks based on strengths
If your great aunt Mary has great handwriting, have her write people’s names on the envelopes your invitations will go in. Better yet, have her deal with the entire process of sending out the invitations. And if uncle Ralph doesn’t like phone calls, don’t give him an organizational task that involves a lot of calls. Delegate tasks based on the strengths and preferences of the people involved.
Follow up regularly to make sure everything is going as planned and see if your wedding team needs anything from you.
Hire a day-of coordinator
If you can work it into your budget, a day-of wedding planner will take a huge amount of the burden off of you and your partner. A day-of coordinator helps you create your wedding day timeline, enforces it, and does all last-minute coordination between your various vendors, leaving you free to focus on each other and your loved ones throughout your special day. If you don’t have space for this in your budget, assign this one to a family member or good friend with a penchant for organizational tasks.
Effective delegation goes a long way towards ensuring a low-stress planning process. Follow the steps and tips above to get things going.
Planning a wedding is kind of like conducting an orchestra; numerous players need to be guided and coordinated in perfect synchrony. Furthermore, if any elements of the rhythm are even slightly off, the whole piece can devolve into catastrophe. Therefore, it’s imperative that you as the conductor have a system in place in order to stay organized. Here’s our best organizational advice.
Make detailed checklists of everything you need to accomplish. Make a checklist pertaining to vendor communications. Make a checklist for what needs to happen in the process of selecting and altering wedding attire. Make checklists for your vendors and planning team and ask them for updates. Make an overall checklist that brings together all of the different players and areas you need to keep track of.
The human brain can only accommodate so much information without losing track of some things, and checklists take the web of tasks out of your head, untangle them, and transform it all into something concrete and actionable to which you can refer whenever need be. Checklists also act as tools for breaking down tasks into smaller, more manageable steps.
Keep a calendar
Use a calendar to keep track of important dates, and be vigilant in checking and updating it. Populate it with items like dress fittings, ring shopping, vendor appointments, and whatever else is on your wedding planning schedule. Using and regularly updating your calendar means less scheduling conflicts and more peace of mind.
Keep all important documents in one place
Get a wedding binder for your contracts, checklists, vendor information, notes and ideas, and all other important documents. And organize it. This is the time to channel your inner Monica Geller.
Make use of technology
A multitude of wedding apps, websites, and online calendars exist in service of helping you stay organized. Use them.
Staying organized is going to save you a lot of time and grey hairs. Organizing a wedding is a huge undertaking even if you’re planning a small event. Don’t underestimate the power of checklists, calendars, technology, and a wedding binder!
Even the most well-thought-out plans are subject to disruption due to the sheer number of moving parts involved in planning a wedding. Unexpected situations will arise, and flexibility is key to navigating them gracefully. Here’s how to do that:
Make contingency plans
Consider what could go wrong and make backup plans accordingly. For example, have a rain plan in place for an outdoor wedding, and make a plan B list of backup options ready to go if a vendor cancels at the last minute.
Be open to changes
Unexpected pivots can lead to positive changes. If your florist doesn’t have the arrangement you wanted, you might just find that there’s another arrangement that’s even more suitable for your wedding, or a seating chart mishap could lead to guests making unanticipated new connections.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Not everything is going to go perfectly on your wedding day; that’s simply a fact of life. However, small issues don’t have to ruin your day if you don’t let them. Are you both at the wedding? Do you love each other? Everything else is optional.
The moral of the story? Expect the unexpected, but be prepared to be surprised even so–and roll with the punches when that happens.
You’ve got a pair of shoes in one hand and bridesmaid dresses pinned to your side, your phone pressed to your cheek, and checklists coming out your ears. One question amidst all the craziness of planning: What are you doing to care for yourself and recharge?
Self-care is not optional. If you take care of yourself leading up to the wedding, you will be in the best possible mental and physical state when the big day arrives. Here are some ways to provide yourself with TLC during the wedding prep process.
Catch some z’s
Getting enough sleep is crucial to feeling your best. Get a minimum of 7-8 hours per night for at least a week leading up to the wedding. Protip: Everything we’ve talked about above will position you to be able to prioritize sleep during those critical last days.
A healthy, balanced diet = decent energy levels, focus, and more emotional stability. Don’t skip out on the good stuff in favor of empty calories that don’t require much prep. Like your mother always said, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Proteins and whole grains are also imperative. Eating well will also decrease the chances of an unlucky pre-wedding acne breakout.
Regular exercise acts as a stress reducer and mood booster. Even if you’re short on time, make it a point to incorporate physical actiiity into your routine in a way that makes sense for you. If you need to go grocery shopping down the street, walk instead of driving. Ride your bike to work, or do five pushups every time you walk through a particular door in your house. When it comes to creative ways to get moving, the sky is the limit.
You’re not a machine, so don’t act like one. Set aside time every day to do something relaxing. Or to do nothing.
Juggling daily life plus wedding planning means that you are going to be busy, and sometimes stressed. The things you normally do to relax might fall by the wayside because you feel you don’t have time for them.
There’s an old Zen proverb that says that on days when you don’t even have time to meditate for 10 minutes, you should meditate for 20 minutes. This is also the case with pre-wedding relaxation. If there is no longer time for your walks by the sea, your bubble baths, or to decompress while playing your favorite video game, that means you need to make it a point to prioritize doing these things.
Talk to someone
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t keep it to yourself. Reach out to a friend, family member, or your partner. Your loved ones are there to support you, just as you’ve supported them when they were having a hard time.
By taking care of yourself leading up to your wedding day, you will ensure that you feel your best, equipping you to enjoy your special day to the fullest. So, don’t take self-care as an afterthought. It’s not a luxury, it’s an essential part of the process itself.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Wedding Day Planning
Q: Should we hire a day-of coordinator?
A: If possible, yes. On your wedding day, you need to focus on getting married, not on running around like a chicken with its head cut off coordinating amongst all your vendors, your wedding party, and your family.
Q: How do we stay organized during wedding planning?
A: Make checklists for every aspect of wedding planning–and update them. Keep all important dates on a calendar, all important documents together in one place, and utilize wedding planning apps and websites. There are numerous organizational tools available for free. Use them.
Q: What should we do if something goes wrong on our wedding day?
A: Be prepared for the fact that some small things probably will go wrong, because a wedding is also the marriage of a gazillion different logistical details coming together. Have backup plans in place for hiccups you can anticipate, and be ready to pivot if something you haven’t planned for comes up.
Q: What can we do to manage stress leading up to the wedding day?
A: Take care of yourself by taking breaks and spending time doing activities you enjoy, and make sure you sleep well and eat a healthy, balanced diet. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help or for a listening ear if things feel too much at times.
Q: How can we ensure clear communication with vendors?
A: Frequency is your friend. Have frequent, open communication with your caterers, photographer, wedding planner, and anyone else in charge of wedding-related tasks. Open communication means setting explicit and specific expectations, being willing to bring up questions and concerns, and making sure your vendors feel comfortable approaching you with their own questions and concerns as well.
Although wedding planning is neither easy nor simple, the hacks described above will ensure your wedding day runs like a well-oiled machine–even when there are snags. Proper planning, delegation, organization, flexibility, and self care are indispensable to a successful wedding planning process.
Nicole Sheehey is the Head of Legal Content at HelloPrenup, and an Illinois licensed attorney. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to prenuptial agreements. Nicole has Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School. She has a deep understanding of the legal and financial implications of prenuptial agreements, and enjoys writing and collaborating with other attorneys on the nuances of the law. Nicole is passionate about helping couples locate the information they need when it comes to prenuptial agreements. You can reach Nicole here: [email protected]