Preparing for your wedding day goes beyond booking vendors, creating a timeline, finalizing dress alterations, wrapping bridal party gifts, settling on a seating chart, getting your manicure and pedicure, and of course popping some champagne. Prepping also means getting and staying organized from start to finish. When all the planning gets going, it’s easy to get caught up in preparation and slack on organization. This is usually where brides begin making easily avoidable mistakes. Organization can be as easy as making to-do lists and a game plan for what needs to be completed on your wedding day. Regardless of how you organize, just know that it is central to a successful day.
If you hired a Day of Coordinator, they should be on top of tasks and organization that need to happen for your wedding day. However, if you haven’t hired a planner to handle day of wedding coordination, it’s important to take time for the necessary preparations, so you avoid simple mistakes that so many brides make over and over again. Here are four common mistakes that happen on a wedding day that can be avoided with a little preparation, organization and communication with others involved in the wedding.
1. The Most Obvious Wedding Mistake: Forgetting Something
Speaking from experience, a wedding day flies by. Most weddings are usually a little chaotic (good chaos of course). If you plan to save things for the day of (e.g. vendor tip envelopes or final touches on favors) you will most likely end up forgetting one or two small things the day of; if this happens, don’t let it get you down or distract you on your wedding day. Most vendors and people involved understand that weddings are a big event, and there’s a lot of distraction for the bride and groom. From getting your hair and make up done to portraits and group photos, it will be unlikely that you have time to sit down and work on something for more than 10 minutes when the wedding day is in motion. Same goes with the groom, who will be distracted by making sure all of his groomsmen are dressed and ready; and, let’s be honest, the bridal party will most likely be interested in having a good time – providing plenty of distraction for you both.
There are a lot of items involved in a wedding day; e.g., rings, any personal items or mementos, even centerpieces if you made or are providing your own. If moving between multiple locations (hotel, to church, to venue) it can be easy to forget an important item.
Solution to leaving wedding items behind: The solution to forgetting anything is to make a list and delegate responsibilities to friends or family members. The first list is a To-Do list; this should include everything that you need to do before the wedding day. Review this list often and check items off as soon as they are completed or delegated. By the time you get to your day, everything on the task list should be completed.
Another list to make is a list of everything you (or friends and family) will be bringing on the wedding day. This list includes everything necessary for the getting ready location, ceremony site and reception site. Give this list to your Coordinator or Maid of Honor or Best Man – whomever is most responsible. Have someone review this list before you leave each location. This list serves as a good double-check to make sure you’ve brought what you need and aren’t forgetting anything when you leave to go to the next location.
2. The Laziest Wedding Mistake: Running Late
Believe it or not, this is the most common mistake on a wedding day. A wedding can run late due to multiple reasons; hair and make up look longer than expected, wardrobe malfunctions, forgetting something and having to turn back, and let’s not underestimate or forget traffic – just to name a few. If one part of the day runs longer than expected the whole day will be delayed in cascading fashion. This usually leads to later dinner and the dance floor opening up later than planned. Buffer time in-between events and locations is really smart, and your vendors will appreciate not being rushed throughout the day.
The solution to running late and unexpected delays: TIMELINE! The more thought and detail put into a timeline, the better. There should be buffer added throughout the timeline, obviously. But you should plan on a few things running late so the delays don’t cause a cascade of schedule changes. Provide a copy of your timeline to all the vendors involved, so they too have an understanding of how the day will progress. If your timeline is done correctly the wedding should stay on schedule. Even with several 5 or 15-minute buffers sprinkled in throughout, events will continue with a nice brisk, casual pacing; allowing vendors time to sync up and adjust.
3. The Unfortunate Wedding Mistake: Getting Rained Out without a Backup Plan
This not only pertains to the ceremony, but applies to photo locations as well. If the weather is rainy, super windy, or overbearingly hot – it could ruin your expectations for outdoor photos. The last thing you want is to be sitting in your party bus or limo trying to find locations to take photos inside. Making backup plans for weather is easy.
Solution to unfortunate circumstances: Create alternative and backup plans. Make some alternative plans for every aspect of the wedding that will (ideally) be outside; i.e., think of the ceremony, cocktail hour, bridal and family photos, etc. Take time beforehand to create a backup plan. Make sure all parties involved with the wedding are aware of any potential alternative plans; most especially, plan those alternatives with your venue and photographer. If you have alternative plans ready to go, there will be nothing in-between you and a successful wedding day. Bad weather should be no big deal with the right planning made in advance. Be sure to consider densely populated areas too, which can often alter plans just as much as weather. Sports games at nearby stadiums may make traveling to a location impossible; it’s best to think of ways things can go wrong, before anything even has to potential to disrupt the scheduled events for your wedding day.
4. The Mistake Nobody Ever Mentions: Confused Guests
Guests obviously receive invitations detailing locations and time, but there are usually some additional questions guests regarding the day of; e.g., transportation and parking options, what to do in the area (out of town guests), hotel accommodations, among a variety of other questions. This may lead to confused or frustrated guests, many will be unfamiliar with the location (or wedding procedures in general) so it’s good to include more information for those guests. While the bride and groom may not be aware of this common wedding mistake, they should keep it in mind when preparing for their day.
Solutions for confused wedding guests: Website and detail cards. A wedding website is a great resource to provide your guests with; you can easily include all of the additional information pertaining to your wedding. Guests can reference the site from their mobile phones today too, and ideally click right to the information relevant to them. There are dozens of free wedding website hosts ready to serve engaged couples and guests. Put the link to your wedding site on Save The Dates and formal invitations for good measure.
For guests that may not like utilizing your wedding website, be sure to include a detail card in your formal invitations. This detail card can include all of the information your guests are likely to ask; try to cover the major categories of questions on this card but still include the wedding website address. Many guests travel to weddings in groups, so even those with a detail card may be likely to hand it off to a guest who can check the website for further information. If you cover these questions, you will likely find happy and well informed guests who are ready to enjoy the wedding. Don’t leave your guests questioning where to park for each location, the time venues allow guests in, and all of those tiny questions. Wedding websites and detail cards are huge help for guests.
Knowing all this, you can avoid silly wedding mistakes and enjoy the day!