Planning a wedding is essentially a full-time job! There are so many details and so many people, vendors and logistics that have to be managed, so it’s not hard to believe that sometimes a detail here and there gets overlooked. Here are a few often-overlooked small wedding details to remember for before, on, and even after your wedding.
1. Personal Assistant
If you’ve hired a wedding coordinator, they will be handling most of the “day-of” wedding tasks. It’s also a good idea for both of you to have someone close to you act as a personal assistant (P.A.) for the day.
That way you can relax and enjoy your special day while they answer your calls for any last-minute questions. This P.A. can also be in charge of things like gathering everyone for photos, passing out final payments and tip envelopes, and any other tasks that could cause stress on the wedding day.
Always have a written contract with your wedding vendors! You’ll want to ensure that you’ll have a contingency plan in place if some unforeseen disaster (like COVID-19) hinders your wedding plans. Get a written agreement with every vendor if possible, but especially make sure you have a contract with the venue, the dressmaker, your photographer, the caterers, and the entertainment.
3. Proximity Between Getting Ready Locations
It’s easy to overlook the fact that the distance between the bride and groom’s getting ready locations can have a big impact on your vendors. If you’re getting ready at a hotel or the venue and your fiancé is at the family home, your florist may have to further travel to deliver the flowers, and your photographer may have to sacrifice some time from each of your getting ready moments to ensure they can capture some of both yours and your partners.
If possible, consider getting ready at the same location, albeit in different rooms, and far enough away that you won’t accidentally catch a glimpse before your first look session or ceremony.
4. Guests parking
Often overlooked, parking space can make a major impact on the beginning and end of the night for your guests and family. There’s nothing worse than having to interrupt the reception with a PA announcement because someone is blocked in. Ask to see the parking area and for the expected capacity for vehicles if it looks smaller than you expected. If you think the space may not be quite big enough, consider parking attendants to be sure the space is used efficiently and that no one is blocked from leaving. If there is just not enough parking space for your expected guest list, talk to your wedding planner about coordinating a shuttle service to take guests from their hotel to and from the wedding venue. Notify guests about the shuttle in your invitations and on your wedding website. Consider refreshing guests on this detail in the month leading up to the wedding day as well as in their wedding welcome bags at the hotel.
5. The Direction Signs
If you are hosting your ceremony and reception in the same venue, you will need signs to direct your guests to the appropriate location. You can create signs that direct your guests to every wedding location. Navigational signs is crucial for your guests if your reception isn’t in the same location as your ceremony. Even though wedding attendees can use their cell phones and GPS systems to get to your event, directional signs can also help.
6. Transportation for out of town guests and your bridal party.
These days, easy transportation is a lot less difficult, especially with apps like Lyft and Uber. However, weddings are the one day where reliability is everything. Pick the most reliable option for transportation for people who may be staying at a hotel. A more frugal option would be to ask a family member or friend to use their SUV or van to help transport guests. If you have a slightly higher budget, you can hire a bus. This will also free up guest parking like mentioned above.
7. Venue lighting
How can you make your guests whisper ‘WOW’ when they walk into your wedding reception? LIGHTING! Lighting is often an overlooked detail when planning but is so important when it comes to setting an overall tone for your reception. For example, the lighting at your venue should start warm, bright and welcoming, and then gradually become dimmer as the night progresses; eventually switching to minimal ambient lighting as the dance floor takes off. Some venue spaces have lighting already installed but will require a technician to use them (at an extra cost). Some DJs will provide lighting with the rest of their setup, which means you have the dance floor covered. Some venues won’t allow you to adjust the lighting at all, so it’s worthwhile asking beforehand to incorporate candles, fairy lights and spotlights, if you feel they suit your “vibe”.
8. Inclement Weather Plan
If any part of your big day involves being outside, then you need to have a backup plan in mind in case of bad weather. If you’re planning an outdoor ceremony or reception then tents and shelter from rain should be considered. You may also want to have several options planned for picture taking venues in case one isn’t accessible.
9. What Time the Sun Will Set
Sunset is a golden hour for photographs, and it might be a time your wedding photographer (if not me) would like to pull you outside for some magically lit photos. If you know what time the sun will be setting, you can make sure you’ll be available rather than, say, cutting the cake.
10. Guest Dietary Restrictions
Do you have guests who are lactose intolerant? Allergic to peanuts? Sensitive to gluten? Vegetarian? Vegan? Make sure you give guests an opportunity to let you know, and keep track of everybody’s restrictions so you can inform the caterers. If you really want to make your caterers happy, let them know where each guest who has a restriction will be sitting, or if you are having a more casual buffet style meal, have the allergy-friendly food separated from the rest of the food and clearly labeled.
11. Professional Photography and Video
You get what you pay for when booking a photographer and videographer. Couples that only book cheap photographers and videographers usually later regret it, because of the quality and experience that is delivered. Remember, this is one of the most important days of your life, getting the necessary shots will be all you have left when it’s all said and done.
12. Final vendor’s payments and tips
While most of your vendors will be paid off by time your wedding day arrives, there are likely to be a few who will require final payment that night. In addition to any final payments, you may also have tips you intend to distribute to various vendors or people assisting you at the reception venue such as the maitre’d and bridal attendant.
Gather all of these final payments and tips well ahead of your wedding day and place them all in individual envelopes clearly labeled. This will make it much easier for your P.A (personal assistance) to handle these last minute financial tasks, if you’re able to assign someone for your day.
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. I usually keep a few wedding dress hangers in my trunk, for local weddings but this is for those “just incase” scenarios.
14. 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 kindly get out of the frame so your photographer can capture that perfect “first kiss” moment.
15. Consider an “unplugged” wedding.
If you’re paying for a professional wedding photography, the last thing you want is 34 phones 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 photographer can get those gorgeous, unobstructed shots of you walking 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 as well!
16. Include Yourself in the Guest Count
When figuring out the headcounts for seating, catering, invitations, and other wedding details that your vendors may need a guest count for, don’t forget to include yourself! Other people that are sometimes forgotten about in this number are your bridal party and close family members.
17. Gift Plan
Throughout your wedding day, guests will probably be giving you cards and maybe bringing larger gifts as well. Make sure you appoint a trusted friend or family member to supervise collecting the cards and gifts at the end of the night and transporting them to their final destination.
18. Make a “Do Not Play” list for the DJ.
If you chose a wedding DJ over a wedding band, you have some extra liberty around what gets played at your wedding—and what doesn’t. Ahead of your wedding day, sit with your partner and put together a “do not play” list. Review it with your DJ and feel confident that you’ll skip the line dancing you so undesire.
19. Coordinate Vendor meals
Vendor meals can be easily forgotten if there isn’t a wedding planner to coordinate it. Many vendors require meals in their contract and some, like bands, will also need a separate break room altogether. Coordinate this with your venue and caterer early to make sure you have met all of the obligations
20. Transportation after the reception
If you’re renting a venue, plan out what you would do after the party. It is essential to create a clean-up plan, so delegate the task to someone who’s willing to take down the decor, and store the gifts or any other items left behind for safekeeping. You can ask a family member who has access to a truck to transport them to your home, or another place for you to pick up later. Also, you should never forget about your very own transportation after the ceremony. Some people choose to have a friend or a family member to drive them, while others rent a limo. You can even book an Uber for your ride home!
21. Transportation for decorations, gifts, and things left behind after the reception.
If you’re renting a venue space, make sure you have a plan for what to do after your wedding party. Having a clean-up plan in place is absolutely essential, and certainly not something you want to be worrying about on your wedding night. Ensure you delegate who’s responsible for taking down the decor, any left behind items, and of course gifts. One good option for this is asking a family member or friend who has access to a good size truck to transport these things to your home, or theirs for you to pick up at a later date.
These are just some of the details that often get overlooked or set as low priority by couples when planning their wedding. These same details can also be the most memorable and make the biggest difference when it comes to feeling fully prepared for the big day.