Planning a wedding can feel like a full-time job. That’s why there’s a whole army of wedding planners out there ready to help you create your dream day. But if a planner’s not in the budget, here are 10 things to take your wedding to the next level! These are planning items that are often forgotten about until the last minute or not at all. Planning these 10 things ahead of time gives you the power of being so intentional with your wedding day that you won’t have to sweat the small stuff.
1. What is your bridal party doing during cocktail hours?
There’s not much time you get with JUST your bridal party during your wedding day, except for getting ready in the morning and some photos. Some couples like to carve out some time during the cocktail hour to maybe head to a bar with just their bridal party or find a corner of a parking lot to do something fun as a group. Some couples prefer cocktail hour to chat with their guests or take some time for just the two of you. But having something special for your bridal party during cocktail hour can be an excellent way to thank them for being in your wedding. Just make sure you let everyone know the plan ahead of time
2. What are your guests doing during cocktail hour?
Cocktail hours are necessary. But depending on when you take group photos (before or after the ceremony) And what time your wedding ceremony is, they can get a little long. If you are participating in your cocktail hour and don’t have any photos to take, keep it to an hour tops. Especially for later in the day weddings in the fall if you have kiddos at your celebration. Waiting too long for dinner can be rough. If you need to have an extended cocktail hour because you have photos planned for that time or are going from one location to another, it’s a-ok to bump up the timeframe. But make sure there is something to keep guests occupied during that time!
3. What is your bridal party going to eat during the day?
I can’t tell you how many times I have been working with bridal parties that forgot to eat before their ceremony. I get it; there is SO much happening and so much commotion. But making sure you eat breakfast and at least a light lunch is crucial. You are usually up for at least 20 hours on your wedding day. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Especially if you are going to have alcohol throughout the day, make sure you’re eating. Also, make sure you stay hydrated (looking at you, especially summer couples). You can plan what this looks like by asking close family members to be on top of this or getting things catered. Even a grocery store fruit tray in the morning will go a long way.
4. Child bridal party members and nap times
Do you have some adorable flower girls and ring bearers? Talk to their parents when you plan your timeline about nap schedules and when the best nap time would be. A lot of wedding days interfere with naptimes. While this isn’t the end of the world if we can strategically place photos to not be in the middle of nap time. You’re going to have happier kids for longer.
5. Grand entrance/send-off
You get so many candid or group photos with guests at your reception. But it can be hard to get a feel for just how many guests you had or pictures of them all in one place besides your ceremony. Planning a grand entrance with something like floral confetti or sparklers can be so fun! You can do this at the very end of the night or when you leave your ceremony location or head to your reception area! I’ve even had couples do a send-off in place of a receiving line which is another super fun way to do it! You’re on the high of just being married and then showered in love by all your friends and family.
If your wedding takes place at multiple locations, think ahead about what transportation looks like for family and bridal party. Planning it out ahead of time will eliminate stress in the days leading up to and on your wedding day. If you are at a venue that is a driving distance away from where guests from out of town are staying for the night, you may want to think about recruiting some DDs or a shuttle service to get everyone home safely.
7. Alone time for the happy couple
Finding some time to dedicate to you and your relationship (and new marriage!) is so important. Whether it’s some time alone in the morning or a little time before or after your ceremony. Even just 15 minutes alone together to bask in all your joy is SO sweet and makes the day that much more memorable.
8. Delegate jobs ahead of time
Knowing who is doing what makes your day run 10xs smoother. I recommend enlisting some people to help out with tasks ahead of time. Then about a week or two before your wedding, send out a group text with who is doing what and when. Maybe you have some chairs that need moved? Or flowers or food brought to a location? Again, you can pay a planner or coordinator to do a lot of this. But if it’s not in the budget, making sure EVERYONE knows the plan will help eliminate delays and people asking you a million questions about how they can help on the actual day.
9. Sweatheart table vs. head table
A popular trend lately has been the sweetheart table. I’m all about this trend. It allows you and your boo to get some alone time AND bridal party members to sit with their partners or plus ones. If you do opt for a head table (talk about options for gorgeous long tablescapes). Make sure it fits in the flow of your venue. Don’t try to cram too much into one space. Talk to your venue coordinator about what other couples have done too! They might have some great suggestions for you!
10. Childcare for children (if you have kiddos around)
If kiddos are on your guest list, think about getting a child care option or having a couple of adults on kiddo duty at your reception. Keeping kids off the dance floor during first dances with coloring or other activities always works well. When you have childcare as an option, parents can usually relax a bit more and enjoy the wedding.