Your wedding day is truly one of the happiest days of your life, especially if you are prepared. Don’t try to wing-it on your wedding day. Big mistake. Do a little research to makes things a bit easier for yourself. The more mentally prepared you are for your wedding, the more you can bask in the fun!
Here is a fancy little list of wedding day advice I put together for you as I am rolling quickly towards my one year wedding anniversary.
14. If you’re getting ready at the venue, ask specific questions about everything!
If you are getting married at your venue and are not having a traditional church wedding, you most likely will opt to get ready there. Before committing to the extra charge, make sure to iron out some details. Ask all questions relating to what you expect that experience to be like.
For me? I would have asked the following:
Will the bridal suite be properly cleaned and prepared for our arrival?
Our ceremony was set to begin at 3pm, so we were going to be allowed in the suite three hours prior, free of charge. Yeah… we needed more like 8 hours when it was all said and done. So, we paid the venue a few hundred dollars to have access to the bridal suite at 8am. Since my wedding was a Monday (Memorial Day), there was most definitely a wedding the night before. You would think that they would have had a cleaning crew in early in the am. Common sense…right? I guess not.
The suite was not vacuumed and had reminisces of the prior night’s event scattered all over the place. There were fingerprints on the bathroom mirror, bobby pins, and toilet paper on the floor. When we contacted the manager, he told me it usually is scheduled to get cleaned at 1pm. Wait… so what did we pay for? Totally unprofessional and, quite frankly, a dumb excuse for forgetting to clean.
Does the bridal suite have wifi available?
On top of that, we did not have wifi in the suite and ABSOLUTELY NO SERVICE. Might not seem like a big deal, but hair and make-up was from 8am-12:30pm. We planned on playing music from Pandora or Spotify. We wanted to be in the wedding mood! Fun, vivacious music while sipping champagne at the socially-acceptable time of 9am on this special day. My girls were amazing and took turns playing music already downloaded on their phones. But, it was definitely annoying at first.
So, what you might want to do is close your eyes and envision what you expect your morning to be like. Don’t expect that people can read your mind. Jot down a list of everything you want and need. I advise to send your questions in an email so you have everything in writing.
13. Be specific about what photos you want taken.
You most likely will spend hundreds of hours looking at Pinterest before your wedding day. Put those pins to good use! On my wedding day, I was insanely “go with the flow” and just let everyone do the job I hired them to do. But, I wish I was a little more prepared for the photography aspect of my wedding day.
Don’t get me wrong. I am absolutely IN LOVE with my wedding pictures, but there were some shots I did not get that make me a bit bummed. I wish we took more shots against the wall of our venue. It has gorgeous tan brickwork and a wrap-around porch. Also, I would have told them I wanted pictures at my cocktail hour (literally, not one picture).
My parents were particularly upset there was not one photo of my brothers and I together, which is strange. Also, we never got a large group photo of all of our extended family together. Trust me, the day of your wedding you will not even think of these things.
I ASSUMED. Big. Mistake.
So, my advice to you is to plan ahead:
- Shoot an email over to your photographer.
- Make a folder for the day of and hand it to them to remind them what you want.
- Create a checklist for them to follow.
- If you feel the need to, assign someone your trust to check in with the photographers.
- Seriously… if it is important, make sure there is no way they will forget. Remember, you are most likely one of 50+ weddings for them this year. You’re just a number, baby.
12. Make a schedule and be sure everyone sticks to it.
For me, I was upset my husband and I did not attend the entire hour of our cocktail hour.
Cocktail hour usually has incredible food options that you don’t want to miss. I made it a priority to try everything I ordered for my wedding. The issue was, I was only at the last 10 minutes of my cocktail hour. I had to send my lovely bridesmaids around to make tasting plates for me.
How did this end up happening? Again, I was not clear on what I wanted because I assumed. I figured that the photographers and bridal attendant would be sure that everything was ready to go for the 3:30 ceremony. Especially since I was getting married at the venue.
Well, the photographers took pictures for two hours. I AM NOT LYING. So glad I have so many pictures, but so unnecessary. Taking so many caused me to be 20 minutes behind schedule for my ceremony. YES, TWENTY MINUTES. This could also happen if you are off premise taking pictures after a church ceremony, so make sure everyone sticks to the schedule that you want.
After you are married on premise, they bring you back to your bridal suite. You touch up your makeup, hair, and bustle your dress so you can actually walk around. Also, it was nice to have 10 minutes alone with my newlywed husband (highly recommend!).
But, by the time I went to my cocktail hour, it was pretty much over. The reception time does not extend. If your ceremony runs late (which mine did), your cocktail hour is cut short. So, instead of being an hour long, my cocktail hour was about 40 minutes.
So, if I were you I would make a set schedule for what you want and let everyone know what time it is! Stress to your pastor, photographer, bridal attendant, and anyone else who could play a roll in altering your day. If you want to be around for something, SPELL IT OUT.
11. Enforce a “no cell phone” rule during your ceremony.
It is every bride’s dream to walk down an aisle with 150 phones up in the air. Yeah… no. But, that is the reality of weddings today.
There is a reason that you spend thousands of dollars on a photographer. They are catching every moment of your day. Now, due to social media, most of your guests have access to these pictures within a month. Therefore, there is no need for them to snap a blurry, sideways, awkward picture of you walking down the aisle.
Want to know what it feels like? It depersonalizes the moment for you. Instead of focusing on the dozens of smiling faces turning their heads to look at you as you pass each row, there are camera phones shoved in your face. Ok, I am exaggerating a bit, but you get the picture.
What I wish I did? A no phone rule. You can put a beautiful, tasteful sign up that all your guests see before they take a seat at your ceremony. If they truly care about you and your wishes on this special day, they will silence and put their phones aside. I get we are all addicted, but they can spare 30 moments of their life being technology free for you.
They don’t need to rush to be the first person to post on Facebook or Instagram about you.
10. All eyes are on you. Be ready.
Being the center of attention has never bothered me. I am quite outgoing. Public speaking has never really even been stressful for me. But, I just never quite expected to get the amount of undivided attention that I received the day of my wedding.
Every single person attending your wedding and reception is there solely for you and your partner. Let that soak in for a moment.
If you are someone who does not like all eyes on you, you might need to prepare yourself. It is a little awkward and uncomfortable at first, but I learned quickly to enjoy it.
Honestly, though, all the attention brought up immense feelings of love. Love for my husband and for every person that attended that day. You won’t realize how many people support your relationship until you have 150+ eyes glowing as they look at you walk down that aisle.
Ladies, you will experience this attention the second your morning begins on your wedding day. My bridesmaids did not let me do anything on my own. As a highlyyyyyy independent person, this was hard to get used to at first. Within about an hour, I was loving it.
They fuss over you and make sure you are happy (music, drinks, food, anything you need…). If your bridal attendant is good (mine was amazing), he or she will check on you almost every half hour. They try to go over-the-top to make you happy. Obviously because it is their job (and they want a tip…duh!).
Bottom line: let everyone do everything for you. When will that happen again? You are like a unicorn for an entire day.
9. Choose the right people. You DO NOT need to invite everyone and their mother.
Stand up for yourself and say “no” if you truly don’t think someone should be invited.
If they are not close to you, your partner, or your parents… BEAT IT! Don’t feel like you have to say yes just because it is what you family wants (unless they’re paying and, well…that gets tricky). But, especially if you are paying, you are in charge!
I had a relatively small Long Island wedding with 160 guests. Most weddings here have around 250+ guests. Seriously? You know 250 people really well and feel like they will genuinely support you? If this is you, than you are definitely in the minority and that is amazing. But, I recently went to a wedding with 300+ guests. The groom complained to my husband that he did not know over 100 people there. THAT IS A PROBLEM!
Your wedding day is supposed to be intimate. Inviting everyone and their mother makes your wedding just an event… just a party. Make it clear this wedding is to celebrate you two. You will feel fantastic energy around you on the day of your wedding when you walk out during your entrance. The ability to scan the room and recognize 95% of people will make all of the difference.
8. Choose your music wisely for your reception.
If your party does not have good tunes, who the hizzity heck will want to get out of their chairs. If no one dances… is it even a party? Do your research with your DJ, band, or whatever you choose to get people rocking on their feet. I worked in catering for many years in my teens, so I had experience viewing various DJs in my area. I knew the second I planned my wedding that I was booking Absolute Entertainment (and they did NOT let me down!).
Also, having good music does not mean you have to dig deep in your pockets. I think we paid around half the price of most places on Long Island. My guests were blown away by the variety of music played and how the pace switched from party your face of to slow dancing every half hour-ish.
Honestly, though, your legwork is definitely 50% of the whole DJ sha-bang. My husband and I spent about three hours choosing what types of music we wanted a few months before the wedding. We did not just pick the main parts (first dance, cake-cutting, etc.). We provided our DJ with a specific list of songs and genres we wanted played.
A week before my wedding, I called my DJ and we had a phone conference. We went over the music one more time. I also stressed for them to not move away from the music I provided. This made all the difference. Some people complained to me the music was too loud. Ehh, I didn’t agree…my day my way!
7. Don’t jam your guests in a venue. People actually like to breathe.
You can have the perfect dress, the best music, and the most mouth-watering food. But, if your guests have to move sideways to get from the bar to a food station, your party sucks.
Most of your guests (mostly female) will spend over an hour getting ready for your event. Some may even take weeks to find the dress and heels that fit the theme or season of your wedding. And, let’s be honest… those heels are never comfortable. So, the rest of your wedding should be a pampering experience for them. Squeezing through a crowd doesn’t allow that to happen.
I have been to a few weddings where the room felt like it was made for 150 guests and 250 people were jammed in. Seriously??? You spent all of that money for your guests to mash up against one another? On top of that, there were not enough chairs and tables to let guests enjoy their food during cocktail hour. Instead, all you saw were people balancing a plate and a drink, hiding the pain from standing in heels for an hour straight.
So, either choose a venue that is large enough for your insane guest list. Or, choose a different location and open up your pockets. This is YOUR day, but (trust me) you want your guests to be happy. When they are, it radiates the room!
6. Make sure your venue is not too small. There shouldn’t be an echo in the room.
On the flip side, it is almost just as bad if your room seems awkwardly empty. One of the first weddings I went to in my twenties was so strange. They had about 175 guests in a ridiculously large room. Let me tell you, 300-350 guests could have sat comfortably in the room.
The tables during the reception were so spread out and there was an entirely empty section of carpet on one side of the room. I bet everyone at that party could have spun around with their arms spread wide and no one would have touched.
Having a sparingly filled room makes your guests feel cold and uncomfortable. Make it a point to focus on your numbers right in the beginning of planning your special day. It might be a good idea to iron out your guest list before heading out to go venue shopping.
Also, little tidbit of advice: venues lie about numbers. Yep! I worked at a catering hall and they would stuff them in like sardines. If the venue says 300 fit comfortably, that means 225.
They want to squeeze your for every penny you have. Do your research!
5. Tell your best man and maid of honor when to put the lid on their speech.
We all have definitely been to those weddings. The best man or maid of honor thinks that their speech is an appropriate time to show off their public speaking skills. They think their jokes will shake the room with laughter. Maybe the first 5 minutes. But, 10-15 minutes in… you’re yawning. Staring at your champagne glass wondering… when. it. will. stop.
It is never cool. The problem is, especially if it is their first time, your maid of honor of best man make up their own rules for time. Take control. Set the boundaries right from the start.
My husband and I made it a point to let ours know a year before our wedding day even happened. We told them five minutes max! Their speeches were just as we expected: touching and hilarious.
Each talked within their 5 minute time limit and really were able to fit in so much information. I think that my husband and I have rewatched their speeches about ten times already. It is a nice pick-me-up on a day I am feeling no so much myself.
If you feel like your maid of honor or best man will be offended if you give them a limit…maybe they aren’t the right fit. Again, it is YOUR DAY. You are the boss and the puppeteer behind everything. If the speech is long, drawn-out, and boring… people will remember that.
I do. My husband and I went to a wedding a few years ago for one of his close friends. My husband totally called it out beforehand. The speech was 15 minutes long. As we looked around the room while it happening, people were tapping their feet, scrolling through their phone, and were whispering to each other.
So awkward. Save everyone the time and just suck it up and speak up beforehand.
4. Don’t feel pressured to walk around to each table. Make your own rules for this one!
I am sure people reading this part will definitely disagree with me on this one, but so be it.
I think whomever started that rule that you HAD to walk to each table during dinner made it hell for so many people. If you have over 150 people, this is so unrealistic because it will take up to an hour for you to walk around and make small talk. We chose to do it differently.
If we saw a guest during cocktail hour, during pictures, or on the dance floor…DONE! We decided to take a half hour to walk around to tables of people we didn’t see the first few hours of the party.
The population was mostly made up of our parent’s work friends and older family members. We wanted to make sure to thank everyone for joining us in celebration. But, that didn’t mean we had to give up a large amount time during our wedding. And, honestly, most people will get it. Especially if they have experienced their own wedding.
We still high-five ourselves that we came up with this idea on a whim.
3. Don’t get sloppy drunk. Just… don’t.
I mean, do I really need to explain this one? Let me tell you, I have seen DOZENS of weddings where the bride and/or groom was smashed on their wedding day when I worked in catering.
Don’t get me wrong, it provided me with great entertainment during my shift as a bridal attendant. But, how embarrassing! I have seen grooms throw glasses against a wall angry at their bride for dancing with someone else. Also, I have seen a breakup at the completion of the reception. The most popular was always the silent treatment. Common denominator?? Alcohol.
Thankfully, my husband and I are not drinkers and we didn’t need to worry about this one. I think combined we had 5-6 drinks the whole day. The best part? We remember everything and could really be in the moment at all times.
2. Pause and soak in the important moments.
If you are not going to take any of the advice I gave you in this post, this is the one that really should matter.
I was told by at least five people that our wedding day would fly by. I nodded and listened, but did not think much of it. But, holy moly… so true.
My husband took the advice to heart. During at least ten times during our wedding, he gave me a certain look. He locked eyes with me and gave me a slight smile. We both would take a deep breath and then look around and have mini moments. These made all of the difference.
You will most likely spend $30,000+ on your wedding. A party that lasts 5-7 hours long. When you really think about that, if you are spending $30k on a five hour party, that is $100 a minute. ENJOY EVERY MOMENT!
Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know that sounds so cliche. But, I have a horrible memory for the most part. Yet, my strongest memories are the times we practiced being in the moment…pausing…and reflecting on the special moments.
1. Everything falls into place, so try not to worry or micromanage.
On your wedding day, everyone waits on you. You have your closest friends and family, along with dedicated staff members to cater to your every need. For all of your control freaks out there (hiyya! I am waving over here!), let go. For once, relinquish the ropes and let someone else take hold of them. Because.. guess what sugar: everything gets done!
I really had to mentally prepare myself for my wedding day. I love things to go the way I envision it will. Because… it is the right way! Kidding, kidding…ish. The lovely thing is that everyone is there for you. They want what is best for you. Especially if they have been a bride or groom before.
You will most likely not realize moments where someone dropped the ball or XYZ is not going according to plan. That is the way it goes! If you chose your true best friends to be in your bridal party, their loyalty will absolutely shine on your wedding day.
Want more advice?
Click below to download my complete list of 25 pieces of advice for your wedding day!
Seriously… you’ll thank me later.
Do you have any advice? Questions?
Let me know in the comments below!