Updated: May 25, 2022
Whether you're planning your own wedding or helping someone else plan theirs, here are some tips to make sure things go as smoothly as possible on the big day.
1. Get all of your paperwork done early – Things can slip through the cracks, but you'll be glad that you took care of things like invitations and thank-you notes well ahead of time.
2. Make a list of what you need – This way, you'll know exactly how many invitations and escort cards to order; who will be giving speeches; and how much money you have to spend on flowers, rentals, and other decors.
3. Create a wedding website – Once your invitations are out, consider setting up a simple web page where guests can find all the information they need about the big day.
4. Write your own vows – A traditional wedding ceremony wouldn't be the same without vows. Write your own to make your wedding uniquely yours!
5. Set up a gift registry – Your guests will thank you for not leaving them guessing, and this way, they'll know what to get you (and how much to spend on each item).
6. Combine traditions – Mix and match your most-loved traditions to make your wedding truly your own.
7. Avoid a destination wedding – Unless you have a large group of people willing and able to travel, it's probably best not to plan a distant ceremony if possible.
8. Keep it small – Fewer guests mean less stress on the big day, so set a realistic guest count and stick to it.
9. Get the timing right – You don't want your guests arriving too early, but you also don't want them to show up late and disrupt the service. If possible, have someone on-site to let people in as they arrive so that things stay on schedule.
10. Plan an after-party – Everyone will be up for celebrating, so make sure to book a space where guests can party until late (and maybe even beyond).
11. Keep the crowd in check – The more extensive your family, the more likely you are to have some guests who are ready to dance into the wee hours of the night. While letting loose is good for the soul, try to keep things under control so that your neighbors don't complain about the noise.
12. Choose a fabulous bridal party – Your attendants are there to support you and help you get where you need to be on time. Show them how much their support means by asking them early and making sure they have the information and attire they need.
13. Hire a professional photographer – Yes, it will cost you money, but you won't get great shots if there's no one behind the camera with experience.
14. Ask your photographer to be discrete – While it's natural to want to show off your wedding photos when you get them, ask your photographer to refrain from posting any pictures of you kissing or hugging without permission.
15. Make sure the videographer is fluent in English – You know how important it is to have a trusted translator by your side on the big day; make sure the same goes for your videographer!
16. Don't forget about transportation – You don't want to be late for your own wedding, so make sure there's easy access for guests getting between ceremony and reception.
17. Have an "I'm married!" sign – It might seem silly, but this will help with crowd control (and also let everyone know that you're ready to celebrate).
18. Pick fun favors for your guests – The little extras you choose to give your guests (like custom matchbooks, personalized tote bags, or whatever else catches your eye) will make them smile when they get home.
19. Hire an event planner if you can afford to do so – Even though the wedding is about celebrating the love between you and your partner, let's face it—you've got more important things on your plate. Leave some of the wedding planning to a professional who can help you map out timelines, select vendors, and shop for decorations.
20. Don't over-think things – Your wedding is not an opportunity to prove that you're better than everyone else or that you have more money than the next person. It's simply an event where you, your partner, and your family come together to celebrate love.
21. Be open with your guests – If you don't want people to bring kids, let them know ahead of time; otherwise, they'll just show up at the last minute wondering why there aren't any little ones running around.
22. Make sure everything runs smoothly – When planning the ceremony, make a list of who's doing what and then double-check it to ensure that everyone is scheduled where they need to be. Also, check out the venue ahead of time to map out your plan without any hiccups or meltdowns.
23. Buy your dress first – You don't want to start looking for the perfect gown only to realize it won't fit because you've lost too much weight (or vice versa). Plus, shopping for something other than a wedding dress first will help you get into the spirit of things!
24. Don't forget your marriage license – Make sure to bring your marriage license with you because you may need to show it.
25. Don't be afraid to ask for help – If you're struggling to figure out a problem, don't hesitate to ask someone else for advice or ideas. It's not a sign of failure if something doesn't go as planned; it just means that everyone is willing and ready to pitch in!
26. Order wedding invitations in advance – Order your wedding invitations at least 6 months in advance. Most places recommend ordering them 3 to 5 months before the big day, but if you're having a destination wedding, have an unusual circumstance (like being in the military), or are on a tight budget, it's better if you can start shopping for them closer to a year beforehand.
In conclusion, there are a lot of things that have to go right when planning a wedding, so it is essential to research the different parts and stages of this process well in advance. The more information you have, the better equipped you will be when deciding how to plan every detail from beginning to end.