In a few short hours, you’ll say I do! And while we know everything is (OK, should be) in place, the rule for a glitch-free wedding is check, check, double-check, then check again. And that includes your wedding day! There’s always something – a shampoo bottle left out of your honeymoon luggage, or you might need a medicine of some kind in your bridal bag or emergency kit. And don’t forget to pack that gorgeous nightie you tucked away in tissue paper.
Here’s a handy little list for you to carry with you. We’ve set the timetable based on an early or mid-afternoon wedding, because that’s what most couples choose, so adjust this if you need to. And we’ll bet some of these things seem redundant because you’ve already told everybody, and yourself, over and over what needs to be done when and who needs to do it, but bear with us, please. We don’t want you to miss anything crucial.
Make sure you’ve set up the details and personnel for all these things in advance, then use this list as a prompt to remind you and them of what to do and when. Also, you may need to do things in a different order than we’ve laid them out, so rearrange to suit your day. However, the clock is ticking, so let’s get to it.
(And yes, you can check things off while your touch-up coat of nail polish is drying!)
Morning (before wedding)
- Bride and groom: get up in time for a decent breakfast (don’t even think about getting married on an empty stomach!).
- Double check the envelopes with cash or checks to pay your officiant and vendors.
- Maid of honor and best man: please be here on time to help.
- Bridal emergency kit: make sure whoever is in charge of it guards it.
- Honeymoon luggage: go over your packing list one more time, especially the little things.
- Makeup: allow extra time in case a bridesmaid is late, or your blush goes missing at the last minute.
- Light snacks: mandatory, because nobody should get lightheaded in the middle of the service.
- Photographer: make sure he or she is there early because “behind the scenes” pix are great fun.
- Best man: deliver the bride’s gift to the groom.
- Maid of honor: deliver the groom’s gift to the bride.
- Bride and groom: don’t forget your parents’ presents.
- Best man: coordinate with your bridal car driver early.
- If planning an outdoor wedding: double-check those tents and other backup plan equipment.
- At reception: wedding planner should designate someone to put your gifts in the assigned place.
- Appoint a trusted friend or relation to guard your legal documents for the ceremony.
- Check with your planner that all vendors are present and ready.
- Flowers: give them a little water if they arrived overnight.
- Guest welcome baskets: double-check they were delivered.
Afternoon (at ceremony site)
- Make sure crucial guests are at the venue.
- Make sure your officiant is ready for the ceremony.
- Wedding rings and other things: double-check they’re in the right pocket and/or purse.
- Take group pictures before the ceremony (even if no are formals planned, you’ll still want a few candid shots).
- Entire wedding party: everybody lined up and ready to go.
- Ceremony musicians: make sure they’ve arrived and have tuned up.
- If you planned a destination wedding, double-check guests’ transportation arrangements.
- Legal documents: double-check they’re at the ceremony site.
- Make sure your point people for confetti and/or flower petals know where to be and when.
- Bridal emergency kit: double-check that it’s with your maid of honor or assigned helper.
- Remind entourage to stay a while after the ceremony, either for a traditional photo shoot or just for last minute help.
- Make sure guests know to go ahead of you to the reception for cocktails, etc.
Late Afternoon until Evening (reception)
- Guests and entourage: be at the venue and ready to greet the couple.
- Make sure sparklers/noisemakers/other fun greeting items have been given to guests and/or wedding party.
- Cocktails: make sure the bar is open and/or ready to go.
- Double-check the cake is delivered and set up.
- Double-check that guests’ seating assignment cards etc. are at the entrance.
- Band and/or DJ: all set up and ready to go.
- Photographer portrait area: make sure lights and umbrellas and such are in place.
- Photographer: either travels with the couple or arrives at the reception beforehand.
- Make sure everyone has his or her speech ready for the toast.
- Entourage: line up to welcome the new couple.
- Program should start once everybody is seated.
- Take photo ops with the couple at every table (take as many before the meal as possible).
- Have fun with wedding games like bouquet and garter toss.
- Dance order: Bridal couple, then father-daughter, then mother-son.
- Cake cutting: if you have a smaller display cake, make sure sheets cakes are ready in the kitchen.
- If the band is late, or the DJ is late, one or the other can fill in.
- Giveaways and favors: on tables or in place – also have extras so no one is left out.
- Wedding planner watches the clock so there’s no overtime charge.
- Outdoor wedding: if fireworks display, make sure the display is set up early.
- Wedding coordinator will handle after-party details.
- One last note: be sure the couple thanks everyone and leaves while the guests are still in high spirits. You want an enthusiastic sendoff, and to let guests know it’s OK to leave once you do.
Remember: Our timeline here may not match yours, so feel free to re-arrange it at your whim. But we’ve included everything we can think of to help you double-check.
Now, put this little list where you’ll see it in the morning, then have a long hot bath, a good rest, and have a glorious wedding day tomorrow!
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