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Standing in front of your family and friends to pledge your love and devotion to your future spouse can be both exciting and nerve wracking enough without having to worry about the logistical details. But you've planned every detail down to the minute to make sure the ceremony goes off without a hitch... and then it rains, or guests are unsure of where to sit. Here are some of the most common ceremony pitfalls — and how to expertly avoid them! — to make sure your big day goes off without a hitch.
1. Ordering too few seats
Budget for 10 to 20 percent more than your number of guests, Lewis says. Early arrivals will leave chairs between them, and latecomers may stand rather than disrupt the proceedings.
2. And too many programs.
Only about three in five guests will pick one up. Families and couples will share.
3. Not having a rain plan
Whether you're getting married in Seattle or Scottsdale, Arizona, you need a Plan B. Many couples head for the reception space when bad weather hits. If that's you, make sure you or your planner hangs curtains between the ceremony area and the reception tables. Otherwise, guests will sit down and mess up your lovely tables capes.
4. Letting guests drive
Unless you're doing a dry wedding or there's a large gap between the vows and the reception, a shuttle bus to your ceremony is a must. Have buses run right up until the start time to accommodate stragglers.
5. Leaving gift-bearing guests hanging
When Aunt Shirley totes that giant vase she bought you to the ceremony, she's going to need somewhere to put it. Set up a welcome table where guests can place gifts and pick up programs.
6. Forgetting about the wind
A brisk breeze can easily drown out the sound. Consider arming your officiant with a wireless mic, and ask your ceremony musicians to make sure they bring windproof speakers.
7. Practice makes perfect
If you want your day to go smoothly, take the rehearsal seriously. Your planner or day-of coordinator, officiant, photographer, and bridal party should all be there. Go over the order of the ceremony with your bridal party, work out when you'll perform readings and rituals, and decide where important family members will be sitting. (They should be in the first two rows, with people who have mobility issues near the aisles.) If there are kids in the ceremony, show them how to fulfill their petal-tossing or ring-bearing duties. Now's the time to reconfirm your rain plan (see above) and transportation with your planner, coordinator, or site manager.
Want more genius planning tips? For the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration, pick up the BRIDES October/November 2015 issue, on newsstands now and available for download here!