Instead of impressing guests with a 10-foot wedding cake, many of the most put-together brides show their planning prowess with simple preparations. Try these easy, affordable, and effective ideas on for size.
1. Swing by the Dollar Store and pick up an individual pack of crayons and a coloring book ($2 total) for each kid who will be in attendance at the reception; have the combos neatly laid out at each child's seat ahead of time.
2. Make your personalized cocktail napkins work a little harder for you by including your hashtag on them. After all, everyone there already knows what day it is and who got married!
3. Inspect the hotel room block a week beforehand by asking the hotel manager to provide you with a list of who has booked which rooms. Then, when you see that a friend and her hubby have a Double, whereas your two macho-men cousins are sharing a room with King, you can ask the hotel to make some adjustments (pending your guests' approval, of course). We bet you'll find a few switcharoos to make that everyone involved will appreciate.
4. Take 10 minutes a week or two before the wedding to fire off a group email that introduces guests flying in from the airport and who may want to carpool.
5. Add make-em-smile phrases under the names of each guest's place card. For example, "Debbie Howell: raised one heck of a boy" or "Wade Bradley: has a great moonwalk."
6. Ask a camera-happy friend or relative to be in charge of taking pictures during your rehearsal dinner or other pre/post wedding events that don't have your professional photographer there. Once other guests see that someone is snapping pics, they'll relax with their own urge to document.
7. Ask a bridesmaid to forgo a bridal shower gift and instead be in charge of making one of those bathroom baskets chock full emergency supplies like safety pins, mouthwash, hairspray, bobby pins, lint roller, etc. Have her make one for the men's bathroom, too!
8. Don't just prepare a wedding-themed playlist for you and your girls to get ready to; pass the playlist along to the bus or shuttle driver of your wedding guests' transportation, if you have any. You can go old school and burn a CD or create a Spotify list and ask the transportation company to download it ahead of time.
9. Be prepared for the elements. If you're having an outdoor wedding, consider a basket with bug spray, umbrellas, a bunch of cheap sunglasses or ceremony programs that double as fans — whatever is most appropriate.
10. Equip your DJ or band with a short announcement at the very end of the reception. Instead of a simple announcement that it's time for the send-off, he or she can remind guests if there's an after party or farewell brunch the next day, along with the location and time. It's these little announcements that keep half your guest list from asking each other, "When is the...?"