Whether you’ve spent weeks, months or basically your entire adult life planning your wedding, there’s one short time period that can end up really defining the day: the morning of. Ideally, you’ll wake up relaxed and enjoy some primping and pampering with people you love while reflecting on the big moments ahead. Everything will go perfectly! In reality, it’s easy to end up feeling rushed, frazzled or even irritated. (How are you the one left rounding up all the empty mimosa glasses so they’re not in the photos?) Life rarely goes perfectly.
Don’t let a chaotic start hijack your mood, distract you from fully enjoying the details you’ve thought so much about and influence your interactions with everyone from vendors to relatives. The first step to a calmer wedding morning: just a bit more detailed planning (come on, you’re almost at the finish line, don’t quit now!). Create a wedding-morning schedule starting from the time you (and those getting ready with you) should set your alarms. “The morning of the wedding should be as planned out as the rest of the day is,” says Newport Beach, CA-based wedding planner Brooke Keegan, who orchestrated the 2018 Brides Live Wedding on August 4, when Janelle Lloyd married her fiancé, Shola, amid the dreamy Spanish moss at Montage Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina. Gorgeous aesthetics aside, Keegan employed her legendary organizational skills behind the scenes to ensure the event went off without a hitch. Here are more of her tips to ensuring that your wedding day starts off on the right note.
Get your timing right.
Especially if your wedding is earlier in the day, finalize a schedule in advance and send it to all involved—figure out what time your photographer will be arriving to snap shots of everyone getting ready and work backward from there. The biggest block of time is usually hair and makeup. Whether you’re going to a salon or have a glam squad coming to you, allow ample time for appointments so you can enjoy the pampering. “We allow for 45 minutes per service for bridesmaids and moms and an hour and a half per service for brides,” Keegan says. “If needed, create a hair and makeup grid so that each person knows exactly what time they are scheduled for.” Assign early-bird slots to your most responsible friends, to avoid any oops-I-overslept drama, and be sure to include time for tidying up pre-photos. “The girls should be complete with hair and makeup at least 15 minutes prior to the bride so that they can get dressed and pack their items up before the bride puts on her dress,” Keegan notes. “It looks a lot nicer in photos when things are packed up and they are dressed.” She usually suggests that everyone’s primping be complete at least 45 minutes prior to anything else happening, i.e. piling into a limo or doing a first-look photo.
Do this the night before.
Take your dress out of its bag and hang it in a safe spot where it can air out and de-wrinkle overnight. Even better, choose a pretty location that’s well lit, so your photographer can shoot the dress in that same spot tomorrow. Organize your undergarments, accessories and any items you’ll want in getting-ready photos, too. “I always suggest that the bride lays out all of her personal items so that when photo and video arrive, she does not have to be pulled from hair and makeup to gather everything—think shoes, perfume, clutch, jewelry, rings, paper suite, etc.,” Keegan says. “Also, all items needed for setup on the day of the wedding should be in one pile near the door so they’re easy for the people coordinating them to grab. I like packing these in bins—easier for transport as well as repacking at the end of the night.”
Get that relaxation in.
If you’re getting married in the morning, you’ll probably need to jump right into the hair and makeup chair, but if you do have a little time to spare, plan to wake up to an activity that calms your mind. “A lot of our clients will arrange for a morning walk or private yoga class the morning of the wedding to de-stress,” Keegan says. Even kicking things off with your mani-pedi and favorite latte would do the trick.
Have food figured out.
Don’t wait until you’re half made-up and hangry to send someone out in search of snacks (vending-machine Peanut M&Ms are not going to have you feeling like your best self, protein notwithstanding). Whether you’re getting ready at a hotel or at home, eliminate any guesswork and hassle by pre-ordering breakfast/brunch for delivery or to be picked up by a family member; pay when you place the order to nix one more day-of logistic. You could assign out food strategizing to a reliable bridesmaid. Either way, “this will alleviate a lot of stress,” Keegan says. “It’s so important that everyone, including the couple, eats before the day really gets started.” Planning what you’ll eat beforehand also allows you to choose foods that will keep you energized even if you’re too jittery to eat later on—ideally, something with protein and complex carbs. Pre-think your drinks, too: Janelle had plenty of snacks on hand for her MVPs, as well as Rosa Regale sparkling red by Banfi, which, at 7 percent alcohol by volume, is light enough that everyone can enjoy a glass or two before walking down the aisle.
Have these items at the ready.
Speaking of headaches, don’t forget to have your wedding emergency kit at the ready, packed with items that will help avert mini disasters during your busy morning. Think tampons, Advil and Pepto, garment tape, a blister stick, safety pins, instant stain remover, a sewing kit. Assembling it is a fun scavenger hunt you could assign to an eager bridesmaid or mom. Two more potentially life-saving items to pack: a hand-held steamer and a power strip, for when 52 phones and hair appliances need to be plugged in and your hotel suite has 6 outlets.
Hang a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign.
Even if you’re having a destination wedding and getting ready at the hotel, your door needn’t be open to every relative and long-lost friend who’s eager to say hello. “The only people we suggest having access to the ‘getting-ready room’ are those getting hair and makeup done,” Keegan says. “It can be too overwhelming and stressful if other friends and family come in and out. You should feel free to maintain a relaxing and stress-free environment in the morning, as the rest of the day is going to be quite overwhelming.”
Set the tone with the right music.
Don’t underestimate the power of a great wedding-morning playlist—it’s the best way to get everyone in the mood to celebrate and help keep the happy vibes flowing, even when someone’s hair tendrils won’t cooperate or a strapless bra goes missing. Think upbeat but non-distracting (this is no time to deplete your energy/voice by belting out power ballads). With so many pre-mixed playlists to stream, you don’t even have to spend time creating your own unless you’ll enjoy that. “On Spotify I love Yacht Rock or Budda Bar, depending on what mood everyone is in—both are fun yet easy listening,” Keegan says.