It’s the final countdown ... to your wedding, that is! With just seven days left to go before the big celebration, the last thing you need to be doing is stressing about logistics. That’s why one of the best pieces of wedding planning advice we can offer is this: Pretend, from the beginning, that your wedding date is two to three weeks earlier than it actually is. That will leave you ample room to focus on self-care, family matters, and any last-minute emergencies that may pop up during the week before your wedding.
Event planner Faith Folayan is an ardent believer in the idea. "Square away as much as you can before the week prior," she encourages. "It helps with any last-minute pickups or clarification needed between family members or vendors."
Meet the Expert
Faith Folayan is the founder and creative director of wedding planning firm This Love Weddings. She is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Ready to start getting all your pre-wedding ducks in a row? Read on for a realistic and practical look at what to do the week of your wedding—and, perhaps more importantly—things you should definitely not do the week of your wedding.
What to Do the Week of Your Wedding
Touch base with your wedding party.
The easiest way to ensure everyone in your wedding party is where they need to be when they need to be there is to provide them with a chronological schedule of events. Compile all the crucial info—time and place for rehearsal, time and place for where they’ll get ready, time and place for wedding party photos, etc.—into a single slide the size of a smartphone screen. Have them screenshot the slide and then add it to their Favorites photo album. That way, they’ll always have easy and immediate access to the deets.
Take time off work.
"If you’re not leaving straight for your honeymoon, I’d suggest taking the entire week before off," says Folayan. If that’s not possible, try to have at least two out-of-office days scheduled before the day of your rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. If you’re marrying on a Saturday, that means taking off Wednesday and Thursday in addition to Friday.
Finalize those seating charts.
Per Folayan, you’ll want to confirm the final guest count three to four weeks before the wedding. (Vendors typically ask for those numbers two weeks out, so this will help minimize any unnecessary catering or rental expenses.) That said, with the wedding just a few days away, family members may now have the event top of mind and start requesting specific seating arrangements. Use the week before the wedding to accommodate those requests where possible.
Alphabetize escort cards.
The easiest way for guests to find their seats is in alphabetical order according to their last name. Once you have your final seating chart, you’ll be able to confirm table numbers and organize escort cards accordingly.
Make final payments.
Many vendors will request final payment when they receive your final headcount. If, however, there are stragglers, ask if you can pay early so that you won’t need to talk numbers on your wedding day or worry about sending money when you’re away on your honeymoon.
Prep and deliver welcome bags.
"This should be done a couple of days before guests arrive," says Folayan. Secure and pack up any perishable treats, then work with your hotel to ensure the welcome bags are delivered to the correct rooms.
Gather up gratuities.
"Withdraw cash and place it in separate envelopes," advises Folayan. Express your gratitude in a card included in the envelopes, and, if necessary, provide instructions for how you’d like to see the given amount disbursed.
"Use the final week to pamper yourself!" says Folayan. "Make sure you have that mani-pedi, and you can do a facial if it’s one you’ve done multiple times." Beyond that, make time for the activities that make you feel your best. For some, that’ll mean taking a strenuous fitness studio class; for others, it might look more like running a hot bath.
Book a trim.
If you have short or close-cropped hair, the week before your wedding is the time to get that final fade or cut to ensure all your edges are sharp. Just don’t deviate from a style you already know looks good on you—the week before your wedding is not the time to experiment.
Break in your wedding shoes.
"Please make sure your wedding day isn’t the first time you’re wearing your shoes out and about," says Folayan. "You want to be sure you’re able to walk and dance." And hey, if this requires an impromptu late-night dance party in your living room, then so be it! All the better for any pre-wedding jitters.
Get your marriage license.
If you’re not local to the area where you’re marrying, you’ll want to ensure you arrive with enough time to secure your marriage license. (Pay close attention to local requirements, because they can vary greatly from state to state!) If you are local, Folayan recommends getting your license about a month in advance. States will have different rules on waiting periods and expiration dates, but 30 days is typically well within the sweet spot for both.
Put any rain plans into place.
While official policies will vary from vendor to vendor (read those contracts!), some tent companies will give you seven to 14 days to release a hold on a tent if you don’t want to be charged for it. If your budget allows you to eat the cost, you can hold off on making final decisions about tenting outdoor spaces until the week before your wedding, but you will want to make the decision as soon as possible so vendors can adjust for any extra set-up time needed.
Pack your suitcases.
Leaving for your honeymoon within a few days of your wedding? Use the week of your wedding to pack two suitcases: one with all the essentials you’ll need for your wedding weekend, and another filled with the clothes and toiletries needed for the trip.
What Not to Do the Week of Your Wedding
Try new skincare treatments.
"If you’re doing anything new to your skin,"—chemical peels, fillers, Botox, etc.—"try to do it for the first time at least two months prior," says Folayan. Even better: go a few days before your hair and makeup trial! That way, if you like the effect, you’ll have a good idea of how it’ll look on your wedding day.
Get a haircut.
If you have medium-to-long hair and are planning to wear it down, plan on booking your final cut three-to-four weeks ahead of the wedding so that you’re free of split ends but still have time to settle into the look.
Write your vows.
If you’ll be writing your own wedding vows, the week before your wedding is not the time to start, but it is the time to practice. Not only will this make you better prepared to wing it should you lose your cue cards, but it’s also crucial if you’ll be hiring a wedding videographer. "A lot of times they’ll plan to record a voiceover of your vows, or a letter you two have written to each other," says Folayan. It’s important you write these things ahead of time so your delivery can have more impact the day of.
Make unnecessary changes.
This should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: The week before your wedding is not the time to decide on new flowers, redo signage, or change any venue spaces that don’t need to be changed. You’ll spend too much time worrying about what’s possible to pull off and not enough time savoring what should be one of the most memorable experiences of your life.