There are a million and one things to plan when it comes to a wedding. So is it any surprise that one or two or even twenty-five wedding details might fall through the cracks? "Planning a wedding—whether big or small—can be extremely overwhelming, especially when juggling a full-time job," explains Lynn Easton, owner of Easton Events. "Planning a wedding is essentially a full-time job. There are so many details and so many people, vendors, and logistics that have to be managed, so it's not hard to believe that sometimes a detail here and there gets overlooked."
Here, expert wedding planners break down the top things you forget when planning a wedding. With any luck, this list will save you from forgetting these details, too.
1. Have a Contingency Plan for Bad Weather
"Many couples forget to have a plan B in case of inclement weather. Sometimes this is not taking into account how hot and sunny it will be, severe cold fronts, or even rain. They often get so wrapped up in the beauty of their venue they just forget to have a contingency plan," says Kim Sayatovic, founder of Belladeux Event Design.
Brides should find out the historical temperature and weather to have realistic expectations of what to expect and make arrangements for what will happen if the weather is less than ideal.
2. Know When the Sun Will Set
Sunset is a golden hour for photographs and it might be a time your wedding photographer would like to pull you outside for some magically lit photos. If you know what time the sun will be setting, you can make sure you'll be available rather than say, cutting the cake.
3. Arrange Transportation for Your Bridal Party
"They'll often leave the hotel—or wherever they're getting ready—at a different time than the bride and groom, but earlier than the rest of the guests," explains planner and designer Alia Wilson of Firefly Events.
4. Designate Someone to Be the Day-Of Point Person
"A first point of contact for your wedding vendors is essential. Brides sometimes forget this because they assume they will [just answer their cell phone] but it's already going to be a whirlwind day for them. There's no need to add more responsibilities to their list," says wedding planner Emily Sullivan, owner of Emily Sullivan Events. "Instead, select a close friend, family member, or someone from the wedding party to be the first point of contact. Yes, you may have to be pulled into decisions but let someone else be the one to take the call."
5. Budget for Gratuity
"Gratuity is often overlooked during the budget planning process, especially if you don't have a planner to guide you," says Sullivan. "When looking at the costs of your catering, for example, remember that typically you'd want to include an 18-22 percent gratuity on top of the final bill. You'll also want to be mindful of tips for wedding professionals on the day of the event. While it is certainly not required, it is appreciated if someone has gone above and beyond. In this instance, prepare in advance with tips (cash or check are usually both fine) in envelopes and designate someone to distribute them."
6. Arranging Event Lighting
Lighting really helps to set the mood and vibe at a wedding. "After all the decisions are made and hard work put into every little detail, lighting is the most important component to really ensure those elements look their very best," says Sullivan.
7. Provide Extra Seats at the Ceremony
"Take into consideration the fact that people do not naturally sit next to each other," Easton advises, "so you will always need roughly 20 more chairs than there are people."
8. Designate a Photo Wrangler
Along with a shot list, "designate a sister, brother, cousin, or aunt who can be the 'photo wrangler,'" suggests Easton. "The photographer is not going to know who your important family members are, so when he gets to the 'photo of the bride with aunts and uncles,' your photo wrangler can easily go grab these family members for you and you can stay on track with timing."
9. Establish a Wedding Website Before You Mail Save the Dates
"The site does not need to be fully finished, but you should have a URL that you can put on the cards, as well as a few basic pieces of information on the site, such as the location and nearby hotels," says Wilson. "People are often so excited to get the save the dates out that they don't think about the fact that six to eight weeks before the wedding is pretty late for out-of-town guests to make travel plans."
10. Arrange for Transportation for the Newlyweds After the Reception
"Transportation is a must-have for the wedding day, but oftentimes, brides forget that they need to arrange a ride from the reception to their next destination, be it their home, a hotel, or even the airport. It's rare that the couple is driving themselves on the wedding day so don't be left calling an Uber in your formalwear because you haven't arranged a car to get you where you need to go," says Sullivan.
11. Make Sure You're Using the Correct Invitation Postage
"Not only does the weight matter, but the size as well when it comes to your invitations," Wilson says. "Square envelopes and certain enclosures can carry an additional charge. This can fall through the cracks simply because people forget to ask, or don't know all these funny rules from the post office."
12. Check to See If Any of Your Guests Have Food Allergies or Dietary Restrictions
"Be sure to make note of all the guests who have food allergies or are vegetarian or vegan," says Easton. "Provide a list for your caterer noting where each of these guests is sitting—your caterer will love you."
13. Talk to Vendors About Potential Overtime
"Check in with your vendors ahead of time to see if they might be willing to stay later," suggests Wilson. "Even if you don't think you'll want to take advantage of this option, you never know how you'll feel that night. It's better to find out what those fees would be like from vendors, such as your DJ and bartender, ahead of time, as well as giving them the heads-up that overtime might be a possibility."
14. Factor Yourself Into the Guest Count When Placing the Final Catering Order
"Couples forget to add themselves to the guest count all the time. Make sure you've included yourselves as well as any dietary restrictions when giving the final count to the caterer," says Sullivan.
15. Order Vendor Meals
"Vendor meals can be easily forgotten if there isn't a wedding planner to coordinate it. Many vendors require meals in their contract and some, like bands, will also need a separate break room altogether. Coordinate this with your venue and caterer early to make sure you have met all of the obligations," says Sullivan.
16. Bring a Change of Clothing
"Make sure you pack a small bag and enlist the help of a friend or family member to help get it where it needs to go," says Sayatovic.
17. Assign Someone to Take Your Wedding Dress
"Many couples forget to make arrangements for the wedding dress and tuxedo," says Sayatovic. "If you are leaving for your honeymoon the morning after the wedding, make sure you have a friend or family member to pick up your dress or return a rented tuxedo. As a wedding planner, I always offer to return tuxedos and drop wedding gowns at a cleaner for my clients."
18. Book a Hotel Room Block
If you're having guests from out of town, make sure to set up a room block. Most hotels offer room blocks of five or more rooms. With hotel room blocks, your guests will get a discount (at no cost to you) and guaranteed availability.
19. Arrange Welcome Bags for Out-of-Town Guests
"It's easy in the hustle and bustle of planning to forget that your guests' wedding experience actually begins when they arrive at their hotel," says Kylie Carlson, the CEO of the Wedding Academy.
Carlson suggests providing welcome bags with pertinent wedding weekend details to out-of-town guests.
20. Write Out a Do-Not-Play List for Your DJ
Though you might have meticulously planned your father-daughter dance song and your cocktail hour songs, you should also write out a do-not-play list for your DJ (because no one wants to be surprised with Sir Mix-a-Lot at their reception).
21. Craft Wedding Signs
"Many couples spend a lot of time and energy picking out the wedding invitations and completely forget signage for the big day. Whether it’s a seating chart, a gift table sign, or even just a 'Welcome to Our Wedding,' signage can easily be overlooked." says Sayatovic.
22. Designate Someone to Gather Up Gifts, Décor, and Personal Items
"Assign someone the role of removing personal items at the end of the night," advises Sayatovic. "It is important to assign a helper to make sure these items don’t get left. It’s surprising to me the number of bridal parties that make no plans for personal belongings at the end of the night."
23. Leave Enough Time (and Budget) for Wedding Dress Alterations
"When one finds their wedding dress, they think the hard part is over...but when the dress arrives, you are likely to have something altered. Even if the dress fits you perfectly, you may still have to pay for ties to be added so you can bustle it for the reception. Be mindful of this with your budget and ask your gown shop in advance for pricing," says Carlson.
24. Plan Out Your Accessories
"Accessories are another often forgotten detail until the very last minute. A classic veil is lovely but these days, you have a wealth of options. You also want to think about your jewelry, hairpins, and a cover-up should you expect cooler temperatures," says Carlson.
25. Eat Food and Drink Water
Last but not least among the things brides forget is to eat. Your wedding day is a very busy, overwhelming day. Get a good breakfast and plenty of water. And as you schedule out your wedding day prep, make sure to have snack breaks.