Hair. Makeup. Wardrobe. Vendors. Setup. Ceremony. Photos. Reception. The logistics of a wedding can be as complicated as those of a small military operation. Various pieces of a puzzle, all held by different people and organizations, all have to come together just right in order for the day to go as smoothly as possible. To continue my metaphor, there’s a saying, “No plan survives contact with the enemy.”
Hopefully, you won’t have any enemies present on your wedding day, but the point of the saying, that few plans actually carry through without some hiccups, is still true. With these seven tips and a little flexibility on the part of everyone involved, your big day will still go smoothly.
Build in extra time to the timeline
You should plan on everything taking longer than you think it will. Hair and makeup—suppose you think it should take an hour. That would probably be true in most cases, but on your wedding day, you’ll have your sister, cousin, etc. interrupting asking you questions about the day. I would add at least 30 minutes longer than you think it should take, but an hour would be safer.
Remember to include travel time in your timeline. Murphy’s law will strike and there will be traffic on roads that normally run smoothly. Rushing leads to accidents, and the last thing you want on your wedding day is to get into an accident.
Here in Hattiesburg, you also need to be aware of events happening at the universities or the local schools. I think everyone knows they can expect traffic to increase on graduation weekend and on the day dorms open.
However, things like high school band festivals and even little league baseball tournaments can cause more traffic than normal. Things such as this are much harder to find out about, so this just adds to the reasons you should allow additional time for transportation.
Designate a Contact for all Vendors
You should give all vendors, including the venue, a point of contact who is not in the wedding party. You can even have different contact persons for each vendor if you want.
I’m sure you have met with all the vendors and gone over all the details, but trust me, something will come up. And it’s usually something for which we need to get your permission or inform you about.
Make sure your vendors know who all the other vendors are, especially who is in charge at the venue. The vendors should ask you this ahead of time, but just in case they don’t, this can save a question or two when, for example, the photographer needs to ask the florist to move some flowers a few inches to one side or the other. The vendors can then bother each other instead of bothering you or your contact person.
Why should the contact ideally not be in the wedding party? If your contact person is in the wedding party, he or she will inevitably be getting ready when the vendor needs them.
Of course, this needs to be someone you trust, which can be hard if your closest friends are in the wedding party. You can use this to your advantage, though, by designating someone like that cousin who’s upset she’s not a bridesmaid. Tell her this is the reason why; you needed someone you can trust to be the vendor contact.
Use a “first look”
I know there’s the whole superstition about the groom not seeing the bride before the ceremony. And this tip is a little self-serving because first looks are so great from a story-telling perspective. They make great content for wedding albums. Nevertheless, I think the benefits of a first look outweigh any drawbacks there may be.
The groom will also appreciate a bride who wants a first look. Why? Because he is going to cry when he sees you. Men don’t like to cry in front of an audience, so let him do it in private.
I think the biggest benefit of doing a first look, though, is that it helps both the bride and the groom calm their nerves. Brides wonder, “Is he going to like what I look like in my dress?” Grooms ask themselves, “I wonder what she looks like in the dress?” This just builds pressure and expectations on both of you for the moment that you first see one another. On top of that, there is the logistical nightmare of keeping the bride and groom away from each other up until the ceremony. I say make things easy for yourself and do a first look.
Once you see one another, you will feel much more relaxed and you’ll feel as if a weight has been taken off your shoulders. You’ll find the rest of the day to be much more relaxing.
Then there’s one more benefit to the bride and groom seeing one another before the ceremony. You can now take all the formal photos before the ceremony, so you’ll be able to head directly to the reception afterwards.
This leads me tomy next tip …
Take Photos of One Side Before the Ceremony
Wedding photographers know that the bride and groom, bridesmaids and groomsmen would all rather get to the reception rather than stick around and take photos after the ceremony. So minimize that wait, if not eliminate it?Schedule the formal photographs of either the groom’s side of the family or the bride’s side before the ceremony, if not both. If you are going to only do one, I recommend it be the bride’s side.
I’ve already told you I think you should do a first look. Even if you don’t do a first look, you should schedule the formal photographs of either the groom’s side of the family or the bride’s side before the ceremony. You could try to schedule both sides before hand, but that will make it extremely difficult if you are going the traditional route of the couple not seeing each other before the ceremony. If you are going to only do one, I recommend it be the bride’s side.
Why the bride’s side? Because, typically, even if they’re not paying for the wedding and reception, the bride’s family knows more about the details than the groom’s family. So they should be available after the ceremony in case guests (or vendors) need any assistance.
You Need a Cat Herder
You’ve heard of “herding cats.” It’s when someone is trying to wrangle a group of people together, but the people keep wandering off.
Herding cats is an apt metaphor to describe keeping everyone together for photos after the ceremony. For some reason, groomsmen particularly tend to wander off, especially if there’s an open bar.
When it’s time gather up the bridesmaids, groomsmen, moms, dads, etc., it helps to have someone who understands how to herd cats. I find teachers (especially elementary teachers) and nurses (especially E.R. nurses) to be the best people for this. They have developed a tone of voice that just somehow makes everyone obey them.
Feed the Vendors
A little over a year ago, a wedding magazine (I’m not going to dignify it by mentioning it by name) stated that you don’t have to feed vendors–that the vendors should plan accordingly and pack snacks.
Vendors are typically on their feet longer than the bride and groom are. They typically have just as long of a day, if not longer, than the bride. They are busting their rump to provide you with good service. The least you can do is feed them.
Now, I will give this caveat. It all depends on what the vendor’s job is and for how long you have retained them. If you only hire a photographer for four hours of coverage, I wouldn’t necessarily expect you to provide them with a meal. However, if you hire, say, a videographer for 8 hours, then yes, I think they should receive a meal.
Most vendors will have a contract provision covering whether they expect to receive a meal or not. The best time for them to eat is when you eat as well. Nobody wants to be photographed while eating, and a DJ can easily put on some music to last however long he needs for his meal.
On a related note …
The wedding day is a long day. You need to do whatever you can to maintain your energy.
Maintain Your Blood Sugar
Depending on the time of the ceremony, many brides will begin getting ready before lunch but will not eat anything until the reception, several hours away.
This gap in eating plus the normal anxiety and nerves is a recipe for hypoglycemia.
Avoid this by eating a meal with complex carbohydrates before you begin getting ready. Avoid refined carbs because they will cause a blood sugar spike followed by a sharp drop.
Along similar lines, you want to make sure you drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated. Dehydration can cause a myriad of symptoms, from headaches to muscle cramps, to nausea.
Ok, how can I put this delicately? I realize that drinking a lot of water can make you repeatedly go to the bathroom. And I also know that wedding dresses and bridesmaid gowns are not necessarily the easiest things to be in when…uh…nature calls. So begin your hydration several days before the ceremony, and it won’t be such a pressing need on the wedding day.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
As stated previously, wedding days tend to be long days, especially for the bride. I know you’re going to be anxious and excited the night before your wedding, but try to get a good night’s sleep.
This goes for the groom as well.
I don’t know why the tradition got started of the groom having “one last night of freedom.” I’ve seen several grooms who are so tired and hungover they can barely stand during the ceremony.
Let me be straight and to the point: That’s not any way to win points with your bride, the new in-laws, or with relatives you haven’t seen in some time.
Guys, if you really want to have a night of debauchery, do it a week or two before the wedding. That way, you’re in good condition for the rehearsal, the wedding, and the reception.
An added benefit of this is you’ll look well-rested in the wedding photographs and you’ll have the stamina for the wedding night. I’m talking about dancing at the reception; what did you think I meant?