Feeling a bit like a drill sergeant with the amount of timetables and planning spreadsheets you’ve suddenly been inundated with? Don’t freak out, but there’s a good chance you might have forgotten something. No seriously, don’t freak out. Put your feet up for 10 minutes, pour yourself a glass of something cheeky and read these 30 last-minute details you need to know. It’s okay, we’ve got your back.
Related article: 15 ways to honour your loved ones on your special day
1. Fill out the paperwork
If you remember one thing, let it be this: while legal requirements may vary from state to state, you’ll generally have to lodge A Notice of Intended Marriage with your celebrant one month (minimum) prior to the special day. Research the specifics and talk to your celebrant to make sure you can actually tie the knot. You know, legally.
2. With a little help from my friends
We all know that after you say “I do” you sign a piece of paper to make it official, but what happens to that piece of paper? Choose someone responsible to keep your signed marriage licence safe until the end of the celebrations – if your best friend is the human equivalent of Dory from Finding Nemo, maybe consider asking someone else.
3. Communication is key
Does a sudden temperature drop mean your outdoor venue needs heaters? Are there microphones ready for the speeches? Is there a knife to cut the cake with? These are all things your wedding planner or reception coordinator will be on top of on the day, so it’s crucial that they’re fully briefed on exactly what it is you envision for an ideal scenario and, dare we say it, plan B. Life happens when you’re busy making other plans, so check in with your wedding coordinator in the morning to talk about the day’s weather and order of events, and get that peace of mind you’ll both be seeking.
4. Designate a point person
Whatever happens on your wedding day, there’s one thing you can be sure of – everyone is going to have a question for you. Don’t fancy answering an almost endless list of queries while getting ready to walk down the aisle? Whether it’s a friend, planner, parent or bridesmaid, ask someone to be the go-to person for answers and fill them in on all the need-to-know details in advance. Perhaps put together a little cheat-sheet and bribe them with a pre- wedding lunch or bottle of bubbles.
5. Assign a gift caretaker
After the last song has been played and the guests are starting to leave you’ll probably be too busy saying goodbye to gather up all your gifts. Plus, let’s face it, it’s not a good look. Ask a trusted family member or friend to collect your gifts and cards to take home. If you’re leaving for your honeymoon straight away, give them a house key so your goodies aren’t taking up space at their place.
6. Excel to the rescue!
They say time flies when you’re having fun and it’s never more true than when you’re getting ready with your girlfriends. Put together a timeline for all the important beauty preparations and keep your bridesmaids in the loop. Confirm arrival times with your photographer and hair and makeup stylists, and try to allow more time than usual for getting all dolled up. After all, you’ll probably want some time for checking yourselves out in the mirror. Come on, we all do it.
7. Camera ready
Some people say art can’t be rushed, but it almost certainly will be if you don’t keep a photography timeline in mind. Make sure everyone is fully dressed, made up and looking their best by the allotted time, and always be considerate of the photographer. After all, time is money – your money.
8. Make an on-the-day schedule
Chances are you’ve probably had a timeline in mind for weeks or even months, but now is the time to double-check and lock in everything – everything. Create a spreadsheet of starting times, budget allowances, when to pay vendors and when to wrap up the reception, and be sure to give your ‘point person’ a copy. Not only will it prevent any late fees, but it’ll put your mind at ease, and everyone knows confidence is the most beautiful thing a bride can wear. Oh, and procrastinators, don’t leave packing to the last minute! Set aside a solid hour or two to pack for your wedding day, night and the honeymoon, of course. Put the remote down and step away from Netflix (just for a bit, we promise!).
9. Don’t let your spirits be dampened
Rain on your wedding day isn’t just a line from a tragic song from the ‘90s, it’s also a real possibility. If your venue doesn’t offer any alternative undercover space you might have to plan for a ‘just in case’ tent. And consider asking all your guests well before your special day to bring umbrellas. Sometimes the weather can’t be helped, but you shouldn’t let it rain on your parade. Yes, we went there.
10. Roll call
If the RSVP deadline has well and truly been and gone, it’s definitely not rude to call any guests that haven’t replied. It’s important to give your venue and caterer a final headcount, and it’ll help you finalise the seating chart (a classic pressure point).
11. Shine bright like a diamond
Before you put a ring on it you’ll actually need to get the rings – well, duh. While you’re at the jewellers, have your engagement ring cleaned to make it really sparkle on the day. If everything else about you is preened and polished, a shabby ring is sure to stand out for all the wrong reasons.
12. Be outstanding for all the right reasons
It’s likely that all your vendors have been paid by now, but if there are any outstanding payments to be made at the end of the wedding, be sure to set aside the appropriate amount before the actual day. In the excitement of the day’s events it will be easy to forget something so mundane – and you could end up spending that amount on cocktails on your honeymoon instead. So think ahead and be prepared with an extra file or even a good old fashioned envelope with cash. It’s a simple suggestion, but one you just might thank us for.
13. Love notes
Set aside a few minutes to write a little love note to your sweetheart, saying how excited you are to spend the rest of your life together. If you get some free time in the days leading up to the wedding (we said if), write a few notes and put them in envelopes to be opened on certain milestones, like anniversaries or even after your first fight. They’ll be fun to look back on, and another reminder of why you’re tying the knot.
14. Think of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ people
Tipping may traditionally be an American custom, but you might want to show your gratitude for someone who’s gone that extra mile to make the day perfect. Also, if you’re offering an open bar to your guests, the day’s excitement might make you want to add just a little bit extra to the tab. It’s a bit of an obvious tip, but it’s one you might forget in the midst of the preparations.
15. The bride wore…
A final dress fitting might be common sense, but it’s not something you’ll want to skip. Make sure you schedule a final fitting shortly before the special day so you can organise any last-minute alterations. At the end of the day, a final stitch here, a little ‘letting out’ there isn’t that big of a deal, but feeling uncomfortable on your wedding day is.
16. Precious cargo
Take one look at your dress, now look at your car. If you’re planning on transporting your dress yourself to your ‘getting ready’ location it’s probably not the best decision to cram it into your tiny Suzuki Swift. To save your gorgeous creation from being crushed, damaged or dirtied, practice fitting it (in a garment bag, of course) into your car well in advance. If it’s a tight squeeze, organise transport with someone who has a larger vehicle, or maybe even swap cars. It’ll potentially save you frantically steaming the creases out of your dress on the big day.
17. Practice makes perfect
Remember the first time you tried on a pair of heels and were determined to wear them all night? Painful, wasn’t it? To avoid looking like a wobbly newborn foal – and evil blisters – wear your shoes around the house a few times and practice walking around.
18. Shave and a haircut, two bits
Sometimes the groom can get a little forgotten in the lead-up to the wedding day. Make sure he’s looking sharp and get him to visit a barber less than a week out. Leave it too late, he’ll look a little too dishevelled, book it too soon and he might look like a little kid on his first day of school – cute when they’re five, not so much in adulthood.
19. This is not my jam!
You’re out having a great time with your friends, enjoying the music, then a god-awful tune comes on and it just ruins the mood – sound familiar? You’ve probably made a list of songs for your DJ to play, but also be sure to put together a list of songs you don’t want to hear, under any circumstances (i.e. anything by Nickelback #SorryNotSorry). Also, if there’s a particular song you want played, make sure you list the artist as well, to avoid another artist’s cover being played.
20. Strays be gone!
Okay, it’s not the most charming of pre-wedding to-dos, but if you plan on booking any hair removal sessions it’s best to to it at least a few days before the special day. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your dress is or how perfectly your makeup has been done, red, blotchy and itchy skin from a bad reaction is sure to ruin your bridal look.
21. Nailed it!
When it’s getting to the final few days, take it as your cue to visit the nail salon for a little pampering and to enjoy a little breathing space. Don’t book it too early (in case of chipping), and be sure to buy a matching colour varnish just in case any last minute fix-ups are needed.
22. Get me to the church on time
If you’re not planning on driving yourself, your driver can be one of the most important people on the day – they’ll literally get you from A to B! Make sure you have their mobile number, in case of any late arrivals or if you happen to leave something in the car. Also, if you have guests from out of town it’s always a lovely gesture to plan transportation for them to and from the wedding. Whether it’s a simple maxi taxi or a stylish limo, they’ll appreciate not having to worry about the ride or the route.
23. Fresh as a daisy
Obvious fact of the day – flowers need water. Have a vase of water ready to save your bouquet from wilting in the heat, especially if it’s a summer wedding. Remember to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – the same applies to humans.
24. Make you feel my love
If your guests are flying in for the occasion, shop around for some thoughtful welcome gifts to leave in their hotel rooms. Any cheesy ‘welcome to’ souvenirs are always a winner.
25. This is a drill, people
Final fittings aren’t just for brides. Organise another fitting with your bridal party and bring along any accessories or shapewear you plan on wearing. Sometimes one bra just looks better under a dress than another (the term ‘pancake boobs’ springs to mind) so don’t be afraid to bring along a few options to try on.
26. In case of emergencies
Pretty much every ‘bride advice list’ includes an emergency kit, but it’s for a good reason! Think of the horrors you’ll avoid by packing some hairspray, face powder, lipstick, mints, hemming tape, safety pins, stain remover, tissues, band-aids, extra pantyhose, traction pads for heels and hairpins of every kind. Actually, you might not want to think about it for too long. Don’t fret too much if you forget anything, as one of your guests or bridesmaids is bound to have something helpful on hand, but an emergency kit could be one of the best pieces of insurance you’ll ever invest in.
27. The most important meal of the day
It doesn’t matter how slim-fitting your dress is, skipping breakfast on the morning of your wedding is never a good idea. If staying at a hotel, pre-order breakfast to be delivered to your room so it’s one less thing to think about on the day. And make sure you eat something substantial – the strawberry in your Champagne does not count!
28. Put it in writing
Now’s the time to apply those final tweaks to your vows, and practice any speeches you plan on giving. Spontaneous ad-libbing often makes for the best ceremonies, but if you’re admittedly a little daunted by public speaking, having a few quick ‘run throughs’ can really put your mind at ease.
29. I’ll drink to that
If you’ve organised to have a bartender at your wedding, double check the cocktail list the day before. A forgotten garnish, a missing mixer, a Pimm’s Cup without the Pimm’s – they’re all things that can be avoided with a quick phone call and a trip to the bottle shop. Also, if you’ve designed a signature cocktail for the occasion, confirm the ingredients before the big day and make sure you have one final sample… all in the name of wedding planning, of course.
30. That’s all for now, folks
Anyone who’s worked in a late-night venue will tell you there comes a time when you just have to kick everyone out – they’ll usually play Semisonic’s ‘Closing Time’ as a polite cue. Make sure you’ve checked with all your vendors, especially your venue, what time your reception is expected to wrap up to avoid an unexpected overtime fee. As the song goes, “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here” – hotel after-party, anyone?
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