Photo Credit: Sonia Tapia - Enchanted Bliss
1. Finalize your wedding itinerary. "Your wedding timeline needs to be realistic and have room for error. If you don't have a planner, ask your photographer and on-site coordinator for guidance; they've done this many times and can help you avoid any red flags," says Gina Jokilehto-Schigel from Shi Shi Events. Complete this task at the beginning of your wedding week so that you can confirm all of your vendors. Then, distribute copies of the timeline to your bridal party and family members at the rehearsal dinner so that everyone is on the same page about who needs to be where and when.
2. Make sure your wedding gown fits properly. "I've had brides put their wedding dress on only to find that their alterations weren't complete, and there were still pins in it," says Joni Scalzo from Your Special Day by Joni. Also, when you take your dress home, be sure to take the garment bag off so that it has time to "breathe" and settle.
3. Break in your wedding shoes. Don't let aching feet put a damper on your big day! Stretch out your heels in advance by wearing a thick pair of socks and aiming a hair dryer at the tighter spots (keep them on while they cool). You could also try placing a bag of water in each heel and freezing them overnight. Better yet, bring a change of shoes that you can slip on while shooting photos outdoors or after the first dance.
4. Drop off necessary ceremony and reception items to your wedding venue. For example, your sign-in book, unity candles, bathroom amenity baskets, menus, table numbers, escort cards, card box, etc. Organize everything into bins and include notes with any special instructions about what goes where. Give your venue coordinator a list of items that need to be returned to you post-celebration like framed photos or your cake topper.
5. If you can avoid it, don't plan your rehearsal dinner the night before your wedding. "Schedule it two days prior, instead, to avoid being over-scheduled before your wedding," says Shannon Dexter from All You Need is Love Events. She tells us that some of her brides and grooms often choose to have dinner alone the night before their wedding so they can spend some quality time together and relax.
6. Create a ceremony diagram. Strategize the order of how the attendants will stand, and list who and in what order the family will sit in the reserved rows. That way, you won't forget to seat your favorite uncle in the right place.
7. Delegate, delegate, delegate. You won't be able to do everything by yourself, no matter how much you are willing to try. "We always encourage our brides to outsource the delivery of the welcome bags to a good friend or family member who has offered to help, or even a courier service. It is a time-consuming project that collides with such a busy period of your wedding weekend," says Augusta Cole from Easton Events. Another huge time-saver is designating someone to meet and greet out-of-town guests at the airport. "You may want to pick up everyone yourself because you are so excited to see them but don't stress yourself out," says Diane Kolanović-Šolaja from Dee Kay Events.
8. Designate a go-to person who knows just as much about the wedding as you do. In most cases, this is a maid of honor or sister. "She knows when you need a sandwich (hold the red onions) and can help calm your mom down. Most importantly, she'll relieve you from being the go-to person for every wedding question," says Lindsey Nickel from Lovely Day Events. For example, she can help your photographer identify missing family members to help move along the portraits portion of the day. You may also want to turn your cell phone over to her for the day. "If you don't, you will find yourself acting as a 'help desk' for your friends and relatives," Cole cautions.
9. Soliciting the help of a wedding coordinator can be a huge relief. They can confirm your vendors, coordinate your welcome dinner, make weather-related decisions, assist with seating assignments and finish crossing off any other last-minute tasks. "Even if nothing were to go wrong, just knowing that they are there as an insurance policy will help you keep any jitteriness to a minimum," says Aviva Samuels from Kiss the Planner.
10. Plan some fun outings with guests who will be in town. The wedding day passes by in a blur — prolong the excitement with activities leading up to the grand finale. That way, you not only get to spend time with everyone you love but also introduce your guests to one another. Just limit yourself to a few activities and avoid over-scheduling.
11. Make your final payments before they're due. "You don't want to be burdened with trying to locate your checkbook on the wedding day," says Lisa Gorjestani from Details Event Planning. Write out a list of gratuities that you plan to give each vendor and put the tip money into separate envelopes with their names, which you'll need to keep in a safe place. Depending on your preference, you could designate a parent to distribute tips, so you don't have to worry about it at the end of the night. (Bring some extra envelopes in case you’d like to adjust accordingly at the end of the event.)
12. Take good care of yourself. Eat healthy, balanced meals and don't skimp; after all, you'll need every ounce of energy you've got. "It's not fun to be a 'hangry' bride or be around one!" Nickel says. Get away from the hustle and bustle of preparations to go for a run, take a yoga class, read a book or another decompressing activity.
13. Indulge in well-deserved pampering with your wedding VIPs. After you've finalized everything, you're officially in relaxation mode and can enjoy getting your nails done! Dexter shares that one of her clients booked a mini spa getaway two weeks before the big day. "It allowed her to be calm and spend some time with her mother, whom she lived with before she married her husband and moved out," she says.
14. Get a good night's sleep. Although it may be tempting to stay up until 2 a.m., getting enough Zzzs will ensure that you're glowing in your wedding photos and have the stamina to dance your wedding night away. If you're throwing a multi-day wedding celebration, Cole tells us it's important to have a graceful exit strategy. "Establish a departure time and rally a friend or family member to ensure you leave the event to get your rest," she advises.
15. Remember why you're celebrating in the first place. Do your best to cherish this once-in-a-lifetime event. "Weddings are a joyous occasion. But with all the meticulous planning, high expectations and umpteen hours that go into them, there are bound to be some stressful moments in the final weeks," Samuels says. "Don't obsess about perfection to the point where you make yourself miserable in the process," she cautions. Take a moment to look around at the people that mean the world to you and your partner. "The dresses, cake, flowers, food, and drinks have little importance to the success of your marriage. Because, let's be honest — in the end, love is all you need," Dexter says.