Five wedding planners across the country—who have seen it all—are here to calm you down. First up? Don’t sweat the weather.
Really. You can’t control it anyway.
You can, however, prepare in advance—especially if your ceremony or reception is outdoors. Ask your rental company to put an extra tent on reserve, says Calder Clark of Calder Clark design firm in Charleston, South Carolina. (They may charge you a small percentage of the total cost, but it buys you peace of mind.) You can also reserve stand-up fans if you’re worried about a heat wave. After that? Stop looking at the hourly forecast every 45 seconds.
Hire a day-of coordinator.
“So many couples think they can do all of the planning on their own, and that’s completely fine—up until the day of the wedding,” says Brooke Keegan of Brooke Keegan Weddings & Events in Newport Beach, California. “If you can hire someone to handle the details on the actual day, it alleviates so much stress. You should be a guest at your wedding, not the staff.” Even if a soup-to-nuts planner isn’t in your budget, many offer more affordable, day-of services.
Keep your schedule clear.
It’s tempting to plan a big brunch or line up manicures, pedicures, hair, and a bikini wax on the morning of the wedding, but try not to do too much. (Stick to the absolute necessities—hair and makeup.) “Your wedding day will fly by faster than you could ever imagine. If you have too many activities, you won’t have space to take in the real once-in-a-lifetime moments,” says Maria Baer, co-owner of Ritzy Bee Events in Washington, D.C.
Don’t “check in” on your venue beforehand.
It’s tempting on the day of to peek in (or drive by) the reception site while everyone is setting up. Don’t do that. “Brides want to see all of their planning and vision come to fruition, of course. But my advice is to wait for the big reveal, when the candlelight, the beautiful linens, the great band can really tell the story,” says Audrey Hurst of Audrey Hurst Weddings in Memphis, Tennessee. Not only is the payoff not as sweet if you’re checking on lighting and flowers all day; you’ll just make yourself crazy seeing a half-finished hall.
Make sure someone knows how to bustle your dress.
Don’t rely on a safety pin and a prayer. Have a friend or relative go with you to a fitting to learn how to bustle the train, if you have one, and make sure that person practices and sticks around post-ceremony to button you into shape.
Have alone time with your new husband.
This is a biggie. “You need to make a date with your new spouse during the reception, even if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes. Sneak away to a secret spot,” says Lisa Vorce of Lisa Vorce Co. in Los Angeles. If your ceremony and reception are at the same site, take a few moments to hang out in a dressing room. Or, if you’re driving from a church to the reception, go alone rather than riding with the whole wedding party. “When my husband and I got married, we had a driver take us from the church to the reception, and our photographer rode along in the front seat. It was such a refreshing break to talk about the ceremony, read the surprise inscriptions we’d had engraved inside our rings, and talk about what we were excited about at the reception,” says Hurst.
Get a just-for-you-two meal.
“No one wants to be chasing down wait staff,” says Vorce. “Ask your caterer or a friend to have a plate or hors d’oeuvres and some celebratory beverages prepped and ready for you immediately after the ceremony, so you can snack while taking photos.” If your reception is a buffet rather than a seated dinner, have a “mini meal” with your husband (also counts as alone time!), says Clark. “Give your caterer plenty of notice to plan a little nosh just after post-ceremony pictures. Have a great cocktail, sample your food, and then you’ll be all set to talk and dance without having to worry that you don’t have a carb base to survive the rest of the evening.”
Assign a photo wrangler.
Do not waste 15 minutes of your cocktail hour trying to corral all five of your college roommates for a picture. “Designate someone ahead of time, a family member or close friend who is familiar with everyone and—even more important—isn’t shy, to get people together,” says Kelly Seizert, co-owner of Ritzy Bee Events. Consider picking two people—one who knows the family, one who’s up on all of your besties—so you cover every group.
And a keepsake wrangler.
Guess what you won’t remember to grab on your way out of the ceremony? A clean copy of the program. Ask a friend to collect all of the special paper goods—a few extra programs, some monogrammed napkins, a copy of the menu that doesn’t have Bearnaise sauce dripped on it. “For bonus points, collect duplicate sets for your mother and mother-in-law. They’ll be thrilled,” says Vorce.
Stick with your spouse.
Sure, you need to talk to your high school English teacher while he chats with his dad’s business partner. But don’t stay apart too long. “Link arms. Be cheesy. This is not the night to showcase your ability to mingle independently like you would at a cocktail party,” says Clark. “You risk having totally different memories of this important event, and you make it impossible for your photographer to capture you together!”
Remember what’s important.
You know what we’re about to say: You can’t control everything. Zippers will break, flower girls will cry, and what matters is the marriage, not the height of the centerpieces. Says Clark: “As the bride, you drive the mood. It won’t matter if the storm of the century is sweeping through—if you’re all smiles and thrilled to be marrying the love of your life, the guests will have fun, too.”