Everyone Forgets Cake Plates: What Not to Forget On Your Wedding Day
Seriously though. Everyone really does forget cake plates. Forgetting vital items on your wedding day is one of every bride's worst nightmares. The list of things you could forget is endless, but don't freak out yet! We are going to cover the bases here by reviewing the most commonly forgotten details and items on any given wedding day plus give you some ideas on things that can easily be completed in advance to avoid a last minute meltdown. Hiring an experienced wedding coordinator can save the day if you do forget something despite our handy dandy checklist. If you missed the blog post a few weeks ago on wedding coordination sharing helpful tips on choosing the perfect wedding coordinator and cost-saving ideas for hiring a quality coordinator, check it out here at Fact: You Need A Wedding Coordinator. We also share some of out favorite wedding coordinators from Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky.
Details Commonly Left Out of the Plan
Sometimes couples literally forget to hire key vendors or book hotel rooms. Imagine that everything seems in order, but two weeks before the wedding, you realize that you forgot that someone would need to serve alcohol and now you're scrambling to book a last minute bartending service and the pickings are slim but expensive to say the least. Even worse, imagine showing up for your wedding and thinking everything is perfect, but the wedding cake you THOUGHT you paid for after meeting with multiple bakers was never actually booked or paid for. Despite emails and a delightful cake tasting, the contract and payment slipped through the cracks. Sometimes wedding horror stories really happen.
Our first blog post of this series, Three Big Wedding Questions: Budget, Guest Count & Date, covered all of the types of vendors couples hire for their weddings and even shared the percentage of their wedding day budget that should go to each vendor. As a recap, here is a quick list of vendors to be sure you have accounted for if you plan to have them:
Ceremony & Reception Venues
Planning / Coordination
Rentals & Decor
Wedding Day Hair & Makeup
Photo Booth / Additional Entertainment
Another big thing couples sometimes forget is wedding day transportation. If you plan to get ready at the venue / hotel where both your ceremony and reception are taking place, you will likely ride with a friend or family member or even take your personal vehicle to the wedding. For couples getting ready at one location such as a house or hotel, having their ceremony at another location such as a church and then the reception at a wedding venue, it may be best to hire a limo, trolley or bus to get themselves and the bridal party from place to place. Even if you do not have multiple locations on the itinerary, if you plan to drink at your reception, be sure to either hire a car or have a designated driver (that means someone who will stay sober) in place to drive you both to your hotel.
Bathrooms and parking seem so common sense, but have you considered where your guests will park if your venue doesn't include parking? Options include hiring a valet parking company and renting a near by parking lot, street side or garage parking where guests will have to pay or maybe even suggesting parking at a local hotel and shuttling guests over in groups. Outdoor venues do not always include bathrooms, so be sure to book either Port-o-Potties or one of the nicer, new trailer bathrooms.
Rehearsal dinners, bridal brunches and other wedding-related parties are each separate events of their own. They each come with their own set of vendors, check lists and details doubling the job of keeping everything in order. It is customary to allow the family of the groom to handle the rehearsal dinner and for mothers or aunts to organize the bridal brunch or bridesmaid luncheon if you plan to have them. In addition, the maid of honor is typically in charge of planning showers and the bachelorette party. For men, the best man is to lead the way in bachelor party festivities.
How do you plan to exit on your wedding night? Whether you're shooting for sparklers, glow sticks or floating paper lanterns, have a plan for your wedding exit strategy. The happy couple leaving signifies to guests that the party has ended and a well-laid plan makes for gorgeous photos. Be sure to go over your exit plan with your photographer, coordinator and videographer if you have one. What if your wedding is ending early but you still want beautiful images? Rose petals or biodegradable confetti make for a gorgeous trip up the aisle after an outdoor ceremony.
Hotel accommodations and honeymoon transportation such as flights and rental cars are additional items that may need to be booked depending on your plans and destination. Packing bags early the week of the wedding is a must as there is no need to stress about it the day of your rehearsal or the morning of your wedding. In addition, you may want to create an emergency kit to keep handy over your wedding weekend.
Why would anyone having an outdoor wedding not have a rain plan? Or a heat plan or a cold plan? While guests can usually make it outdoors for a hasty 15-minute wedding ceremony in the rain (clear or black umbrellas for the ceremony never hurt though just in case), no one wants to have a seated dinner with wet food or dance the night away on a muddy dance floor in a monsoon. Always book a rain plan tent; even if you don't have to use it, it is better to be safe than sorry. Don't be that person whose wedding reception is literally cancelled as the reception is rained out. Heaters, fleece blankets and hot cocoa make cold weather events more bearable. There aren't a ton of options for outdoor events on hot days, but tents for shade, iced water stations, fans and bug repellant are a good start. Also make guests aware more than once that the entire event will be outdoors and to wear cool clothing.
Re-Read All of Your Vendor Contracts
In the hustle and bustle of booking all things wedding-related, couples sometimes fail to really read their contracts through and through. Read your contracts again from start to finish. It never hurts to re-read all contracts 30 days prior to your wedding to be sure all of the bases are covered. I cannot tell you how many times over the years a couple thought they were buying something and it ended up not being exactly what they wanted when it showed up on their wedding day or they were charged borderline-crazy fees right before the wedding to cover additional staff, hours or equipment.
Contracts should include a payment schedule, the specifics of what exactly your are getting, how many hours are included, the number of staff members you should expect, information about fees on weekend delivery and late night pick up, company policies and a cancellation policy. Most wedding vendors require couples to put down 25%-50% to book their date with the remaining balance usually due 15-30 days prior to the wedding. KNOW WHEN YOUR FINAL PAYMENTS ARE DUE AND PAY THEM ON TIME. It is best to keep all of your contracts organized in a binder or computer file for easy access when sharing them with your coordinator. If you have broken the #1 rule and hired any vendors without a contract, now is the time to start getting scared. Send them an email detailing everything you have paid them so far, what you think you paid for and ask questions about final payment and their arrival schedule for the day. Pray that everything goes well.
Speaking of emails, I am neurotic to say the least. If you have booked all of your vendors via email and kept communication strictly to emails, you can go ahead and let your obsessive heart overflow and even re-read all of your emails. Remember that email is the preferred method of communication within the wedding industry. If you have a question even just before the wedding, it is best to try reaching out through email first. By strictly communicating through emails, you will have written documentation of everything discussed. Calling is fine, but emailing is better. Be sure you have everything in writing to be on the safe side.
12 Things to Do Before Your Big Day
These simple things to do before your wedding will make you feel like you've got your life together plus are über easy and so good. Get them done quick. Here goes:
Send Out Your Invitations On Time - Invitations must go out two months prior to your wedding date. You're going to order them no matter what. Why not order them NOW? Weddings can come together in just a few weeks, but this one thing must be done well in advance. We always suggest having custom invitations with matching programs, escort cards, signage, menus and branded details. It is best to begin ordering stationery at a very minimum of four months before your wedding date. If you know you're a slacker and you do not plan to pay for calligraphy, order them six months out and give yourself some grace. Side note: Blog post on wedding stationery coming soon, but if you can treat yourself to calligraphy and hire someone to beautifully address your envelopes, you will be sleep so well at night! It seriously takes off so much pressure.
Get Your Marriage License - Most states allow you to get your marriage license at 30 days out. This is necessary, but is literally the coolest government document you are ever going to stand in line for. It makes it all feel more real. Be sure to take the obligatory marriage license photo to share on Instagram!
Count Your RSVPs & Call About Missing RSVPs - Counting RSVPs is a tedious task, but you have to turn in final counts to your vendors and to finalize your seating chart if you plan to have one. If anyone has failed to turn in their RSVP by the date you listed (30 days prior to your wedding date), you have to set aside a day to call AND text them. Maybe do a social media shout out to all of those potential wedding guests who suck. I had mentioned this in a previous paragraph, but be sure all of your final venue / vendor balances are paid as soon as you get the counts turned in.
Be Sure Your Coordinator Sends the Timeline to All Vendors - This is so basic, but it never hurts to ask to be CCed on the email going out to vendors with your wedding day timeline and request that vendors CC you too when they confirm that they have received the email. This can give you peace of mind and also let all of your vendors know that you are in the loop with your coordinator and prepared to answer any questions they have. If you don't have a wedding day timeline, check out this blog post on Tried & True Wedding Day Timelines!
Try On Everything - Be sure to try on all wedding attire at the beginning of the wedding week. This goes for the bride, the bridesmaids, the groom and groomsmen. Last minute alterations are expensive, but if someone has increased a size, it is better to know a week before than the day of when even a magic wand won't save the day. The reason Men's Wearhouse and every other suit rental company on earth suggests guys try on their suits at the shop when they pick up is because often pant legs and sleeves are way too short. Not a good look for groomsmen and especially not for the groom. Try on everything.
Order Programs, Escort Cards, Signage, Menus, Place Cards and Favor Tags - Are you aware that all of your wedding day paper needs can and should match your invitation suite? YASSSSSSSS. Be sure to order additional pieces from your stationery designer no later than three weeks (21 days) prior to your wedding date once you have your final count in and the seating chart is finalized. Allow more time if you're hoping for hand-painted pieces or calligraphy.
Be Sure Alcohol, Glassware, Ice, Garnishes & Mixers Are Covered - No one ever forgets the booze, right? Wrong. Couples all over the country are out buying up all the inventory at their local liquor stores this week because they literally forgot this needed to happen. Many caterers and bartending companies offer the service of serving alcohol and mixing drinks, but do not actually provide alcohol. What about glassware, cocktail napkins, straws, garnishes and mixers such as Coke or OJ? These items may or may not be a part of your package, so it is always best to know what is included in your package and purchase any needed items in advance.
Security - Security is a requirement for most venues and even if it isn’t, you want to have security on site. Some venues include it and others do not. Ask if the venue requires security, if the security is hired by the venue and if cost is factored into the pricing or if you hire the security separately. Be sure you have the necessary security booked for your wedding. Need some help? Most police and sheriffs departments hire out off-duty officers for events at an affordable rate if you must hire your own security (typically $30-$45 per hour).
Buy Candles - Most florists (including myself) do not provide candles. They're super easy to order. Candles make everything romantic and magical. I will tell you where to get the best ones: Walmart. They carry a brand called Mainstays which has options for a 3-Pack of 6" White Pillar Candles, a 3-Pack of 3" White Pillar Candles, a 12-Pack of White Votives in Clear Glass, Jesus Candles in all the colors and a 4-Pack of White Taper Candles. Walmart also has some $0.74 clear glass candle holders for taper candles (be sure to buy 4" diameter by 16" tall cylinders on Amazon for $70/dozen if your venue requires taper candles to be set in glass or if you are renting linens as wax damages them). Michaels Craft Store has the best selection of floating candles and IF they are having a 40% off all purchases sale, they also carry the same candle types as Walmart which happen to be cheaper when on sale. DollarTree online carries 7" and 9" cylinder vases for $1 each awesome for dropping pillar candles down into so they meet venue regulations and don't catch anything on fire and also perfect for filling with water and dropping floating candles into. DollarTree cylinders are sold by the dozen and delivered in a nifty box perfect to add in pillar candles and take straight to a wedding. Be cool: Unwrap all of the individually wrapped candles before your wedding day. Even if your coordinator places candles at no extra cost, he / she probably doesn't have an extra hour to unwrap them. Do not store candles in the heat as they can melt.
Pack Decor & Personal Items in Rubbermaid Tubs - The best way to transfer any and all of your personal decor is in Rubbermaid tubs. Pack everything fragile with bubble wrap or tissue paper. Compile a list for each tub explaining where all of it's contents should be placed. You coordinator should have no problem getting everything exactly how you want it if you are organized and at the close of the event, he / she can check things off as he / she re-packs them for you or a family members to take home. Side note: Limit personal decorations as much as possible. Anything more than three tubs is overkill. To be honest rental companies usually have newer and nicer shit available to rent for a better price than you can buy pieces yourself.
Handle the Honeymoon - Planning a trip is FUN and your honeymoon should be no different. Book hotels/ resorts / flights / tours / rental cars and even go shopping for clothes. I give you full permission to spend hours day dreaming and researching your top destination picks on Pinterest. Packing your bags way early gives bonus points.
Make A List & Check It Twice - Maybe it is just me that loves lists, but Santa knows what's up and it's not very nice to be missing something essential because you are not very organized. MAKE A LIST. Just in case you hate making lists, in the next section of this post, I have composed a list of things not to forget at home or in your hotel room!
Important Things Not to Forget on Your Wedding Day in List Form
Shoes, Veil, Jewelry, Hair Accessories, Etc.
Undergarments & Garter
Getting Ready Outfit
Suit Garment Bag
Emergency Kit + Extra Deoderant
Makeup Bag (Touch Ups)
Vows, Unity Ceremony Set & Programs
Flower Girl Basket & Ring Bearer Pillow
Stationery & Ring Boxes for Styling
Gifts - Each Other, Bridesmaids, Groomsmen & Parents
Vendor Final Payments & Tip Envelopes
Signs & Easels - Welcome, Reserved, Seating Chart, Bar, Gifts, Chair Signs, Etc.
Guestbook & Pens
Escort Cards / Display, Place Cards & Table Numbers
Cake Plates, Cake Stand, Cake Topper & Cake Serving Set
Tupperware for Top Tier of Cake
Alcohol, Mixers, Garnishes & Cocktail Napkins
Sparklers / Send Off Supplies
Bathroom Care Kit
Photo Booth Props & Backdrop
Overnight Bag / Honeymoon Luggage
Cash, Identification & Travel Documents
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue (if you're into that sort of superstitious thing)
Important Things to Remember On Your Wedding Day
Relax, relax, relax and have fun. Couples work so hard to plan the perfect day, but when the day arrives, they need to remember to leave the details to the pros and to stand back and enjoy the day. Essentially, you want to be a guest at your own wedding.
Assign a contact, someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf, who can talk to your coordinator, the venue, vendors and rowdy guests if there is a problem.
Stay hydrated. You want to drink a lot of water throughout the day especially once you begin drinking those sweet alcoholic signature drinks you have planned.
If you're in love with your iPhone like I am, put it down, lol. But just in case be sure to have a phone charger on hand and let your maid of honor know you may need help finding any outlet and charging it if you need to use it.
Grooms: Embrace the formal photos. It's only a couple hours and you can use this as a perfect opportunity to smooch your new spouse.
Sit down and enjoy your meal. Your DJ can invite guests over to your table if they need to say hi during this time.
Don't obsess over going around and greeting all of your guests especially at weddings with over 100 guests. While this is a nice gesture, in this era couples commonly grab the mic and thank everyone for coming to close the toasts. Addressing the masses allows you more time to soak it all in and enjoy your day.
Thanks so much for reading along today for the eighth post in our wedding planning series! If you need some inspiration, check out our Instagram at @_giselle_smith. Be sure to subscribe to the blog to receive monthly email updates. Stay tuned next Tuesday, April 2 for our Guide to Ordering Wedding Booze. Drinking might be the most fun.
Cheers to not forgetting everything for your wedding! XOXO
Romantic, Mexican-themed inspiration shot by Mint Photography at La Rio Mansion located in the heart of Texas with planning and florals by yours truly. Other lovely vendors include 2Tarts Bakery, Blush Bridal Lounge, My Style Team, Cren de la Cren Beauty by Katherine Crenshaw, Optic Bliss Videography, Beautifully Bevilled Paperie, Pink Avocado Catering and Loot Vintage Rentals. Previously featured in Brides of Austin.