Are any of these items missing from your wedding planning checklist?
Wedding planning advice from some of the best wedding planners in Toronto, Vancouver, and across the U.S.
When it comes to your wedding planning checklist, unless you’re a professional wedding planner it’s almost impossible not to overlook something. We asked some of the best wedding planners in Toronto, Vancouver, and across the U.S. for advice on items that are often missed by couples who plan their own wedding…
“Anyone who has ever planned a wedding themselves will know that there are dozens and dozens of things to plan for. So naturally if you are doing it for the first time it is not surprising that you may miss some things along the way. Items which are commonly overlooked are audio/visual charges, tax, gratuity, and administration fees at venues, as well as set-up and delivery costs for wedding designers and/or decorators.”
“As details and timing evolve through the wedding planning process it is important to update all contracts one month before the wedding to reflect all of your final agreements with vendors. For example, you may have added cake cutting or a special performance after the initial discussion. Or, when you booked your linen and chairs for the 300 guests originally invited, you would not have been able to predict that only 240 would RSVP. Be sure to adjust your contracts to reflect all changes.”
“Having a rain plan. The weather is the only thing that no one can predict or control, therefore, it is important to always have a backup plan. Make sure your venue has an indoor ceremony option or rent a tent if you are planning to get married outside. The same applies to your photo location – choose a location that has an indoor and outdoor area, or have a backup indoor option. Finally, remember to pack an umbrella to ensure that your hair and dress do not get ruined!”
“Many wedding planning checklists cover the big-ticket items that need to be purchased and secured, but often lack in areas surrounding fine-tuning and personal detail. It’s common to overlook items such as:
- acquiring your wedding license (in Ontario, this can only be purchased within 90 days of the wedding date so be careful!)
- establishing a clear way for the kitchen to identify the guests requiring allergy and special consideration meals
- designating a responsible person to safely stow away the gifts and contents of the money box
With all the big things being typically secured by way of a contract with a vendor, many of these more personal tasks tend to be overlooked.”
“In a general budget, 4 items that are typically never included are the wedding gown, the wedding rings, the rehearsal dinner/party, and the honeymoon. These have too broad a range. Often the gown is purchased by the bride’s family, the rings are ‘lifetime jewellery’ and the honeymoon is a holiday. Rehearsal is often subsidized by family as well.”
“Big vendors are easy to book, like photography, entertainment and flowers, but often the small details get overlooked. The smaller details like day-of stationary, personalized details, rain back-up plans for photos and audio-visual enhancements are just as important and are often a last minute thought.”
“The seating chart. People underestimate how long it takes to seat all your guests the way that they want. When you start factoring in groups of friends and family, and then their table’s physical location in the hall, it can be very difficult to get it all to line up!”
“Wedding planning lists are like chameleons, always changing based on the situation. It is usually the small things that get overlooked — the cake cutting knife is the most common I have found. I always remind couples to bring their marriage license, something so obvious, but it usually gets forgotten in the revelry of the day. Also, when pricing out meals, remember you often have to feed your vendors – photographers, videographers, DJ, florist, decorator etc. It is the small necessary details that get overlooked that cause the budget to change, especially last minute.”
“Downtime for the bride and groom, especially the week before the wedding day. So many details get left to the last week, just as out-of-town guests start to arrive. Add a picnic in the park for two or a couples massage at the spa or escape to the movies. Plan some downtime without discussing wedding details.”
“It’s hard to answer this question as my primary service is ensuring that nothing ever gets overlooked – and it doesn’t! But for those couples who have booked only day-of coordination and not full-service planning, there have been a few surprises where they needed my help to correct. For example, we have experienced couples that are not sure when or how to apply for their marriage license. Or they don’t know when to send out their invitations or what RSVP date to put on them. They are also not sure when to do their tasting, unless the venue contacts them directly.
All of that said, even though these couples have only hired us for day-of coordination, we are always happy to provide as much advice as possible. With our vast network of industry professionals, we have a fabulous team in place to help us take care of any issues that may arise for our valued clients. Our goal is to make every couple happy, whatever it takes!”
“In general, not allowing enough time to get tasks done. Other items include:
getting a marriage license
writing their speech well in advance
accounting for the number of dress fittings required, most underestimate this
the day-of checklist I find is often overlooked – order breakfast, lunch, who is bringing/holding the rings at the ceremony”
“This is not something that is overlooked on the wedding planning checklist but something that is not realized by couples until the end of their wedding day arrives: the day truly goes by in the blink of an eye, so appreciate every little moment.”
“While it’s tempting to get swept up in the fuss of everything – all it will take to make the day happen – I urge brides to take a deep breath and consider these important truths….
Take your hands off the steering wheel and trust those you’ve left in charge. Your day will be over before you know it and will happen like a flash, so take time to physically stop and savour the present moment: the people, the sounds, the sensations of how you’re feeling. These here are your memories in the making!
Most importantly, be aware that no wedding goes off without a hitch. I know, I know. You’re shocked I even said that and are re-reading to ensure you heard me right. But indeed, almost always things go wrong, be them small and insignificant or sometimes large and rather grieving.
But know this: at the end of the day, no glitch can touch the true heart of your wedding day; each other, your friends and family, and the marriage waiting on the other side of the “I do.” Be determined to give thanks and stay focused on the things that truly matter, both now and in fifty years.”
“Allow yourself the gift of proper time management. People often think that if they put a time that something needs to happen on paper that it will, but if the timing was never possible it will throw off the entire day and create a domino effect of delays. Plan out the timing of the day properly. Ask your vendors if your timing is achievable and realistic. Involve the professionals. Don’t be a know-it-all. That’s our job! LOL”
“Individual group photos with family and friends. More often than not, couples will want various combinations of group photos with their family and friends. They might assume that these pictures will get taken by the photographer at some point or another during the wedding day, but they really need to plan for it as a part of their day so that no groups are missed, and the process doesn’t end up taking any longer than necessary. A quick guideline on planning for group photos on your wedding day:
1) Prior to the wedding, make a list of all the group photos you’d like taken (including all the various combinations of people in each group). Send a copy of this list to your photographer.
2) Assign 1-2 helpers to coordinate the group photo session. The helpers will call out groups and gather people into groups so that the photos can be taken efficiently one after another.”
“While the day is about the couple, it’s really important that the guests have a great time because everyone having fun is what makes the day so magical. So it’s wise to consider all things from the guests perspective while planning, and avoiding things that can be less than perfect for them – having to drive from one side of the city to the other, long breaks between ceremony and cocktail hour, no food at cocktail hour, waiting a long time to be served dinner (especially in the case of speeches at the start of the meal), not having a shuttle in a location where it’s difficult to get a cab and so on. If you walk through the day in your mind as if you were a guest, you’ll be able to identify and problem spots and brainstorm a fix of how to make them happy and ensure they’ll enjoy the whole experience, and then so will you!”
“Sometimes the couple will forget about a rehearsal and the importance of one to have everything flow. Even if you are a real casual low maintenance bride you still need to do a rehearsal with your wedding party, even if it’s just the two of you.”
“Spending time together. The wedding day goes by so quickly and sometimes you hardly say two words to each other and then just realize this as you are driving back to the hotel in the limo at the end of the night. When I work with a couple I share my views on taking time out of the day to reflect, give each other a high five for getting through the planning and to just enjoy the moment together. This can happen during the first look, moments after the ceremony or while your photographer is stealing you away for sunset photos. This is the best day of your life to date, don’t forget to steal those moments away with each other.”
“Who will be taking gifts home at the end of the night! We can’t tell you the number of times we’ve planned this detail with our clients only to have the person tasked with the job to have one too many glasses of wine or even forget and leave the venue.”
“One thing that for sure gets overlooked is building time into the itinerary for some time together – just the two of you! The wedding day can often be such a blur! After all the hard work of planning such an extraordinary day, you want to make sure to take some time (even 5 minutes) to slow down, breath and be excited together. This means no photographers, no bridal party!”
“A detailed plan for take-down at the end of the night is often one, especially for weddings with a lot of DIY elements. People tend to be pre-occupied with getting everything to the venue and setting it up, they often forget to plan the logistics of loading it all out. Things like leftover open liquor, leftover wedding cake, gifts and especially flowers. Discuss with your florist ahead of time if the flowers will be in plastic containers placed inside the rental vases, that way it’s easy to take them at the end of the night or gift them to guests. Another thing often overlooked is a pen to sign the marriage register! I always have a couple fancy pens on hand just in case, and they end up being used more than you’d think!”
“One thing that always gets overlooked is just how early hair and makeup need to start. Because everyone is so excited on the wedding day, hair and make-up always tend to run behind and you need to start about 30-60 minutes earlier than you would think. This way everything stays on time, and nobody is stressed because things are getting behind. The other thing that seems to always get overlooked are pens for the guestbook!”
“Let the little things go and enjoy every little nanosecond of this amazing day! An incorrect napkin fold or a chef forgetting to bring breadsticks will not matter in five years from now….dancing with Grandma and spinning with your nieces will!”
“Remember to EAT! You do not want the highlight of your wedding day to be you fainted at the altar. It is important to add to your day of timeline at least 1 hour for yourself where you can grab a bite to eat and have some downtime to reflect on the day ahead.”
“Eat and relax! Just take a moment to stop and breathe and really take in the day. Too many bride and grooms just let the day go by and it’s over before they know it!”
“The cutting of the cake. Once the bride and groom do their pictures with the cake and have their toasts, if the caterer did not provide the wedding cake there is often no one there to cut it and have it available for guests. No one wants to ask a family member or guest to do this so it is often worth the extra fee to pay your caterer to provide this service for you.”
“This is tough because I have extensive spreadsheets and checklists so that nothing gets overlooked by accident. I can’t tell you the last time we forgot something by accident, knock on wood!”
“Well, when you hire a planner all of the details are there 🙂 Really, going through the checklists I have made for myself for the business have really allowed all of the details to be well thought out and not overlooked. A lot of couples tell me all the time there are so many things they did not think of until I asked.”
“Return transportation or the Bridal Party! They are often transported to the wedding, but not home.”
“I’m going to be honest and tell you that this question is hard for me as a planner. It’s our JOB to make sure nothing gets overlooked, so I can’t honestly tell you of a particular item or thing that often gets overlooked because it’s just in my nature to check for those things. However, in thinking about this from the perspective of a couple that has not hired a planner, I would say a realistic timeline or agenda for the wedding day is often missing from their wedding planning checklist. I frequently hear stories from those who have attended a wedding that did not have a planner, and they talk about how things did not flow smoothly, how events got missed or didn’t happen because the couple ran out of time, or how things took way too long on wedding day, such as the formal photos taken with family after the wedding ceremony.
Couples should make sure and speak with each of their vendors before the wedding day to figure out the flow of the day and get accurate estimates for how long things take so they can successfully put together an accurate timeline for the day. A good timeline guides the day and helps everything flow naturally without any overlong waiting by you or your guests, or running out of time for the things you wanted on your wedding day. This takes a lot of effort to coordinate each of the vendors in getting their input and approval once this is pulled together, but it’s completely worth it!”