1. Requesting that people put their phones away during the wedding ceremony.
The impulse to pull out your phone and capture a big moment is great and endearing. But know what's not so wonderful? Getting your professional photos back and seeing a sea of cell phones. Put a note in your programs or ask your officiant to give folks a heads-up that cell phones aren't needed. (You hired a pro for that!)
2. Making one-on-one time throughout the wedding day with your new spouse to really take everything in.
The wedding day will be a long-ass day — you'll be up early and go to bed late — and yet it will fly by. Everyone will tell you how quickly it goes, and they aren't lying! So factor in time for you and your partner to spend together alone (or as alone as possible). Maybe it's the limo ride from one venue to the next, or a first look followed by a glass of champagne, or dinner at a sweethearts table — whatever it is, you'll want to take some time to be together and really take everything in as a couple.
3. Delegating small day-of details to a coordinator, bridesmaid, or family member.
Even though you plan for a wedding for months on end, there are still so many small things that happen on the day of and only the day of: paying vendors, handing out tips, wrangling your kooky aunt for photos... And you will not have time for this madness. So designate other people to handle specific things, and that way you'll actually enjoy your day.
4. Choosing to not invite toxic people.
Maybe it's a co-worker, a friend, or even a family member, but if there's someone who makes your skin itch every time you see them...don't invite them. Say you have limited space, or simply let this be an opportunity to cut the cord. But if there's one day you don't need someone else tearing you down, it's your wedding day.
5. Waking up early the day of, and staying up as late as possible.
As someone who has a hard time staying up past 10:30 p.m., the idea of being out late isn't a fun one. But trust this: You won't regret spending as much time as possible with your loved ones. They came to celebrate you, so celebrate right back and for as long as you can muster. Get up early, take in everything around you so you're less rushed, and just know that you'll sleep plenty the next night.
6. Making a list of people you MUST get photos with.
This seems a little tedious and maybe silly, but here's the deal: Photographers are not mind readers. They won't know your Uncle Milton means the world to you. So make a list, capture those special memories, and you won't be disappointed when you get your photos back.
7. Factoring in actual time to eat on the big day.
Eating is great. We all love doing it. But it becomes harder and harder to do that when the makeup person is telling you to hold still, and the coordinator reminds you that you need to be dressed in five, and then a ceremony starts and it's rude to eat at the altar. So tell a bridesmaid or family member to be on food duty, and they'll be the ones in charge of making sure you don't leave your own wedding without tasting the food you picked out.
8. Asking for help when you need it, and accepting help when it's offered.
Sometimes we think we can do it all on our own, but a wedding is a MASSIVE undertaking. And pretty quickly into planning you'll start to feel overwhelmed. So whether it's poking your partner or a friend, or hiring someone, ask for that help when you need to stuff goodie bags, print out place cards, or DIY centerpieces. And know what's better than having to ask? When someone offers. So don't be shy about taking them up on it — they wouldn't offer if they weren't serious!
9. Creating SUPER-detailed Google Docs for the day of.
There will be a wave of calm that floods over you when you have an extremely detailed schedule for the wedding day, and a list of all of your VIPs' contact info. Wanna know why? Because having all of that written down means it's no longer your problem. So when someone asks you a question that you don't have time for, like, "When are the flowers arriving?" you can tell them to check the doc. And when the coordinator says, "We need your mom for photos," her cell is on the doc. See what I mean?
10. Typing up who gave you what gifts and noting whether or not you've sent a thank-you.
Even if you send a thank-you card immediately, write down everything. Because at some point between hiring a DJ and finalizing the table seating, something will slip and you'll forget who bought you that crystal vase. Don't be the person who can't send a thank-you because they lost a receipt — just write it all down.
11. Trusting your instincts when looking at venues and meeting with potential vendors.
Picking a venue is perhaps the most central part of your wedding (other than actually getting married, of course). You'll be in that venue for hours, and trusting them to take care of your near and dear ones. So if you think the coordinator seems unreliable, or you've read a strange review that rings true when you're on site...trust your gut and run for the hills. You're paying too much money to have your day spoiled.
12. Reading all your contracts super carefully and noting taxes, gratuity, and fees.
Things add up! Some venues include tip in their pricing, while others may not. Some contracts have hidden charges if your event runs late or may charge extra if you want them to clean everything up. It's outrageous and sometimes borderline insane, so read everything carefully before you sign so there are no surprises.
13. Setting up a separate email address just for wedding-related everything.
Perhaps the most unexpected part of wedding planning is how many websites you'll have to create an account for, which in turn means you'll get all sorts of junk mail that you don't want in your life forever. Set up a new email address where you can have people send RSVPs, and handle all wedding-related business so it's in one place. (Plus, after the wedding you can just forget about that email account forever, which will feel REALLY excellent.)
14. Inviting as many people as you damn well want.
This can mean a small, intimate wedding, but it can also mean a larger-than-life one. People will try to pressure you into one over the other, but at the end of the day you've got to do what you feel comfortable with. Don't want to have to try to talk to 250 people? Don't do it. Want to feel like your wedding is prom 2.0? Invite away! Just don't let other people dictate the kind of event you want to host.
15. Creating a wedding that makes you happy, even if it doesn't follow all of the wedding traditions and etiquette.
There are so many rules and old traditions that surround weddings. But the thing is: Who cares? If you think tossing a garter sounds terrifying, then skip it. If you don't want any bridesmaids, then don't do it. No one is going to care about your wedding as much as you are, so you've got to make sure you enjoy it. And trust in the fact that no one, and I mean no one, will care if the bridesmaid dresses are matching (unless you do, in which case — match away!).
16. Throwing a wedding you can afford instead of a wedding that will start your marriage off with financial stress.
The average wedding costs $32,000 (and that cost goes exponentially higher if you live in a city). Now maybe you can afford that, or your parents can chip in, but maybe you can't. And you know what? That's totally fine! You won't regret eloping or having a smaller ceremony — because at the end of the day you still get to marry your best friend. You will regret massive debt, though.
17. Putting small touches on the event to make it feel personal to you as a couple.
Maybe in lieu of table numbers, each table gets the name of your favorite ice cream flavors. Or you recite a line from Game of Thrones in your vows because, damnit, it's your favorite show. Whatever you do, the more small ways you find to make this day reflect you both, the more intimate it will feel.
18. Overly thanking every person who helps you during this process.
Sometimes you get so swallowed up in everything you have to do and plan that you forget that there are all of these people helping you get through it. Profusely thank them, cook them dinner, take them out for a drink, or send a heartfelt card after everything is over. They'll be grateful, and you'll have people who are more than happy to keep helping.
19. Treating your bridal party the exact same way you'd want to be treated (aka, not being a monster).
This is your day, true — but there's also a whole slew of people who paid a lot of money to help make this your day. Between hair, makeup, new outfits, travel, and more, your bridal party can rack up a lot of expenses. So don't throw tantrums, or feel entitled to treat your friends like anything less than your friends. Make this day fun for them so they stay your friend long after it's done.
20. And you won't regret saying no to a night out so you can hunker down and get 👏 shit 👏 done.
Planning for a wedding is also a time in your life when you're going to have to forego dinner with friends in favor of DIYing party favors. It just is. So the more you allow yourself to do those things, the less stressed out you'll be toward the end when shit is really getting REAL. And you won't want to spend the week leading up to your wedding finalizing all of the details you put off, so just get as much done as you can before.
21. Planning a mini-moon, honeymoon, or staycation to unwind after the wedding.
Not everyone can afford to take a full-on honeymoon, but you should plan to take some time, no matter how small, to decompress after this enormous life event. Whether it's two full days of pizza and Netflix, or a trip in another country, you won't regret making time for just the two of you after sharing such a big day with everyone else. Plus, you're just gonna be exhausted, so bring on the wine.
22. If you aren't doing personalized vows at your ceremony, then you won't regret writing your own vows to read to each other.
If there's ever an excuse to be a sappy romantic, it's your wedding! And while you aren't required to gush in front of everyone else, you should make a point to do it at some point during the day. If you are willing to recite your own vows, then really make a point to personalize them so your partner feels more connected to you. But if you prefer to be ~alone~, then a great post-wedding activity includes cuddling in bed and reading those vows to each other. (Champagne optional.)
23. And really savoring each and every day leading up to the wedding, because being engaged is just the beginning of so much happiness.
The months leading up to the wedding will bring you closer together as a couple, and it's important to not just focus on the big day, but on all of the smaller moments in between. They'll be just as memorable in the long run.