How to “Unhitch” Those Wedding Day Hitches

Most people get married only once; so there’s no way a couple can anticipate all the little glitches that can drain the joy out of their wedding day. Professional planners who’ve done it hundreds of times shared some their secrets for smoothing out the bumps. Here are some of their best tips:

Rehearse. Don’t just run through a 15-minute ceremony rehearsal. Take time to actually visit your ceremony and reception venues, preferably more than once. Walk through them as though you were a guest at your own wedding. Visualize where everything will be. Is it laid out conveniently for your wedding party, your guests and your vendors? You may notice some potential logistical problems while there is still time to fix them.

Confirm. Take time in the two weeks before your wedding to reconfirm all of the day’s details with your vendors. You don’t want any misunderstandings that have to be resolved in an atmosphere of crisis. It’s smart to create a wedding day timeline, with each vendor’s responsibilities, as well as those of your venue, your parents and attendants. Email the timeline to everyone involved, and ask, “Is this how you understand your wedding day duties?” A contact list with every vendor’s phone number is also a great idea.

There’s no such thing as instant makeup and hair. Getting your hair and face just perfect typically takes about a half hour longer than you expect. So if your pre-ceremony photo shoot is scheduled for 1pm, plan on having your hair and makeup finished by 12:30. Then, when your beautification session runs long, you won’t throw off the entire day’s timeline.

The rehearsal starts at 3:45… not! If you plan to start your rehearsal at 4pm, tell your attendants and families that it starts at 3:45. That way, the inevitable late arrivals won’t mess up your schedule. Do the same thing for your scheduled photo shoots. Allow some extra time for people who get stuck in traffic, or whatever. You’ll be a lot less stressed out.

No one goes hungry! It’s wise to set aside a nice pre-reception buffet for your wedding party. While you’re still preparing for the big party, all of you can get some food in your stomachs, so no one gets hungry and irritable when the demands of the reception make them forget all about eating dinner. Your vendors – especially your photographer – should be fed, too, whether they eat with your guests or together in a separate room. And don’t let a single guest hit the dance floor with any lingering hunger. A late night snack, like pizza, cheeseburgers, hot dogs or even popcorn, can keep the dancers’ energy up.  

Check your pens. You wouldn’t believe how many guestbooks go virtually unsigned because couples buy the cheapest pens they can find, and they don’t work, or the ink smears! Pull a couple pens out of the package and try them ahead of time, to be sure they’re ready.

Outdoor reception? Skip the table cards. Imagine taking half an hour to carefully set up all those escort cards in alphabetical order, only to have a single puff of wind send them all flying to the four corners of the earth. Save the headache. Design a single seating chart and post it on a mirror, chalkboard or any other flat surface.

Did you take your marriage license to your wedding? You’re not legally married until your officiant signs your license. If he’s a mobile minister, and he has another wedding after yours, you won’t have time to send someone home to fetch the license; and legally, you’ll be spending your wedding night as single people. Also, get everyone to sign it right after the ceremony, while they’re all in one place.

Get away for a few minutes. You’ll find that the most precious time of your entire wedding day is the time you’re able to get away from your families and guests, and just spend a quiet moment with each other and marvel at what you’ve just done. Once your reception gets underway, you won’t have another private moment until you return to your hotel, completely exhausted.

Snack up, water up. Keep a nice stash of snacks and bottled water or juice on hand to help you get through the day. You need to keep your energy up, and you can’t do that when you feel woozy or dehydrated.

Leave your phone home. Assign an attendant or close friend to be your personal assistant for the day. Provide that friend with your vendors phone list in case of emergency. Your one and only job for the day is to get married, not micro-manage a big party.

Don’t sweat the little bumps. Stuff happens. Things get lost. Emotions run high. Don’t expect your wedding day to run perfectly from dawn till midnight. Just remember, at the end of the day, you’ll be married to your favorite person in the whole world. So all the day’s little glitches and hiccups aren’t really that important. Just enjoy yourself! 

© Fourth Estate Audio, 2016 – Jay Congdon is president of Fourth Estate Audio, a professional Chicago DJ and Chicago Wedding DJ company.

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