One of the first things I do when I sign with new clients is create their customized wedding checklist. Whether we have 1 month or 1 year leading up to the big day, it is vital that we map out a game plan for our time together. I want to help them anticipate everything they’ll need to book, decide, plan and create for their wedding! My checklist takes the form of a table, with tasks in one column, and a suggested calendar due date in the second column. The checklist is constantly updated as we cross items off the list together. I know you can easily find a dozen useful checklists online with a quick search, so I won’t be redundant here. Instead, I thought I’d share some key checklist items that many lists leave off. These may or may not be applicable for your own wedding, but hopefully it will inspire you to customize your own personalized checklist of things to do!
- Block rooms for wedding guests @ local hotels: Do this as soon as you book your venue. Ask specifically for “courtesy blocks,” which do not penalize you for rooms that are not booked. Instead, the held rooms are released on a certain date if they are not booked by your guests.
- Book a room for “getting ready” as well as one for your wedding night!
- Buy all of your wedding day accessories: This includes your veil, hair piece(s), jewelry, shoes, undergarments, etc. Don’t try to find the perfect bra the week of your wedding; trust me on this one. You might also consider getting gel insoles (or my favorite: Foot Petals) for your shoes. Allow plenty of time to break in your shoes as well.
- Schedule a site walkthrough with your coordinator or planner. Even if you are not hiring your own wedding planner, make sure you schedule a site walkthrough with your venue coordinator or catering manager. This meeting is vital for determining the layout of the room, seating arrangements, and placement of key items like your cake, DJ or band, guest book, escort cards, etc.
- Have a centerpiece mock up with your florist. Many florists include this as part of your package, while others may charge a nominal fee (often 50% of the centerpiece price) for it. Double-check your contract and set this up a month or two prior to the wedding. If you do it too early, the right flowers may not be in season. If you do it too late, you run the risk of not giving the florist enough time to do another mock up and/or change their order with their growers! Regardless of how much you adore your florist, I think a mock up is essential. It will either a) confirm that you and your florist are on the page with the wedding vision and give you priceless peace of mind OR b) reveal that clarifications and adjustments need to be made and save you disappointment on your wedding day.
- Select ceremony music. Take time to choose the perfect tunes for the processional, your entrance, any special ceremonies (e.g. unity candle), and recessional. This is something easy to do early in the planning process, yet many people wait until the last minute to do this.
- Select reception music. Here’s another task in which you should invest thoughtful time. Most of my clients choose special songs for the grand entrance, first dance, parent dances, cake cutting, and last dance of the evening.
- Buy a card box, cage, or other similar receptacle for collecting cards.
- Buy a guest book and pens (acid free, fade-proof ink pens available at your local art store). If you’re doing a twist on the traditional guest book (something I love), buy all necessary supplies well in advance. This may include Polaroid camera + film, double-sided tape, little note cards and stickers, etc.
- Recruit wedding day helpers! You should have 2 friends/relatives in charge of watching the card box and receiving gifts, as well as assisting with the guest book as necessary. You also should determine where gifts should go at the end of the night. Will they be packed into someone’s (large, empty) car, or placed in a hotel room?
- Prepare tips and final payments for all of your vendors. Put them in individual envelopes with their names on the outside, and give them to someone responsible for distribution.
- Alphabetize your escort cards by last name. Always.
A few other checklist tips…
- Spread out the work! I often see people adopt one of two extremes. One extreme: they do a TON of planning work right after getting engaged, which leaves them with a lot of idle time in the months following. They start freaking out about sitting around doing “nothing” when the day is fast-approaching. Other extreme: They do nothing and then suddenly it’s 2 months before the big day and they have a mountain of work to complete. The best approach is to do a few key tasks each week until the big day. I like to give my clients one or two simple, manageable tasks to accomplish every week.
- Don’t be a checklist legalist. Your checklist is meant to help you, not hurt you! Don’t trip out if you fall a week behind OR if you get ahead. When you have a slower week at work, feel free to look ahead and take care of another task or two. If things are hectic another week, it is ok to postpone for a while. Just make sure that your bigger, more time-sensitive tasks (like booking vendors) are done as soon as possible.
- Ask for help. I see a lot of brides try to shoulder all the work themselves, afraid to ask any friends or relatives for assistance. More often than not, people would LOVE to help in any way they can. Delegate and share responsibilities. It will make the process much more enjoyable.
I hope you all had a fabulous, productive weekend! It was Valentine’s weekend so I painted my nails a sassy shade of red (OPI’s Deer Valley Spice, pictured above, is my red hue of choice) and spent time snuggled up with my honey. It’s the one weekend a year that I am guaranteed to get my way at the box office. Chick flick, here we come!! Decadent dining was also on the schedule, bien sûr.