There are SO many moving pieces leading up to and on your wedding day. You have vendors, décor, timelines, family, wedding party, guests, venue locales, snacks, personal items, and all the other details that are somehow supposed to come together to create your best day ever. Let’s look at a number of ways to stay organized on your wedding day.
Before Your Wedding
Truth be told, wedding day organization starts long before the big day itself. In fact, lots of the practices and communications you put in place early in planning can ensure smooth wedding day flow many months later.
Open and honest communication with your vendors is one of my biggest must-haves from the start. Clearly let each vendor know your soft vs hard* budget for their services, your must-haves and don’t wants, important timeline points (When do you need to be ready? What’s the latest they can stay to load-out?), and any other answers to questions they have for you. The more clear and open you are with your vendors, the more comprehensive their understanding of your event vision will be and the better they can serve you.
When it gets closer to your wedding day, be sure to communicate your overall timeline (and if you have a separate vendor timeline) with all of your vendors so they have a clear view of when things are happening on your wedding day and when the best times will be to complete their to-dos.
*Soft Budget: what spend amount you’d like to be around for this service; Hard Budget: the absolute limit for how much you can spend for this service – these may be the same number for you or they may differ quite a bit based on your priorities and needs
That planning binder you have been working with? Reorganize it before your wedding day so the essentials are easily accessed by anyone who picks it up to help. For mine, I made sure my day-of timeline was front and center, the first page you saw when it was opened. Next up were important contact numbers for family, wedding party, and vendors. I also included my sketch of what my centerpieces were supposed to look like so my cousins could follow that when setting up tables. To-Do lists, other instructions/notes, and additional diagrams for other areas of the venue, including seating chart. Copies of my vendor contracts and other planning materials were also kept in the binder just in case they needed to be consulted, but I kept those out of the way toward the back.
I also emailed my timeline and vendor contact information to my whole wedding party. I did not have my phone on me all day, but much of my wedding party did! If one of those documents needed to be consulted, all I had to do was ask them to pull it up on their phone.
Décor & Supplies
When packing up my décor to transport to my venue, I batched it by area/purpose in each box, then labeled the boxes accordingly, such as “ballroom-centerpieces” or “ceremony welcome table.” My centerpiece items were all in one big box, along with an extra setup sketch in case my binder ended up elsewhere. Each table number was placed in each lantern’s individual shipping box, so helpers could grab a lantern box and have a whole table’s kit in one neat package. That packing style happened to work for my centerpieces based on what all I included for each centerpiece, which was fairly simple overall.
Based on your supplies and décor, you may need to pack all of your bouquets together or all of your votives together in their own box. That’s totally okay! I still recommend making sure the boxes are clearly labeled with what they are and what they’re for so that anyone helping can make sure they get where they need to be. Even more helpful is if you have a box of all your signs or certain numbers of an item need to go in different places, include a sheet with a list in the box that says how many or which of an item goes where. That way helpers can route those items right away and you don’t get stuck later wondering where those 10 extra votives you had went (they likely got placed around the tables as extras.)
Similar methods apply to your getting ready supplies, after-party items/clothes, ceremony items, etc. Keeping things neat, organized, and labeled allows unpacking and setup to run more smoothly and if you need to locate something in a box quickly, you can easily read which box it should be in.
If you don’t hire a Wedding Manager or Wedding Planner, be sure to designate at least one go-to person who can field vendor and guest questions and who knows what is supposed to be happening when. That way you aren’t dealing with all the extra nonsense while you’re trying to get ready and enjoy your big day.
Whether it’s your family or friends or hired helpers that are getting things set up, communicate their roles and to-do lists ahead of time so they know what to expect and what supplies to be looking for when they arrive to get going. I always recommend emailing so that they can pull up the info on their phones and not worry about misplacing random pieces of paper.
On the day-of, put all of those well-prepped tools into practice! Make sure all of the right boxes, bags, and supplies are packed into vehicles that are going straight to the venue and send them with their helpers. (Check your packing and to-do lists before they go!) If you plan to help set up earlier in the day and then get ready later, make sure you’re allowing your helpers to do their jobs so you are the one who is running around the least. Double checking final touches and mild setup is fine, but please let them do the heavy lifting and get the million steps so you don’t tire yourself out before the day even begins.
Relax & Breathe
Whether the weather cooperates, you remember to give your parents a hug at the alter, or your photographer gets 5 shots or 10 shots of each speech, know that your wedding day is going to be wonderful. Know why? Because you’re marrying the love of your life and deep down, that is the reason for all of this. In the end, the food may be 20 minutes late, you might catch your veil on a tree, or you may realize mid-ceremony that you forgot to send your vows to your officiant. Oh well! Try to brush it off and enjoy the moment. Your ad-libbed vows will be something to laugh about later, your veil was going to come off before dinner anyway, and eventually you will all eat something. What matters is that you and your new spouse did it!
Trust the Professionals
One surefire way to set yourself and your wedding up for success is to hire a professional. There are people out there (Hi, I’m a people!) that make their life’s work in planning and coordinating other people’s weddings so their clients can have the best day possible. There are many levels of service they can provide and are available at many budget levels, depending on experience and talent.
Full-Service Wedding Planners will be there from day one to take care of every planning detail from developing your budget and vision, sourcing vendors and décor, creating your timeline, and facilitating your rehearsal and wedding day.
You can also hire a Partial Wedding Planner. This is a great option if you want to have some to-dos during your wedding planning, but don’t want to take on the entire process. They will work with you as a planning co-pilot and then become your wedding captain come day-of.
Wedding Managers (or Day-Of Coordinators) will typically start working with you around 1-2 months from your wedding day to review your plans and details, finalize your timeline, confirm vendor details, and then become your wedding captain on the big day.
As the owner and leader planner of Laura McCauley Events, I offer all of the services mentioned above! I pride myself in really listening to my clients and making sure their needs and wishes are carefully considered as we work together towards a super-fun and low-stress wedding day. Let’s connect about how I can make your planning and wedding day experience wonderful!
In the end, not everything is going to go according to plan, but there are many things you can do to keep those anomalies to a minimum, starting way back when you start your planning journey. What matters most, as always, is that you’re marrying the love of your life and you get to celebrate your love together with your friends and family. Whether the food gets served 20 minutes late, you catch your veil on a tree, or you realize midway through the ceremony that you forgot to send your vows to your officiant and have to ad-lib, it’s going to be a great day.