For many, the month before your wedding is full of all those last minute “to-do’s” which are often a source of stress and exhaustion for couples. I encourage my couples from the very start of their wedding planning experience to plan ahead for this month. In doing so couples are able to fully enjoy the last few weeks of their engagement by spending time together, going on a few final dates as an engaged couple, and then welcoming family and friends as they arrive the week of. You see, with a few strategic shifts in wedding planning tasks and thoughtful decision making prior to the event – you too can set yourself and your wedding planning experience up to be successful and as close to stress-free as possible. These seemingly simple adjustments can have a major impact in those final months and your overall well-being – well this and plenty of rest!
Friends, I feel strongly about heading into the final month of wedding planning with limited to do’s because of personal experience. My final month of wedding planning was jammed packed with late nights, too many little projects, too little sleep which ultimately resulted in absolute exhaustion. Pair this with travel and the immune let down that always happens when you’ve been running on adrenaline for far too long and a trip to urgent care while on our honeymoon should have been something I predicted. I ended up on steroids, antibiotics, and with a ruptured eardrum that to this day is still not the same.
So today I am sharing with you 6 practical planning tips you can implement into your wedding planning process to ensure you stay ahead of the game and are fully prepared for your wedding day. These may not guarantee that you have no tasks remaining in the final month because realistically we all know life happens, job and family demands happen but if you keep these tidbits at the forefront of your planning they will allow you to anticipate the needs of the final month and plan for them.
1. Evaluate the Timing of Your Stationary
This is a big one friends and impacts so much of those final month tasks that I encourage my couples to consider moving up ever so slightly their invitation RSVP to account for all the work that comes after the response cards of come in. Hear me out. After a RSVP comes in you have to document the menu selection from the guest and their plus one (which sometimes can be mysterious depending on how clear the directions on your response card were), then you have to assign said guest and plus one to a table, and then create a seating chart/place card or escort cards and get these and all the meal selections to calligraphers and caterers with enough time for them to complete your orders! Not to mention the guests that forget to RSVP. For this reason, working with your stationary company, caterer, and calligrapher to get slightly ahead of the game when it comes to menu selection, invitation ordering, and calligraphy is a helpful way to alleviate the scramble that could result from waiting to receive responses too late in the game.
2. Consider Hiring A Wedding Planner (or at the very least a Coordinator)
A wedding planner can help guide your planning experience from start to finish. She can ensure you have to tools to be successful and will ensure that your planning is on track or ahead. They take the guess work out of how best to strategically approach wedding planning in order to ensure each of your decisions naturally flow. While a wedding planner will be there to guide you through the process, a coordinator will jump in and make sure to help get you to the finish line. Their role is to take your planning and make sure not detail is forgotten. Both services provide a wealth of resources that help make that last month and therefore the day of run smoothly!
3. Create a Comprehensive Design Plan From the Start
A comprehensive design plan covers just about every wedding day detail and touchpoint. It is not just about selecting colors and the size of your floral arrangements but rather ensures that all the big and small details are accounted and planned for. Creating a detailed design plan from the start allows for you to approach the planning process with a deeper understanding of how each element seamlessly ties into the next. It allows you the opportunity to consider how each decision ultimately impacts the next and it allows for the confidence that all items will be accounted for throughout the process. Creating a meticulously plan from the get go alleviates scrambling at the end and saves you from making hasty decisions that do not align with your overall vision.
4. Ensure your Wedding Day Timeline Has a Little Built In Buffer
Wedding planners and coordinators are excellent at helping you to map out your perfect wedding day timeline – and are skilled at ensuring all vendor related timelines are synced seamlessly. One thing we, at YSDE, work with our couples on is building strategic pockets of buffer time into the timeline. For most couples, the goal is ensure there is sufficient time to enjoy dancing with their guests. In order to do this, we work with you months before your wedding to start piecing together the elements of your timeline. This allows for careful thought into how to create that perfect flow for the evening. It provides you ample time to review items together as a couple, and with your full vendor team. Starting this discussion process early and building the bones of your timeline affords you the opportunity to ensure all elements of your evening are accounted for and that you feel comfortable with how the day will flow and be managed. Again, we purposefully do not leave the building of your timeline to the weeks before your wedding. Editing and revising the timeline is something we feel is important so that couples can feel confident in the management plan for their wedding day. And this work takes time – starting early and building buffers in allows for the final product to be as close to perfect as possible!
5. Utilize a Strategic Packing & End of the Event Plan
While it may not be possible to dedicate a full room in your home to all the things you will collect for your wedding, as you get further into the planning process you might consider purchasing designated bins for each aspect of the event – ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, dancing. This allows you to start organizing your items by area and helps to keep like items together. So for dinner – this box might include votives, table numbers, menus, escort cards, and any other items you are considering including on your tables as décor. Doing this allows for your setup team to quickly and efficiently manage the setup of your area and simultaneously ensures that clean-up and pack-up will be just as efficient. Gathering items by area as you acquire them also ensures that you have all your items from your comprehensive design plan accounted for – thereby also preventing the scramble at the end of planning phase. One other helpful consideration is your end of the event plan for florals, remaining alcohol, and décor. Having thought through how these items will get home prior to the weeks before our event will ensure the end of the night is smooth and that your family and bridal party can continue on to the next destination.
6. Never Leave the Guests Welcome Items to the Last Two Weeks
If you are considering providing guests with welcome gifts when they arrive for the weekend, include the development/planning of these in your comprehensive design plan. Yes – that is right start to think about your welcome gifts even when you are 12+ months from your wedding. The reason being, there is laundry list of to do’s associated with the welcome gift development. For example, figuring out what items you would like to include, sourcing the items and managing the logistics of perishable versus non-perishable items, finding a vessel to hold the items, producing all the welcome gifts, adding wedding branding (like crests or seals) to the vessels, packing them for transportation, and finally dropping them off at the hotel for distribution. And each of these tasks requires attention to detail and time. Leaving these to the last two weeks often results in being unhappy with the result and frustrated with a task that can actually be a great deal of fun! Another option or two, would be to hire your wedding planner to do this part of the planning for you – here at YSDE, we offer this as an add-on service. Or consider one of these (Marigold & Grey or A Signature Welcome – are two favorites) wonderful companies to help assist with the development and production of your welcome items – they are sure to provide that perfect warm welcome to greet your guests with and hint at all that is to come – while leaving all the stress out of the equation for you!
I hope you will find these 6 strategies to be helpful and worthwhile incorporating into your wedding planning experience. They ultimately aim to alleviate late nights in the weeks leading up to your wedding. Nights that could be spent with family, enjoying a final engaged date night, or resting up for the main event. Your engagement season is fleeting and here at YSDE we believe it should and really can be just as joyful as your wedding day if approached strategically. If you are heading into your final few months – sending you warm wishes for a beautiful wedding!
Vendors: Photography: Ashley Elizabeth Photography | Venue: Drumore Estate | Hair & Makeup: Unfading Beauty | Florals: Forte Florals | Gown: Lovely Bride Philadelphia | Groom Suit: H&M | Rentals: Modish Design, Liberty Rentals, Barnes Farmhouse Tables | Jewelry: Finch Jewelers | Calligraphy: Prairie Letter Shop | Candles: Creative Candles | Bride & Groom Sign: Everlaser