Ultimate Wedding Day Checklist
The years of dreaming, months of planning, all that spending -let’s call it investing- and countless hours of researching, have finally led to this moment. Your wedding day is almost here! Only a few hours away. Who would’ve thought? What started off as a wonderful love story will soon become the wedding of your dreams! The question is: are you ready for what is about to happen? Do you have all your paperwork in order? Have you packed your bags? You might not be traveling, but there are some essentials you need to bring with you every step of the way. Have you confirmed with your vendors? Do you have a back-up plan? Is your beautiful bridal outfit, including that stunning wedding dress, ready for the aisle?
We don’t mean to stress you out with all of these questions, but there are some things you must take into account on your big day. It’s all about the prep work and thinking like a chef. Consider this list your ally and think of it as a mise-en-place. We want to ensure you have everything you need for the best day of your life, and it all starts with a much-needed beauty sleep. Experts recommend having all elements of your wedding day in place, the sooner the better, and it all starts the night before.
The night before “I do”
Mise-en-place is a concept commonly known in the culinary world. Chefs need to make sure everything is in its place, prepped and ready to be used at a moment’s notice. Think of your wedding day as a perfectly orchestrated four course meal. In order for one thing to happen, certain elements need to be available for you. You and your dashing significant other are the main course. The entire day will revolve around you and the best way to avoid mishaps is by being prepared for every stage and any mishaps.
Wedding day itinerary
To make sure you, the beautiful bride, and everyone else in the wedding party stay on track with all your duties, starting from early in the morning, create a detailed itinerary for all the wedding day activities. You can get assistance from your trusted wedding planner or, in case you did all the planning on your own with the help of your wonderful Maid Of Honor, bridesmaids and loving family, it’s a good idea to assign a point person to supervise that everyone is sticking to the schedule.
Another thing you should make to stay on top of all your wedding day duties is making a bride’s checklist and a groom’s checklist. Your head will be all over the place on your wedding day with all the excitement and emotions and so many things going on at once, a checklist is the best way to ensure you cover all your bases. This way, you can also know which items on your list can be done with the help of one of your wonderful bridesmaids.
Check the weather
You can’t let the rain mess up with your perfectly planned special day. It’s the most important day of your life, and it will happen come hell or high water. You and your fiancé didn’t spend these many months planning every single element to a “t” to let it rain on your parade. Whether your ceremony and reception are taking place indoors or on a beautiful garden or right on the beach, you want to know what kind of weather you’re dealing with. There are certain things you can arrange for at least 24 hours in advance, like get a tent or an awning or buy some umbrellas for your guests. If there is one thing meteorologists aren’t the best at predicting for weeks ahead is the weather, so better to be safe than sorry and look into what the next day has in store for you and your fabulous guests.
As many bridal consultants, fashion experts and loving moms might have mentioned by now, one thing to be careful with is the types of food you need to avoid if you wish to fit into your wedding dress and not be bloated in the hours preceding your reception. It’s more about your comfort than for vanity purposes.
Pack your bags
Getting ready bag
You need to pack the shapewear and underwear you’ll be wearing with your beautiful wedding dress, as well the veil, jewelry, accessories, shoes, and of course, that stunning gown that stole your heart and you said “yes!” to a few months ago. Don’t forget to bring other things you may need while getting ready to walk down the aisle and also throughout the day, such as your phone charger and a pair of comfortable shoes to change into.
Wedding night bag
Whether yours is a destination wedding, you’re jetting off to your honeymoon right after the reception, or you just want to enjoy the perks of a honeymoon suite at your local 5-star hotel, you lovebirds will probably be spending your wedding night at a hotel. Pack a bag with all your beauty essentials, including some sexy lingerie and a c cute outfit for the next day.
Most importantly, in case you have a hotel room booked for your wedding day for you and your bridesmaids to get beautified, keep all the legal documents you’ll be needing in a briefcase or a bag with all your getting ready essentials. Things like your marriage license, vendor contracts and insurance policies must be at hand at all times.
The Morning Of
Guess who’s getting married today? After a good night’s sleep let’s get this party started! A great way to start off your wedding day is by enjoying a nice bubble bath, listening to some music, lighting a candle are some of the most helpful tips for staying calm before all the madness ensues.
Next up on your itinerary is breakfast. Keep it light and nutritious, you don’t want to get bloated, but you do want to stay on your toes and soak up every minute of the day. A hangry bride with low glucose levels is far from ideal. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you have a sensitive digestive system, avoid foods such as coffee, dairy, chocolate, anything that might trigger your intolerances and allergies. A healthy bride is a happy bride.
The key to success is to always keep your bride’s checklist and itinerary at hand, before you dive into prepping.
If you don’t have a wedding planner and managed to plan the wedding of your dreams on your own, all the power to you. Getting this far in the game is a wonderful accomplishment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little extra help on your wedding day. In order to keep everyone in line and make sure things get done, assign a point person. Whether it’s your fabulous Maid of Honor, your mom, your bestie who is the Monica Geller in the group, give the job to someone you know has great organizational skills and get everyone to the finish line by sticking to the schedule. Duties of your wedding day point person include but are not limited to:
Preview the venue(s) and make sure everything is ready on site. Things like your guest book and seating chart should be dropped off at their respective venues.
Coordinate with vendors
Have their contact info handy
Back up plans in case of any mishaps
Safeguard the envelopes with tips for your vendors and bring them with her to the venues
Confirm transportation for bride, groom, and wedding party
You can also get her help going over your guest list and seating chart. She can double check your RSVP’s and make sure accommodations have been made for guests with special needs.
Consider your point person your guardian angel for the day. You can trust her with the legal documents you packed the night before and the task of getting you down the aisle on time. The to-do list is a bit long, so we suggest distributing the duties among all members of Team Bride so they can all contribute to the cause.
The gang’s all here! Your squad of beautiful bridesmaids and your mom have arrived so you can all to get dolled up together. All the ladies have a beautifying schedule they must adhere to but being the bride means your time with the beauty gurus takes top priority. Don’t forget, another important piece of the wedding preparations is welcoming your super talented photographer! Pre-wedding photos make for the best addition to your photo album. They always turn out to be so candid and they usually capture the most heartfelt moments that you would otherwise overlook due to pre-wedding jitters.
You want everyone to be comfortable throughout the hair and makeup process, so you can provide your wedding party with some cute customized bathrobes and slippers while they’re getting ready. Also, since you will all be spending a couple of hours in the beauty department, everyone needs to stay hydrated and properly fed. Your wedding planner or point person can have some healthy snacks, other than fruit, and something to drink, other than mimosas, ready for all of you ladies.
Remember that bag with essentials we mentioned before? It should include all the things you’ll be needing for your hair and makeup session.
Cosmetics bag: your favorite mascara, lipstick, foundation, concealer, the works. Especially if you are allergic to certain ingredients or you know your lashes will fall flat without a waterproof mascara. Your makeup artist will have everything you’ll need for that bridal look you have both agreed on, but better to be safe than sorry.
Beauty tools: be sure to pack your tweezers, nail clippers and files, the same color nail polish you’re wearing, clear nail polish, double sided tape, etc.
Emergency kit: cotton swabs, q-tips, band aids in different sizes, scotch tape, gauze, rubbing alcohol, because you never know when any of you will need them. Another thing your emergency kit should include is a sewing kit. We don’t want any mussing buttons or ill-fitting clothes to ruin anybody’s experience.
While you’re sitting on the chair with the hair and makeup artists, don’t hesitate to make your voice known. If they want to try something that you didn’t agree with just for the sake of being modern and edgy, and you’re not too sure about the way it looks, just tell them. They are visionary and professional, but they are also there to make your bridal beauty wishes a reality You can also give your opinion on how your bridesmaids look like or give some suggestions to your mom for her mother-of-the-bride look.
Don’t forget to bring everything you need before you all hop on the limo on your way to the ceremony. Your gorgeous bouquets, signage (if not at the venues already), seating chart and guest book, and of course anything you’ll need for the ceremony. Think wedding bands, petals, bubbles or whatever your flower girls and honored guests will be tossing for the newlyweds after you are pronounced husband and wife.
And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for… it’s time to get dressed up! Make sure you have all the components of your fabulous bridal outfit at hand and ready to be worn.
Undergarments and shapewear
Put on your wedding dress! With the help of the small group of friends who came with you to the appointments with the bridal consultant and seamstress, and now exactly how to tie up all the buttons, ribbons and laces that make your perfect wedding dress so unique. The last thing we need is for the tulle skirt to get snagged in a zipper or one of the exquisite buttons down the back of your corseted top to be misplaced. It’s all about bridal perfection.
Shoes. Before you put on your accessories, be it your statement earrings or that heirloom tiara, you must first put on your wedding shoes, again with the assistance of one of your bridesmaids. We don’t want any of your fine jewelry to get stuck on your fine dress.
Accessories. Earrings, bracelets, necklace, tiara… get your bling on!
The secret to surviving your wedding day is in the bags you pack. Bring a small one with you to both the ceremony and the reception with all the things you might need. A small emergency kit, if you may, your phone charger, a little bit of makeup for some touch ups, a couple of tissues and wipes, water spray to stay refreshed and some antacids. You need to be prepared for anything. If you have a wedding planner, she’ll take care of all of this for you, or you can kindly ask someone to carry it around for you. You are the bride after all.
The perfect time for a photo shoot with your dashing husband to be is when you both are freshly groomed and dolled up. We have seen some amazing and super emotional photos from the first look between couples. The look on the face of your significant other will make all the expenses and efforts that went into planning your perfect day worth every penny.
Arriving at the ceremony
Guests usually will start to arrive around 45 minutes before the ceremony is set to begin. There will be time for some meet & greet for all of them, and they will likely want to greet the parents and wedding party as they start to arrive. That’s when the groomsmen, in their roles as ushers. Need to step in and have everyone seated to keep things on schedule.
The order of arrival is usually as follows:
The groomsmen arrive at the venue first, oftentimes along with the groom.
Parents and grandparents who have reserved seating at the front of the venue tend to arrive second.
Last, but no least, it’s Team Bride. You want to keep the best for last and arriving too early will ruin the surprise for all your guests of how stunning you look.
If you chose one of your bridesmaids to be your point person, she should be there about an hour before the ceremony is set to start, supervising and coordinating that:
Arrangements have been made
Décor is in place
The officiant is ready or on his way
Music is ready to go
Wedding party arrivals
If you wrote your own vows and need someone to hold on to the piece of paper where you wrote them out, just in case you might forget the words, you can ask one of your bridesmaids to keep it in her bouquet and hand it over to you at the altar. They’re all there to support you and more than glad to help whenever you need assistance.
Your wedding planner will more than likely have an assistant overlook all of these aspects in preparation for your arrival.
Once everyone is seated and ready for the wedding to begin. Cue the music.
The wedding processional marks the entrance of the wedding party on their way to the altar. The order may vary, depending on your religion, taste and traditions, but usually it goes:
Grandparents of the Groom
Grandparents of the Bride
Maid ff Honor
Flower Girls and Ring Bearers
Bride accompanied by her Father
Congratulations to the Bride & Groom!
You have been pronounced Husband and Wife by the officiant and now you get to walk down the aisle as a married couple, to loud cheers and happy tears from all your dashing guests.
Before you all leave for the reception venue, or the two of you go into hiding while the setup is getting flipped to accommodate the banquet, take some time to gloat in all the happiness and be congratulated by your guests. You can also take this opportunity to have your photographer snap a few wonderful pics for your album. Think your bridesmaids, groomsmen, Maid of Honor, Best Man, parents and relatives, and anyone who helped you plan the most amazing day of your life.
Gifts for the Bridesmaids and Groomsmen
As a token of your appreciation for all the dedication, patience and love they showed to you and your now Husband throughout this process, now would be the perfect time to give them a gift. There are some wonderful ideas out there, from the most personalized DIY to gift cards for a spa day, cute tote bags filled with goodies… anything that will make them feel like their contribution has been appreciated.
While the newlyweds take off to do their newlywed things, it’s time for the guests to enjoy some fancy treats and gush about how stunning you, the blushing bride, look in your fabulous wedding dress. This also gives the staff the opportunity to flip the venue in case both the ceremony and reception are taking place at the same location. There are some things that need to be setup in order for this stage of the celebration to take place.
Tables and chairs
Whether you hired a rental service for high-chairs and lounge furniture or regular dining room chairs and tables, there have to be enough seating for everyone to enjoy themselves. You know was well as anyone that us women love our high heels, and more than likely your female attendants will be wearing them, and they need to prepare themselves for the dancing that will about to take place during the reception. Also consider the senior members of your family and acquaintances who should not have to fight for a place to sit down.
Fabulous canapes and finger food in abundance are the key to a successful cocktail hour. You don’t want your guests to get drunk ahead of time. They should wait until at least after the toasts.
Food trucks and booths
These are a wonderful idea for cocktail hour. Depending on your wedding theme and venue, if you have the opportunity to hire a couple of food trucks to bring snacks for your guests, you’ll make the whole feel of your wedding a lot more sociable for everyone involved. You could also save a couple hundred dollars in waiting staff.
A great bartender can really get the party started. He or she should offer your guests options other than your signature cocktail. We know you love it, but everyone has their own poison and the trick is to make sure everyone has a great time while they are waiting for the reception venue to be fully setup.
You have a few options. You can either ask the same DJ who’ll be spinning during the reception and lighting up the dancefloor to create a more relaxed, lounge music playlist during cocktail hour, or hire a small string quartet or local band to play some tunes. There needs to be some form of entertainment to get them excited about what’s waiting behind the curtain.
What better time than right after the ceremony for your dear guests to start writing down some warm wishes for the lovely couple of newlyweds. There are some very creative ideas for guest books out there, like filling out little notes and placing them in a jar, taking a polaroid selfie, among others. Make it personal and heartfelt!
Before the doors to the reception hall are officially open, there are two things that need to be setup at the entrance.
You want to give your guests a sense of direction and uncomplicate things for your ushers and hostesses. It will be their job to guide your guests to their assigned seats and make sure everyone is being looked after throughout the evening.
Once all your guests are comfortably seated and chitchatting, it’s time for the Bride and Groom to make your grand entrance! In order to make it a memorable and extra special experience, assign someone you love to be the MC. If you so wish, this fabulous guest will also introduce the toasts from your beloved wedding party later in the evening.
There are some fan favorite songs that couples love to dance to for the first time as a married couple. Whether one of those speaks to your heart, or there’s one that is even more personal for the two of you, it will be the perfect choice. If you, or your significant other, aren’t the best dancers, one of the best tips we can give you is to consider signing up for some dance lessons in advance.
Following the couple’s first dance, it is customary for you to dance with your father, your new husband to dance with his mom, and then for each of you to dance with your in-laws. Nothing like sharing the dance floor to say welcome to the family!
Dinner is served
Whether you are serving an elegant menu with a four-course meal served by a full wait staff or a buffet with many options, it’s time to enjoy your meal! Forget about the pre-wedding stress, the jitters, the things you couldn’t eat for days to avoid bloating and discomfort. Enjoy your feast!
Perhaps your someone other than your parents, Maid of Honor and Best Man would like to say a few words for the bride and groom. Every single one of your guests has contributed in one way or another to your love story. Give them a chance to express their congratulations and have a little something prepared for your husband, too. Once you have the mic in your hands, it would be a wonderful opportunity to show your appreciation for your guests’ attendance and support, as well as to thank everyone who played a role in making your wedding dreams come true.
After a sumptuous meal comes a delicious dessert. The cake cutting ceremony might be very traditional, with the newlyweds taking a bite of the cake and your loving wedding party crowded around you snapping pictures, or you can leave it to your caterers to distribute the even cut slices. There are no rules for how to cut your wedding cake, just go with whatever feels natural to the both of you.
If some of your guests have special dietary restrictions, such as celiac disease, food allergies or are insensitive to certain ingredients, it’s a great idea to have a wedding dessert table with an assortment of delicious options. You want everyone to feel welcome.
Music and entertainment
Time to hit the dance floor! A DJ can get you from ceremony and cocktail hour all the way through to the reception and farewell. You must have given the DJ a playing list when you first hired him/her for the job, or they should have an inkling as to what the vibe of your wedding is like. All your guests will be on their feet and celebrating your love! Let loose and party like a Rockstar!
If there is one trend that has become increasingly popular in the wedding circle in the past few years, it’s photo booths! All you need is to hire a rental company that includes some quirky and fun props, and a booth with enough room for you and your guests to take group photos in and have a blast!
As the evening is coming to an end, there are some traditions that you might or might not like to follow. The first one is tossing the bouquet to all the single ladies in attendance, not just your bridesmaids. According to tradition, the lady who catches the bouquet will be the next one to get married. The single men at your wedding won’t feel left out. That’s what tossing the garter belt is all about! Your groom gets to take it off your leg to a sexy song, either with his hands or, for the more daring couples, with his teeth, and then throws it to the crowd of single male friends standing behind him. Some couples have chosen to forego them for various personal reasons, but there’s no harm in having fun. Whether you decide to go along with these traditions or not, it’s ultimately your choice. It is your wedding after all!
Before your guests start to leave, it’s a good idea to hand out the wedding favors. That little something personal you made for them or had personalized with your initials, well beforehand. There are two ways to go about this. The first one is giving them away personally as you go around the tables with your Mr. and thank them personally for their presence. You can also ask your bridesmaids and groomsmen to hand them out in your representation. The second one is to set up a table by the exit of the venue and have one of the ushers give one to each guest. There are some creative wedding favors that brides have fallen in love with, such as handmade soaps, slippers with your initials engraved (which can be handed out on the dance floor and your female guest will really appreciate), a DIY candy bar, mini bottles of tequila with your initials and wedding date on the label, and many more! Think of it as a cute little something to remember you and your groom by.
After hours snacks
Just because dinner was served doesn’t mean you and your guests have to starve and get wasted. Beverages will be flowing all evening, but you can take care of your hardcore partying friends by giving them something to nibble on. Keep it simple with some snack tables, a stand with many varieties of candy, sliders, fries, pizza… the possibilities are endless!
A spectacular couple like the two of you deserves a spectacular send off into married life. Bubbles, sparklers, rose petals are some of the most popular ways to cheer the newlyweds one last time. Just how creative and harmless should it be? It’s entirely up to you. One of the perks of being the newlyweds is that you don’t have to stay for the final stage of the event.
What happens after the reception? It’s time for everyone to go home, but not before the wedding planner/point person goes over a few things to wrap up the celebration:
Thank your vendors
Beyond the tips and contracts, a thank you goes a long way in showing your appreciation for the services provided. Your perfect wedding wouldn’t have been a success without their expertise.
Check for damages
Unfortunately, you can’t keep an eye on all of your guests. The downside of throwing such an awesome party is that things will get broken without your immediate knowledge, so it’s always a good idea for someone to take a look around the venue and with the rentals and take note of what got damaged during the process.
Take the gifts home
Whether you signed up for your wedding registry at your favorite stores or had a creative wedding gift idea in mind involving charitable donations, some guests are more traditional and like to hand out their gifts in person. Someone you trust, such as one of your parents or siblings, can take the gifts home with them and keep them safe for you.
Everything from the food and liquor, to the floral arrangements and centerpieces has already been paid for, now it’s time to decide who gets to take home what. Always ask your caterer first if they can help you pack them up or if there are any pieces of décor that actually belong to the venue, you don’t want to get into any legal trouble.
Now that you know how things will play out and what needs to be ready in order for every stage of your perfect wedding day to go on without a hitch, all that’s left for you to do is trust the people around you. There’s a reason why you chose you favorite gals as your bridesmaids and your BFF as your MOH. You are not alone in this. You can lean on them for support not only in the early stages, but most importantly on your wedding day. Your only job on the most important day of your life is to look stunning on your perfect wedding dress and embrace every single minute of it.
Click here to download a condensed and printable version of this Wedding Day Checklist.