In no particular order, these have come from years of experience and observation:
BE ON TIME:
Every wedding left to its own devices, will start a minimum of a half hour late, & usually quite a bit more. Here’s how to prevent that from happening:
- Hire a good wedding planner or, if you absolutely can’t, appoint a relative or guest who is NOT part of the wedding procession who will easily assume a role of authority without being rude. This person’s critical job is to make sure she knows where all members of the procession are at all times—including parents, grandparents & children—so that they are ready to walk the aisle on time. Having this person in place takes all the stress off of YOU!
If your invitations say the wedding is at 6 pm, that means the CEREMONY starts at 6 pm; they should have the good manners to arrive before then). You can include a little summary of this timeframe if you like, but it’s optional of course:
- all guests MUST be seated no later than 15 minutes before the scheduled start of the ceremony
- grandparents are seated at 10 minutes before the ceremony, followed immediately by the seating of the parents
- the procession will start PROMPTLY at 5 minutes before the ceremony. If some guests have not yet arrived, the ceremony will begin without them, as you don’t know if they’ve had car trouble or are just running late.
- Being on time for a wedding is the same as arriving on time for a business meeting, a movie… you wouldn’t expect them to hold the meeting or the movie for you, would you? Don’t hold up the ceremony for everyone else.
- The bride starts down the aisle AT the time listed on the invitation. The wedding begins on time.
There is neither humor nor good taste in a bride being late for her own wedding!
RESEARCH YOUR MINISTER:
Make sure your minister is fully licensed and accredited by your state and a real ministry. Some states and counties are not allowing minister ordained online to perform legal marriages. If they don't have a ministry, then they aren't a real minister.
BEWARE SALTY FOOD AND MSG:
Do not over-salt your food, eat Asian food (MSG), or drink more than two margueritas within 48 hours of your ceremony; your fingers will swell and your rings won’t go on.
GETTING YOUNG RING BEARERS & FLOWER GIRLS TO BEHAVE:
Really young children may look utterly adorable in their teeny tuxedos & lacy dresses, but the odds of them not freaking out in front of all those people is rather slim. That doesn't mean they're not the greatest children in the entire world! But, let's face it, a 2 year old does not have the self-control or even the life experience of a 6 year old. Getting children in the wedding party to behave comes down to one word: Bribery!
This tool should be used in an age-appropriate manner.
For children up to age 3:
- Buy or borrow one of those wagons with removable wooden or plastic sides. Line the wagon with favorite stuffed animals. Seat the child or children inside & place one or two brand-new toys between the legs of each child. As someone pulls them down the aisle in the wagon, the children will look adorable, but will be far too excited by the new toy to even notice that dozens or hundreds of adults are smiling at them, taking photos, making a fuss…all they notice is their new toys. Once they get to the ceremony site & are photographed with the wedding party, they can be wheeled to the side to play for the rest of the time.
For children 4-7:
- Gummis! I have yet to meet a child that age who does not love gummis! Tell them that, if they walk down the aisle like they’re supposed to (carrying a pillow or strewing flowers), the nice lady in the purple dress will give them a surprise! (please make sure you give me the candy beforehand!)
For children 8-12:
- Money! Tape a silver dollar (or two or more) to the place they are supposed to stand. Make it clear that, if they perform their job, they can come back up after the ceremony & untape their money from the floor.
Other suggestions: Legos & Barbies.
Not recommended: lollipops (they get sticky)
Usually the first item that budget-conscious brides cut from their list--but a GOOD wedding director is invaluable! You cannot even imagine how much aggravation she'll take off your shoulders! Cut back on something else so that you can enjoy your wedding day & not be worried about whether such-&-such a detail was taken care of! Your friend or neighbor or relative has not done this hundreds of times before & be able to anticipate any pitfall. If other guests know your friend, neighbor or relative, they’re less likely to take that person seriously when directions are given, especially about firm timetables.
Far more than just getting your wedding party to stand in order before they head down the aisle, good Wedding Directors are usually prepared to direct guests with a smile! They know how to get any wrinkles out of your gown just before you float down the aisle, where to send a guest to pick up some last minute necessity, how to pin boutonnieres upright to lapels, how to calm nervous parents, how much time to allow for relatives with walkers or canes to get down the aisle, the best spot to reserve space for a wheelchair…& too many details for me to even list here. You can hire a Wedding Director for just the day of the ceremony, or from the moment the ring goes on your finger & you start to explore places & vendors. For a list of those wedding directors that I personally think are terrific, call me!
Caution! Vendors who tell you they can do their jobs at the weddings & also double as the wedding director—NO! Vendors should be focused completely on their jobs! Photographers should be looking out for great candids at all times. DJs should be focused on playing, or what they’re going to play—even if they’re not playing just prior to or during the ceremony. Decorators may have finished decorating your site, but they have to be available if something falls down or some other related problem arises. I would strongly advise you to not cut costs here. A good Wedding Director is a full-time job, whether the person is hired for the whole planning process or just for the day of the wedding. Trust me—I have seen sooo many couples upset that their “double duty” vendor either didn’t know what to do about a problem that Wedding Directors know how to solve in their sleep, or that vendor is simply busy doing his or her real job & will get to your problem “in just a minute”.
GUEST BOOK OBSERVATIONS:
The typical sign-in guest book is lovely, but it will also, within weeks of the wedding, be relegated to some drawer. That’s fine—just know that that’s what will happen.
A photo of the bride & groom, with lots of border area on which people can sign their names & wishes, is also lovely. Many couples do, in fact, keep that photo on the wall for many years. Frequently, as soon as one of you gains 10 or 15 lbs, the photo comes down! That’s fine, too—just know that it’s coming.
A good-looking metal serving tray is another solution is to buy (Target has a great selection at around $30, which look like $200) and a cordless engraver (Lowes or Home Depot, about $15). Your guests sign the tray itself, which is a lot of fun, & the tray with all its signatures often becomes an heirloom that gets brought out for all family events—the turkey gets served on it, or the fancy dessert…so it’s a guest book that actually gets used, over & over, through the years.
Do you like jigsaw puzzles? Have a photo of yourself mounted to wood, & have an expert jigsaw the wood into roughly as many pieces as you will have guests. Each guest can sign the back of a piece of the puzzle—which is especially fun when all the pieces are face-down & you see everybody’s name!
Quilts! This is one of my personal favorites, & anyone who can sew straight lines can do it. Cut squares or rectangles of fabric roughly equal to the number of guests who’ll be attending. Choose colors, of course, that you’ll want to have in your home. Have each guest use a laundry marker to sign one square (couples can sign together or on two separate pieces). At some time after the ceremony, the chosen person will take all the squares and sew them along straight lines, creating a quilt! Then it’s just a matter of adding a single piece of fabric (like a sheet) as the solid backing, and a sheet of fiberfill between the two. You’ll have a treasure to display or to lay on your bed, which will also become an heirloom for future generations!
Wedding insurance! You can buy one-day wedding insurance, which will protect your investment in case anything goes wrong with the gown or cake or food or photographs… I’m not saying anything WILL go wrong! But, if there’s any kind of glitch, the cost of wedding insurance will pay for your put-of-pocket costs.
Buying a wedding gown: You can save tons of money on a BRAND NEW, HIGH FASHION wedding gown if you buy at Songbirds Consignments in Greensboro. They have an entire huge room of brand new wedding gowns, mother of the bride/groom and bridesmaid dresses, tons of accessories... One of my brides bought her brand new satin wedding gown there for $45! I send a lot of couples on tight budgets to Songbirds...
If you know you're going to sell your gown after your wedding, find a dry cleaner beforehand who specializes in removing armpit stains! Also, if you get an air-brush tan before your wedding, do NOT get sprayed anywhere your skin will contact your gown (ie from your gown's neckline down to the bikini line, or all the way down if your gown is very fitted. Arms can be tanned if your gown is sleeveless). Otherwise, you'll leave tan/copper coloring where your skin rubbed against the gown...and that's very hard to get out (although you can ask your dry cleaner about their experience with removing stains of that type). Nobody will buy a used gown that has pit stains or tan stains--but that problem is easily avoided by talking to your dry cleaner first!
Just FYI, brides didn't wear white until Queen Victoria wore white to her own wedding in the 1800s. Before then, white was so difficult to keep clean that only the wealthy could employ staff whose job it was to scrub and use secret chemicals (ie an early form of bleach) on their clothing. So, by wearing white to her own wedding, Queen Victoria was essentially saying, "I'm rich & you're not!" Virginity had nothing to do with it!
Preserve your gown: After the wedding, you'll want to have your gown dry-cleaned & preserved. There are certain dry-cleaners who specialize in this & it does make a difference! If you can't find one in the Yellow Pages or through Google, give me a call. On-site hair & makeup artists: If at all possible, choose a Hair & Makeup artist who'll travel to your wedding site--with as many assistants as needed for your wedding party. This is a huge timesaver, plus you also don't have to deal with the aggravation of having this vendor start late, having other customers in the salon, your getting caught in traffic en route there or back... plus, you have someone there for last-minute touch-ups! Again, for my personal recommendations, call me...
Tanning: If you want a tan, glowing look for your wedding but don't have the time or inclination to lie in the sun, you can get a full-body air-brush tan that looks like the real thing (it's not orange!) and lasts for a week to ten days at a really good price. Get it done the day before your wedding, because the day after it's done is when your tan will be the darkest. You just stand in a pop-up booth, the pros do their work, and you're done in ten minutes. For entire bridal parties, there are significant discounts. Light-skinned black women and Asian women get a gorgeous "glow" from this tanning method, too!
Memorable place-setting gifts: The days of candy-coated almonds in a mesh bag are gone. There are some fantastic ideas for mementos to leave at each place-setting; I keep a list of companies that do a really nice job. Whether it's something specific made out of killer chocolate, a CD of your favorite songs with great cover art, perennial flower bulbs in cute containers...there are some terrific ideas & great vendors out there, & I’ll be glad to point you in the right direction. And you can choose your budget & pick the gift to fit.
Especially for outdoor weddings:
Programs printed on cardboard fans: Here in the South, these are a great idea for virtually every outdoor wedding! Some vendors are better than others--I've seen some misprints, although it's up to the bride (or, better yet, the Wedding Director) to catch typos--but, boy, will your guests appreciate having a memento that's also a lifesaver!
Programs printed on balsa wood fans that are laser cut to look like lace. Some of these firms can also burn your name & date into the side of the fan so that everyone remembers where they got it.
Mosquito spray: Small spray bottles of Avon’s Skin-So-Soft, placed in a basket next to where guests pick up their programs, is a great-smelling & ever-so-appreciated idea for outdoor weddings!
Umbrellas: Although I, personally, have had rain at only one outdoor wedding, ever, you may feel more comfortable borrowing umbrellas from all your friends & relatives & leaving them in a big bucket near the guest programs. I know you’ll follow the weather forecast, & a somewhat overcast day is actually preferable to a screamingly sunny one for photos (no harsh shadows) & to avoid squinting during your ceremony… but having the umbrellas on-hand is something you can start gathering a month or more before the Big Day!
Mints in decorative containers are often much appreciated, too!
Fun Married Names!
Y’know how The Tonight show does segments on couples whose married names are, well, entertaining? Where the bride has a perfectly normal name but, when she gets married, her name becomes, well, kinda funny? Well, here are a few examples from “my” couples that I treasure:
Crystal DuPray—pretty name.
She married Justin Wright.
Now she’s Crystal DuPray Wright.
And, as a regular churchgoer, I’m sure she does!
Alison King married Bill Jordan, which brought her from being a commoner to being royalty. Now she’s Alison King-Jordan!
Lindsay Broeker is an equine massage therapist. Then she married Brandon Nuckles.
So it’s really kind of fitting, working around horses as she does, that her married name would be: