It’s no secret that when you’re getting married, there’s a LOT on your plate. Even well-organized couples can get the details jumbled with all that wedding planning. But there’s hope for you yet! We’ve created this handy guide to help ease your pre-ceremony stress so you can actually enjoy the celebration. From forgetting to tip your vendors to common communication faux pas, here are the 30 mistakes most brides make — and how you can avoid the same pitfalls.
1. You don’t include your partner in the planning. Even if your significant other doesn’t seem all that interested in the process, be sure to communicate the big decisions with them. You might be surprised what they actually care about. Plus, going cake tasting with your sweetheart is the best freakin’ chore ever.
2. You jump into the details. Before you start wedding dress shopping and picking out a color scheme, decide on your celebration’s overall vibe. Will you throw a black tie event, or are you hoping to get married in the groom’s backyard? Knowing the big picture will help guide your other decisions throughout the planning process.
3. You don’t hire a proper caterer. It doesn’t matter if your mom is the best chef in the world; she shouldn’t be stressing out on her kid’s wedding day over how many lasagnas are in the oven. If at all possible, have your wedding catered by professionals and save money in other areas, like the decor or the dress. Fact: People get real hangry at weddings, so don’t skimp.
4. You go blog crazy. Skimming through wedding websites and creating fab Pinterest boards is one of the best parts of the planning process. But beware: Once you’ve determined your vibe, found the dress and ironed out the details, you’ll want to keep obsessing over your favorite wedding blogs. Don’t! You’ll always find new trends, but changing your decor at the last minute can be a complete nightmare.
5. You don’t create a budget. Time to sharpen those Excel skills. It’s 100% imperative that you create a budget, document your expected costs and record your actual expenses. Pro tip: Use a Google Doc to share the constantly changing data with your partner or family members.
6. You and the photographer don’t communicate. A good photographer creates a wedding day timeline for the couple. This includes everything from the couple’s time of arrival to when they make their exit. Typically, family photos happen after the ceremony. Because you (obvi) want to get to the reception as soon as possible, write out exactly which family members you need to take photos with. If everyone is organized, the portrait session can be done in 25 minutes or less.
7. You forget to feed vendors. The photographer, band and wedding planner will all expect a plate of food at some point in the night, so be sure to get the correct headcount for your caterer. This is even more important if you’re doing a seated meal instead of a buffet.
8. You stress over the small stuff. Take a deep breath and remember: This day is a celebration of your unending love for someone else. That’s big! That’s bigger than the florist forgetting a boutonniere. Bigger than the steak being a little overcooked. You are getting *married.* Embrace what life throws your way and enjoy the epic journey.
9. You make cocktail hour an actual hour. If the pre-dinner mingling is one of your favorite parts of a wedding reception, don’t limit yourself to just 60 minutes. After the ceremony, you’ll take photos with your new spouse and family. This can take a while to organize (especially with fragile grandparents), so extend cocktail time by at least 20 minutes.
10. You don’t delegate before the big day. Photographer Katelyn James said, “After eight years of photographing weddings, here’s one common mistake I see: Brides assume they’ll be able to get a lot done on the day of the wedding. I’ll show up at the beginning of the day and the bride is stressed and running behind with hair and makeup because she’s trying to do tasks that should have been done weeks ago. Brides have to learn to delegate! I didn’t delegate tasks on my own wedding day and I was up at 6am finishing little tasks that really didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.”
11. You feel obligated to be traditional. Scan the Internet and you’ll find a slew of wedding rules and traditions that couples are expected to maintain. For example, one etiquette website says, as a rule of thumb, wedding party favors between the prices of $75 and $150 “should suffice.” (Whoa.) But nowadays, many couples aren’t doing wedding favors at all. Period. So don’t let these old-school ideas bring you down. Pick and choose how conventional you want your wedding to be — or start your own traditions.
12. You don’t hire a wedding planner. It’s important to have someone (who’s not you or your mother) coordinating the day of your big event. Whether you hire a wedding planner to assist you a year in advance or just on the actual wedding day, you will need support. This person can manage the vendors and shield you from an onslaught of constant logistical questions.
13. You don’t take a picture post-makeup trial. You adored your makeup at the trial run (yes, you need a trial run). But then you get the pictures back from your photographer after the wedding and — augh, who is that creature with the metallic eyelids? Remember to take pictures both with and without a flash before selecting your final beauty products.
14. You forget about tips. Many vendors, especially the catering staff, will expect a tip after the reception. Here’s the plan: A week before your wedding, label envelopes with each vendor’s name. Then, add the appropriate amount of cash to each envelope. You should include the tip and any final payments. Lastly, put someone else in charge of delivering the dough, since you’ll be riding off into the sunset. This may be a good task for the MOTB.
15. You let people boss you around. Remember: This is your wedding, a once in a lifetime (ideally) event. Know what you want and do your best to make it happen within the constraints of your budget. Listen to your friends’ and family’s opinions, but never let their thoughts dictate your actions. That’s not how you live life, and that’s not how you plan a wedding.
16. You underestimate DIY venue cost. Sure, getting married in a barn looks like fun. But take into account all the little details: Do you need an AC unit? Is it handicap accessible? Who pays for the bathroom trailer, you or the venue? Before you opt out of an all-inclusive option, do your research on the extra expenses.
17. You assume the bridal party wants to craft. If you didn’t know, we here at Brit + Co are obsessed with crafting — but that doesn’t mean everyone is. Know who will be there to assist with your glitter mason jar dreams and be sure to understand how much DIYing you’re actually taking on solo. Making 70 watercolor invitations is one thing, but 275? Yikes.
18. You take too many people dress shopping. There’s going to be a lot of emotions flying around when you try on wedding dresses for the first time. If you’re not someone who likes being the center of attention, keep your entourage to a minimum and set expectations ahead of time. Will you find the perfect gown on your first shopping trip? Maybe, maybe not.
19. You forget about hidden fees. The fine print in venue contracts can be tricky. Some common hidden fees include hiring security for your event, buying insurance policies on historical sites and bathroom rental fees. These factors could potentially add a few thousand to the base cost, so ask questions and calculate your total before signing on the dotted line.
20. You forget to eat! If you’ve been a bridesmaid in weddings before, you know how difficult it can be to obtain food. You primp all morning, take photos all afternoon and then BOOM. It’s time to walk down the aisle. It doesn’t get any better as a bride or groom, so make sure you have a breakfast, lunch and dinner plan in place. Rule of thumb? Don’t skip meals, and provide for your wedding party too.
21. You assume people will RSVP no. It’s a myth that a certain percentage of guests will turn down your invite. For sanity’s purposes, assume that every invitation being sent out could be a “yes.” It’s fine to hypothesize who will be unable to attend — but don’t bank on those numbers for the big stuff, like the final count for your venue.
22. You don’t have a solid Plan B. No couple wants rain on their wedding day, but unfortunately that’s something you have absolutely no control over. So make sure that the contingency plan is something you’re still excited about. Visualize both your Plan A and Plan B ahead of time; if you despise the rain plan, it might be wise to check out other venues.
23. You don’t optimize the event space. Logistics make for a good party, not the color scheme. Before you think about centerpieces, consider how guests will move around your venue. Where will they enter? Should you have two buffet lines? Some basic tips: Put the guest book in a place with high foot traffic, and make sure the dance floor is big enough for an epic party. People may not remember if your reception has a good flow, but they will remember if it doesn’t.
24. You don’t have a wedding website. It benefits everyone when your friends and family feel in the loop. No bride wants 32 text messages asking for the venue’s address. Make sure you have a sufficient website with all the wedding details. Also, if many of your guests are from out of town, it’s a good idea to supply them with local maps, marking hotels, attractions and restaurants.
25. You think everyone needs a plus one. Do you have a huge group of college friends coming to your wedding who all know each other? Great — they are a prime example of people who don’t need a plus one. They already know people at the party and will be comfortable socializing. Have a friend flying into your hometown that doesn’t know a soul and has been dating someone for a year? That’s the type of guest who deserves a plus one.
26. You don’t read vendor reviews. In these glorious days, where the Internet reigns supreme, it’s so easy to find quality reviews. Do your research. If something seems sketchy, it probably is. Also, don’t assume that high prices equal a quality product. The wedding industry is definitely a business, so keep your wits about you.
27. You book an early flight after the wedding. When planning out your honeymoon transportation, keep in mind how tired you’ll be after the reception. You most likely won’t want to be on a 7am flight to St. Lucia. If travel stresses you or your partner out, give yourself a day to relax between the wedding and the honeymoon. You don’t want to be thinking about your carry-on luggage during the first dance.
28. You don’t factor in transportation. If your guests are from out of town, many of them won’t have vehicles. Consider having a shuttle from the hotel or a trolley help transport your wedding party. If that’s not in the budget, call a taxi service ahead of time to see if you can have a few cars parked outside of the ceremony and reception sites. Lastly, make sure drivers who have any extra seats are willing to carpool.
29. You let toasts get out of hand. Everyone loves a good toast, whether it’s tearful or hilarious. But no one loves when the party stops for 45 minutes to hear a bunch of obscure stories. Keep your toasts to a minimum at the wedding by scheduling exactly who will speak and when. Then invite close friends to share their funny (or, er, embarrassing) tales at the rehearsal dinner instead.
30. You don’t take time to enjoy the party. Once the ceremony is over, snag a private moment to breathe with your partner. Then get ready, because it’s officially party time! Be sure to enjoy all the facets of the reception you planned. If there’s a photo booth, don’t forget to snap some pics with your friends and family. Sample all the food, enjoy the signature drink, eat a slice of cake and dance the night away. You deserve it.
(Photos via Getty)