Here, two top planners break down the top 14 details you could overlook. Take notes, and don't let yourself be the bride who forgets these important must-dos and must-knows!
1. Having a rain plan. "This can slip through the cracks because preparing for rain often comes with a large price tag, and it can feel frustrating to spend that money when you're banking on a sunny day," explains Alia Wilson, planner and designer for Firefly Events.
2. Knowing when the sun will set. "When that golden hour takes place is so important for photos and the timing of the ceremony," Easton says.
3. Getting your bridal party from point A to point B. "They'll often leave the hotel — or wherever they're getting ready — at a different time than the bride and groom, but earlier than the rest of the guests," explains Wilson.
4. Noting the historical temperature. We all cross our fingers for sun and mild winds, but it's better to be safe than sorry. "If you're planning an outdoor wedding, we highly recommend that brides check the historical temperature for their particular wedding date in their location," Easton says, so you can accurately prepare for what weather may come.
5. Arranging lighting for the band. "If you're working with a band that doesn't do primarily weddings, they might not be aware of their lighting needs because they've always worked in venues that provided it for them," explains Wilson. "Most wedding venues do not have in-house lighting, so this is something you'll need to take care of."
6. Providing extra seating at your ceremony. "Take into consideration the fact that people do not naturally sit next to each other," Easton advises, "so you will always need roughly 20 more chairs than there are people."
7. And while we're chatting about chairs, don't forget to have a separate set for your ceremony and reception. "It can feel frustrating to have to rent two sets of chairs, but it's not practical at many venues to repurpose your chairs from the ceremony for your dinner," says Wilson. "Think about where your guests are having the cocktail hour, and whether this is the only path for the caterers to bring those chairs through."
8. Designating a "photo wrangler." Along with a shot list, "designate a sister, brother, cousin or aunt who can be the 'photo wrangler,'" suggests Easton. "The photographer is not going to know who your important family members are, so when he gets to the 'photo of the bride with aunts and uncles,' your photo wrangler can easily go grab these family members for you and you can stay on track with timing."
9. Establishing a wedding website before you mail your save-the-dates. "The site does not need to be fully finished, but you should have a URL that you can put on the cards, as well as a few basic pieces of information on site, such as the the location and nearby hotels," says Wilson. "People are often so excited to get the save-the-dates out that they don't think about the fact that six to eight weeks before the wedding is pretty late for out-of-town guests to make travel plans."
10. Nominate "transportation managers." If you're providing transportation for your guests to and from your ceremony and reception, "make sure you have one friend or extended family member on each bus or in each car who knows how to get to the venue," says Easton. "It's amazing how you can sometimes end up with a driver who has never driven the route before, and the last thing you want is the driver making the wrong turn!"
11. Paying for the correct invitation postage. "Not only does the weight but the size matters when it comes to your invitations," Wilson says. "Square envelopes and certain enclosures can carry an additional charge. This can fall through the cracks simply because people forget to ask, or don't know all these funny rules from the post office."
12. Asking your guests if they have food allergies. "Be sure to make note of all the guests who have food allergies or are vegetarian or vegan," suggests Easton. "Provide a list for your caterer noting where each of these guests are sitting — your caterer will love you!"
13. Ask someone to keep your cards and gifts safe. "You don't want to be figuring out what to do with all of it at the end of the party, after you've been enjoy a night full of bubbly!" Wilson says.
14. Leave room — and money — for overtime. "Check in with your vendors ahead of time to see if they might be willing to stay later," suggests Wilson. "Even if you don't think you'll want to take advantage of this option, you never know how you'll feel that night! It's better to find out what those fees would be like from vendors, such as your DJ and bartender, ahead of time, as well as giving them the heads up that overtime might be a possibility."