Make Sure Your Suppliers Know What You Want
This is probably the most important first step. If your suppliers don’t understand your vision, they will not be able to create the day as you’d like. Be clear by using story boards, clippings and examples.
Make Sure Your Suppliers Work Together
Firstly, pull all your different ideas together on one final board or PDF and distribute to your suppliers. They can then all see the bigger picture of what each other is doing and be prepared for the day. It also gives them a chance to come back with suggestions if something isn't going to work well or they are concerned about the effect that one suppliers work will have on their ability to do their work. For example, the florist may be concerned that the favours will clash with their vision of how the table will look. If they see everything laid out, they can come back to you and advise on what might need to change and possibly work with the favours supplier to design something more complimentary.
Secondly, give your suppliers each a copy of your run sheet. This is really important as they will be able to advise if something is out of order or if they have been allocated enough time to finish their work. You don’t want the tables arriving an hour after the table stylist!
Give Your Bridal Party Clear Instructions
It is really important that your bridal party knows what to expect from the day. Sit down with them before the wedding and walk through your run sheet and their involvement. They will enjoy the process much more if they are not stressed out!
Keep Your Ceremony Brief
Everyone is there to celebrate your big day and to share in this special occasion – but no one wants a drawn out ceremony. Keep the proceedings to around 20 minutes. Your guests (and your feet!) will thank you. Have no more than 2-3 readings of no more than 2 minutes each. Also try to vary them up – for example, one poem, one prayer, one reading. We would also suggest only one musical performance and ideally have this during the signing of the marriage papers.
Personalise Your Ceremony Program
By personalising your ceremony booklet the guests will recognise that the day is truly about you both. The standard booklet will not capture their attention. Pick gorgeous stationery, clear and interesting fonts (no more than two) and a nice ribbon or binder. Your program should be easy to follow with the proceedings broken down in to clear sections. If any translations are needed, make sure you provide them. Ask your celebrant/priest to approve your program before you have them printed.
Technology – App, Website, Hashtag and Mobile Charger Station
Technology can be an amazing way to help you and your guests actively participate in your day. Download a variety of wedding apps to help you plan out your day and/or create your own wedding website (using technology such as Square Space or Tumblr) so your guests can find all the details for the day. Want something easier? Just create a unique Hashtag and invite your guests to tag all the photos they take on the day. You can put this information at the bottom of your menu’s or on your website. Finally, a cool idea is to create a mobile phone charging station. Guests will be taking lots of pictures so if they can charge their phones they are sure not to miss anything through the night.
Greet The Guest
This might sound really obvious, however you’d be surprised how many couples do not say hello to all their guests! Try to spend time with each person throughout the night - so keep the numbers to a minimum.
It is really important that you splurge on an open bar. By this I don’t mean you give your guests full access to every drink under the sun. What I mean is that cover the costs for the entire duration of your wedding (pre reception and reception) by providing beer, wine, cocktails and one or two spirit options. At my wedding we made the mistake of only making the open bar from dinner onwards and not during the garden games. We provided canapés and fresh lemonade thinking that would be enough. Whilst our guests were more than happy to pay for their own alcoholic drinks, many of them did not bring any money as they assumed it would be covered. If we had our time again, we would definitely arrange an open bar for the whole duration of the wedding. I've also attended many similar weddings and now believe this to be a big no-no.
Why not even create your own signature cocktail for the pre-dinner drink? This will certainly personalise the evening and will save you money on having an open bar before the reception. Try to select a drink that is palatable for a wide array of people.
Give Your Guests Activities
The time between a Ceremony and the Reception is usually a number of hours. It is imperative that you offer your guests something to do and a place to wait whilst you are having your photos taken. Don’t just expect that they find a bar to wait. Give them options and cater it. Whether it is garden games or you suggest a local pub where you have organised drinks and food to be served. Have some activities organised that makes it easy for them, it shows that you have put thought into how valuable their time is and how important it is that you show them a amazing day. Keep the time between the ceremony and the wedding only 2-2.5 hours. This is more than enough time for photos and transit.
Ceremony Near Reception
Don’t pick a location for your Ceremony that is not walking distance (or a short drive) away from your Reception. Guests most likely will not be driving so it is really expensive for them to be getting transport between the various venues. If you can keep all on the one site, even better.
If you are at a destination wedding suggest accommodation that is on site or within a short walk. Alternatively organise a bus that can drop your guests back to their respective hotels.
A seating chart is REALLY important. Guests need structure. They need to know what is going on. They DON’T want to walk around aimlessly trying to find their table! Some options are:
(1) put up a big chart on a board or mirror at the room entrance with table numbers and guests names listed clearly
(2) create a seating tree with names hanging from the tree and information on the table in each tag
(3) assign table seater who will direct guests to their table.
One tip: Why not just assign people to a table and not a specific seat? This will of course depend on your family but in our experience it is great for guests. They are given enough help by being allocated a table. It is nice for them to then be able to decide who they are sitting next too. They will actively think it is their choice where they sit and who they sit with and they won’t be resentful of you putting them next to someone they don’t like!
Make sure your guests are comfortable. Give them enough places to sit and offer them some options of hand held fans, parasols, blankets, flip-flop shoes, or cushions to sit on.
Design a Lounge Or Sitting Area
Not all your guests will want to dance the whole night. So create a moody area where they can chill out and enjoy some drinks close to the dance floor. They will still feel like part of the action but have the option to relax. The most important thing is to get all your guests AWAY from their tables once you have started dancing. If guests stay at their seats they are less likely to be social and more likely to fall asleep after a big meal. Get them up and out as soon as you can and offer them an alternative retreat in between dancing. You can find out about hire decor our interior styling section.
Open Air Dance Floor
Arrange for your guests to be dancing under the stars! This is highly recommended for the warmer months. This will not only get them out of their tables but a bit of fresh air will wake them up. They will have more energy to party for longer. It is also extremely romantic to have all your loved ones dancing outside under some gorgeous fairy lights, lanterns or up lights. For a wet weather back up have a marquee company on standby to set up the day of your wedding if it looks like rain. Alternatively place a second dance floor inside just in case.
The entertainment is KEY to the success of your evening. The band must not be too loud or too soft. It must be positioned in the perfect location near the dance floor but not too far from the tables. Your entertainer should be smooth, confident and charismatic. The music should be romantic and match your theme appropriately. Avoid tacky Karaoke style bands or jukebox. Your entertainer should be one of the most important choices you make for your wedding and must have a proven record of attending weddings. Go visit them live before you hire them. Avoid guests making song requests – this reminds me of a cheesy Karaoke bar. If you as the bride and groom have any requests, provide this list to the entertainment prior to the event.
Taste the food before you have your wedding at the location. You want to be blown away. The entrée should be delicate and light. The main must be presented beautifully and be a reasonable size portion. The desert should be light and compliment the main meals. Just serving your wedding cake is a great option as many guests will be too full and tired after a 3-4 course meal. My biggest tip, is rather than serving the cake or desert at the tables, have a desert display set up near the dance floor or chill out area so guests can help themselves. There is nothing worse than a room filled with uneaten deserts because guests are having too much fun dancing! It also prevents guests from going back and sitting down (and getting mighty sleepy!).
Keep The Speeches Short
I can’t stress this enough! The speeches should be no longer than 5 minutes each with a maximum of 4 speeches. If you can, have two in between the entrée and main and two in between the main and the cutting of the cake. Ask your MC to also keep his/her parts short and brief. And if someone carries on for too long, have your MC ready to politely cut them short.
Games & DIY Bars For Your Guests
Create some interesting side bars and games that will keep your guests entertained throughout the night, such as lemonade stand, milkshake bar, cigar and scotch table, sundae bar, build your own biscuit bar or activities such as croquet or bowls.
Photo And Video Corners
There is also the option of photo sections - whilst many people love photo booths, might I suggest you avoid the cliché and opt for a section set up as a professional photo shoot (rather than booth). Have a screen put up with photographers equipment and some interesting props. The photos will be professional and you can send them to your guests as part of their thank you card. Something else that is a winner is asking your videographer to have some one on one diary messages from your guests. These are wonderful for the Bride and Groom to look back on and perfect to bring out and show your friends at post wedding parties.
Favours People Will Like
Give favours that your guests can actually enjoy. Gone are the days of stubby holders or tacky key rings. If your budget is not huge, try making jam in little jars or hand making little soaps or candles.
Make The Dress Code Consistent
Make sure the dress code matches the venue (don’t suggest cocktail if you are having it in a castle!) and be sure your bridal party outfits work well with what you've asked the guests to wear. That is, don’t ask the guests to wear cocktail and then put your bridal party in formal dresses. Similarly, if you are having a formal Ceremony, then don’t follow it with a casual garden party as your guests long dresses will be dirtied up in the grass. If you are having a casual garden Ceremony, then don’t ask guests to wear black tie. Make sure you understand the difference between formal, cocktail, black tie, white tie and lounge suite.
Please make sure your theme follows through the WHOLE day. You as a couple should be represented throughout the whole day. The decorations should be consistent and have a purpose. For example, if you want a vintage theme then pick a particular period, whether it be 1920’s, 1950’s, and work that in to every aspect of the day. Please don’t just pick vintage furniture and then have a modern dress code or gown.
Spend Time With Your Husband/Wife
Many couples leave their wedding day without having any special time just to themselves. Try to race outside for just a few minutes and have a special moment with each other.
Skip Traditions That Don’t Work
If you are having a country garden wedding then it might be best not to have a very formal ceremony. If you don’t want to partake in certain traditions, then don’t! It is your wedding, so make it just that, yours. See our etiquette section for more discussion on traditions.
So there's my tips for the day.