57 Wedding Planning Tips You Need to Know
Wedding planning is a combination of big ideas (theme, location, wedding venue, and guest list) and details that make a lovely difference (personalized favors, a knockout playlist, and just-right accents).
To manage the big picture and seemingly endless details at once is a challenge, especially if you’re planning the big day yourself. But there are some essential wedding planning tips, tricks, and hacks every couple should know that make the process smoother and even more fun!
Discover 57 wedding planning tips you need to know
Big-picture wedding planning tips:
1. Get started early.
We know, we know. You’ve probably heard this a million times already. But starting early and spreading the planning over time helps alleviate wedding stress. With time to breathe, you’ll get more done and notice things that slip through the cracks.
2. Get a handle on the average timeline.
Take a look at our ultimate wedding planning timeline. Understanding how long you need to plan a wedding (on average) helps you get your bearings. You’ll also see that those big decisions are spread out, and you don’t usually have to accomplish ten things at once.
Of course, your wedding is a huge deal, but believe it or not, you’ll go on living your life day-to-day life during the planning process. You’ll go to work, spend time together, hang with family and friends, exercise, and so on. Keep things in perspective and you’re less likely to become overwhelmed.
3. Guesstimate your wedding size.
Planning a beach wedding with 20 guests is less demanding than planning a wedding for 300 people at The Bronx Zoo. With your wedding size in mind, begin sketching out a rough timeline and checklist to help you get a clearer picture of your to-do list over the next 12 months.
4. Put a lot of thought into your venue choice.
In terms of wedding planning, this is one of your most important decisions. Many subsequent choices build off of this choice. Important considerations before choosing a venue:
Will your wedding be large or small?
Will it be at a destination or local?
Do you imagine an elegant or ultra-relaxed reception?
What’s your budget?
Do you want an all-inclusive venue, or do you want to manage the vendor arrangements yourself?
With the answers to these questions, you can explore wedding venues on Wedding Spot to find beautiful sites that meet your requirements.
5. Understand your venue inside and out.
Once you’ve narrowed down your top choices, go for site visits. Do you get a good feeling about the place and the people? Does the site match the pretty photographs on their website? Can you meet some of the team who will likely help on your wedding day?
Research reviews of the venue on sites such as Yelp and Google Reviews. Look for repeating trends in negative reviews, often that is a red flag. If any reviews are particularly concerning, talk with the venue about what happened and ask how they resolved the issue.
6. Get your engagement ring sized.
If your engagement ring is too big, it will slip off without you noticing. Before you start wearing it (and showing it off!) everywhere you go, take it to the jewelers to have it sized. And, if weight loss is one of your pre-wedding goals, remember you may have to do this again as you drop the pounds.
7. Make life easier with wedding planning apps.
There are a lot of free wedding planning apps to help you organize your big day. These apps are fantastic sources of inspiration for dresses, suits, venues, and decor. They can also help you stick to your timeline and manage your stress.
8. Build your wedding website early.
Wedding websites are a great way to make things easier for you and your guests. With Joy lets you quickly build a website that includes essential details about your wedding, including the location of the ceremony and reception, transportation options, the dress code, the reception menu, invites and RSVPs, and the registry.
9. Make your wedding your own.
Weddings can come with a fair amount of social and family baggage. It’s unavoidable. But you have the right to set loving boundaries with your overzealous aunt who has 1,000 ideas about your wedding. And you don’t have to take your father-in-law up on that offer to play the harmonica during the reception.
On the other side, you can fit that harmonica solo into the festivities if you want. You can serve pizza on fine china. You can wear an emerald green wedding dress if that’s your favorite color. You can serve an entirely vegan menu. You can go secular or embrace religious traditions. The point is, this is your wedding.
10. Decide on your “must-haves” as a couple.
Get on the same page about your wedding must-haves. What are the most important things to you on your wedding day? What about your fiance? Maybe it’s great live music. Perhaps it’s awesome food. It could be your vows. Write your top two or three things down. Put them on the fridge or the cover of your wedding planner. These are the things you’ll want to focus on getting right above all other concerns.
11. Drop things off the bottom of your list.
As you organize and prioritize, you’ll find some items falling to the bottom of your checklist. Do yourselves a favor and delete some of them altogether. Whatever they are, they aren’t terribly important to you. Save yourself time and money by taking them off the list.
12. Get advice from trusted friends and family.
Reach out to those who have taken the plunge before you for words of wisdom and guidance. Bonus if friends or family members threw a wedding in your area that is similar to your dream wedding. If they have vendors they loved, get those phone numbers.
13. Check out your vendor’s digital footprint.
Florists. Caterers. Classical guitarists. Today, most vendors have a social media footprint. Explore their Instagram and Facebook feeds and read comments. Follow their hashtags. Also check review sites as you did for the venues.
14. Read the fine print!
It isn’t the most romantic part of the process to be sure, but planning a wedding involves a lot of contracts. You’ll sign contracts with all of your vendors, including the photographer and videographer, caterer, florist, and musicians. Make sure to read every detail and clause of each contract, and make sure important details are clarified before you sign. Some things to include and watch for:
The exact date and time vendors will arrive for services or deliveries.
Dates for the fulfillment of services following the wedding, such as the delivery of photographs and videos.
Detailed lists of services and items. Your contract with the florist should include the specific number of bouquets, centerpieces, and garlands, as well as the color of the ribbon and the types of flowers used.
Non-review clauses. You should be able to share your honest opinion on review sites following the wedding.
15. Get insurance.
There’s a damaging fire in the kitchen of your wedding venue right before your big day. Your tailor makes your dress too small during alterations. The videographer loses the film of your wedding. Occurrences like these are improbable, but they do happen. Wedding insurance protects you financially from the unexpected.
Venues and vendors should have insurance coverage, and you should ask to see their policies. But their insurance won’t cover everything. You need insurance to help cover expenses if the wedding is delayed because you get sick or flooding closes roads near the venue. Insurance will also cover the rescheduling costs if there are critical no-shows — such as the food trucks you hired.
16. Start thinking about your wedding dress early on.
You don’t have to choose the dress right away, but it’s important to think about the style of dress you want. Are you going pret a porter or having a custom wedding dress designed for you? The timelines of these two approaches are going to be very different.
17. Have your wedding vendor and venue questions at the ready.
Maybe you’ll get an unexpected break at work and have time for some phone calls. Or you’ll get a return phone call while you’re out shopping. Keep your vendor and venue questions handy so you can jump right to it.
18. Do some reconnaissance.
If possible, check out the venue when someone else is having a wedding. This is only feasible at hotels or large-scale venues that have public traffic.
You can also see the wedding band in action if you want. Do they get patrons on the dance floor? Or, visit the food truck you want to hire at a public event. Do they offer fast and friendly service when lines are long?
19. Skip some vendors and DIY.
This doesn’t just save money; there’s something special about creating some elements of the wedding yourself. It also creates lovely memories as you design a playlist with your fiance or craft favors with your wedding party.
20. Save time on invites.
Use a glue stick to close the envelopes instead of licking every last one or using a messy sponge. Get an address stamp or labels with your return address. Go digital so your RSVPs are always handy online.
21. Number your RSVP cards.
People forget to put their names on RSVP cards all the time. If you connect an RSVP to each person you invite, it doesn’t matter! Put a small number on the back of the card, or you can even use an invisible ink pen that reveals the number when you shine a black light on it.
22. Ask for help.
Many of your friends and family are itching to help out with ideas, errands, and decor. There are always people who love to step up and carry some of the burden. Give them the opportunity and alleviate some items from your wedding planning checklist.
23. Don’t be afraid to borrow.
This is a great way to save money. Borrow tables from friends for a small outdoor wedding. Borrow folding chairs. Borrow the wedding dress if you want!
24. Take your emotional temperature.
Is wedding planning making you stressed and frazzled? Are you talking about nothing else? Are you waking up in the middle of the night worried about your to-do list? This isn’t a healthy way to wedding plan.
It’s time for you and your fiance to plan some non-wedding related activities and ask for even more backup from family and friends.
Make sure you’re exercising, drinking plenty of water, sleeping, and spending quality time with loved ones. You can’t remove stress from the equation entirely, but you can minimize it by remembering this is one day, not your life.
25. Think about weather issues.
Be prepared for likely weather events. For example, an outdoor August wedding ceremony in the south is likely going to be very hot. You’ll want to set up an ice water station nearby, and perhaps give every guest a paper fan (this could double as a favor!) In cold weather, put plush wraps on the backs of chairs. They make a cozy decor element, and guests can put them over their shoulders if they get chilly.
26. Go with your gut.
Do you have a few top wedding venue choices, and one of those venues has a team you click with? That’s a good choice for your wedding day. You’ll feel comfortable, as though a bunch of professional pals are making sure all goes perfectly. Same goes for your photographer, florist, officiant, and caterer. You want to be comfortable and happy on your wedding day.
27. Accept that things will go wrong.
It’s unrealistic to expect every last thing to go perfectly on your wedding day. Accepting that there will be problems will help you roll with them rather than getting upset.
28. Bring your sense of humor.
The more you can laugh at the stress and any problems that arise, the less stressed you’ll be.
29. Meditate, or just breathe.
Learn to meditate with the help of a book, a podcast, or the many meditation apps available. It doesn’t have to take long — you can calm an overactive nervous system with just a few minutes of meditation. If you REALLY feel like you don’t have the time, try box breathing: Breathe in for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four, breathe out for a count of four. Repeat until you feel less stressed.
Detail-oriented wedding planning tips:
30. Go for edible or living favors.
Give your guests wedding favors they can enjoy right away, or for years to come at home. Chocolates from a local chocolatier. Succulents in small pots. Seed packets. Macarons.
31. Skip the favors altogether.
There’s no wedding etiquette rule saying you must have favors for your guests.
32. Use pictures for your table seating chart.
Gather flattering pictures of all your guests and order prints. Put the table numbers in the corner of the photos using a gold or silver permanent marker. It creates a family-style vibe, and people will spot their faces faster than they’d find their names, so it streamlines guest arrival.
33. Spend extra time preparing the flower kids and ring bearers.
Run through their part a few times during the rehearsal and maybe once before the ceremony. During the rehearsal, have people sit at the aisles and turn and look at them. This can be a bit overwhelming and is where some kids freeze up. Appoint a friendly and familiar adult to remind them to toss the flower petals or move up the aisle instead of stopping and visiting grandma. P.S. If any of this does happen, it’ll be adorable!
34. Create one or two signature cocktails and mocktails.
This can be your favorite drink or a special concoction dreamed up for the wedding. Try it out on a few people to see if it will be enjoyable for a wide variety of guests. Offering the cocktail in lieu of an open bar is a money saver.
35. Create herb centerpieces.
People can snip what they like to sprinkle over their meals.
36. Create a refueling station for guests and the wedding party.
You and your guests will get hungry between the wedding and the start of the cocktail hour. Set up a small table after the ceremony with granola, water, nuts, and chocolates. If the wedding party is going elsewhere for photos, fill a bag and bring it along.
37. Help organize a mellow after-party.
You and your guests may want to continue the festivities, particularly following an afternoon wedding. Consider a nearby watering hole or even the hotel bar.
38. Help organize transportation in advance.
You don’t want to fret about the logistics of getting guests from point A to point B on your wedding day, so it’s best to manage this in advance. Use a ride-sharing program, enlist helpful family and friends with mini-vans, and establish a few designated drivers.
39. Match plate chargers to your wedding theme.
Antique map prints, plaid fabric for a rustic wedding, and so on.
40. Schedule some buffer time into the day.
Getting ready before the ceremony. Taking wedding photos. Greeting your guests. These things always take longer than you think they will; build in extra time so you don’t feel rushed.
41. Appoint an administrative assistant.
This person can be your maid of honor, a parent, or a particularly organized friend. They’ll make sure you have the paperwork and supplies you need for the day. That includes your marriage license, venue and vendor contracts, and your day-of supplies (makeup, mini-sewing kit, and adhesive bandages for blisters from all that dancing).
42. Help out-of-town guests with accommodations.
Reserve blocks of rooms at a hotel (or hotels) for guests who are traveling. Put this information in your wedding invites and on your wedding website. You can also connect guests with family members who are amenable. Once you’ve provided the information, put this out of your mind. People can manage the details themselves — you have enough on your plate.
43. Spend time on the seating chart to minimize drama.
Once you finalize the guest list, start assigning seats using a free seating planning tool such as Social Tables, colorful sticky tabs on a paper chart, or a spreadsheet. Seat friends or family who don’t get along away from each other. But avoid putting them under the ‘Exit’ signs on opposite sides of the ballroom — this will be too obvious.
44. Keep the lines of communication open to address conflicts.
Emotional issues arise around weddings. Don’t go into denial about problems, but instead address them directly. If you have divorced parents who argue at family gatherings, ask them to set aside their differences for your one big day. Ask if single friends would like to bring a friend as a plus one. Let everyone know you’re open to listen (within reason), but that you may not be able to fix all issues. Then listen with empathy when people come to you.
45. Use lighting to add magic to low-cost weddings.
Buy fairy lights and strings of bare bulbs from a bulk supplier. Strung across the ceiling or filling mason jars, these warm lights uplift the beauty of any venue.
46. Use nature as your ceremony decor.
Some venue ceremony locations have stunning backdrops, such as a crystalline lake, a row of towering pines, or a snow-capped mountain range. Don’t try to outdo Mother Nature. Let the backdrop share its beauty, and save your best decor ideas for the reception.
47. Put out cards for an anniversary time capsule.
Put cards and pens out on tables for guests to write notes and share their experiences of the big day. Ask a wedding party member to put the notes in a keepsake box with a favorite bottle of wine. Decorate the box and include the future anniversary date.
Day-of wedding planning tips:
48. Write wedding day checklists.
This is separate from your wedding planning checklist. You need a “day of” list that you can share with key wedding party members and family. Tips for vendors? Check. A person assigned to collect the wedding cards and gifts? Check. Rings? Check. Write it all down so nothing falls through the cracks.
49. Build a catch-all case.
You’ll need a case with backups of your favorite lip color, perfume, and mascara for touch-ups. This box should also contain hair ties, adhesive bandages, and a small sewing kit with an assortment of thread (including white!).
50. Static laundry sheets.
These will go in your catch-all box, but they’re important to call out separately. These are helpful when dresses and hair become staticky — a particular issue at cold-weather weddings.
51. Eat a healthy breakfast with protein.
Once the wedding festivities get started, the day is going to fly. And many couples forget to eat amid all the celebrating. A balanced breakfast with protein will help carry you through. Put a packet of nuts or a granola bar in your clutch in case you need it during the day.
52. Stay hydrated.
Have someone bring water along for you and the entire wedding party. This helps you from feeling run down during your special day.
53. Order high heel attachments for outdoor weddings.
These smart little gizmos attach to the bottom of high heels to keep you from sinking into the grass. Get some for yourself, your wedding party, and your guests who likely weren’t thinking that far ahead.
54. Assign an “enjoy your wedding” fairy.
Ask a wedding party member to please remind you to enjoy your wedding. They’ll keep an eye out if you’re spending too much time visiting guest tables and missing Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” on the dance floor. Or if you seem stressed about a minor detail that went wrong.
55. Set up a few extra seats at the back for ceremony latecomers.
This way, they won’t disrupt the wedding trying to reach open seats in the middle.
56. Put signs out for designated ceremony seating.
Distracted early arrivals will unintentionally sit in the first few rows if you don’t put up signs. These seats are for the wedding party and immediate family, and you don’t want to have to ask anyone to move if you can avoid it.
57. Take a few minutes to be alone — just the two of you.
This is last, but definitely not least. On the drive to the reception hall, just following the ceremony, or in the wedding party room at the venue, take a few moments with each other. Tell people you want to have a few moments to relish your big day before hitting the dance floor.
It’s time to put these wedding planning tips to good use!
Now that you know how to keep things in perspective and enjoy the process, take a deep dive into significant wedding planning decisions, such as choosing your wedding venue or planning your rehearsal dinner.