You can have a perfect timeline, be organised a year in advance and read all the wedding blogs you want, but the success of your wedding day comes down to a few key ingredients being prepared just right. The secret recipe to a successful wedding day is combining a few things in such a way that it suits you, your partner and your guests... and has your guests saying "yours was the best wedding I've ever been to".
Secret ingredient 1: A relaxed bride
If you're worried about certain details panning out, stressed about reciting your vows, or nervous about the speeches... it'll show. You'll be tense and instead of relaxing and enjoying the moment, you'll be wanting the next thing over so you can get another thing ticked off the list.
The wedding party and wedding guests feed off your vibe, so if you're stressed, tense and anxious then guests will pick up on that, at least subconsciously. I'm pretty sure no one who is told to "just relax" actual ever does, so I feel a little guilty telling you straight up that a relaxed bride is a secret ingredient. Here are some pointers to keep it calm:
- Start your wedding planning off on the right foot, with an awesome wedding planning diary to keep track of your bookings, check off tasks as you do them, and to keep everything in the one place
- Delegate any wedding day set up to a trusted friend, or pay a wedding coordinator if you're really wound up. Hiring a day-of coordinator isn't a stupid idea even if you're not that wound up - it allows your friends to relax and enjoy the day as guests. Here's a pic of me below, having just finished setting up a friend's wedding ceremony
- "What's the worst that can happen?". As someone who has struggled with anxiety, I know it sounds a bit counter intuitive to go prophesying worst-case scenarios, but if you're of an anxious disposition, it can actually help. The key here is to consider the worst thing that can happen, and then figure out a back up plan. For example - Worry: one of the wedding cars don't show up. Back up plan - talk to the people you're hiring and find out what their back up plan is (that's why you pay then). If you're hiring friends/amateurs/crappy professionals, come up with a plan of your own. I.e. "If a car doesn't turn up, the bride and family will go to the wedding in the remaining car and the rest will drive the Mother of the Bride's car".
- Following on from the last point, remember the essentials: The couple, a celebrant, a marriage license and two witnesses. Everything else is just an extra.
- Double check bookings. If you're worried about vendors flaking, first of all - make sure you hire reputable, experienced vendors - the wedding vendor checklists in the Little White Wedding Planning Pack are invaluable for this. Check online reviews or select from the Southern Bride Verified vendors. Talk through your plans so that you are all on the same page. Ring them rather than waiting for an email, then if you want to be super-sure, follow up with an email so everything is in writing.
Secret ingredient 2: Happy guests
Everyone likes to trot out the "it's your day, do what you want, you're all that matters" but frankly, that's lazy advice. Your guests are giving up a day and have possibly spent a lot of money on travel, accommodation, babysitters, a gift, and an outfit. So you need to keep them happy. Here's a few tips on how:
- When putting together your wedding day timeline, walk through the day as if you were a guest. If you're having a 2pm wedding and providing a bus that departs at 1pm - your guests might have to skip lunch. So you'd need to consider some nibbles after the ceremony to tide them over. Is there a big gap between the ceremony and the reception - what could you provide for your guest's entertainment? Lawn games, a few drinks, maybe some music?
- Food. Enough food and the right sort... there's nothing worse than going to a wedding and having to go through Macca's drive through on your way home (guilty!). Gather dietary requirements from guests when they RSVP so those guests who have special diets are looked after. Thinking the vegetarian can just eat the green salad on the buffet is unfair. I went to a function once where a vegan was offered egg and mayo sandwiches by the caterer! (that's most definitely not a vegan-friendly option). Any pregnant guests may also need special options prepared - food that's off limits: smoked deli meats and cheese (i.e. nibbles/platters), raw fish, raw eggs (traditionally prepared mayo and aioli), sushi, pate or terrine.
- Good entertainment. Good music gives atmosphere and something to do (dance!). Bad music can drive everyone outside or towards the bar. Having a live band is the best option, although a singer with guitar and/or keyboard can be just as effective and a little cheaper generally.
- Read this post on the things guests hate at a wedding - great advice here.
Secret ingredient 3: An amazing atmosphere
The last two secret ingredients contribute to the atmosphere of your wedding, but another big player is the venue (or venues, if you get married at one spot then move to another for the reception). Having a wedding venue that's special gives your wedding day a magical touch and is the biggest contributor to the atmosphere your wedding day will have.
Here are some tips for finding a venue that'll blow your guests away:
- Use the wedding vendor questions and checklists to ensure you are hiring venues that are the right fit - and read up on my top 40+ questions you should be asking a venue when you're looking for one.
- Awesome staff. You want people who are unobtrusive, helpful and experienced. Someone who does whatever needs done, without a fuss. The biggest example of when your venue's experience will be important is when there's a problem - if they can think quickly, creatively and act calmly, you've picked a winner.
- A beautiful aesthetic. Let's be honest - it's pretty hard to have an incredible atmosphere at some places, because they're just plain ugly. Generally a beautiful outlook and stylish venue will cost a little more than something plain and utilitarian, but you'll save time and money as it doesn't need any decorating.
Putting it all together: the method to the secret recipe
Using these three secret ingredients (a relaxed bride, happy guests and an amazing atmosphere) you can use them as a framework for making decisions about your day. Ask yourself:
Will it make me more relaxed?
Will it make the guests happy?
Will it add to the atmosphere?
With these secret ingredients combined, I hope you can have an incredible wedding day. None of these items are necessarily things that you can buy, but I hope they guide you to make choices that are well considered.
I'd love to know if you think there's any elements missing - what ingredients are a must-have for your wedding day?