With all the planning you’re doing right now, it’s hard to imagine there’s any detail you haven’t thought of, but trust us, there are certain to-dos that somehow never make it to the list. Here are the top ones we hear about all the time.
Making post-wedding plans
We’re not talking about the honeymoon here (who would forget to plan that?). We mean you need to decide what you’re doing immediately after your wedding. If you don’t want the party to end with the last dance, you should pick a late-night spot in or near one of the guest hotels. If privacy isn’t all that important, book your wedding night room in the same hotel as your guests. If you just want to get to bed, we strongly suggest you book a room elsewhere.
Bringing your overnight bag
If you’re allowed to check into your hotel room early—and you don’t personally need to be there to officially check in— pick someone to drop your overnight bag at your hotel before your ceremony starts. A guest who’s staying at the same place will more than likely be happy to do this for you, since they’re going to have to check in anyway! If your things can’t arrive sooner than you, ask a bridesmaid to be responsible for bringing your bag to the wedding and finding a safe spot for it in the bridal suite. Even easier, if you’ll have the same car or limo for the entire day and night, opt to keep your stuff in the boot.
Picking someone to take your things home after the reception
Your gifts, mementos (think toasting flutes, cake topper, unity candle and guest book) and any leftover food, booze or cake need a trusty escort to get them home. Choose a person and let them know about their responsibility. And you may want to donate your centrepieces. Nursing homes typically accept flowers, but call at least a few days before the wedding to find out when someone can drop off the arrangements. If you’re changing out of your gown before you head to your hotel room, you’ll need a person to take it home, too— even if you have no plans to get it professionally preserved, you don’t want to leave it behind! Make sure there’s a hanger and a garment bag on hand (the one your dress came with will do!) so your gown stays in tip-top shape.
Deciding where everything goes
Besides planning where all of your guests sit, you need to figure out where you’ll put programs, escort and place cards, menus (if you’re having them) and bomboniere. Once you’ve picked who’s going to set these out—your wedding coordinator, bridesmaids and banquet managers are all good choices—give them clear instructions on where they should go (one bomboniere on every other plate at tables, for instance, if you want couples to share the takeaways, or all of them in two baskets by the exits if you want guests to pick them up on the way out). Also, if your venue’s staff will be setting out these items, find out when you can drop everything off—some venues want everything a couple of days before your wedding; others won’t take anything ’til the actual day.
Decorating the other areas
Of course, no guest will walk out of your wedding if the bathrooms and cocktail bar are left bare. But with all the energy that’s put into dressing up the reception and ceremony spaces, you might want to put in the small extra effort to give these spots the décor they deserve. A few candles will work.
Buying gifts for the wedding party
When gifts are constantly coming to your door, it’s hard to remember that you also need to dole some out! So who makes it on the gift list? Everyone who plays a role in your day—yes, your parents and future in-laws, too. You don’t need to make a big presentation.
Choosing how to gather the gifts
There are three times when guests are likely to thrust gifts at you: while they’re in the receiving line, during your table visits and when they leave for the night. Designate a person—one of your bridesmaids, your mum or your groom’s mum—to collect envelopes, and have them by your side with a large but inconspicuous bag when you’re saying hello and goodbye to your guests. That person should also keep an eye out for guests who seem a little lost at the reception—they may be trying to figure out where they should put their gift! If you decide instead to have a wishing well, box or other stationary receptacle, tell a few people to subtly spread the word around.
Figuring out your day-after plans
If you’re leaving for your honeymoon straight from your hotel, make advance arrangements for a car service to take you from the hotel to the airport, and be sure you bring any luggage you want with you on your trip (and a passport if you need it). If you’re not going on your honeymoon right away, then you need to know where you’re going the morning after your wedding (to your new—or old—home, or your parents’ house?) and how you’re going to get there. Park your car at the hotel before your wedding if you’re allowed, or ask a friend to come pick you up and bring you where you want to go the next day. Don’t schedule your ride too early—with any luck, you’ll be exhausted.
Bringing the legal documents
Signing your marriage certificate after the wedding ceremony is one of the most important aspects of your day; after all, it officialises the reason you threw a wedding in the first place! After all the hours of planning, you’re probably more focused on the party afterwards than the legal side of your nuptials, but without the paperwork, all the stress and money spent will be for nothing. Your celebrant should hopefully keep you on top of all the legal requirements, such as lodging your Notice of Intended Marriage at least one month and a day before your wedding day, and bringing along three marriage certificates for you to sign on the day. Check with them a few days before the wedding so you can have peace of mind.
Making and confirming itineraries
Check in with every single supplier, from the limo driver to the linen rental company, one week before your wedding. Many of your pros will beat you to it, so be ready to go over times and locations whenever you get a call. Send out agendas to your bridesmaids and groomsmen, too—how else will they know what time you’re taking photos? If someone in the bridal party is notorious for being late, start their schedule half an hour early just in case.