countdown to your wedding day (last-minute checklists)
“It’s so dark right now. I can’t see any light around me. That’s because the light is coming from you. You can’t see it but everyone else can.”
-Lang Leav, Love & Misadventure.
You’ve done the hard work. Now, for a few days before the wedding, your job is to minimize the amount of things you do. Delegate. Call in favours. Don’t bother. Take it easy. You want to enjoy your wedding day, and it is hard when you are tired.
Kidding! Just kidding. Expect a storm before the calm. Your vendors will be calling you for last-minute information, friends will be asking for driving instructions, somebody will have trouble finding accommodations, Auntie Lily will refuse to bake the cake, and the driver will want his payment in advance.
Other than… everything going wrong… there are certain things that you should get done.
Checklist for the week before the wedding:
- Touch base with all the vendors to confirm that they remember you (Ha! funny, I know).
- Organize your vendor documents. You will need to have ready access to your contracts, proofs of payment, and invoices to quickly deal with any surprises. Confirm outstanding payment amounts for each vendor on the day of. Get cash (in an envelope), or have credit (how close are you to your credit limit?) or cheques ready.
- Ensure vendors know what they need to know. Give final headcount to the caterer, baker, and the venue. Compile phone numbers for all vendors, and distribute along with the day-of schedule, so they can contact each other directly. Ensure the venue coordinator, catering coordinator, photographer and entertainment vendors work from the same timeline of the day. Any last-minute changes will have to be communicated very quickly across the grapevine.
- Likewise, ensure that the wedding party and speakers know the order of the day, and the timing of their part (including make-up and hair schedule for the bridesmaids).
- Finalize seating chart & escort cards, and send for printing (if you are told it will take a few days, and you do not have a few days, shop around. Very few things are impossible for a truly desperate bride… I can attest).
- If important, arrange for airport pick-up of out-of-town guests, and/or welcome baskets in the hotel rooms.
- Get a gift box. You can buy one, get one from recently-married friends, or do it yourself. It’s just a wrapped and nicely decorated shoe box with a narrow opening for envelopes.
- Confirm delivery of flowers, cake, rented furniture, rented cars to the venue (or pick-up time). Some businesses open late in the morning on weekends, so pick-up time might need to be agreed on.
- Rehearse the ceremony and get to know the venue. Discuss who is approaching whom, in what order and from which side.
- Practice walking outdoors in your wedding shoes – for more than 20 minutes.
- Have your dress steamed.
Here are the pleasant things to do:
- Relax. Seriously. Massage, spa, facials – you’re stretching your budget as it is, but you need it.
- Reconnect with out-of-town guests.
- Spend time with your wedding party. Celebrate your great organizational skills and tell them everything they need to know.
- Get a haircut and hair color touch-up; manicure and pedicure; brow shaping and waxing.
- Think about the mementos you will want. Maybe you want guests to write marriage advice for you? Sign a guestbook?
Checklist for the day of the wedding.
The Maid of Honour should have handy:
- Kleenex for the emotional moments.
- Lipstick, q-tips, blotting papers, eye makeup remover, and other emergency cosmetics.
- Your comfortable shoes and spare tights.
- Band-aids for uncomfortable shoes; advil; hangover remedies.
- Phone numbers list, phone charger.
- Know who has your rings.
- Choose someone organized and trustworthy to make the payments, and give them clearly labeled envelopes. Unfortunately, as we learned the hard way, cash gets lost (gasp!) easily. Walk your designated person through the expected order of payments and the amounts, and discuss a way to ensure that other envelopes don’t fall out of the pocket. It will be a long day for everyone, and fool-proofing will go a long way.
- Have additional cash ready if needed, but give clear instructions to seek your approval for higher charges.
- Once the first gift envelope goes into the gift box, AT ALL TIMES ensure that the gift box is being watched. Find a few reliable volunteers to alternate watching it during
the reception, and assign someone trustworthy the responsibility for keeping it at night.
- If you give an envelope with money to someone else other than your designated person, remember about it.
- Ensure all speakers have phonetic pronunciation of the names they mention. Also, advise how you would like them to refer to you after you become Mr. and Mrs. ________.
- Ensure the MC, or the person responsible for announcements, has direct line of contact with the catering coordinator. Honour the laws of physics that apply to hot food.
And the next checklist.
Now that we’ve really gotten this checklist thing going… let me turn your attention to the fact that there will be some to-do items after the wedding, as well. You might as well check it out right now.