We asked event pros how to troubleshoot any potential pesky day-of problems—and save yourself from a premarital meltdown.
1) “Know the neighborhood. Drive around the area of your venue before your wedding day,” says Nisa Lee, a Pelham, New York, planner. “Be on the lookout for the closest ATM, hardware store, drugstore, liquor store, and stationery store, in case you have any last-minute needs during your party.” Make note of the opening and closing times of each one.
2) “Think through the entire event a few weeks before the wedding from the guest’s point of view,” says New York City’s Xochitl Gonzalez. “Every minor detail should be covered, like who will hand out the programs and how to shuttle guests from the church to reception.”
3) Make sure you have a few extra seats and dinner setups (plates, flatware, glasses, and napkins) for any surprise guests who show up, suggests Tara Wilson of Fort Worth, Texas. It happens more often than you’d think!
4) Buy a fancy umbrella that you wouldn’t mind being seen standing under, just in case it’s raining when you’re taking outdoor photos, says Lee. Think of it this way: If it pours (or drizzles), you get to pose with a cute prop!
5) “Before you send out the invitations, recruit a friend to drive the MapQuest or venue-provided directions to make sure they really work,” says Gonzalez. She should follow the instructions exactly as written. This way, if something’s not clear, you’ll have time to rewrite them.
6) Include floral tape and corsage pins in your emergency kit. “When Laura Bush was First Lady, we did a wedding she attended, and a guest accidentally spilled wine on her pale blue jacket lapel,” says Todd Fiscus of Dallas. “We whipped up a corsage made of flowers from the buffet station to cover up the stain. No one else knew!”
7) Pack a pair of neutral sandals (they don’t have to be “wedding” shoes) in your day-of bag in case a broken heel or a blister makes your shoes unwearable, says San Francisco’s Kelsey Sheofsky.
8) “For an at-home wedding, have a plumber and an electrician do routine maintenance a few days before, to help ensure lights don’t blow and toilets don’t overflow on the big day,” says Wilson. Have their phone numbers handy for the event, too.
9) Alphabetize your table cards by last name. Brides often arrange these cards (also known as escort cards) according to table number, but since it takes time for guests to find their spots, this can create a bottleneck, says Gonzalez.
10) Pretend the wedding is on Wednesday (assuming it’s really on the weekend). Finish everything—including paying balances and putting gratuities aside in envelopes—by the Tuesday before your wedding. “This way all the little details will be done, and you’ll have a few days to just enjoy your family and friends and relax,” says Gonzalez.
—Barrie Gillies, BRIDES magazine