Today, I’m sharing your last-minute wedding to-do list. This is EVERYTHING you need to do in the home stretch of wedding planning the last months before the wedding.
This blog post will include things that aren’t covered on a typical wedding planning checklist. I promise these “home stretch” tasks are going to make the biggest difference on your wedding day.
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EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS: Last-Minute Wedding To-Do List
To fast-forward to a specific part of the podcast episode, check out the timestamps below:
- Wedding Timelines [2:51]
- Vendor Load-in [3:15]
- Getting Ready [4:25]
- Photography Timeline [6:20]
- Ceremony [6:58]
- Reception [7:44]
- Vendor Breakdown/Load-out [8:15]
- Finalize Your Wedding Guest List & Seating Chart
- Finalize Rentals & Decor [11:50]
- Wedding Party Details [14:46]
- Last-Minute Wedding Items [18:10]
LINKS MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE
- Visit the ASK THE PLANNER Wedding Planning Templates Shop (Use code PODCAST10 for 10% off!)
- Learn more about our Wedding Venue Selection Service
- Book a Clarity Call with Desirée
- Wedding Pocket Schedule
- Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist
AND IF YOU PREFER TO READ, HERE'S THE SUMMARY OF THE PODCAST EPISODE!
A lot of times couples have their tasting & finish their wedding invitations and don’t know what to do between then and the wedding. On today’s episode, we’re going to make sure you have all your ducks in a row so your wedding can run as smoothly as possible and you can revel in every second of it.
The FIRST thing on your last-minute wedding to-do list, is the creation of your wedding timeline. If you’ve listened to the podcast for a while, you know we get a little crazy over timelines. They really are the KEY to a smooth wedding day. We don’t expect you to have a thirty page timeline that you follow to the minute on your wedding day, but I do want to talk about the six main things you need to include.
Vendor Load-in Timeline
First on your wedding day timeline, is the vendor load-in time. It's important to think about the vendors that need time to set up and decorate, especially if you have an outdoor tent that needs to be set up or elaborate draping. If possible, allocating a specific load-in time for your vendors the day before can ensure that everything runs smoothly and you have enough time to make any necessary adjustments.
You need to add the vendor load-in time to your wedding day timeline so that you and your venue know what’s going on. Hopefully, your wedding planner will be there to take care of all of the details so you can remain present during the day, but if not be sure to assign someone the job in advance. Make sure your vendors know what time they’re expected to arrive and when any other events related to their setup will take place. That way, there won’t be any surprises or delays throughout the day.
Getting Ready Timeline
Second, you need to add your getting ready timeline. Think about what time your wedding ceremony starts, and work backwards. Do you want to have a first look before the ceremony? Do you want to have all of your wedding portraits, including ones with your wedding party before that? Ask your photographer how much time you should budget for. From there, factor in transportation and make sure you add a little extra time for a buffer because transportation always takes longer than you think.
Then, ask your hair and makeup artists how long they expect the services will take. If you have ten bridesmaids, you can expect your hair and makeup artists to work on at least two people each. With each service taking around an hour, you may need to budget 4 hours per artist. Again, work with your hair and makeup team to iron out the details. Make sure that your wedding party knows what time they should arrive (and don’t forget to factor in enough time for fun getting ready photos, popping champagne, toasting mimosas, and changing into those getting ready robes you ordered).
From there, add a little extra time AGAIN. Listen, I know I’m probably hammering this point to death but this is where I see most wedding day timelines go wrong. You don’t want the getting ready experience to be rushed. You also don’t want to run late, or you will be playing catch up the whole day.
Once you’ve added your getting ready timeline to your wedding timeline, it’s time to plan out your photography. Work with your photographer, but factor in whether or not you want any first looks (including a first look with your parents, or your wedding party, if that’s what you want). If you’re getting ready and taking photos at your wedding venue, you don’t need to worry about transportation time as much. If you’re travelling from location to location, don’t forget to budget that time in too. It takes time to herd cats – especially unruly or tipsy ones.
Wedding Ceremony Timeline
Next, we need to create your wedding ceremony timeline. While your officiant will likely decide the timeline of the actual ceremony, you’re still going to want to know what time your ceremony will start, what time guests will start to arrive, what time YOU will arrive, what time the music will start playing, and what time your vendors will arrive to set everything up.
You’ll also want to outline the order you’ll be walking down the aisle, which song starts when, and what you want to happen after your recessional. Are you doing family photos afterward? Do you want a five-minute break with your sweetheart to take it all in? Allocate time for these items in your timeline.
Next, you’ll want to plan out your cocktail hour and reception. You’ve likely already thought a great deal about this during the wedding planning process, but now it’s time to put time stamps next to what you want to happen. Map out your toasts, first dance, parent dances, cake cutting, dinner time, and time on the dance floor. I know I sound like a broken record here but the more detailed, the better.
Vendor Breakdown and Load-out
Lastly, at least as far as wedding timelines are concerned, you need to plan your vendor breakdown/load-out. How long will clean up and take down take? My biggest piece of advice is to ask your vendors, and hopefully you’ve hired vendors you can trust.
Your wedding timeline is one of the most important last minute wedding to do list tasks because it ensures you’ve gone through the entire day from start to finish.It will help everyone know where they need to be , and ensure nothing is overbooked and overlapping. Ideally, you’ll want a complete wedding planning timeline BUT you will also want to condense different versions for each wedding vendor and member of your wedding party so that everyone receives a wedding timeline unique to them.
People’s eyes tend to gloss over or they don’t pay attention if there’s too much information. So make sure you give the right amount of information.
Finalize Your Wedding RSVP’s & Seating Chart
Next, it’s time to finalize the guest list. One of the things on your last-minute wedding to-do list is to finalize your wedding seating plan. You’ve likely thought a lot about your seating plan, but nothing can be truly finalized until you’ve received all your RSVPs. Now that you have them, it’s time to get to work finalizing your seating chart or escort cards with guests attending.
If you’re working with a calligrapher, you need to pass on this list as soon as possible. A little extra tip for you, organize your seating chart alphabetically instead of by table.Organizing names alphabetically will ensure guests can find their tables quickly and easily, and keep the line moving as guests excitedly enter your reception.
If you’re having a catered meal, you’ve hopefully recorded your guest’s meal selections as the RSVPs came in and are ready to pass the final numbers onto your caterer. You’ll also want to consider a way to communicate with the waitstaff which of your guests ordered which dish, if there are any dietary restrictions or allergies, etc.
Finalize Your Rentals & Decor
Let’s move on to some of the physical details. Every time you purchase ANYTHING for your wedding day, add it to a master list. That way, when you’re ready to put everything together, nothing gets missed. When you’re working through your last-minute wedding to-do list, finalize your rental and decor inventory to ensure nothing is missed. Here are six categories to consider and finalize as you put together your final list:
- Linens. This includes the big things like tablecloths, but don’t forget to consider smaller items like napkins too. Don’t forget, you may need tablecloths for cocktail hour, your guest book, buffets, etc. Now that you have a final guest count, everything should be able to be finalized.
- Tablesettings: Finalize the numbers you need for your flatware, glassware, and any china. I love a good tablescape, so don’t be afraid to get detailed here.
- Florals + Centerpieces – List out how many centerpieces you need for your tables and what size. For example, you might do one large centerpiece for your rounds, and two smaller centerpieces for your rectangles. You’re now also ready to finalize personal flowers, like the number of bouquets and boutonnieres you’ll need for your wedding day. And don’t forget about corsages and boutonnieres for parents, grandparents, officiants, or ushers.
- Your Guest Book and Guest Book Table Decor
- Your Card Box
- Personal items – This is where having a master list as you plan comes in handy. This category includes EVERYTHING else from champagne flutes, a cake knife and serving set, and more.
Make sure your list also indicates where everything is going so you don't have to worry about setting it all up. For example, are you renting lounge furniture? Who is setting it up for you? Where is it going? Who knows where it’s going?
Wedding Party Details
Next, let’s talk about your wedding party, VIPs, and your parents. We put together wedding party pocket schedules that we hand out on the wedding day. Prior to the wedding, we send a thorough itinerary for the wedding party, your parents, etc. so they don't have to ask you questions at or before the wedding. As I mentioned above, it helps to create individual timelines for each vendor, but your wedding party will appreciate one too. I can’t tell you the countless times bridesmaids and groomsmen have profusely thanked us for these schedules.
Here are some details to send to your wedding party & VIPs:
- When and Where is the Rehearsal Dinner
- Getting Ready details: Is food being served or should they eat before? Where are the different parties getting ready? What is the schedule of appointments? Do they need to pay for any services?
- Timeline and details for wedding party portraits: Instructions for finding the location, timeline, and details for photos, portraits, etc., When are they supposed to leave for photos or the ceremony?
- Reception details: When do they gather for wedding party introductions at the reception? When are toasts and speeches?
- Who do they contact if they have questions?
This may seem like a little thing but trust me, the fewer questions you’re asked on your wedding day the better. You’ve spent months (or years) planning your day, you deserve to be present for every second.
Last-Minute Wedding To-do List
While the items above are the main things on your last-minute wedding to-do list, there may be other things you need to consider based on YOUR unique wedding day. Here are ten BONUS “rapid fire” wedding tasks to check off before your wedding day:
- Finalize your wedding vows if you’re writing your own and consider ordering vow books as a treasured keepsake.
- Purchase and wrap gifts for your wedding party
- Purchase and deliver thank-you gifts or keepsakes for your parents
- Write your thank you speech for the wedding reception
- Purchase wedding day snacks and drinks for you and your wedding party.
- Finalize your ceremony program and other day-of stationery like menus, signage, etc.
- If you’re having an emcee or DJ announce your names, make sure they know the correct pronunciation for everyone and the order.
- While finalizing things with your DJ, consider a “must play” and “absolutely do not play” list.
- Have your wedding rings and engagement ring professionally cleaned.
- Book a hotel room for your wedding night.
The list of wedding to-dos could truly go on and on and on (that’s why it’s so important to hire a wedding planner). I hope that today’s episode was helpful in reminding you of some of the key tasks that you should be tackling toward the end of your wedding planning journey! If you feel overwhelmed by today’s episode, I highly recommend checking out our Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist in the Wedding Planning Template Shop at shop.verveeventco.com. It also lets you organize all of your tasks both on your phone and your desktop, so you can enjoy that feeling of checking things off wherever you are. Plus, you can easily assign things to your partner, as well. This makes collaboration so much easier.
If you liked this episode, please leave us a 5-star review in apple podcasts so I can make this a regular thing each season.
As always, if have any feedback or follow-up questions, make sure you send me a DM on IG at asktheplannerpodcast or call the wedding planning hotline at 585-210-3467.
Not ready to book your wedding planner yet? Save this for later.
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