Top 10 Tips to Avoid an "Oh Shit" Moment at Your Wedding
Sep 1, 2021
I’ve been at this for a whole year now, and I’ve seen my fair share of “oh shit” moments. I haven’t had a single wedding where my Oh Shit Kit has not come in handy. While I love saving the day, I can’t carry everything, and there have been several occasions where I’ve had to send someone scrambling to the nearest drug store during setup. Here’s the most common last-minute details that I’ve had to solve for:
10. Be kind to your feet.
Make sure to break in the shoes that you’ll be wearing on your wedding day, and bring a spare pair or two. Even if you wear heels every day, your feet will still be dog tired at the end of your wedding night. Be kind to yourself and bring a pair of sneakers, flip-flops or slippers to wear on the dance floor. This goes for both you and your soon-to-be spouse – dress shoes are no joke.
9. Make sure your décor is ready to go.
Every single piece of décor should be ready to pull out of the box and put on the table. Your setup crew will likely not have time to steam table linens, fold napkins, unwrap frames and insert photos, remove tags, or take off the individual plastic wrapping on every LED tealight candles. Make sure that every tote of décor is grab-and-go ready. If you’re feeling extra, arrange things how you want them, take a photo of it, and then tape that photo to the inside of the lid.
8. Have a plan for your leftovers.
You may or may not end up with leftovers and, depending on your caterer’s policy, you might also be in charge of getting them home. Check your contract with your caterer and see if they’ll package them nicely for you, or if you may need to supply them with to-go boxes. Have a plan in place ahead of time to save yourself the heartache of throwing away perfectly good food at the end of the night.
Same goes for leftover alcohol. Check your contract with your bartender – if they’re providing alcohol, you will likely not be responsible for the leftovers. If you are, be mindful of open container laws and be sure to save boxes from the beginning of the night. No matter how hard the party goes, I’ve never seen one that completely ran out of alcohol.
7. Put someone in charge of the cake.
Cutting a traditional wedding cake is not like slicing up a birthday cake and cannot be done by just anyone if you want to get all of the servings that you paid for. Many caterers will offer this service (and I do too!) so check your contracts and have a plan in place. Make sure you communicate what you want done with your top layer as well and a way to transport it home if you’re keeping it. If your caterer is not cutting your cake, be sure to have a sturdy knife and serving tool ready to go in addition to your ornamental set for the formal cutting.
6. Keep track of your keys and anything else you’ll need the morning after.
I recommend packing two bags for your wedding day: one for the actual wedding day and your overnight bag for when the party’s over. Don’t put anything that you might need on your wedding day in your overnight bag and don’t let anyone else (except for maybe your soon-to-be spouse) put anything in that bag. This will help you make sure that you don’t misplace your keys or have to coordinate with a bridesmaid to get her phone back to her. At the end of the night, pop it in the getaway car knowing that you’re all set.
5. Research & gather tips.
The generally accepted rule is that you should tip any vendors who are not there representing their own business. For example, most serving staff under your caterer, or your bartenders, but check your contract to be sure that gratuity is not included before you start stuffing envelopes. Any other vendors is at your own discretion – if they go above and beyond, if they gave you a discount you want to pay forward, or if you’re just feeling like a baller, go ahead and tip them. Put one specific person (groomsmen or dads are great for this) in charge of tips and give them sealed, labeled envelopes on the day-of.
4. Check if you need a bustle.
Your alterations specialist should go over what needs to be done, including asking about what style of bustle you’d prefer. If they don’t mention it, ask. If you have anything more than a few inches of train, you’ll be running the risk of someone stepping on it or tripping yourself while you’re dancing without one. Even if you’re doing no other alterations, I strongly recommend having a bustle put in for any dresses with a train. Safety pins will only work so well and, if your dress has any layers of lace or tulle, safety pins will rip it – wedding dresses are heavy.
When you go for your final fitting, your alterations specialist will insist that you have someone come with you to learn how to bustle the gown and recommend that you take video as well. Make sure you also allot 5-10 minutes for the actual bustling before your grand entrance into the reception.
3. Tell folks what to do!
I’ve been to several weddings where the music changes, the bride begins her walk, the guests all stand as she passes, and then… they stay standing the entire time because no one ever says “please be seated”. I’ve also had to track down many a Great Aunt Susan who didn’t realize she needed to stay at the ceremony space for photos, and had to discreetly notify someone that their iPad was blocking the photographer’s shot. Be sure to have your officiant include these instructions in their ceremony script to avoid any issues:
- Before the processional begins, “Please silence and put away your cell phones”
- After the bride comes to the head of the aisle and is situated, “Please be seated”
- After the recessional, “Family, please stay seated for photos. Guests, please proceed to the reception area” and include directions to that area.
As part of booking with me, I’ll create an airtight timeline and communicate it to the vendors that need it (photographer, videographer & DJ are the big ones, but catering as well). It’s your responsibility to get that timeline to your bridal party, family, setup crew, or anyone else that needs to be at the venue at a specific time. Anyone involved in the processional and/or ceremony should plan to be at the venue, dressed and ready to go, no later than 30 minutes prior to invitation time. If they have any duties on the wedding day that are very specific and time-sensitive, make sure to discuss these duties with them ahead of time.
2. Make a meal plan.
One of the questions on my questionnaire is what you’re having for lunch and when. This isn’t important for me to know, as it typically happens before I arrive, but I have it on there to make sure that you actually eat food that day. Wedding dresses are heavy and thick, so you’ll most likely be hot, and it’s a really intense, emotional day that’s also really long. There’s a lot going on and it’s really easy to forget to eat.
Make sure you have a lunch plan in place that’s more detailed than “eh, someone will pick something up” – it should be “Aunt A will pick up from Restaurant B at noon” specifically. In addition, have a plan in place for how you’ll get your plate for dinner. If you’re booked with me, I’ll deliver it to your table as soon as you sit down, but you can also ask your caterers to do that for you or put a member of your bridal party in charge of it.
1. Ice & water!
This is Texas, and if your wedding is between the months of March and November, you’re well-aware that it could be 90 degrees or hotter on your wedding day. This means ice will melt a lot faster than it may typically, especially if you’re having a self-serve cooler that will be opened and closed a ton, and maybe not always closed properly. Buy enough ice to fill your coolers twice and keep the extras in an indoor freezer that’s easily accessible, or a high-quality cooler that will remain sealed until you need that ice.
Even if your caterer is bringing a water dispenser, you should still buy a few cases of bottled water or have another plan in place for water, since most caterers leave an hour or two before reception end. In the week leading up to your wedding, review the weather forecast. If your venue is outdoors and it will be 80 or higher, I recommend having at least 6 bottles per person. If your caterer is bringing water, you can probably get away with 3-4. However much water you decide is enough, add a case.
Overall, the core of this advice is to avoid making assumptions. Having a day-of coordinator will help mitigate any issues that may arise if you forget about any of the above, but having these plans in place will go a long way to making your day run smoothly. Even if something does go wrong, take a deep breath and remember – so long as you’re married at the end of the night, it’s still a great day!