The Wedding Series: Planning a Flawless Wedding

Photo Cred: Southern Jewel Photography

The decision to plan my own wedding pretty much came naturally. In fact, you can almost say that it's in my genes. As a child, I watched my mother plan and coordinate several weddings, while also seeing my grandmother decorate. I had seen enough to know how I wanted everything to flow from beginning to end. I'd also seen enough to know what I didn't want to happen on my wedding day. The fact that I'm an admitted control freak only solidified my decision to do things myself.

I'll admit that seeing several weddings and planning one are two totally different things. I'd go as far as saying that planning a wedding is truly a gift-- one that requires keen attention to detail and the ability see things from both an overall and minute perspective. Most importantly, it requires time! I can't reiterate enough the benefit of giving ourselves time to plan & pay for our wedding. We had just over a year, which made the process a lot less stressful than it would have been otherwise.

On our wedding day, we had a well oiled machine. Not only did we start on time (to the minute), but everyone-- including vendors-- knew when and where they needed to report and what needed to happen. Each minute of the day was accounted for and no stone was left unturned. Emergencies and accidents happen, but a well planned wedding shows. We received tons of compliments from our guests and our vendors & coordinators appreciated the ease of executing our day. So, what was the trick?? Details, details, details... Here are my top four tips for planning a flawless wedding.

1. Assign a time to everything. Things don't just magically flow into place or in order. Instead, you have to plan for it to be that way. Vendors, wedding party, and everyone involved in your wedding needs to know who, what, when, where, and how. If you don't specify for something to happen it won't!

  • What is the task that needs to be done?
  • Who is the point of contact and person responsible for task?
  • When should task be done (exact time)?
  • Where should task be done (exact location)?
  • How should task be done (if applicable)?
Here's a snippet from our ceremony timeline:

Each task was identified, the person responsible for doing it, and details (how, where) were included. I created a timeline for every aspect of the wedding-- before the ceremony, ceremony, after the ceremony, and reception. In addition to the reception timeline, I also created cue notes and instructions for the MC, DJ, and hostesses so that they knew when specific songs or events needed to happen. I suggest being very detailed. Be sure to include travel times! Remember, nothing is too insignificant.

2. Hire the right people. I can't and I won't say that our wedding went smoothly just because of a timeline. Instead, having the best vendors in place had a lot to do with it as well. Choosing vendors can be a bit tricky. After all, most people want premier service and quality with little to no cost. Don't let cost be the only driver behind your decision for a vendor. I have learned time and time again that you get what you pay for. Our wedding may have been an exception, where we were able to pay very reasonable prices for quality and service that surpassed the cost. Don't short change yourself (no pun intended)! Choose quality every time. One of the best pieces of advice that I received was to go with a vendor who does the work full time and has a legitimate business (LLC, Corp, etc.). This implies that they'll give your wedding their full attention and not just consider it a favor, they'll be time conscious, but more importantly, their business can be held accountable in the event that something doesn't go as agreed upon. Try holding Cousin Joe accountable for not getting your pictures back in 3 weeks or Aunt Val for getting the cake to the reception venue on time....not going to happen. Using family and friends may be the most cost effective way, but it's not the way that I'd recommend for the major aspects of the wedding. I'd hate to see families fall out over something as simple as a wedding cake.

Choosing your hostesses, ushers, MC, and other extended members of your wedding party is just as important as vendors. Hostesses, or attendants, and ushers are the first faces that your guests will see at the ceremony. Be sure that you choose people that are pleasant, helpful, responsible, and want to make your day a success. I'll paraphrase one of our officiants, "The wedding party is a reflection of the bride and groom." Find people who reflect your same spirit. Ultimately, when you have the right kind of help in place, your flawless plan can be executed.

3. Share your plans. Obviously, I couldn't be out and about during the wedding making sure everything went smoothly and as planned. Instead, I had day of coordinators executing the plan. In order for them to do this, I had to share the timelines and vendor contact information. Review your timeline with your vendors and coordinators to make sure that everyone is aware of the plan and if changes need to be made on arrival or delivery times, etc., it can be accounted for prior to the day of. Confirm these times with your vendors the week of. It is also helpful to give each vendor a list of all vendors and their contacts, along with someone from the wedding party that they can contact in case of an emergency.

It is also critical to communicate expectations, arrival times, and other pertinent information to the wedding party. To do so, I created newsletters, sent texts, and created a private Facebook group to share information. If you haven't heard the phrase "Say it and say it again," you'll definitely learn it during wedding planning. Repetition may be annoying, but its critical in making sure everyone is clear on expectations and what needs to be done.

Here's some snippets of our newsletters:

Not only are the newsletters informative, but they're a nice keepsake for your wedding party. Unfortunately, groomsmen didn't get one-- I let the hubby handle that. :)

4. Create a photo list. The most annoying thing as a wedding guest is having to wait hours for the wedding party to take pictures.... I've been there and its all because there wasn't a list. When there isn't a list, you have Aunt Betty and Uncle Chuck staying behind to take pictures, when they should've gone ahead to the reception. Now, what should've been an hour's worth of photos has now become 2 hours and counting! If your photographer doesn't request it, give them a list of all the photos that you want taken (with names) and when-- before or after the ceremony or at the reception.  Only these people should be present for photos, making the process smoother and faster. I'm thankful that our photographers requested this information in advance, reviewed it with us, and stuck to it. If you have a great photographer, they'll make sure the photos are taken while maintaining the timeline. A rule of thumb is 1-2 minutes per shot, so be mindful of time constraints. Take my advice and create a list.

Bonus: Don't forget your wedding party. Amidst all the preparation for guests, don't forget to accommodate your wedding party. After all, they're probably some of the most important people in your life. Take time to make sure they have snacks and drinks throughout the day to keep them energized and fed until the reception. Remember, they've been there all day too and have shelled out some cash to be apart of your day. Integrate them into your plan (and budget) and make sure they get the royal treatment as well.

This was only a snippet of the many documents and timelines that went into planning our special day. Though tedious, it paid off in the form of a wedding that ran smoothly with guests who thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Of course, this isn't for everyone, so don't feel bad if you decide to hire someone. As long as you do what's best for you to make your day go smoothly, that's all that matters. For additional questions or if you'd like me to help you plan your big day, shoot me a note to I'd love to hear from you. Until then, happy wedding planning!



  1. I love the detail in your timeline! I need to save this to show my brides!


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