Wedding Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Your Big Day

Every couple will sit down and plan out their wedding day, from the number of guests to the budget to the type of music the DJ will play at the reception.

Many couples that go through the wedding process will make these common mistakes that will cost them more in the long run and today, Carole and I want to share these commonly overlooked steps that you should avoid doing.

The Guest List

A common mistake is your guest list the firm number that you will have, many couples will forget their vendors on that list. If you’re meeting with the catering company and you have 100 wedding guests, you also need to make sure that the DJ, the wedding planner, the wedding photographer, and videographer will also have a meal and a seat at your wedding reception.

Suddenly your 100 guests will turn into 104 or 105 and that doesn’t include those odd plus one’s that some will bring that are not on your list nor those that want extra food if you’re having a buffet, because hey, it happens.

Suddenly your 100 turns into 110 or 115 easily.

Our recommendation is to take your number and add about 10-15% to that value in order to help cover the added vendors, guests, and the people that might come for seconds at a reception buffet.

“Add 10-15% to the overall guest-list so you will have enough tables, chairs and dinner for your vendors, addition plus one’s you may not be aware of and those that want more food.”

Adding a little bit extra will go a great deal when planning the reception and that will help cover your dinner.

The Happy Hour Time

Most couples will have either a photographer and a videographer or both and the time in between the ceremony and reception is critical for the photographer to get the right images that he or she needs.

A common mistake is just making up a time-frame for the “happy hour” where your guests will eat, drink and be merry. The mistake is not consulting with the photographer and videographer on the time they will need to get all the family pictures, wedding party pictures, and pictures of you and your new spouse.

While some need an hour, others need less time and some need more time in order to get everything done. We recommend that you connect with your professionals and ask them how much time they need to get the job done.

Knowing this ahead of time will help adjust your schedule for the wedding day’s timeline and it will help better prepare you for the day. For the Happy-Hour time-frame, knowing any adjustments will also better prep you for any additional things you may want to add or take away from your guests.

Your Wedding Exit

Another common mistake that couples tend to skip is staging a fake exit earlier for those that can’t stay late.

If you want to save some money, listen up, this will help.

Waiting until 10 pm or 11 pm to do your exit may be fun, but your grandparents may not be able to attend that nor will families and any small kids that may come too.

We recommend that you stage a fake exit about the 8-9 pm hour as that’s typically best for all parties on your wedding day. Some of the benefits may include:

  • Having Families with children send you off

  • Having seniors like your grandparents send you off

  • Makes for better images and video during dusk or ‘golden hour’

  • Also makes your wedding photographer/videographer cheaper too as they can leave early (thus saving money sometimes)

  • You and your wedding party might not appear to inebriated in the images or video

The other benefit of this is that you can go right back to the dance floor and party the evening away without having to do other things at the reception. It makes things a bit more relaxed for you and your new spouse too.

We recommend exploring this option as it will be better all around. (oh, and buy sparklers longer than 18”, we recommend 24-36” for longer-lasting results)

If You Have Children at Your Wedding, Entertain Them

One thing that is overlooked more-so than any other is kids on your wedding day and giving them something to do.

Carole and I have been to countless (well, it seems like it’s countless) weddings where kids were there and they were bored.

In fact, only Silver Hearth Lodge offers a playground for the children as far as I’m aware.

Have a table with things for them to do, board games, Legos, a movie with popcorn perhaps some outdoor lawn games, keep them entertained! While your adult guests are going to have booze and music, kids many times have little to do, so we recommend that you provide them with some fun things to do.

It can still be an affordable and viable thing at your wedding, many times families can bring toys or games to the wedding if you simply let them know, which can save you some money too.

Our point is to keep kids’ spirits up, the longer they are happy, the longer their parents will stay and enjoy your wedding day!

Have a Back-up Plan (For outdoor weddings)

Another common mistake is for couples having outdoor weddings and not having a backup plan. There have been a few weddings I’ve attended and filmed where the couple simply didn’t have a backup plan and it rained.

I remember I did a wedding last year where they had called for a 35% chance of rain and looking at the radar, things didn’t look good. Well, the couple wanted to press forward with the ceremony, and of course, wouldn’t you know it, the rain started as soon as the grandparents walked out of the venue.

Just watch thing short clip of them stopping and guests leaving their seats of the wedding toward the building.

This is something you don’t want to happen.

Fortunately for the bride and groom, the rain stopped after about 10-15 minutes and everyone went back out, dried off their chairs and the couple did the ceremony about 30 minutes late. Had the rain continued, who knew what they would have done.

This is why you should always have a backup plan and if there is a chance of rain around your wedding time, consider changing it to indoors. While we have rain gear on the cameras and ponchos, most people didn’t have much to keep them from getting wet!

Stay Hydrated Throughout the Day

A common mistake we see many times is not staying hydrated throughout the day. The number one time of day when the couple needs a bottle of water the most (sometimes a towel to wipe off sweat) is during the portrait hour between the ceremony and reception.

Sadly, no one really gets the couple anything because everyone’s focused on a couple of things,

  1. greetings each other and chatting

  2. heading over to a ‘happy-hour’ while photos and video are being taken

  3. they are part of the immediate family and are waiting to get pictures done

We recommend that you have a small bag with two bottles of cold water, an ice pack to keep them cold, and a towel for the couple nearby. The best person to carry this around is typically one of the moms or the maid of honor.

This bag can be one of those small, insulated packs that can easily carry a couple of bottles of water for the bride and groom.

I’ve seen where the couple has been thirsty and needed something to drink, yet no one was getting them anything to sip on in between taking images. It’s one of the most important, yet most overlooked line items at weddings and it’s something that you generally won’t find on a list of wedding things to do.

Don’t Micro-Manage Your Day

Roughly 32% of brides try to micromanage their wedding day.

Listen, it’s a great idea to draw your guests a map to the venue, it’s another to plot out bathroom breaks for your vendors.

One of the key things that you are doing is hiring professionals to cover your wedding. While there are different subcategories within the wedding industry, like catering, flowers, and photography, we all understand what jobs we need to do and how best to do them at a wedding.

I remember doing a wedding last year where the wedding planner and the bride wrote out page after page of photos they wanted with the photographer. The problem was they didn’t let the photographer have the list and it made things much harder to photograph by not being able to look at the list and cross each line item off.

Well, since the couple didn’t involve the photographer, the happy-hour turned into two hours and by the time they had finished, some of the guests had left which made the wedding party upset.

Had they worked everything out ahead of time with the photographer (and videographer) they would have been able to do everything in a timely manner and things would have had a better flow.

Be clear about what you’d like to have happened at your wedding, but please don’t micro-manage the vendors to the point where they can’t do what they need effectively.

Trying to Please Everyone

Something I find a lot of times is the couple trying to please everyone at the wedding with accommodations, special things and the like. I’ve seen brides trying to make their mom happy with all sorts of details about the day, I’ve seen groomsmen having special liquor just for their siblings because they complained about wanting them at the wedding.

Well, truth be told, this is the couple’s wedding and they should have whatever they want without interference with trying to please every guest, every wedding party member or family member.

Do what you feel is right and do what makes you happy on your wedding day. Don’t try to please everyone by offering or doing everything.

The truth is you will NEVER please 100% of people 100% of the time in your life, so why try to please people at YOUR wedding then they should be there to celebrate you and your spouse to begin with?

Focus on what is important to you, focus on the wedding day, focus on your spouse. Everything else is secondary.

Let’s Recap

Sometimes the smallest things can make a world of difference at a wedding and it can prevent any issues that may pop up from time-to-time, TRUST us, it happens more than you think.

  • Make sure you have an additional 10-15% on your dinner menu to cover those you’re not thinking about on the guests like vendors, unknown plus-ones, and those wanting more than just one plate of food.

  • Connect with your vendors to get a better idea of how long ‘happy-hour’ needs to be. Sometimes it’s less than an hour, sometimes it’s two hours. There are lots of variables like the number of family members and wedding party that all play into the length of a happy-hour.

  • Consider having a staged or earlier fake-exit for your older guests and those with children, otherwise, they will not be able to send you off.

  • If your wedding is going to have some kids, plan on having something for them to do. The more entertained they are, the less stressed their parents will be and the longer they will stay at the wedding too.

  • If you’re having an outdoor wedding, have a secondary plan in case of bad weather. This is very important.

  • Stay hydrated throughout the day and have someone carry around a bottle of water for you and your spouse during picture taking the time.

  • Be specific about what you want at the wedding, but don’t micromanage the vendors. Sometimes, we need to changes things up if a situation arises and sometimes, we just need to go to the bathroom for two minutes when nothing going on.

  • Focus on you, your spouse, and your wedding day. Stop trying to please parents, friends, and guests. They should be there to celebrate you no matter what you have for a ceremony and reception.