The 12 things you must absolutely get right

Your wedding day is so much more than just you and your spouse-to-be standing in front of God and family to declare your love for one another. It is a minefield of possible disasters that you must avert at all costs. It is a lovely chance to reconnect with family. It is a crisis-management gauntlet you must run while looking fabulous every step of the way. And it is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to express yourself. All of this, the good and the not-so-good, makes up your big day.

And here are the 12 things that you must absolutely get right.

Attendant attire

When selecting bridesmaids dresses, don’t narrow your choices down to dresses designed specifically for bridesmaids. Shop local boutiques and department stores for a dress your bridesmaids love (and that can actually be worn again.) Once you find a dress, don’t forget to inquire about discounts for placing a multiple item order.  Many boutiques will provide discounts and complimentary shipping or tailoring.


Bridal bouquets are slimming down in both size and frills. If a bridal gown is very detailed, there is no need to compete with an equally ornate bouquet. Many brides even opt to carry a bouquet that is exactly the same as their bridesmaids’ bouquets. If florals are not important to you, then this is an area in which you have the opportunity to preserve your budget.

Wedding cakes

On your wedding day you should have your cake and eat it too.  No, seriously, you should eat your cake – the whole thing!  Tiered wedding cakes can really get up there in cost, and while traditionally the bride and groom have saved the top layer to eat on their first anniversary – why wait? Who gets excited to eat year-old frozen cake anyway? Serve your guests the whole cake, save some money and free up some future freezer space at the same time.

And, unless you plan on using them in the future, there is no need to purchase a matching cake knife and server.  This is an item that you can definitely borrow from a friend or relative. Or better yet, don’t use a traditional cake knife at all.  If you are active military then you could use a saber, firefighters can use an axe, or surgeons can use a scalpel.


Quality wedding photography can be expensive and time with the photographer should not be wasted. Make the most of the allotted time with your photographer by making a list of the shots that are important to you. Provide this list to your photographer well in advance and together you can make a wedding day game plan. Schedule reception events such as the first dance, cake cutting, bouquet and garter toss closely together so that no special moments will be missed.  And if you don’t want to waste any time posing for photographs on your special day, consider rescheduling a shoot for the day, or even the month, after the wedding. This will allow you to take your photos at alternative locations  without being rushed or distracted by the wedding day hustle and bustle.


Get creative with reception departures.  There’s usually no need to hire a limo or traditional get-away car. Ask family and friends who they know that may have access to a vintage or antique car to drive you away after the reception. A wedding guest might actually like to give you this service as a wedding gift.

Running through a tunnel of sparklers is a beautiful way to exit a wedding.  However, mix things up by providing guests with glow sticks or oversized foam fingers to wave in the air as you depart. The most memorable departures are original and should be planned thoughtfully.

Signature drinks

Nothing sets the tone for a reception like having guests arrive to trays of signature drinks! This is a great way to get the party started and add a personal touch at the same time. Do you love cotton candy? Try serving it in champagne (seriously)! Do you love ice cream?  Work with your caterer to create a custom ice cream cocktail just for you. With the variety of flavored liqueurs, the options are endless!

Garter tosses

Get the single fellows (who are usually not an eager group) excited about the garter toss! A large group of single men are not going to wrestle over four inches of satin and lace, but what guy won’t try to catch a football thrown in his direction? Slide the garter on a football and wait for the impending diving dog pile to ensue.

Another fun idea is to stash quirky and unique items under a skirted chair beneath the bride while the groom removes the garter. Imagine the surprise when the groom appears to pull wacky items — rubber chickens, bottles of high-end liquor, or even the old magician’s standby, the rope of colorful handkerchiefs — out from under the bride’s dress in his attempt to remove the garter.


Do you have a sentimental phrase, quote or even an inside joke that defines your relationship? These are the things couples are having inscribed inside their wedding bands.  Ring inscriptions can also be a fun wedding day surprise for your significant other.  Perhaps they might pick out their wedding band, but won’t know what sweet French phrase you’ve had inscribed until after the vows have been exchanged on the big day!


Putting a special message on the bottom of your wedding day shoes allows you to share a private message on the big day, as this is a gesture that usually only the bridal party is aware of.  Have bridesmaids sign the bottom of the bride’s shoes. Or better yet, have the bride and groom write messages to each other on the other’s shoes.  Just make sure the photographer captures it all before you dance those memorable messages off at the reception!


Encourage guests to use social media on your big day. Invite those who use Twitter and Instagram to tag all photos and posts from your wedding weekend with the same hash tag (i.e. #ThomasHHIWedding). It will be fun to review the pictures and comments in the days after the wedding and even up to a year later! Also, this will allow the bride and groom to see wedding day moments and details they might have missed. Guests can send the newlyweds special messages, congratulations and pictures. Put a note in the program, hotel welcome packets or a sign at the entrance to the reception encouraging guests to participate.

Your mother’s wedding dress

Are you super sentimental but refuse to wear your mother’s avocado trimmed wedding dress with matching sun bonnet? No problem, you have options. You can still include your mother’s dress in sentimental ways in your wedding. You may use bits of lace from her dress to wrap around your bouquet or sewn onto a handkerchief for the groom. A beautiful button or fabric piece from her dress can be lovingly transformed into a piece of wedding day jewelry. A popular option is to have a swatch of fabric from your mother’s wedding dress sewn into the lining of the bridal gown. For an even more fervent touch, have the fabric monogrammed in blue with your wedding date and maiden initials and voila - instant heirloom!

Mother-of-the-bride dresses

Just because you are old enough to have a child getting married does not mean that you are required to dress like a matron. If you work hard to maintain your figure, then show it off! Wedding pictures are going to be displayed in your home for years and you don’t want to second guess the choice you made on that frock your mother thought was “appropriate.” Everyone involved in the wedding should feel great about how they look on the big day!