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21 Essential Things Every Bride or Groom Must Do The Week Before Their Wedding

It’s the week leading up to your wedding. Excitement and nerves are raging and you feel the clock is ticking to make sure everything gets done on time. There are so many last-minute details to remember, so we put together a list of 21 essential things every bride or groom must do the week before their wedding. We’ve broken them down into three categories: Logistics (the nuts and bolts of the day), Personal (what you need to do for yourself), and Specifics (the little details you may forget).
 

LOGISTICS:

 

Prepare your marriage license – Make sure you have your marriage license all set and ready to go. Sometimes, the license will be signed during the ceremony, and sometimes, it will be signed during the rehearsal. In either case, you need to make sure you have this document ready for signage. Without it, your marriage isn’t legal. For more information on how to obtain a New York State marriage license, click here or below.
 

 
 
 

Create and distribute timelines – It’s important for all members of your bridal party, as well as your parents and those involved in the wedding, to know what’s going on that day. Timelines are especially important for your vendors. Not only do they need to know what time to show up and where to show up, but they’ll actually be helping you schedule much of your timeline. Your salon, for example, needs to know what time the photographer is coming so that they can have you all ready for photos.
 

Prepare and distribute contact info – Just as important as the timeline, contact info is key. All members of the bridal party, all vendors, parents, and the venue should be on the list. Your number should be included as well, though I would designate a person to field all your calls, especially on your wedding day. You don’t want to be answering or dealing with phone calls while you’re getting ready.
 

Take enough time off from work – Requesting time off from work should be done months in advance of your wedding, and you want to make sure you take off enough time. Check with your employer to see if you can carry over days or time if you think you are going to need more than what you are given. If your wedding is on a Saturday, I suggest taking three or four days prior. You also want to make sure you take enough time off for your honeymoon. Most couples take two weeks off, though when you take your honeymoon is totally up to you. Some couples take off right after their wedding, others, depending on their situation, will wait a few months. Even if you wait a few months, take a few days off from work after the wedding so you have time to wind down and mentally get back to “reality”.
 

Drop off all items for your wedding to your venue – Your wedding venue should provide you with a timeline of when things are due for them, such as payments, final headcount, etc. Included in this list is a date of when your wedding items such as favors, menus, place cards, and guest book need to be dropped off. My suggestion is to not do this the day before, but two days out. You are going to be very busy the day before your wedding and you don’t want to have to worry about making a trip to your venue – especially if it’s out of town – the day before your wedding.
 

Confirm all appointments – Even though you booked your appointments months and months in advance, and probably checked and double-checked on them, do it again. Call your hair salon, makeup artist, florist, limo, baker and any other vendor you are working with to confirm everyone is on the same page, and that everyone knows what time to be where.
 

Prepare final payments for vendors – Make sure all your final payments to your vendors are made or are set aside to give them the day of your wedding. The last thing you want to do is forget to pay someone.
 

Plan a rehearsal – No matter if your wedding is a quiet backyard affair or a formal banquet hall event, a rehearsal is very important. There are lots of moving parts to a wedding and people need to know where they need to stand or sit, when they need to come out to music, who is holding bouquets, when to do a unity ceremony, what’s going to happen at the end of readings or when to say your vows. This doesn’t have to necessarily be done the day before your wedding, but it needs to be done close to it.
 

PERSONAL:

 

Get enough sleep – Nerves may get the best of you, therefore, making it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep, and that’s totally normal. However, you want to make sure you give yourself enough time to make up for that. Plan ahead so you get to bed at a reasonable time. Night owls, this means no late nights and early morning. Plan a good 6-8 hours of sleep each night of the week leading up to your wedding. This not only will calm your nerves, but it’ll give you more clarity and composure.
 

Schedule “me” time – Yoga or meditating are great ways to de-stress. Even just a few minutes of quiet deep breathing or scheduling in a nap can be an excellent way to recharge, refuel and get centered. The days leading up to your wedding are going to be very busy, chaotic and stressful. You need to take care of yourself. Being on the go all the time can lower your immunity, and you don’t want to be sick on your wedding day.
 

Don’t party too hard – it’s very easy to want to just live it up the week leading up to your wedding or even the night before, but trust me, partying too hard is just going to leave you with a ton of regret. Yes, have a glass or two of wine. Yes, enjoy yourself at your rehearsal dinner. However, drinking too much or staying out too late is just going to have a snowball effect when you don’t have the time to be nursing a hangover or the patience to be working off a few hours of sleep.
 

Don’t change your routines – Now is not the time to be trying new routines. Keep everything as “normal” as possible. Don’t try new skin routines, or a diet regimen, or sleep routine. Stick with what works well because you don’t want any negative surprises on your wedding day.
 

Don’t sunbathe – We all know sunbathing is bad, and we should be wearing SPF, so don’t go out and sit in the sun in the days leading up to your wedding. You don’t want to be burnt or have unsightly tan lines. If being tan on your wedding is something you want, talk to your salon to see if they offer spray tans, or even better, see if they offer natural spray tans without the harsh chemicals. Whatever you do, don’t use tanning beds!
 

Don’t try new foods – This kind of goes along the same lines as not trying new routines. Trying new foods is always great. I love doing it. But, before such a big event, you better be safe. Leave being adventurous at the door until you are on your honeymoon or until you get back. The last thing you want is to try something new and then realize you have a reaction to it and get sick.
 

SPECIFICS:

 

Get yourself organized – Gather all necessary items such as garments, your suitcase, paperwork and any other day-of essentials and keep them in one, easy-to-get-to location. We have a great list of things to pack for your wedding day here or below:
 

 
 
 
 

Prepare your welcome bags – You want to make sure that your welcome bags are assembled and available at the hotel(s) your guests are staying at prior to the day your first guest arrives. Some guests may arrive the day before, some might check-in that day. Check with your hotel to confirm a drop-off date.
 

Go to the bank – This is one of those things that might be on your to-do list, but could get pushed back. You want to go to the bank for several reasons. One, you want to make sure you have some cash on you or ready to take with you for your honeymoon. Second, you want to let your bank know of any traveling you might be doing so that they can put an alert on your card. You don’t want to go away on vacation and have your bank cancel your cards thinking they might have been stolen.
 

Break in your shoes – Guys and girls, I can’t stress enough how uncomfortable dress shoes can be if you haven’t broken them in or stretched them. Don’t put yourself through the agony of painful feet. Break your shoes in, wear them around the house, dance in them, do whatever you need to do to make sure they feel good. Inevitably, you might just want to bring a change of shoes altogether when it comes time for dancing, but be sure to give your feet some love.
 

Make sure all DIY projects are done – Make sure all of your DIY projects are done at least a week in advance, if not more. The week and days leading up to your wedding shouldn’t be spent with a glue gun in your hand. I love a good craft project, but there comes a time when you have to walk away from the craft table and let it be.
 

Exchange gifts with your spouse – Here’s why this should be done before your wedding and not the day of. Simply put, Pictures and time. If you are not doing a first-look and are seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony, when are you going to have time to exchange gifts? Also, remember, opening gifts makes a great photo op, which is usually done as you are getting ready. You want to make sure you give each other your gifts prior to the wedding so that you have something to open when your photographer arrives.
 

Finish your vows – Waiting until the morning of your wedding to write your vows or finish them is not good. Try to plan to have these done at least a week ahead of time. That gives you time to go back, edit, change things around and really make sure they’re perfect. Plus, if you are the DIY-type, it gives you a chance to do something really creative with them.
 

What’s on your week-of to-do list?
 
Featured photo credit: J. Ferrara Photography

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30 truths you need to know about your wedding day (part 1)

One of the great things about having been a recent Hudson Valley bride is I can relate tidbits of information back to you, the engaged couple. They say hindsight is 20/20 and now that my wedding has been over for a few years, I can tell you there are at least 30 (maybe more) truths about your wedding that no one tells you…but really should.

Some of these may be a no-brainer, and some of these may come as a surprise – but either way, they are things you need to know. So, because this is such a long list, I’m going to give you 10 now, share another 10 with you next week, and the final 10 the week after that.

So, let’s begin, shall we…

Wedding Truth #1 – Your wedding day will be the BEST. DAY. EVER.

 

I know this sounds really cliché, but when I tell you it’s the best day ever, it really is. I thought I knew what walking on “Cloud 9” felt like before, but it wasn’t until our wedding day that I really knew what that meant. Why is it the best day ever? Because it’s the one day that encompasses every aspect of what makes something the best: excitement, love, family, friends, good food, good drinks, fun dancing, fairy tales, delicious dessert. Everyone that has ever meant anything to you is in one room together. The reality is, it’s probably the only time that will ever happen.

Wedding Truth # 2 – The most important part of your wedding is signing your marriage license

 

Ok, this is the unromantic truth. You can have the most gorgeous couture gown, have the most exquisite décor and flowers, have your meal prepared by a world-renowned chef, etc.; but at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is signing your marriage license. Without that piece of paper, your marriage is not legal. It needs to be signed by both you and your spouse, and two witnesses, usually the maid of honor and best man.

Wedding Truth #3 – Always check your reception area

 

Photo Credit: Myles Studio Photography

No matter where you have your wedding, and even if you have a wedding planner setting up the space, always check the reception area prior to guests entering the room for the formal reception. You need to do this for three reasons. One, it is a great moment for you and your new spouse to break away, get a moment to yourself, and really absorb the atmosphere, alone. When you are being announced and walking into the space, you won’t have time to really enjoy the space and see it. Two, it gives you the opportunity to give it a once-over to make sure everything is placed the way you like it and to make sure nothing is off. For example, I noticed the flowers on my cake were missing, and if I hadn’t had that moment to notice it and have it fixed, it would have made it very awkward later on. It also gives you a chance to speak with your DJ to go over the intros. And three, it’s a great photo op to be in the center of the dance floor, just the two of you.

Wedding Truth #4 – You will be very warm all day.

 

Even if it’s the dead of winter, between the endorphins and adrenaline, being the center of attention, the excitement of the day, running around, and your dress and tux, you are going to be warm all day. I remember being outside taking pictures and some of my bridal party noticed it was chilly, and I was hot, to the point of almost sweating – and I’m usually the one that always cold. And, let’s face it, a wedding gown, as pretty as it is, is made out of material that is not very breathable, same with tuxes. So, it’s essential to bring with you that day, things that keep you cool or help you deal with the heat. You can download your free wedding day packing checklist here.

Wedding Truth #5 – Never give your rings to kid or dog ring bearers.

 

Photo Credit: JT Sander Photography

I will be the first one any day to say kids and dogs make the cutest additions to your bridal party. However, cute does not always equal responsible. Your rings are expensive, and, just after your marriage license, they play the second-biggest role in your ceremony. They don’t say “With this ring, I thee wed” for nothing. Therefore, if you are having a little kid or your dog be your ring bearer, they can walk down the aisle with a pillow or a little box tied around the dog’s collar for pictures, but make sure an adult has the rings at all times. Again, this is usually the responsibility of the best man or maid of honor. Anything can happen and the last thing you want is for the dog to see a squirrel and run off with the rings, or try to pull the box off the collar and chew it. Little kids, depending on their age, might chicken out, and not even make it down the aisle, so, you want to make sure the rings are in good hands, near you at all times.

Wedding Truth #6 – You may probably never see the photos your guests take.

 

Your guests will be taking photos all day, and I explained how creating a wedding hashtag makes it easy for you to gather all the photos guest post on social media. I also give you tips on what to do if you don’t want guests sharing photos on social media. However, the reality is most likely, you will only see a fraction of all the photos taken. This is because either the guest doesn’t think they are good enough photos that you would be interested in, or they just don’t have the time to email them or send you hard copies. For whatever reason, don’t expect to see many of them.

Wedding Truth #7 – You are going to feel gutted when your wedding ends.

 

The first truth I mentioned was your wedding day is your best day ever. That’s why, when the final song is played, when the last guests leave, when the house lights go up and the staff is packing up your wedding day décor, it’s gutting to think it’s all over. Yes, you have a whole lifetime to look forward to, which will bring with it days that are just as good, if not better. However, when something you’ve spent countless hours, days, and months working on is now over and done with, a little part of you thinks “Now what?” It’s very bittersweet.

Wedding Truth #8 – The most relieved you will feel is during your recessional.

 

“We did it!” was the first thing that came to my mind when the ceremony was over and we were leaving the church. I literally felt like a ton of bricks was just lifted off my shoulders. The formalities of the day were over, the worry about getting to the church on time, the anxiety of planning and making sure everything ran on schedule was over and now the fun could begin. When I look at those pictures of my husband and I walking down the aisle, we have the biggest smiles on our faces – pure euphoria.

Wedding Truth #9 – Some guests may come to the ceremony even if they are not invited to the wedding.

 

If you have a wedding in a house of worship, you may have guests show up who weren’t invited to the wedding. Think about it: If your reception is at the same place as your reception, it’s obvious there is a closed private event going on. However, houses of worship are open to the public, regardless of what is going on. To explain what I mean, how many times have you been to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan and seen a wedding going on? It’s the same situation, just a different setting. Also, your wedding may appear in the house of worship’s bulletin or other announcements; so if a parishioner sees your listing – and maybe knows your parents – they may ask to come to the service only.

Wedding Truth #10 – Your bridal party relationships may change.

 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

When you choose your bridal party, you choose the friends or family members who have always been there for you. Your bridal party could be as little as zero people – you don’t really need a bridal party – or upward of 10 or more. However, you need to realize that while those people have been important to you, and you plan on them being in your lives forever, relationships change. I don’t mean to end on a sad note, but friendships change with time. Things happen, through no fault of anyone. Also, just because you were in someone’s bridal party, does not mean you have to invite them to be in yours. Keep that in mind when choosing your party. If you have a lot of members who are there because you feel like you have to pay them back, rethink your choices. Do you want to look back at photos and think “Who was that?” or “Why did I ever invite them?”

 

Join us next week for part 2…

Featured Image Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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