Smooth Wedding Day 101: 7 Ways to Avoid Snafus

No matter how much you prep for your wedding day, things don’t always go as planned. From surprise guests to wedding party drop-outs, brides should expect the unexpected.

For example, one bride we spoke with had several last minute issues that affected her big day. “Not only did it rain, but we had several guests show up who had stated they weren’t coming, which was annoying,” says Kerry R. from New Jersey. “We had also planned to borrow someone’s car, only to find out the battery had died because the lights were left on overnight,” she recalls. “And my maid of honor twisted her ankle the day before!”

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While you may put a lot of effort into your wedding planning, sometimes unexpected issues creep up. Newlywed Jess F., who got married in New Jersey last September, was surprised by how some of her vendors didn’t come through as promised. In Jess’s case, her seamstress managed to disappear with her wedding dress during the alteration process. (Fortunately, the dress was returned in time for the wedding!) “Even if you do tons of research and try to find the best value and the best vendors, they could still end up disappointing you,” Jess warns. “This is quite disparaging because you’re basically putting blind faith in your vendors after you commit to them.”

As a longtime event planner, Mary Harris knows firsthand how difficult planning a wedding can be. To help prevent brides-to-be from being blindsided by potential problems before or on their wedding day, she offers these 7 tips:

1. Double Check Your Budget

There are a lot of last minute expenses when it comes to throwing a wedding, whether it’s a big or small affair. For example, if more guests plan to attend than expected, it means you’ll be spending more money on food, favors and possibly even flowers if you need to add another table. Also, “when building your budget, don’t forget to include tips, service charges and sales tax. These numbers can add thousands to your budget if you’re not prepared,” warns Harris.

For a list of wedding vendors you’ll need to tip and how much, check out The Knot’s Tipping Cheat Sheet.

2. Get Insurance

By getting wedding insurance, you can “avoid a potentially huge financial loss if for some reason your wedding is changed or postponed because of a hurricane or winter storm, or if you or your fiancé become ill,” says Harris. There are a number of websites you can get wedding insurance from, such as or

3. Pack a Personal Care Bag

Pack a bag with an extra pair of comfortable shoes, makeup, medication, a phone charger, batteries, bandages and anything else you might need. Also, “make sure you have a cell number for all of your vendors and program them into your phone so that you can get in touch with them quickly,” recommends Harris.

4. Plan for the Day After

“So much planning goes into the day before and the wedding day itself, that often the couple will forget to plan for the time between the wedding and the departure for the honeymoon,” says Harris. “Make sure you’ve made arrangements for a late check-out from the hotel, if you need it, and also make plans to have a car service take you to (and from) the airport.”

Also, many brides choose to preserve their wedding gowns and flowers. Most bridal stores, like David’s Bridal, can recommend reputable services to help preserve wedding gowns. Check with your florist ahead of time about how to best preserve flowers.


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5. Keep Your Family in the Loop

Make sure to communicate with immediate family ahead of time about whether they’re to stay behind for photos or join a receiving line, says Harris. “And be specific. Don’t just say ‘all the family of the bride should stay behind,’ because that gets really confusing.”

Communication about the photography schedule is important since “the amount of time the photographer gives you for pictures may not actually be enough, especially if for some reason your guests show up early,” Jess adds.

To help keep everyone informed, consider creating a website with details on the ceremony and reception. You can include information on nearby hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions. A condensed itinerary should be included online and in invitations or bags for guests, especially for those without Internet access.

6. Arrange for Post-Reception Assistants

Brides often get caught up saying goodbye to guests and end up leaving personal items behind as they rush off, says Harris. To avoid losing valuables, select a couple of guests ahead of time to make sure they grab anything left behind. Typically, “this is something that we, as wedding planners, take care of,” Harris says, “But, in case you don’t have us with you as your wedding reception comes to a close, put someone in charge of your personal items at the reception.”

Harris also recommends putting someone reliable in charge of taking back wedding related items, including your gifts, guestbook, framed photos, cake and leftovers. “We pack up the car for our clients, but we need to know who will be taking these items for you,” says Harris. “For instance, if you have provided your own liquor to a venue, any open items need to be removed at the end of the night. I’ve often ended up with a full back seat and trunk full of alcohol.”

7. Don’t Forget to Eat!

“The day is long and there is so much to do. Make sure to get at least one good meal in the day, even if you’re nervous,” recommend Harris. If you’re afraid it might be hard to sneak in a quick bite, ask a reliable friend or family member ahead of time to bring you food and drinks every so often. For healthy options that aren’t overly messy, try power bars or sliced apples or vegetables.

Although your wedding might not be completely hassle-free, following Harris’s advice is certain to help the process go more smoothly. Fortunately, “as everyone always says, a million things will go wrong on the wedding day, but none of the guests will notice,” says Jess. “Even though “the stress dreams don’t stop after the wedding is over…marriage is great and so easy compared to wedding planning.”