1. Please No D.I.Y. Projects. Unless you are currently an arts and crafts teacher, hobbyist, or perhaps your best friend is a designer and wants to make this a project, don’t do it yourself. Think about the long-term impact on your wedding day. And really, would you put the photos on your website?
2. The Guest List. The guest list is one of the biggest issues for the bride and groom. When you two were born, both your parents started planning this day. Just remember, every guest you invite has a dollar sign on the back of their place card. Does the lady your mom grew up with in Des Moines, which she hasn’t seen since high school, really need to be there? One rule of thumb for invites—have you and/or your parents exchanged dinner in one another’s homes? If so, they know you intimately and you have a relationship.
3. Volunteers Are Your Best Friends. Keep in mind, weddings have a lot of moving parts and it is always suggested that you keep all your volunteers close with documented assignments. Sometimes it really isn’t best to hold all the cards and to think you can do it all. Unless the two of you are going to stand in front of a judge or Elvis in Vegas… let go of the reins and learn how to ask and receive help.
4. When the Gifts Are Delivered. Today, everyone uses a registry and when those gifts start coming in, it is imperative that you make certain you have developed a system to receive and store your gifts. Ensure you have created a spreadsheet to document all the friends and family members that have sent presents or money. It is great to set up a system and a volunteer of planner to send out weekly thank you cards so you aren’t overwhelmed and confused after the wedding.
5. Use Your Voice. Are you normally shy and you don’t try to make waves or make folks uncomfortable? Well, say goodbye to her and while you don’t need to be the wicked witch of the east, you don’t have to be a floor mat… Part of this process is making decisions and working with vendors that you really don’t know and who are being paid to provide a service or product for one of the most important events of your life. And, quite frankly on your wedding day you need to be happy with everything. Telling someone the truth and your expectations is really ok. Reminder: they aren’t doing what they do free of charge.
6. Outdoor Wedding and/or Reception. Make certain you have a plan B. If you aren’t considering a tent, what are the other options? Or if you do have a tent and the wind is too high or there is torrential rain, what to do? Also, check whether there is a plan B on the site or if they have a partnership with another facility—although there may be extra expenses.
7. Giving Gifts. Many wedding parties love to give mementos to their guests. I can’t tell you how many people leave them on the dinner table or walk right past them at the exit– literally boxes of little tokens go into the trash. If you must, think about something edible or a cute fresh herb, no engraved $2.00 tchotchkes (trinkets).
8. It’s a Family Affair. Weddings are special for the entire family. While you may not always agree, it is important that you and the parents are honest and loving with your differences. There are far too many people who start their lives together stressed out over the color of the linens or a particular flower that really isn’t that important. The excitement gets everyone uptight and emotional. But, don’t let it create a division between the people who really love you… It isn’t that serious.
9. Less Stress from the Beginning. Keep stress to a minimum by setting a realistic date. Why is a particular date so important? How will that emotion create a memorable occasion? Will you really enjoy the entire experience so it too becomes memorable, and you’re not remembered as bridezilla. It is imperative that you set a realistic wedding date with enough time to actually organize and plan. Too often, for whatever reasons, people set their date for a huge wedding with tons of moving parts without considering the planning and organization required to create a memorable celebration. Too often, fabric dresses or linens need to be ordered, made or shipped. And don’t forget that if there is a problem, you will require a sufficient turn around to return and receive a new item in time.
10. Bridesmaid Dresses. What was the name of the movie where the bridesmaid had a million dresses that she will never use again in her life? Remember, everyone has a different body type and their own style. To keep your bridesmaids happy, especially since they are paying for their dresses and shoes, give them three or four style options in the same color that can have a life after your wedding. They will love you even more.
11. Do Consider a Daytime Wedding. The world is changing and folks are doing all types of creative things–including hosting their weddings during the morning and early afternoon. You can have a lovely brunch, lunch or sunrise breakfast. Many venues do not charge as much for daytime rentals, and Fridays and Sundays have become the new Saturdays. It is all about your theme and creativity… as well as your budget! Many folks then go and party at a local bar and dance the night away!
12. Contracts Are Your Best Friend. Don’t discuss or verbally confirm with anyone anything regarding product of services for your wedding. Everybody, no matter how sweet and kind they are turn into monsters about delivery of product and their money. Don’t get so busy doing hectic stuff that you don’t focus on your expectations and what they promised to deliver… and the devil is truly in the detail. This is especially when you are dealing with friends of yours or your family.
13. Feet Need Love Too! One great touch that goes over really BIG: buying little slip on shoes for the women in your bridal party and extras for your guests. This is a nice touch, and especially for those who love to dance. The heel heights seem to have increased by about three extra inches your lady friend’s feet will absolutely love you.
14. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate. The guest list is critical for so many reasons… for one, think BUDGET. Assign someone to contact the guests that have missed the deadline. There is nothing worse than not knowing your exact count. Think about all the individual items that need to be considered from place settings, food, beverage, linens, and equipment. By the way, you would be surprised how many brides start to expand their design for food and equipment when they think they have 20-30 less people.
15. It Is Your Day Off. On your wedding day, you should awaken with the idea that all you are going to do is be pampered and look lovely for your fiancé. Period. You do not need to look at a list nor check anything off. If you didn’t hire a wedding planner during the entire process, minimally, hire a day-of wedding planner. You don’t want to spend time thinking about any of those last minute details.
Marsha Jews is the Editor-At-Large(USA) for World Bride Magazine and the founder of Marsha Jews & Company a full service marketing, business development, Wedding/Events/ Conference planning & management; and communications company. Marsha Jews is the Founder/CEO of WKIMRadioNetwork.com.
and the former Founder/Curator of the Herbert Bearman Art Gallery & Director of Events & Weddings at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum.
Marsha was Project Director on two community technology development grants: Harlem Renaissance 2K1 and NY-OneNet at the Institute of Learning Technologies and the Institute for Urban and Minority Education at Columbia University, New York.
As President/COO/Associate Publisher at Career Communications Group Marsha managed Black Engineer/Hispanic and Information Technology Magazines; the Black Engineer of the Year Awards Conference and was Co-Founder of the Women of Color Technology Awards Conference; Black Family and LaFamilia Technology Awareness Week(s).
The former Executive Director of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater Foundation of Maryland; presenting Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Ailey II and AileyCamp and Director of Advertising for the 125-year-old Afro-American Newspaper, Inc.
Marsha was Vice President of Operations for the Marine Corps League Exhibit Company, and was the first black woman to produce the Modern Day Marine Force in Readiness Military Exposition and Awards Gala a program of the United States Marine Corps, Capitol Marines and the Marine Corps League, while simultaneously the Director of Advertising for the Amphibious Warfare Review Magazine.
Marsha is active in the community; former board member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and was the first Black Trustee to chair their Annual Gala; Commissioner- Maryland Public Television Commission; Founding board member of the Maryland Association for Nonprofit Organizations; former trustee for the College of Notre Dame and the Maryland Institute College of Art; Trustee at the Enoch Pratt Library, and has won numerous awards; Co‐Author in Incredible Business and is an avid volunteer and speaker.