As wedding planners get closer to their clients’ big day (or big weekend, as the case may be), they’re making sure all of their i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed, to ensure each event unfolds seamlessly. After months, sometimes years, of planning, a wedding planner checklist becomes the ultimate event manifesto of timelines, itineraries, vendors, and VIPs.
To make certain the wedding and all of its related events run smoothly, here’s an insider’s look at everything a wedding planner will need to know — and when.
Wedding Planner Checklist: The Big Day
While we live in a digital world, there is nothing more tried and true than having a hard copy of all the critical paperwork needed should you encounter any unexpected challenges on your clients’ wedding weekend. Get your go-to client checklist at the ready!
First, be sure to have a copy of all vendor contracts. If contracts or agreements were signed prior to working with your client, request a copy so you have a complete set. Having hard copies of all of these will allow you to refer back to any vendor discrepancies on the day of.
Next, coordinate any last-minute changes to the final guest list with your client. Though all RSVPs should have been received by now, there are always some stragglers and a few uncommitted plus-ones.
In all likelihood, the wedding venue will have required a final count about one month out, if not before. Any changes can affect the amount of place settings at an entire table, so this information is critical.
Check in to make sure your bride has had any hair and makeup trials, and that any glam appointments for her attendants have been confirmed.
One Month Out: Legal, Travel, and Shipping Logistics
Be sure your clients have secured all marriage license requirements with the municipality in which they will wed. Should any spouse be changing their name, now is an excellent time to ask if they’ve received all necessary paperwork to ensure a smooth transition.
If you are planning a destination wedding, make sure all details are confirmed with hotels, venues, ceremony sites, transportation services, and any other element of the wedding week so that you have adequate time to address any concerns.
Make sure anything ordered online that requires shipping, like wedding favors for example, has arrived and been unpacked and inspected for damage. You don’t want to get caught having to reorder or dispute a shipment without time to pivot.
Anything that needs to be shipped in advance, including a guest book, toasting flutes, unity candle, or any element that’s not traveling in hand with you or the couple should be postmarked ASAP. Also, if traveling out of the country and anyone needed to get a new passport, make sure they have it in hand by now!
One Week Before the Big Day
If you’re working with an assistant, make sure you’ve provided a wedding coordinator checklist to them. This ensures you’re both on the same page in terms of timelines and responsibilities.
There are many helpful planning apps. But, have back up. This includes:
- Guest list
- Table assignments
- Vendor contacts
- Preassigned duties (to family, friends, wedding party members)
It can also be helpful when it comes to ironing out any issues with the floor plan, especially if you’re working with an event manager at the venue and more than one person needs access to the plan.
Be sure to review with your client if there are any outstanding balances that need to be paid to vendors. Any payments that need to be completed in advance should be hand-delivered if just one week out.
For any payments being made on-site the day of, which is typically discouraged, ensure there’s a point person. Whether it’s you or another designee, who will turn over the payment.
Keep any receipts to provide to the client after the event. Ensure there will be a designated friend or family member to assist with loading up wedding gifts and items that you want to keep. This would include the cake topper, special serving ware, drinkware, etc.
A Few More Checklist Items for One Week Out
If your clients have a shot list for the photographer, a must-play list for the DJ, or vows for the officiant, double-check that they have 1) sent and confirmed those details with the vendor, and 2) get copies for your backup binder.
Speaking of vendors, check in on those wedding rings! Your clients should have their bling by now (and hopefully, they have double-checked any engraving).
By this time, the couple saying “I do,” in addition to the entire bridal party should have a digital version of each wedding-related event’s itinerary. Don’t forget the parents of the to-be-wed or any other person playing a role in the ceremony or the day’s events. This way, they’ll know where to be and when—and that they can access that information easily. This can be done using the notes app on your smartphone to share information or via a specific app.
For example, the itinerary of the rehearsal dinner should explain in detail where everyone will be meeting for the ceremony walk-through and rehearsal. It should include what time they should arrive, and any transportation details. Location, start time, a timeline of the rehearsal dinner, speeches, toasts, gifts, presentations, or other happenings should be noted.
The Day Before the Main Event
No wedding planner checklist is complete without a wedding day emergency kit stocked with every possible disaster fix-it.
Before the rehearsal dinner gets underway, make sure your kit contains all of the essentials:
- Safety pins
- Stain remover pen or wipes
- Eye drops
- Feminine hygiene products
- Sewing kit
- Cotton swabs
- Bobby pins
- Nail files
- Earring posts
- Hair spray
- Clear nail polish
- Makeup remover wipes
- Blotting sheets
- A phone charger (and several common adaptors)
Take into consideration anything else specific to your client’s needs.
Be sure to update the contact information for all attendants and confirm that they have your contact information so they can call or text you with any last-minute emergencies.
Whether it’s a groomsman who doesn’t know he was given the wrong tuxedo until he unzips the garment bag to get dressed or a bridesmaid who left her makeup bag behind, you’ll be the one they call upon, and not your clients, to problem-solve.
The venue likely has a policy on wedding item drop-offs, and often it is the day before the wedding. These can include place cards or table assignment boards, menus, monogrammed cocktail napkins, the cake server, guest book, toasting flutes, memorial or unity candles, and favors.
The Morning of (Have Your Wedding Planner Checklist in Your Pocket)
Your couple will awake with eager anticipation of the day’s activities and will gather with family, close friends, and attendants. Is there an early morning yoga session? A relaxed brunch? Or back-to-back salon appointments?
Make sure you have a point person to check in with. With everything going on, you can be sure the day’s festivities have started on time and that you’re running on schedule.
You’re going to be managing a long day ahead, and a change of shoes can make all the difference. Be sure you toss a spare pair in your tote along with a pair of socks or hosiery. Along those same lines, a change of clothes is good to have on hand in the event of any unsightly mishaps.
And as long as you’re preparing for comfort, be sure you’ve checked the weather forecast. Then, have enough umbrellas for the bridal party and that you’re prepared for any weather-related contingencies!
Oh, and make sure you have the marriage certificate for the officiant to sign. Double check with your clients/best man has the rings!
A Wedding Checklist: Be Prepared and Be Professional.
Being in charge of such a big milestone in a couple’s life can be a lot of pressure. Be prepared and have your handy wedding planner checklist at the ready. Stay calm, cool, and collected, no matter how the day rolls out.