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We turned to Blaithin O'Reilly Murphy, a wedding consultant and author of Distinctive Weddings: Tying the Knot Without the Rope Burns (Vertias, 2009), for her insights into how to avoid wedding day chaos and get down the aisle without incident.
1. Plan out the day
About two months before your wedding, sit down and plan out your wedding day in detail. If your ceremony starts at 3 p.m., create a work-back schedule from then until your morning wakeup call, and then work out the order of events from the ceremony until the end of the night. List every task that you and everyone else involved in the wedding will need to do, and assign a time, a place and a taskmaster for each one.
You now have what Murphy refers to as a "line-by-line for your wedding day." She advises sharing this document with anyone who might be involved in the big day so that everyone is clear on his or her responsibilities (including the when, where and how of the tasks).
"By doing this, you'll instantly relax on the day," says Murphy. "You know that there is a plan and you know that everyone else knows what they should be doing."
2. Allow plenty of time for everything
Be careful to not try to do too much on your wedding day. It's tempting to want to schedule in as much as possible to make the most of a day that will likely fly by, but doing so can create unwanted pressure.
"Your wedding breakfast, having your hair and makeup done, and your post-ceremony photo shoot will all take much longer than you think. Don't cram your day full of activities for every second," says Murphy. "You and your guests will be totally exhausted, and you possibly won't get to everything."
3. Don't keep your wedding guests waiting
Being the bride might mean being the star of the show, but that doesn't mean it's OK to deviate from the schedule to the point of making people wait.
"Ten minutes is the ideal length of time to keep your guests waiting," Murphy says. "Anything beyond 15 minutes is plain rude." The longer people have to wait, the less relaxed they become and the more off-track the whole day can get.
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4. Assign a point person for your wedding
If you don't have a wedding planner, assign the role of point person to a member of your wedding party or a reliable friend, advises Murphy. This is the person who deals with problems and who double-checks all of the wedding day details.
"Your point person should know the wedding almost as well as you do," says Murphy. "This will allow you to relax in the knowledge that everything is being watched."
Just remember to tell everyone who the point person is and, most importantly, to never take on this role yourself: "It is not your job to be your own point person; it's your job to be the bride," says Murphy.
5. Confirm everything and then follow up
One month out from your wedding, confirm and double-check all of your bookings by phone, and then follow up with an email, listing the details, Murphy advises. Remember to give these details to your point person so he or she has the most up-to-date information. Do the same at one week out.
"Confirming by phone and following up with emails means that you are not open to a wedding supplier taking down the wrong details, losing the sheet of paper they wrote them on or confusing you with someone else," says Murphy.
6. Plan for mini emergencies with a wedding day kit
Little things can (and often do) go wrong on the day of your wedding, whether it's a broken nail, a stain on your dress or a blistered foot. These minor (but potentially frustrating) emergencies can all be taken care of with some common sense items, says Murphy.
She suggests a wedding day kit that includes the following:
• Sewing kit
• Mirrored compact powder case
• Breath mints
• Pen and pad
• List of vendors' telephone numbers
• Bobby pins
• Any prescription medication you currently take
• Comb and/or brush
• Drinking straws (so you can drink water without messing up your lipstick)
7. Remember your wedding is not your life
A wedding is only one day of your life. Yes, you've put a lot of your life into making the day happen, but don't lose sight of the fact that your life will continue afterward, says Murphy.
"Don't strain friendships because your bridesmaids aren't as excited about your day in the run-up as you are, or that they aren't willing to drop everything to run over and see if the latest shade of nail polish you bought will bring out their eyes at the rehearsal dinner," she advises. "Be considerate, remember why you are getting married and don't sweat it if those who you were sure would attend can't make it."
By creating a detailed plan for your wedding day, having the right people assist with the details and being ready for anything, you can easily make sure your wedding day runs smoothly and lives up to all of your expectations.
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Plan the most beautiful wedding you can imagine with expert tips and helpful advice from our special wedding planning guide.