I'm a big planner. I'm also one that understands that things happen and plans have to change. In the year that I've been performing ceremonies I've come to learn something about planning weddings (though I'm no expert and will never claim to be).
There is a happy place for coordinating a wedding. A place where you have just enough stuff planned out and people to coordinate those plans, but not so much that if something unexpected happens, it throws the bride into bridezilla mode or to break down in tears.
I've seen the extremes and I've seen the happy place and of course everything in between. Here are my suggestions:
1. Hire a wedding coordinator or at least a Day of Coordinator. They are WELL worth your money and will take a huge load off of everyone, so that the bride, bridal party and parents aren't stressed and frantic trying to get everything done last minute. Trust me on this one. And if you need suggestions on some good ones, ask me...I've got a few in mind that you'd be thrilled with.
2. If you're not going to hire a coordinator, ask someone that you know, who's not in the bridal party or a family or close friend, who's great at organization, lists, bossing people around politely and who knows a little about weddings. You really don't want to ask someone who is closely involved already because you want your guests to enjoy the day, not worry about what's going on.
3. Have your ceremony music planned out. Who's walking to which song, what songs are playing while guests are seating, if you don't have a DJ for the ceremony, assign someone to play the music (again, someone not already closely involved). Make sure that you have this list well in advance, given to the DJ and the coordinator, and definitely ready for the rehearsal.
4. Have a basic itinerary made and sent to everyone involved...and I do mean everyone! This includes DJ, coordinator, venue representatives, officiant, caterer, photographer, bridal party, flower girl/ringbearer parents, your parents and grandparents (if they are involved, like special seating) and anyone that is needed for photos before the ceremony. Include on this itinerary the contact information for everyone that you're giving this itinerary to, so in case someone needs to call the ringbearer's parents to find out where they are, they can just call and not stress you out with it. The key to the itinerary is be flexible. You may not be right on schedule all the time, so be flexible and don't freak out.
5. Have lists ready to go a month ahead of time (because you have too much to do after that!). Lists for everything you need to bring with you that day...everything. Your itineraries. Lists of what needs to be done every day leading up to the wedding day. List of photos that you want to get, including names of those people, not just their titles (best man, mother of the bride, uncles, etc.) so if someone has to run and find a certain person, they aren't yelling in the reception hall "Anyone seen the uncle?" Which uncle might that be? And any other list you need.
6. Finally, let your coordinator take control of the day. Make sure he/she keeps things moving on schedule (or close to) including getting the bride and groom dressed and ready to go for photos before the wedding.
All of these will ensure that your officiant, DJ and venue reps know what's going on and can get things in place for the processional. Don't leave everything to chance, but if you aren't an organizational type, get that coordinator so you don't have to worry about it and everything still flows smoothly!
If you have more suggestions, feel free to comment!
I'm Rebecca, owner and clergy for True Hearts Weddings. I love performing weddings, I love my 4 children, and I love life.