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Big Wedding Mistakes… and How to Avoid Them

Ideas & Inspiration

You’ve poured your heart and soul into your special day. Not to mention, you’ve poured some serious cash into it, too.

We’ve been invited into the journeys of hundreds of couples. We’ve seen a few things work really well — and a few common problems, mistakes and missed opportunities.

We invited the best planners, officiants, florists and other vendors to weigh in.

Here are 8 common wedding mistakes… and how you can solve them!

#1: Stressful and chaotic family photos.

SOLUTION: Make a detailed list of every person, in every group portrait.

Your wedding is one of the few times your entire extended family will be together. Most couples want to capture family portraits. However, this family photo session quickly spins out of control without careful planning. Your emotions are already running high. You’re distracted and eager to move on to other activities. You’re standing around with a dozen family members trying to decide who should be in which photo. It’s chaotic and stressful! That’s why we work with all of our couples to plan a list. It’s the best thing you can to do help the photo session run smoothly. Make a list of every person in every grouping. Your photographer will call out names. With this process, your family portraits will be finished three or four times faster! You’ll also make sure you get every photo you want, so no loved ones will be forgotten or skipped over.

#2. Disorganized timeline.

SOLUTION: Create a detailed, thoughtful and organized timeline.

Planning your timeline can feel like an arduous task but getting your timing right on your wedding day can make all the difference for you, your guests and your vendors. Before getting started, consider what moments or activities are most important to you and start putting together the pieces from there. Some very important elements happen before the guests arrive so make a schedule for the whole day and don’t skimp on the details. Some helpful tips for creating a seamless day include leaving enough time for getting ready without feeling rushed, scheduling as many formal photos as you can before guest arrival giving you more time to spend with your guests when they arrive, creating a 15-minute buffer between transitions (from ceremony to cocktail hour or from cocktail hour to dinner) and of course giving yourselves plenty of time at the end of the night to kick off your shoes, enjoy the company and DANCE! 

Finn Events

#3. Your cocktails are boring.

SOLUTION: Create a signature cocktail. Your guests will love being invited into your story!

If you’re like most couples, you’re probably planning to serve alcohol at your reception. Your drinks should be much more than a way for your guests to get tipsy. Think of your cocktails as a way to create a memorable experience. Your bartender is your partner. Create a signature cocktail that’s all about your story as a couple. Your guests will love it! It’s so much more interesting than offering the standard selection of drinks. For example, think about what drinks you enjoy. How can you customize it? One couple recently told their bartender they love vodka. She thought they were a sweet couple, so she added Triple Sec to the cocktail, and called it “Wacky Macke” – a play on their last name. “It was the talk at the counter,” said the bartender! In fact, guests loved the special cocktail so much, they asked for it at another event, too! “It’s all about listening to the couple. Mix and match, make a hashtag, and make the day so much more memorable.”

#4. Kids get disruptive with nothing to do.

SOLUTION: Find creative and meaningful jobs for children at your ceremony.

You already know you’ll be faced with an important decision: whether or not to allow children. Little ones can bring joy and enthusiasm to your special day. But they can also quickly get bored and potentially disruptive. Here’s a solution to the boredom problem: give kids a special assignment. Make handmade signs for them to hold at the entrance of the ceremony. For example, kids can hold a sign reminding guests to “turn off cellphones”. If you’re doing to put a sign there anyway, why not bring some enjoyment to a child and let them hold it? This is a cute way to disclose ceremony preferences that your guests may actually read!

Thanks to Annemarie Juhlian for this great solution! Annemarie is a Non-Denominational Seattle-based Wedding Celebrant and Officiant.

#5. Your guests are merely spectators at your ceremony.

SOLUTION: Have the courage to break the mold. Involve your guests in unexpected ways, such as a group blessing of the rings.

You’ve invited your guests for a reason, right? You want them to share in the love and joy of your marriage. A wedding ceremony doesn’t need to be a “one-way” communication to your guests. In other words, your guests will love if they’re participants in your ceremony, not merely sitting in their chairs silently. Many couples go through the motions of a ceremony because they think they’re supposed to, not because they want to. It doesn’t have to be this way! Partner with your officiant to involve your guests in unique ways. For example, invite everyone to stand and bless the wedding rings together. Invite guests up on their feet. Ask them to join hands. To symbolize the never-ending symbolism behind your rings, have your wedding party circle you. The key is to ensure your Officiant delivers a heartfelt and upbeat blessing of your rings with group response. If orchestrated well, this can make for a most memorable moment.

#6. Cocktail Hour turns into Cocktail Two-Hour

Cocktail Hour Creep. It happens all the time. And it’s a real bummer for your guests. While the couple is taking pictures, your guests are standing around with a dwindling amount of food and drinks. They’re bored, hungry and wondering what’s going on. One of the main causes for a long cocktail “hour” is a delay during the family portrait process. You can avoid this by taking pictures before the ceremony or working with your photographer to plan a more streamlined portrait session if you need to wait until after the ceremony.

Don’t leave your guests looking around wondering what is going to happen next if one part of your wedding is taking too long to get through. A common complaint guests have is attending a wedding that drags between events. The solution: Have an organized timeline that keeps the events of the day moving forward. Have your cocktail hour be an actual hour, don’t leave too much time after dinner before you begin toasts and place your special dances and cake cutting together so you can keep your guests attention focused at one time.

Shiloh Abbott / The Bubbly Soirée

#7. Your food is bland, boring and cliche.

Your wedding reception will likely be one of the most memorable meals of your lifetime, so why serve your guest bland or boring food? Before booking your event, do some research to find a caterer that fits your taste. Most caterers are happy to create custom dishes that work for your event. Do you have a family recipe you want to incorporate, or favorite dish from a local restaurant? Great! Adding a bit of your personality into the meal is bound to keep your guests talking about the food for years after your wedding. Even better, get your guests involved with interactive food stations, serving the meal family style, or allowing guests to choose their entrée are great ways to have your guests feel connected to the meal. Bring all your ideas to the table during planning with your caterer and let the creativity flow!

Landmark Events Co.

#8. Empty rows at the front of your ceremony.

Many couples want their closest family and friends to sit in the front of the ceremony. You may be thinking about putting “reserved” signs on the first two rows. It’s a great idea with great intentions. However, the problem arises when nobody knows who those seats are actually reserved for! The front rows end up being mostly empty except for your family who is part of the processional. That’s definitely not the intention! But this has a simple solution.

SOLUTION – Communicate with your family ahead of time. Tell them they’re supposed to sit in those “reserved” seats. They’ll feel so happy to be included, and grateful to know you’ve reserved a spot for them in front.