When it comes to the intricate planning of your wedding it really is – as the wise sages of our time, Blink182, once memorably declared: all the small things. A wedding is a vast undertaking. Between saying ‘yes’ and saying ‘I do’ there are a million and one things to consider and the aspects you are most likely to forget in this maelstrom of planning are the tiny puzzle pieces of your day. Beyond the dress, the venue and the caterer, these are the often overlooked essentials, the small-ticket items that will either help your day run more smoothly, tie everything together or give it that extra delicious flourish.
So, here is our essential guide to the little things that will make up your Big Day.
This is something which feels small but can have a huge impact. This is why it is good to have this discussion in the early stages of planning. How green would you like your wedding to be, and how possible is it to make it sustainable?
Have conversations with your venue and suppliers about their eco-credentials and factor sustainability into your decisions- consider evites over paper invites, eco-conscious suppliers, locally sourced caterers and even carbon neural diamonds (more on which later).
Related article: How To Plan A Sustainable Wedding
A small thing that is, of course, not so small at all. It is one of the first budgetary hurdles you will face and also one of the first sustainable ones, so whilst you won’t forget it, you may miss why it is such an important crossroads. Have you always dreamed of gorgeous keep-it-forever stationery? Then this is something to dedicate some money to. If choosing the splendid tactility of a paper invite, it is also worth exploring the various creative options at your disposal- artistic renderings of your venue, hand painted creations? Or, maybe stationery is not a deal-breaker and you would rather divert your funds elsewhere while also making your wedding eco-conscious. Then evites are the way to go.
‘The invitation itself should only contain the primary information; your names, who is inviting, the date and the name of the location,’ says Lewis Stevenson of luxury stationery company Leeming Brothers. ‘What is often forgotten are all of the other details. You need to include in the envelope (or evite) the timings, (the times you would like guests to arrive, before the ceremony actually starts), the full venue and reception address (this should not be on the invitation), the dress code, details on whether children are invited, a gift list if you have one and accommodation and taxi info. If you have people coming from further afield it always goes down well if you can do a bit of research on places to stay and their proximity to the venue as they will be unsure as they are unlikely to be from the area in question, and then they also have the details to be able to get home once the night is over!’
As for when to send your invites, this largely depends on how many details you want to have fixed in order to give your guests as much info as possible. Traditionally, you would send your invitations 2-3 months before the wedding, but with increasingly jam-packed wedding seasons and a propensity to get hitched abroad, the easiest thing to do is to allow 3-4 months as a minimum. This is where an early-doors, save-the-date comes in: for even if the bulk of details have not been ironed out, once the guest list is agreed upon and the venue booked, send the message to ensure you snag even the busiest of guests.
Related article: The Hottest Stationery Trends of 2023
The Wedding Website
One of the smallest but perhaps most significant details of wedding planning is the website. Though not essential, this is one of the best ways to keep your guests updated on all details pertaining to the big day. The great thing about the online system is that it is never too late to make amendments and it serves as one big administration and information database for you and your guests!
There are myriad options out there, which allow you to personalise, design and build a website to suit your needs and style. Some of the best and easiest to use are Joy, Say I Do, Hitched and Getting Married. ‘When choosing the right site for you, consider ease of use for you when putting together your site and ease of access for your guests,’ says Dom Beaven, the CEO of incredible wedding website builder, Getting Married. ‘You’ll also want to be able to make your site reflect any design theme you have in mind, so really flexible design choices are always good. Think ahead about managing your guest list and RSVP’s. A good guest list manager and flexible online RSVP options are crucial.’
The scheduled events of the wedding are (unless you are having a 24-hour wedding- in which case good for you) not covering every single meal for those who will be around, and it’s these gastronomical gaps you need to consider.
For starters, what about food and bubbles for bridesmaids and groomsmen while getting ready. Will the venue be equipped to serve lunch/will you be going out for lunch or making it yourself? There are also plenty of other little foodie extras to remember. Have you thought of midnight snacks for party goers or how to make snacks and treats a special element of the wedding? How inventive do you want to be with dessert?
Also- don’t forget to figure out who is feeding your on-the-day suppliers and where- and by that I mean people on the day like your photographer and, if relevant, your band and DJ. Your caterer should be able to organise this, and may even have this included in the price, or offer a supplier’s special meal. Make sure to double check all your contracts though, as some suppliers stipulate that they be fed the same meal as the guests.
Ever since the first influencer took an aerial view of their food; how we design our tables has become as much a part of dinner plans as the dish itself. But for even the most ardent fan of a well-groomed centrepiece, there are tons of small details that can slip through the net here.
‘Think about challenging your floorplan layout and looking at how you can create a more unique experience for your guests. Perhaps it is a mixture of long and round tables which also look incredible from above!’ advises says Alice Wilkes, founder of Alice Wilkes Design. ‘Always think about the width of your table. Allowing the crockery, glassware and florals to all have their moment without overcrowding the other is an important part of Tablescaping. No-one wants to rummage through the table runner to find their wine glass!’
‘Adding layers to your tablescape doesn’t just stop at the crockery and stationery selection,’ she adds. ‘An additional layer such as a bow, allows another design moment on the tablescape that could also be personalised with guest initials or the wedding date,” Wilkes adds.
Related article: The Prettiest Tablescapes
The Seating Chart
Everyone always tells you that the seating chart is something which seems fun, but which will actually cause you untold stress and sleepless nights. Who should sit next to whom? Who is speaking or not speaking to whom? But whilst you may pat yourself on the back for solving this social Rubik’s cube, don’t rest on your laurels and forget to actually produce/procure a map of this for your guests. Though we knew where everyone was sitting and we had the name cards sorted, this was something we genuinely forgot until the last minute. Thankfully there are tons of great options online (Papier make a wonderful, cost-effective one, in various sizes) and you should also consider sourcing some from independent creators on sites like Etsy. You can, of course, opt to make it yourself – perhaps enlisting any artistic pals – which is a fun and popular choice.
This is an easily overlooked small detail as there is sneakily a lot more than you would think – from name cards to orders of service to menus for the tables and even potentially the bar. Think of it as an opportunity to get creative. Some couples have used their menus to show off beautiful hand-painted designs, or have even made them fabric Binky Felstead’s linen menus: You can also get creative with order of services- in size and style- and can source from myriad incredible printers, like Leeming and Gee or even get your own design printed, with the help of companies like The London Printers.
‘Why not opt for a personalised poem for each guest or an illustrated portrait to show guests where they are seated?,’ suggests Alice Wilkes. ‘Their reactions and that extra effort to make your guests feel special will not go unnoticed. Including bespoke stationery to your event design is something that will never be forgotten and most guests take this home as a memento.’
Related article: A First Look At Binky And Max’s Stunning Tablescape By Moriarty
Signage is another small but potentially incredibly destabilising facet of the day that is frequently forgotten. Check if this is covered by your venue or if you will have to provide, and if you are organising in a private venue, like a family house, this is even more important. For you may know the ‘flow’ of events by heart, but don’t forget that most of your guests will need signs to point out where certain things are, from toilets to the dance floor to the bar. Far from being a boring bit of admin, it can actually be a great opportunity to get inventive.
Without them, your wedding will chug along perfectly fine, but with them, it’s so much better. These can be as big as fireworks or photo booths, or as delightful as sparklers or coloured smoke, or even as seemingly vital but easily overlooked as confetti. There can also be little gaps which need filling. One of these is music. You may have the ceremony and party covered but what about the drinks reception or dinner? This may mean booking something special- like a roaming guitarist or saxophonist or simply curating your ideal Spotify playlist, connecting this to a speaker and delegating the switching on of the music to a trustworthy member of the wedding party. We did this and it worked a treat. It also means I can listen to the playlist now and I’m instantly transported back to my wedding day.
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The Wedding Rings
Exchanging rings on the day itself only works if you haven’t forgotten them. Surprisingly, this something frequently left to the last minute as couples tend to put more energy into THE engagement ring than the bands. But this is one of those fun smaller tasks that, of course, long outlasts the day itself. This can be an opportunity to opt for something more sustainable, like a lab-grown diamond from Sky Diamond, the world’s first carbon neutral diamond. or to invest in something eternally classic from traditional jewellers like Boodles or David Morris.
The Gift Registry
This will actually take longer than you think to put together but setting aside time to do this as a couple is actually a really fun task and can be a nice break from the arduous nature of wedding planning. There are some amazing list builders out there, like The Wedding Present Company, that allow you to curate collections from various incredible brands, and even start a money fund: for honeymoons, renovations or even charity.
‘When curating your list, it is also important to be mindful of your guests and ensure that you cater to all budgets. Our Wedding List Advisors can review your list and support you in tailoring it to offer a range of options to accommodate various price points, guaranteeing a well-rounded selection for your guests to choose from,’ says Katie Stothard of The Wedding Present Company. ‘Ultimately, your wedding list should reflect you as a couple, so consider ways in which you may make it personal to you. Your guests will love buying you a gift they know you will love and cherish for a lifetime.
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The trimmings to your outfit are everything from earrings to hair clips and the shoes you are going to change into for the party to the bag you will need to house things like your lipstick and (if relevant) your speech. -mine was my late godmother’s vintage clutch bag that she left me in her will and it was a lovely way to honour her. Your wedding is also a great opportunity to branch out into something a little more spectacular when it comes to accessories, like a tiara: or to invest in some truly special wedding specific pieces, from Jimmy Choo or Christian Louboutin’s dedicated bridal boutiques.
These can be as fun and personal as you like but are a really nice extra touch. These needn’t be extravagant gifts, but can be individual messages, like Jamie Laing and Sophie Habboo’s personalised notes for each guest. We hand-made illustrated cards for the wedding party as well as giving them tiny shot glasses with ‘meet us at the bar’ on them. What we ended up with were a LOT of people harassing us for tequila after dinner!
You may have snagged yourself a horse and carriage or a vintage Rolls but…do you know how your guests are getting around? As ever, necessity is the mother of inventive wedding solutions, and there can be so many fun options
This doesn’t, however, even necessarily mean that you are providing transport but, and this is especially the case if you are getting married in the middle of nowhere; be mindful and help your guests with as much info as possible- cab companies, rental, trains etc. If your wedding is only as good as your guests, it is a good idea to make sure they turn up.
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The Set-Up & The Schedule
These are the little things it is easiest to forget- the components of where you are both getting ready and what you will need. Do you have a place for make up/plugs for hairdryers, a place to hang up your dress safely/a full length mirror etc? Make a list of what you know you will need on the day itself and ensure that the surroundings facilitate that.
For you and your wedding party, a tight schedule on who needs to be there and when is an essential component of making sure that your day runs as smoothly as possible. Make sure you have this ironed out a month or so before the big day and make sure those involved are aware of all the timings and tasks. This can be online, in a restricted area of the wedding website reserved for select wedding party members only, or a simple shared google doc or whatsapp group. Some couples even opt for a good old fashioned binder for all helpers on the day.
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A sweet last part of wedmin to be done after the day/honeymoon- though something worth thinking about before the wedding; especially if you have anyone you would like to thank on the day itself- like mothers and mothers-in-law- groomsmen and bridesmaids gifts. LINK: We sent out Cowshed vouchers and flowers before the wedding as thanks for some of out biggest helpers, and pre-ordered personalised stationery with our married surname on for our thank you cards so we could tackle these when we got back from honeymoon. On the day itself, we did gift bags for the bridesmaids (with personalised bracelets and Gigi & Olive fans) and ties for the groomsmen- a tradition in my husband’s friendship group as they have all been each other’s groomsmen so, as he was the last to get married, they now all have a tie from each other’s weddings.
Again, it’s the little things that, so often, count….
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