Every bride wants the perfect wedding. Older brides bring a level of confidence and shall I say it, a take charge attitude to the planning process. This attitude should not be confused with control issues, which we also probably have! However you want to categorize it, implementing these 11 items will make your wedding day a success.

1. Unplug Your Guests! Yep, that’s right have them turn off their smart-phones, I-pads and any other device that has a screen, camera or wireless connection. Formal studies have shown when people unplug from their devices they are more engaged with their surroundings and each other. They enjoy the experience of the moment.

After all the hard work you went through to hire the perfect Photographer and Videographer and all the months of planning your special event, the last thing you need is for your guests to photo-bomb your wedding ceremony by using their smart-devices.

You can mention it on your invite if you so dare but definitely have a sign made and placed at the entry to your ceremony site that states your ceremony is an “Unplugged” event. Make a specific request of your guests to turn off their devices and respect the sacredness of the ceremony.

2. Reserve Seating for Family & Close Friends – Think photo opportunities. All the people you love are together in one place, dressed up in their wedding finery and smiling, because you are getting married!

This is one of those situations where guests can become shy and choose to not sit up close because they don’t know what is appropriate. Communicate with both sides of the aisle and let your family and close friends know where you would like them to sit.

Tell them to look for their “Reserved for___” cards at the ceremony. When guests know what is expected of them, they feel more relaxed, and are better guests. That is priceless.

3. Use a Microphone & Sound System – You spend years dreaming about your wedding, months planning it and then you gather everyone you love in one room to witness you taking your vows…. and no one can hear you! This is a common oversight. It isn’t just the Officiate that needs to use the microphone; the bride, groom and anyone else that speaks or sings should be heard all the way in the back of the room.

If you and your wedding party are microphone shy then assign someone microphone duties. Their job is to hold the microphone up close and personal, so everyone can hear. Yes, it requires another person up there at the altar but trust me, it is worth it! Engage your audience and they will actually enjoy the ceremony!

4. Have a Solid Plan and Set the Stage – This sounds simple but it can’t be overlooked. Know your ceremony plan and stick to it. Type it out. Make sure you and your fiancé are on the same page with each of the elements and how they flow together. Work with your Officiate so they understand what each element is, who the players are and the timing.

Setting the stage is the silent stuff that supports the plan. This means placing the microphone, hiding the amplifier box, and positioning the attendants to frame you and your groom.

This is a performance so ask the Photographer or Videographer if you have questions about visual aesthetics. There are no redo’s of the day so think about the details. These details include all the props; flowers, candles and any other ceremony area decorations. If you are outside make sure all plants in the area are alive and well attended, weeds are gone, sprinklers are off and electrical outlets are close by, easy to access and that they work .

At the very least, when you look at the ceremony site it should make you smile and if you are lucky it should take your breath away every time you look at it.

5. Keep it Personal – Yes, everybody should know your names! Including the Officiate! Spend some time with the person who will be officiating your ceremony, at the very least, type your names (spell them phonetically if they are hard to pronounce) in large fonts and give it to them so there are no awkward moments. I have been to many weddings where the Officiate calls the bride and groom by the wrong names. It pulls the entire audience right out of the moment.

Keeping it personal also means personalizing your ceremony with information or short stories that speak about you and your groom’s journey. This is your ceremony, let it reflect and represent the two of you.

6. Have the Processional Music set the Tone – Use the music to affect your guests and draw them into a sacred environment, however you define that. Music is one of those elements that transcends generations and speaks to everyone. Let your processional music selection set the tone for your ceremony. Choose songs you love, that mean something to you or that just make you happy. Be considerate though of certain restrictions in some buildings or areas.

One young groom had the theme music to Rocky play as he and his groomsmen made their way to the altar. He pumped his fists in achievement as he took his place waiting for his bride.

Another couple had an Aria sung as guests gathered in a candlelit chapel. I had a harp and flute duo play a mixture of classic love songs and Disney theme songs ending with Canon in D as I walked down the aisle. You get the drift….each one created a different ambiance and guests react differently to each.

7. Rehearse – Actually rehearse the ceremony structure, placement of equipment (make sure it all works) and people and make sure everyone (all attendants and participants) are comfortable with their roles. Don’t rush this process. Go through it at least twice and in some areas, three times. All parties will be much more relaxed on the big day if they have rehearsed thoroughly. This is your big day and people really do want to get it right.

8. Have an Exit Strategy – You and your groom will lead the Recessional after the ceremony. Make sure you have an exit strategy beyond that. Knowing where you will go is important. If you are going to take pictures after the ceremony, have a receiving line, or just pop a bottle of champagne and party, have a plan.

Perhaps you just want you and your groom to have a few quiet moments alone together before you re-join your guests or head off for photos. Let your Best Man and Maid of Honor know that so they can handle host duties for a few minutes.
Having your Officiate communicate to your guests what is next for them takes away that feeling of “now what?” They know their exit strategy too. This time after the ceremony can become an awkward transition. Have a strategy.

Also consider how you will exit the reception. A big farewell announcement, special vehicle that whisks you away or a post-midnight after party in your hotel room with a select few might require some planning.

9. Be Present – Take it all in and really look at everything. Take a few minutes with your new husband to stand back and look at your party, observe your guests and see how utterly lovely it all is. Listen as the Officiate as he/she offers the homily, vows and blessing. This is your moment, drink it in and revel in it!

10. Have a Bite to Eat before the Ceremony – Have a little bite before you get dressed for the ceremony. Eat something normal so your stomach reacts kindly. You will probably not eat a lot during the reception and you will need your strength to get through the entire event. If you are going to have an adult beverage after the ceremony it is best to not do this on an empty tummy. Pace yourself and eat something good ahead of time.

11. Wear Stable Shoes – Ultimately it would be great if they were both stable and comfortable. Make sure you are stable as you walk in your gown, at least during the ceremony. It helps to not have your shoes pinching you so your face doesn’t show a grimace as the photographer is snapping shots of you at the altar. Guests may misinterpret your grimace! If you can’t find a comfortable pair, change after the ceremony so you can relax a bit at the reception. You will have a lot more energy to celebrate if your feet don’t hurt!

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