Let’s face it: planning a wedding isn’t always a walk in the park.

Sure, it’s exciting and inspiring to check out all the details, dresses, jewelry, exotic locations and honeymoon destinations. But there is a lot to do and everyone and their mother (and your mother) seems to have an opinion about your day.

If you don’t watch out for these common mistakes, you could end up with a wedding day nightmare. On the other hand, being aware of these mistakes means you can avoid them, and having an unforgettable wedding day is guaranteed.

MISTAKE #1 – Forgetting to leave an ample space of time between your ceremony and reception.

In life and especially when it comes to planning a wedding everything takes longer than you think.

If you have your ceremony and reception at the same location…

Or if you leave exactly enough time for the 8 minute drive between the church and the reception hall…

You will be stressed, miserable and end up with a wedding album where you are frowning on every page.

Do yourself a favor and allow MORE time than you think you will need between the ceremony and reception. Your guests are creative enough to find something to do with themselves.

Use your wedding professionals as the expert resources that they are. Ask them how long they recommend for getting ready, dealing with receiving lines and taking photos.

MISTAKE #2 – Hiring amateurs or friends for your wedding day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of including your guests in the wedding day. By all means, have Aunt Sally sing “Ave Maria” for your ceremony or ask your brother to perform a song he wrote on guitar.

But don’t expect amateurs and hobbyists to deliver a professional performance at your wedding.

There will be awkward gaps. They will miss some of those important moments. An amateur won’t know what to do when something goes wrong, which usually means that things will get worse.

If you like your friends and family…and you’d like to keep it that way…don’t hire them for your wedding day.

*WARNING: If you decide to hire an amateur or a talented friend to provide a service for your wedding day, make sure you adjust your expectations. If less a than perfect performance is going to make you unhappy, don’t do it.

MISTAKE #3 – Waiting until the last minute to plan the ceremony.

Here’s a true story:

Jill and Kevin found the perfect wedding location at a rustic winery on the hilltop near the couple’s home. They plunked down a big deposit, booked the band and photographer. Then they started looking at churches…

None of the Catholic churches in the area would agree to marry them because they weren’t members. The beautiful Methodist Church was already booked up on their date and the only church available was in a run down school house with no heat or air conditioning.

Their parents were outraged that Jill and Kevin weren’t getting married in a Catholic church. The couple faced the painful decision of dealing with parental rage and an ugly, overheated church or losing a large chunk of change in lost deposits.

If you are planning a ceremony in a location separate from your reception, make sure that you can find an available, acceptable church or space BEFORE you book your venue.

If you have your heart set on a particular church or minister, make sure they are open before you put down your deposit. Otherwise, you can find yourself facing some tough decisions.

MISTAKE #4 – Forgetting to plan for Bad Weather.

If you don’t carefully consider the effect of the weather for your specific location at that specific time of year, then you can end up with a wedding day disaster.

True story:

Sara and Bob were getting married at the beautiful Mills Mansion on the banks of a river. Beautiful views, gorgeous mansion, amazing gardens. Of course, they imagined their wedding day on a perfect June afternoon.

Instead, they ended up with a monsoon.

They didn’t have sides for the tent, so the guests got soaked. The DJ moved onto the tiny dance floor to protect his equipment, which meant there was no room for dancing. Guests slogged through the mud for five miserable hours.

Before you chose your location, consider the worst case scenario.

What if it rains? What if it is blistering hot? What if it snows?

Make sure that you are comfortable with your ceremony and reception location in EVERY possible situation.

MISTAKE #5 – Having an unrealistic “day of” timeline or no timeline at all.

Everything takes more time than you think.

Even some of our smartest brides, the ones who are always on time for everything, end up rushed and panicked on their wedding day because they didn’t allow for extra time.

If you fall behind schedule on your wedding day, there is no catching up. You can’t get those minutes back. Your party ends at the contracted time whether you’re ready or not. There is nothing more painful than watching a bride who can’t relax and enjoy her day.

Get realistic estimates for the time it takes to do something, then add on some extra time for good measure.

MISTAKE #6 – Planning to do anything “extra” the week before the wedding.

When you’re planning a wedding, your To Do List seems to grow by the minute. It’s natural that certain things get bumped to the bottom of the list.

Don’t plan anything, and I mean anything AT ALL, to do that last week.

Leaving something undone at the last minute guarantees that you will either a) have something critical forgotten or unfinished or b) drive yourself so crazy trying to get everything done last minute that you don’t enjoy your wedding day.

Make sure your due date on all tasks is at least two weeks prior to the wedding. Believe me, you’ll have plenty to do the week before.

MISTAKE #7 – Trying to please everyone.

Every website and book on wedding planning seems to know the “right way” to plan a wedding. You have family and friends who are more than happy to tell you what THEY think you should do.

Trying to make everyone happy is exhausting. Plus, it’s an effort that’s doomed to fail.

Choose your battles. If something is really important to you, stick to your guns. You won’t be able to make everyone happy anyway. Make sure you make yourself happy.

If you’ve already made some of these mistakes, never fear. Now that you know, you can fix them. Being prepared is the best way to avoid a wedding day disaster.

And if you haven’t made any of these mistakes, CONGRATULATIONS! Learn from the brides who have gone before you. Have fun planning your wedding and decide to make it your best day ever, no matter what.

You’re marrying the one you love. In the end, how can that ever be a disaster?

Happy planning!

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