How to Plan Your Wedding: When To Do What (Part II)

The last blog post I wrote was all about how to plan your wedding — from moment of engagement until the final steps. What I didn’t include were things to know for the day of and miscellaneous things that come up whilst planning your wedding. That’s what I’m going to do here!

For the Day

  1. Put other people in charge! Your wedding party and friends and family should be able to help you with some last minute things that need to happen. Also, be sure that you don’t forget any of the top 5 things people forget! This means that you should make sure you have things like safety pins, bandaids, and tissues. But also make sure someone takes care of your personal stuff (like your camera).
  2. Someone will need to: set-up the guestbook, give money to vendors (and be sure to tip the vendors!), transport flowers, hold emergency items, put out the favors, and place cards with the info on your online photo album website!
  3. Remember to EAT during the reception!
  4. Clean-up & Recycling. Make sure you put people in charge of cleaning up and/or recycling. This should be planned for in advance, but someone in the wedding party should make sure it gets done — especially if it’s not something the venue does for you. By the way, consider donating leftovers to a foodbank.
  5. Stay calm, have fun, and enjoy the moments! Here are some tips for staying calm & tips to make sure you enjoy every moment.

Miscellaneous Wedding Planning

I referred to some of these aspects of wedding planning in the Part I, but here’s everything compiled:

  1. Children-free weddings:
    1. whether to have children or not
    2. how to tell your guests that their children may not attend.
  2. Registries:
    1. what to do about wedding gifts (generally – for both you & the guests)
    2. tips on the gift registry
    3. how to tell people where you’re registered
    4. how to ask for gift cards or money instead of gifts
    5. how to deal with anonymous or unlabeled gifts
    6. what to do if you need to return or exchange a gift
  3. Wedding insurance
    1. All about wedding insurance
  4. Showers, Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties, Rehearsal dinners, Afterparty, Honeymoon: While this blog focuses on wedding planning, it’s important to think about these aspects of the pre- and post-wedding. Some families and friends assume that all five will take place. Others don’t find them necessary! You should do what YOU want!
  5. Staying together the night before: Consider whether you want to stay together the night before the wedding or not. Tradition says you should stay separately, but some couples find it more soothing to be with the love of their lives on one of the most stressful nights.
  6. Thank you notes
    1. when to send thanks especially when gifts come before the wedding date
    2. tips on writing thank you notes!
  7. Being charitable: How to get married AND be charitable at the same time!
  8. Wedding photos: Many times, the best part of the post-wedding is seeing the candid shots that your friends and family took. But a lot of times they’re all over the place on different websites. Make sure all your guests’ upload their photos into ONE online photo album! Give out the website info at the wedding, sign up in advance so The Wedding Lens can send reminder emails, and write the info into your thank you notes! Either way, make sure your photos are easily accessible, viewable, and downloadable!

Remember to check out our Green Wedding Tips and our Cheap Wedding Tips to help save your wallet & save the environment!

Still have questions? Email me!

~ Natasha

How To Tell Guests About Your Online Wedding Photo Album!

Guests can share their candid photos from your wedding! Photo from The Wedding Lens!

A friend from The Green Hanger Shop recently asked me about how couples can let their guests know about their online photo albums. After all, one of the easiest aspects of using The Wedding Lens is that you just enter in people’s email addresses and they get a notification (and reminders!) so that the couple doesn’t have to worry about contacting people individually.

Our friend, however, pointed out that not everyone has email! Grandma, for example, is definitely not techno-savvy enough to have email. But she does have a nice neighbor who can help her look at the photos online, if only she knew where they were! With that in mind, here’s how you can let your guests know about your online photo album:

  • Email: As I said, you just enter in the email addresses, The Wedding Lens sends invitations AND reminders!
  • Printed cards: Stylish mini business cards with your album URL and access code for your guests to take home from the wedding OR for you to include with thank you notes. This comes FREE with the Ultimate albums, but you can order it separately with Standard and Premium albums.
  • Thank you cards: Just include your album URL and access code as part of your thank you note. You can handwrite it in if you dont want to print cards for it.  
  • Programs or Name Cards: You can also include the album URL and access code somewhere that everyone can see it and bring it home with them: in the program or on the name cards. This obviously requires you to sign up for an album early so that you have that information in time for your printers!

Got other ideas? Let us know! We’re always looking for clever ways to help our happy couples let their guests know about their photo albums.

~ Natasha

Wedding Question: When to Send Thanks?


A Sample Save the Date from Wedding Paper Divas!

 I am getting married later this year, but we’re already getting some of the gifts we registered for! Should we send thank you notes now, or wait until after the wedding?

Good question! First of all, thank YOU for writing thank you notes!

The “rule” is that you should send a thank you note as soon as you receive a gift. That way, there’s not a lot of time that passes between the gift giving and the thanks — which is very much appreciated by the gift givers! Plus, this will make it so much easier on you. You won’t have a billion thank you notes to send at one time if you stay on top of the thank you cards.

Also note: you should handwrite the cards! Don’t use pre-printed thank you cards. It’s not thoughtful and it shows less gratitude.

Remember to check & re-check who sent the gift; the last thing you want is to thank the wrong person for the gift!

Also, if you’re looking for what to write in a thank you note: greet the guest, express gratitude for the specific gift, give an example of what it will be used for, and thank them for attending or for thinking of you. Wedding Paper Divas suggest that if you do not like the gift, say something like “Thank you! I will think of you everytime I use it.” Just remember, someone spent money on you and that is very kind!

Hope this helps!

~ Natasha

How to Deal with Anonymous or Unlabeled Gifts

Two friends who recently got married received a package in the mail — something they were so excited to get and couldn’t wait to thank the gift giver. BUT there was no card and no indication of who sent it. What to do?

photo from marie claire

photo from marie claire

They also have the opposite problem that they didn’t receive gifts from some of their friends and they weren’t sure how to approach it — if at all. They now know that their guests have a full year to send the gift. They also know that times are tough economically and they’re very grateful that their friends joined in their special day.

Here’s my suggestion…. This works for both situations. Wait about 3-6 months (probably 6 months is better) and then send thank you notes to each person who either you haven’t received a gift from or you dont know (because of an unlabeled gift). Thank them SINCERELY for coming to the wedding — and say something personal so that it’s not a form thank you note.  It should come from your heart, a true “thank you so much for coming all the way from [insert place.] we loved having you with us and watching you bust a move on the dance floor!” (I know, I know, but you get the idea).

The thank you does a few things. First, it makes people realize that you really do appreciate that they were there. Second, it might make someone think “Oh yah, that reminds me, I sent that gift and never heard anything — I wonder if I forgot to put my name on it?” and perhaps contact you to say so (and then you know who gave you your new favorite toaster!). Third, it might be a subtle reminder to those who want to get you something that they haven’t done so. This is sensitive though, which is why I strongly emphasize that the thank you MUST be sincere and you should wait AT LEAST three months (and closer to six) before sending something. You dont want to seem like you’re asking for presents — because most of you aren’t!

Do you have another tactic? Good luck!

~ Natasha

Get the gift of all your wedding photos from all your friends in an online photo album!

Tips on the Gift Registry


While I have previously provided some advice for alternatives to the gift registry, I realize that registering for gifts has become a part of standard wedding planning.  After all, it makes it easier on guests to find things that the couple definitely wants. So, with that in mind, here are some tips on how to register for gifts AND things to keep in mind.

  1. Talk about what you and your spouse need before hitting the shops. It will make the registering process easier and less time consuming.
  2. Register for cool things, not just spoons and forks. Yes, you need spoons and forks, but people won’t be satisfied by giving you a place setting. Come up with other things you want and need AND that you would be happy giving as a gift.
  3. DO NOT register for things that you cannot afford to replace.  One night, that plate and maybe a glass is going to fall to the ground and break. I know, it’s sad. But you will have to replace it and if you cannot afford to replace it, you have no business asking someone else to buy it for you. Does that mean you should be able to afford the whole register list? Of course not! But be realistic, not greedy.
  4. Think of items that will work for different price ranges. Some people can afford more than others.
  5. Register for the people you are, not the people you hope to someday be. In other words, if you don’t drink, do not ask for wine glasses because someday you might have a big dinner party and want to serve wine. Seriously.
  6. In terms of kitchen items, remember: space is limited. Your kitchen is not infinite and you won’t use everything, especially if it’s in a storage closet.
  7. Don’t register for things you don’t need, just to fill the space on the registry. It seems obvious, but it’s easy to get carried away with that little barcode reader gun.
  8. Let your guests know where you registered – with invitations, on your wedding website, when asked, etc.
  9. SEND THANK YOU NOTES. Always. Please.

Do you have tips for how to register for wedding gifts?

~ Natasha

To Tip the Vendors, or Not to Tip?

One of the tact questions (and, let’s be honest, budgetary questions) that arises in wedding planning is tipping! I know, you budgeted perfectly and what’s this about a tip?

Tipping a vendor is not required, but it does show the vendor that they have done a good job.  Even if they are charging you a service charge, it doesn’t include a tip for the people who are doing the actual work. So, how much do you tip? (Before I start on this, most people are horrified by the idea of you putting out a tip jar so that your guests can tip.)

 WeddingLenox Blog has an interesting formula for figuring it out. They suggest creating an excel spreadsheet that includes a list of all the vendors you are using and the cost of each of those services. For some services you can tip per person and some you can tip a certain percentage of the total fee. Then, if your total far exceeds what you expected to pay, you can adjust (and Excel — as WeddingLenox points out — is fabulous because it recalculates the total for you). Okay, so for example – you can pay your musicians something like $25 per person and you can pay the photographer 10% of their fee. Some websites indicate that the tip should be somewhere between 5%  & 10%, although others say that it should be like tipping at a restaurant – with about a 15-22% tip.

ElizabethAnnDesigns Blog has another list of tips so you are tipping correctly. For example, they suggest tipping the waiters or the delivery person, not the catering company or the florist.  (That said, they also suggest that you tip the person you contracted with so that they can distribute the money…. I’m not sure how you handle that, though!) If you calculate the tip based on the percentage (eg 10%) then you should subtract the cost of equipment rentals, service charges, and sales taxes.  You do NOT need to tip your day of coordinator.

If you want more specific numbers and percentages for each services, HERE is a list of the service and how much ($ or percentage) is expected).  And HERE is another list.

Other tips (get it?): Get a family member or coordinator to distribute the tips. Put them each in a separate envelope for easy distribution. Send THANK YOU notes to your vendors afterwards!

Do you have advice? What did you do?

~ Natasha

Writing to Say Thanks!

The wedding is over, the guests are gone, the presents are opened… now what?  Say thanks! It might seem obvious to most people, but I am still awaiting a “thanks” from the very first friend wedding I attended (about 6 years ago). I don’t think it’s coming. And while I know the couple has been busy, you should never be too busy to thank people for their generosity and/or for attending your celebration.


As John recently wrote, thank you cards are the perfect way to introduce to your guests. This means that not only do your guests feel thanked, but you might get some photos out of it too!

The Wedding Paper Divas suggest sending a thank you note that includes a photo from your wedding day.  In fact, the Divas offer a wide range of Thank You cards – all of which are designed, sent to you, & approved by you via email.

The Wedding Bee suggests doing a clever photo montage through something like Shutterfly so that your guests can remember various scenes from your wedding.

Are you creative? Elizabeth Anne Designs gives instructions for do-it-yourself doily thank you cards. It’s creative but might take a little more time to complete.

That said, any kind of thank you card will do! If you’re on a budget, pick up a package of “thank you” cards from any local store.

But please, don’t wait a year (or more!) to thank your guests.

~ Natasha