As I do have a few friends getting married this year I will dust off some old practical things I learned while getting married. Depending on the size of your wedding some things may apply while others may not...take whatever nuggets you may find in this post :)
First and foremost...SHOES!!!! I simply can't stress enough how important the shoes are in your wedding, and I don't mean how they look...I mean how they FEEL! Some of my girlfriends suffered the task of bridal shoe shopping with me and looked on precariously as I waved shoes in the face of sales ladies complaining of pointed, 4 inch heels shaped like mini devices of torture.
All I wanted was a practical, comfortable shoe. Was that too much to ask for?? Apparently it was as it took me months to find a pair (and I secretly think they were actually meant for a high school graduation). Still, the shoe looked comfortable and the heel was manageable and yet by 7pm I was ready to cry with every step I took. My mistake, I only wore them twice around the house to break them in. Honestly, it would have taken at least 10 wears at several hours each time to maybe break them in. Wedding shoes are designed for looks, not for comfort - simple as that. I had heard of many women switching to flip flops part way through the evening but I ended up barefoot as I simply didn't think it would happen to me as I chose the 'practical' shoe with a low heel and a square toe - duh!
Learning from my sister-in-law the best way to approach the wedding shoe problem is to simply buy that stunning pair of shoes you must have that matches your dress. Don't put that shoe on until you're about 10 minutes from walking down the aisle. Then, as soon as you're done with the ceremony switch into ballet slipper type shoes, or flip-flops, or something UBER comfortable. Drive to your photo shoot, put your stunning shoes back on, finish photos, put comfortable shoes back on, keep doing this all night! When you do meet up with the rest of your guests at dinner walk into the room in your stunning shoes but have someone put your comfy shoes under the table so you don't have to wear them until your first dance. Once that first dance is done, those stunning shoes will go into the closet to be looked at about once every 5 years, or every time you move and wonder what's in that box.
If you're getting married in the summer and you are getting photos done outside, sunscreen is a must. You might think 'oh, we'll only be out for a short period of time' but trust me, a sunburn on your wedding day...when everyone wants to hug you to pieces...is not a good idea. Better to smell a tad like sunscreen than to be super sore.
Photo shoots can be long and a bit boring so make sure you put someone, really anyone other than yourself, in charge of putting together a kit of items like sunscreen, towels (for man sweat, to cover dresses when you eat or to sit on), drinks, light snacks, etc together that can be carried from photo site to photo site - you'll use it more than you know!
Go over your guest list multiple times, nothing is more embarrassing than forgetting the name of someone as you try to introduce them to your family or friends. There might be a few people you haven't met before so even see if you can get a picture of them prior to the wedding so you have an idea who is who.
Your fiance is your co-planner. You decided to get married together so you should split up the work together. Men like taking care of things like music, and transportation but whatever you do, do not let them get out of the work of thank you cards. Thank you cards can get tiresome after the 3rd shower and then all the wedding gifts. Your new hubby can lend a hand. Give them a sample of what to say, if you don't do this they'll likely complain they don't know how to do it and try to weasel out of it. Some people like to split it up so wife takes care of her family/friends and hubby takes care of his family/friends.
The DJ can make or break a wedding reception. Good God take the 30 minutes one night to go see that DJ in action at someone else's wedding or you might end up getting tons of Celine Dion during dinner and 50 Cent and Lil' Kim as your first dance songs *shudder*. Though we took the time to meet with the company we hired, we didn't realize we were not getting the actual person we spoke to until it was too late to meet with them. We filled out a form giving SPECIFIC instructions that we did not want any Kenny G, Celine Dion, or anything of that nature, nor did we want rap music with the original lyrics (with swears). When Lil' Kim's 'How Many Licks' started playing the look of horror that crossed my face could have been used in any Hitchcock film, all I could think was 'My GRANDMA is listening to this!?!?'. Plus the DJ refused my mom's requests, yep - the Mother Of The Bride!! So, lesson learned - take the time to meet the DJ.
Cut down your toasts or find a way to incorporate them throughout the dinner so people don't have to sit through 2 + hours of toasts. I was at 1 wedding where 3 people, in 3 different toasts told variations of the same story about the bride. It was a pretty boring story to start with so to hear it 3 times was torture. Though, not the same kind of torture that my friend sat through when they listened to 4 hours (yes, FOUR HOURS) of speeches and then everyone just left - there wasn't even a dance to make you feel like you sat through all that for a purpose! Tell your family/friends to keep it brief, no more than 5 minutes. I'm sure they can make their point within that time limit and still make it a beautiful night for you all. Same thing with slide shows, they can be a really nice touch but as long as they're only around 10 minutes.
Here's a few other brief points to think about:
If you're going to have an open mike at your wedding, be prepared for someone to abuse it as someone always does
Consider having a donation box for when your guests ask you to kiss - we raised around $50 for the Canadian Cancer Society!
Eat that top tier of cake, I know it's meant for your 1 year wedding anniversary but honestly it's a gamble if it will last that long (the cake not the marriage :) . Instead save a bottle of champagne as that won't go bad!
Carry money in your purse, you don't think you'll need it but you would be surprised at how it will come in handy and then you don't have to borrow from other people.
Get the thank you cards out to people within 2 months. It is a shame when a guest doesn't get thanked for their contribution towards your home with your new partner. They WILL feel slighted.
If you have attendants recognize that even though it is your special day they are not made out of money. They buy their dress (or tux rental), they buy shoes, and jewelry and shower gifts and wedding gifts and throw you showers and stagettes/stags, and on and on and on. Get them something nice and personal, write them a letter letting them know how much their efforts mean to you and if you can - try to pick up the costs of the outfit they are required to wear as the only reason they are doing it is because they love you and you asked them to.
Anyway, I could probably write a book on this subject. I'm sure some of my suggestions are uncouth in the wedding world but I still do believe them to be practical ;)
Good luck to all of you!
P.S. MOST important, leave yourself a bit of room at the end of the night to actually reflect with your new spouse. You'll be surprised how you remember things a little differently or what moments were the most important to each of you. A touching way to finish off that special day.