12 Wedding Day Details Not to Miss

The key to a standout celebration? It's the little things that count.
by Anja Winikka

Between venue tours and cake tastings it's easy to forget about the little things when wedding planning, but don't stress—we're about to walk you through them. You might need a little lighting love, a creative guest book idea or a really awesome exit strategy. Whatever boxes you have to check off, get inspired by our tips and tricks for some of the most looked-over planning details. 

  1. 1. Directions and Signage

    Simple wedding day sign with funny phrases
    photo by Reego Photography

    Why: You don't want your guests getting lost between the highway exit and the chapel parking lot. If you spell it out for them, they're more likely to be on time and the entire day has a better chance of running smoothly.
    How to do it: First, include a map or add a link to Google Maps on your wedding website so guests know exactly where they're going. As a safeguard, consider including a map from the ceremony site to the reception venue in your programs or your invites. For the day-of, create signage for each wedding spot (the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception) directing guests where to go.

  2. 2. The Entrance

    Tips on how to craft the perfect ceremony and reception entrace
    photo by Whiskers Willow Photography

    Why: No matter where you wed, first impressions are essential for both the ceremony and reception space. A personalized entryway for both will make your site more welcoming and help guests feel at home immediately.
    How to do it: If you're having an outdoor wedding, hang eucalyptus garlands around door frames or sun-catching glass lanterns on the surrounding trees. For a ballroom, have your florist create an escort card table arrangement with plenty of height so it's the first thing guests see. A rustic affair calls for tons of lanterns lining the pathways.

  3. 3. The Escort Cards

    Escort card display tips
    photo by ONELOVE PHOTOGRAPHY

    Why: When the seating is assigned ahead of time, you save guests the pressure of searching for a seat at the wedding reception. You also guarantee that your guests of honor (grandparents and close relatives) get a quiet spot while your rowdy friends from college sit closest to the dance floor.
    How to do it: Escort cards are extremely easy to personalize and an excellent way to bring in your wedding day colors—from calligraphed seating cards set atop a textured linen to apples tagged with each guest's name. Other ways to display escort cards: Pin them to a clothesline, post them on a board covered in color-coordinated ribbon, or incorporate them into your cocktail hour using personalized stirrers tagged with guests' names and table assignments.

  4. 4. The Guest Book

    Creative guest book alternative using blue Jenga blocks
    photo by Aaron and Jillian Photography

    Why: It takes more than setting out a couple of pens to make a guest book enticing enough to get all your guests to sign in. The trick is to show off your creativity and make it a fun, interactive activity.
    How to do it: Ask guests to contribute to a scrapbook by providing a Polaroid camera: They can take a selfie then pop the photo into a book and sign next to it. Or, each guest can write out a date night idea, marriage tip or note of support on a game piece (like Jenga blocks!) that can be used over and over again.

  5. 5. The Lighting

    Lighting tips for a fun wedding reception
    photo by austin gros photography

    Why: The right lighting can do a few things: It can create a sense of intimacy in a large space, highlight décor elements you really want to take center stage, and make you and your guests look awesome in photos.

    How to do it: Decorative hanging lights, lamps with patterned shades or crystal chandeliers will transform a space from plain to extravagant. String lights can be used just about anywhere, whether it's to create a faux ceiling effect or connect a large reception space together.

  6. 6. The Bar Décor

    Bar decor tips for a wedding reception
    photo by Lacie Hansen Photography

    Why: The bar is a spot that most of your guests will visit a few times throughout the night, which is precisely why it's a great place to add a burst of color or personalized décor element.

    How to do it: Spice up your cocktail menu with a couple signature sips that have unique garnishes like berry-infused ice cubes or fresh herbs. Consider printing your signature cocktail recipe right on your coasters or beverage napkins. For the bar itself, simple signage goes a long way when paired with a few floral arrangements and greenery.

  7. 7. The Menu Cards

    Menu ideas for a creative wedding reception idea
    photo by Rebecca Hollis Photography

    Why: Menu cards designed to complement your wedding day stationery and coordinate with your signature colors will add an extra-stylish touch to your tablescape. 

    How to do it: The menu cards can be as formal or informal as your reception. Place round menu cards in the center of each charger to suit a decidedly formal reception. A more laid-back wedding might call for the menu to be written on a chalkboard set up near the entrance. If you plan on serving a multicourse meal, consider giving guests mini menu booklets. They can even double as place cards.

  8. 8. The Cake Table

    Tips for decorating your wedding cake table
    photo by Jennifer Yarbro Photography

    Why: The cake table is often a main focal point of the reception space where many of your guests will congregate to take pictures. It's also going to be the center of attention for your cake-cutting photos (which is obvious, but should be pointed out) so you'll want to set that stage perfectly.

    How to do it: Create the perfect setting for your cake by keeping décor low to the table so you don't detract from your main dessert. Dress the table with a nice linen, then decorate with small blooms or tealight candles. To give it the royal treatment, set your cake on a riser at a ballroom wedding or cover it with a fabric-draped canopy if you're having an outdoor party.

  9. 9. The Chairs

    Chair tips for a flawless wedding reception
    photo by Allison Conklin

    Why: The right chairs and chair treatments can transform a bland room into something that's elegant and refined. 

    How to do it: Match your chair treatments to your wedding style. For an outdoor wedding, consider using wood chiavari chairs instead of the plastic folding kind. For a fresh twist, get colorful, patterned chair cushions in lieu of monochromatic ones. You can also use your chairs to pay tribute to the time of year by decorating chairbacks with a miniature wreath for a winter wedding, or tie fresh blooms to each of the chairbacks if you're having a springtime affair.

  10. 10. A Game Plan for the Kids

    How to care for kids at a wedding
    photo by T & S PHOTOGRAPHY

    Why: Even if you love children, disruptions during the ceremony or reception aren't ideal. Have a plan to keep little ones attended to and at their best. 

    How to do it: At the ceremony, have an usher hand out coloring books and crayons. At mealtime, seat little ones with their parents so they'll be in top form while eating. If lots of kids will be attending, it might be worth it to hire a sitter or two for the evening in a nearby room with games, crafts and movies. That guarantees they'll have a good time, as will their grateful parents.

  11. 11. The Favors

    Favor tips for a flawless wedding reception
    photo by Rachel Jane Photography

    Why: Favors aren't a necessity, but they're a nice way to show your thanks to your guests. If you're looking for a cute thank-you gift your guests will actually use, we always recommend something edible.

    How to do it: Favors can double as escort cards, which can be arranged on a table as guests enter the reception, or they can be styled as place settings. If you want to them stand alone, highlight them with their own table near the reception exit so guests know to take one with them.

  12. 12. The Exit

    Getaway exit ideas for a flawless wedding reception
    photo by NICOLE SARAH PHOTOGRAPHY

    Why: A stylish exit is the exclamation point to a great wedding day, not to mention your last chance to drive home your personal style. Take full advantage of this opportunity. 

    How to do it: Rose petals are a tried-and-true classic. If you want a modern spin, you could go big with a fireworks show or sparklers (pending local fire ordinances). When it comes to your getaway transportation, get creative: Drive away in a vintage car decorated with bright flowers, toss your hair into the wind on a moped, or jump into a sleek, stylish sports car.


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