Here's 8 nuggets of wisdom every newlywed wishes they knew about before their big day

Book the engagement session!

Not only does this set you and your fiancé up with a gorgeous set of photos to promote your wedding day festivities, it will also help you become more comfortable and confident in front of the camera aaaaand it's a great way to kick off date night!

Cape Cod couple on their engagement session on Mayflower Beach
Vendor Roll call

If you haven't heard from a vendor in a while, check in with them. This one is personal. On my wedding day, the transportation we hired to shuttle our guests didn't show up. This is definitely not something you should have to do. In fact, in my opinion, your vendors should be checking in with you, but if you haven't heard from one, might be a good idea to reach out.

consider reusing and recycling

There is so much excess that comes with throwing a big party. Have a plan for how to reduce waste. Repurpose the ceremony flower arrangements at the reception. Then, take it to the next level! Donate the table arrangements to a local nursing home or hospital. Instead of printing out hundreds of programs, write your wedding day schedule on a chalkboard or sign. If you have food left over, ask your caterer to pack it up so you can offer it up at the after party!

Make it a double

Everyone loves cocktail hour. So, why not have two? Have a welcome reception as guests arrive to the ceremony, serve signature cocktails, mocktails and passed hors d'oeuvres, then get married, then have another cocktail hour! Why not? It's the best format for mingling and all guests love cold drinks and finger food. Give the people what they want!

Make your reception an interactive experience

Some of the most memorable weddings don't just have a killer dance floor but also present alternative ways for guests to interact or even catch their breath if they need a break. Get creative! Find ways to engage with your guests by sharing your interests. If you're stumped, here's some ideas: photo booth, trivia, cigar rolling station, lawn games, build-your-own dessert bar, audio guest book, commission a live painter or caricaturist, have the best men stage an alien invasion or hire your college mascots to make guest appearances! (Yes, these are all scenarios I have photographed at real weddings!)

Don't sleep on the late night snacks

No matter how full everyone says they are, there's always room for snacks! Make sure they are handheld, like pretzels, grilled cheese and sliders. Surprise your guests with an ice cream truck or gelato cart. They will shake off the extra calories on the dance floor!

give guests guidance

Wedding guests strongly prefer to be told what to do. If you don't care which side they sit on during the ceremony, make a sign that says so. If you would like guests to take a seat after you have walked down the aisle, make sure the officiant tells them to do so (otherwise they will stand the whole time!) If you want your guests to blow bubbles or toss birdseed at you after the ceremony, have the wedding party get that started because the guests will forget. Don't skip the reception seat assignments, it will cause your guests to wander around aimlessly and create unnecessary confusion! Take the time to create a thoughtful seating chart and find a fun way to clearly communicate the table combinations.

unplug and be present

Unplugged ceremonies fell out of favor in the aftermath of the pandemic because it became a priority to include guests who could only attend virtually. Now that we are back to gathering in person again, it's time to put away the phones. If you are reading vows at your wedding, consider writing them down in a book or a nice piece of paper. It will be far more romantic than reading from your phone, trust me.