The final countdown: how to get through the week before your wedding

Must the week before your wedding be the logistical nightmare everyone says it is? Not if you let Fin Flükra wedding planner Catrina Duthie keep you right…


There is no escaping the fact planning a wedding can at times be stressful and overwhelming, whether you’re having a small, intimate celebration or throwing a ball for 200 people. Well-intentioned family and friends will ask questions and want to share their opinions, making you start to doubt your decisions.

Chat to your caterer to ensure the timeline fits with its plans. You wouldn’t want to rush these treats from Hendersons for instance

You’ll be managing various moving parts and co-ordinating a large number of different elements, from the venue and the suppliers to the guests and the flowers. Essentially, wedding planning is project management and event planning all rolled into one, with a large dose of relationship management (personal and professional!) thrown in for good measure.

As a professional wedding planner with my company Fin Flükra, I’m a big believer in preparation being the key to success (I’m constantly repeating that well-worn phrase, ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’). So, with this in mind, I wanted to talk honestly about what you can expect in the final week before your wedding day. A lot happens in those last few days and I’d really like to give you a few pointers to help you avoid any pitfalls in what can be a particularly stressful part of the journey to the aisle. Having been a bride myself, I have experience on both sides, so I hope my advice will go some way to getting you over the final hurdles.

Reconfirm the details of your wedding day itinerary/schedule

Ideally, you want to do this no later than a week ahead of your wedding day – earlier if possible. Contact your venue and suppliers to confirm all times and go over the specific information that’s relevant to them. If you don’t have a wedding planner to do this for you and you’re not sure about putting together a clear timeline for your wedding day, it’s worth having a chat with your venue co-ordinator, photographer or caterer for guidance. They’ll let you know if you’ve allocated enough time for each element of the day.

Designate your ‘go to’ person/people to help manage the load

Invariably, the pair of you will be managing
a lot in this final week, which will be physically and mentally draining. You need to ensure you have at least one other person (preferably several) whom you can both rely on to help support you. This is usually a trusted member of the wedding party who should know just as much about the plans for the day as you do, allowing them to help deal with the usual last-minute questions from guests and help divert some of the ‘noise’ away from you.

Packing what you need for the wedding… and the honeymoon

Most couples will have a number of items they need to ensure are packed and handed over to the venue before the wedding. This tends to be stuff like the guest book, place names, table names/numbers, the table plan and various other decor items to be included as part of the styling for the wedding. When doing so, be sure to make a list of what you’re providing to the venue, so that you can tick off what you pack as you go. It’s a similar story when it comes to your overnight bag (if you’re booked into your venue for the first night of married life), as well as making sure you have everything organised for going on honeymoon if you’re leaving shortly after the wedding. Doing all of this will help you avoid my next point, which is…

You need someone you can rely on to help you iron out those last-minute details. Who better than a trusty bridesmaid? (photo: Ricky Baillie)

Avoid feeling like you’ve forgotten something… constantly

A few days before our wedding, on the near three-hour drive to our venue, I vividly remember spending the entire journey convinced we’d forgotten something. That’s it. I don’t recall the stunning scenery, the thrill of going on an adventure or the excited chatter of my young stepsons in the back of the car. I remember going over and over in my head all that we had packed, certain something crucial had been left behind. And had we forgotten anything? Nope! But I still couldn’t shake that feeling. Having clear lists of what you need to bring will help here – it’s the best way to keep your doubts in check.

Accept you may feel on edge and not yourself

Wedding planning is a big undertaking – it’s estimated that couples will have been working towards their goal for about 18 months on average. You’re now on the final stretch. Come this point, you and your partner will have invested a lot of time, energy and money, so it’s perfectly natural to be excited, nervous, anxious, relieved and a bit all over the place emotionally! Be kind to yourself; if you do have a wobble and need to vent or overreact during this time, just get it off your chest and be gracious enough to apologise afterwards. You are human, after all, and by stressing out about not getting stressed you’ll be doing no one any favours. Accept it will most likely happen and that it’s okay!

Table numbers, £12 for 12, Paperchase

There’s more to do than you realise… so delegate

You and your other half cannot possibly do everything in the run-up to your wedding. That’s a simple fact. Actually, scrap that, maybe you can, but you’ll be so knackered by the time the big day arrives you won’t be able to enjoy it. So it makes sense to delegate, delegate, delegate! If you don’t have a wedding planner, call upon your wedding party to assist – that’s what they’re for. Don’t be afraid to assign them tasks (perhaps request their help, rather than demanding it, though) – it should make your own to-do list more manageable.

Final outfit checks

Try on your dress, suit or kilt to ensure it still fits. (If it doesn’t, you’ll have to be quick with minor alterations.) Ensure all accessories are where they should be and that nothing is missing. Also take the time to break in your wedding shoes if you haven’t worn them before. A lot of brides and grooms forget to do this – before they even get halfway through the day, their feet are killing them and in some instances are covered in blisters… not a good look, and pretty useless for hitting the dancefloor.

Stop checking the weather forecast. Every. Single. Minute.

This tends to be an even bigger focus if you’re planning an outdoor ceremony or drinks reception. You cannot control the weather so let it go. It really is as simple as that. There is absolutely nothing you can do on this one – no lists, no delegating and no helpers can affect whether or not the sun shines on your wedding day. All you can do is hope for the best and, of course, have a proper back-up plan in place should the weather decide not to play ball.

Oops! Cat’s tiers toppled when cutting the cake (photo: NDK Wedding Photography)

Remember there is no such thing as a ‘perfect day’

You might as well accept it now: something will go wrong. It might be just a little thing that only you notice, or it might be something really big – such as your cake toppling over when you’re cutting it… which is exactly what happened to me on my wedding day (check the evidence, above right). Do I look back on my day, gutted that it wasn’t ‘perfect’? Not a chance – for the simple reason there is no such thing. Your day will be as ‘perfect’ as you allow it to be, even when something goes wrong. Our cake-cutting photos are some of my favourites, and when it happened I couldn’t stop laughing – nor could our guests!

Let go and remember what it’s all about

You will reach a point – usually the day before or on the morning of the wedding itself – when you simply let go and focus on what this whole planning malarkey has been all about, namely to make a lifetime commitment to the one you love. There is nothing more you can do. The lists have been ticked off, the responsibilities have been delegated… It’s time to switch off from planning mode and enjoy your wedding day, and simply be present and relaxed!