It’s starting to become commonplace that brides hire wedding planners to take care of the little details on their big day, so they can focus on getting married. Some brides are lucky enough to have a friend or bridesmaid that volunteers to take over all those duties and serves as a makeshift wedding planner. But sometimes, that’s not the case at all, and you have to do it by yourself.

Event planners are expensive, and rightfully so. They have a lot to think about, and the good ones have experience and know what details you’re not even going to think about until it’s too late. They also have a secret weapon that you might not know about: a run sheet.

Let me let you in on a PR secret: a run sheet is the Bible of any event ever, from the biggest convention to the smallest news conference. Every thing and person has to be in its/their place, and the run sheet is the document that says where and when it/they should be there. It’s set up so that anybody could pick it up, read it, and know what to do. It’s not difficult to make, but you just have to make it.

The best friend of the run sheet is the critical path. This document serves as the lead-up to the run sheet. It’s not as detailed and is more of a glorified checklist, but these two things together will ensure that your wedding runs smoothly, exactly how you need it to run, and you don’t have to worry about micromanaging it.

The critical path

Like I said before, the critical path is basically a glorified checklist. It lists things you need to get done, when you need to get them done by, and who needs to get them done. I also include a little checkbox for when you complete them, because nothing feels better than crossing something off a list.

Printing it is fine, but I would also keep a digital copy updated, because new things come up all the time.

Here’s a sample critical path for my wedding. All of the details and tasks aren’t in yet, but it’s an example of keeping all of your dates and things to do straight.

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The run sheet

The run sheet is a detailed account of everything that happens on the day of the event. At the top, the vital information is listed, as well as key contacts should anything go wrong. The meat of the document is a detailed listing of everything that will happen and when it will happen. This lists everything, from your guests sitting down, what songs play during your ceremony, when you leave for the night, and when the staff at your venue clean everything up.

Here’s a sample run sheet for my wedding. Again, not all of the details are listed, but it’s a start. Additional addresses would also be listed (like mother of the bride’s house).

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These documents take a little bit of elbow grease to make, but they’ll save you a lot of headaches in the long run. Once you’ve made them, send them to your maid of honour, bridesmaids, mom, photographer, and anyone else that has to be in a certain place in a certain time. Then when the day comes, you can focus on getting married and nobody will be texting you asking where they should be.

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