Wedding day emergency kit: Do not be caught without the following 15 things!

Wedding day emergency kit by Laughing Chefs caterers

Wedding day emergency kit: to make sure you can handle anything that is thrown at you

Although never planned, and hopefully not anticipated, anything can happen. For that reason, make sure you have a fully stocked wedding day emergency kit ready to go. In it should be all the needed tools to fix everything from smudged mascara to the apocalypse breaking out mid-ceremony. Here is our list of essentials you should rather not be caught without on your big day

The Wedding Day Emergency Kit:

  1. Needle and thread, or a small sewing kit
  2. Clear glue (super glue)
  3. Water
  4. Something salty to snack on
  5. Hair pins, hair ties, small comb or brush and hairspray
  6. Lipstick and gloss, plus extra makeup to fix smudges, chapstick
  7. Tissues
  8. Pain pills and something for heartburn or indigestion, allergy meds
  9. Perfume and deodorant
  10. Floss and mints
  11. Cash
  12. Feminine hygiene product of choice
  13. Nail file
  14. Lotion
  15. Sunscreen

Are there any supplies we missed that you wouldn’t be caught without on your wedding day? Share them with us in the comments below!

Wedding planning timeline: Your plan to get everything done on time! [free printable!]

Congratulations on your engagement! The days and weeks and months before your wedding is one of the most special times. The process should be exciting and shared between yourself and your partner since it ultimately ends in your happily ever after. Planning your wedding can be a daunting task, which is why most brides and industry experts would recommend you hire a wedding planner. But, should you wish not to, it is not impossible to plan your own successful wedding. Just use our handy list to keep track of all the different things you need to get done, and also by when.

We know the most beautiful wedding day is the one that speaks of the couple. So even though this is our example, we encourage you to move things around, leave things out or add things to the timeline. In the end, it is your day.

If you are more enthusiastic so planning your wedding in less than 12months, just move up the timeline. So instead of working in months, you work in weeks, or however long you have to plan. Just remember to get the big ticket and most important items (venue, dress, food, officiant and invitations) done first. It is possible to plan a fairy tale wedding (even within a small budget) in as little time as 2 weeks! You just need to be organized.

So to help, here is our suggested timeline for engagements of 12months or longer:

12 months before

  1. Set your budget

You need to know how much you need, how much you have, and then keep track of how much you spend. For more info on this, read our previous post here or see our video on budgeting here.

  1. Create a wedding website

There are various free sites that offer this service. You can even open a Wix account. Although not necessary, it is a nice to have, especially if you set it up in such a way that guests can RSVP on it, access your wedding registry, get all of the info regarding the accommodation, date, directions, transport arrangements, etc. in one place. Guests can even post photos, making it easier for you to get all of their snaps afterwards.

  1. Draw up your guest list

Determining how many people you would like to invite is crucial. Only after working out the estimate numbers, and seeing if it will fit in with your budget, can you start looking for a venue. For more info on drawing up your guest list, read our post here or see our video here.

  1. Start your wedding file

It is handy to have all of your gathered info in one place. If you attend trade-shows or go for viewings, you can place all of that information in your file. Keep your notes there, and also keep track of your progress.

  1. Create a mood board for the look and feel

Pinterest is going to become your best friend! Create a secret board where you can pin all of the ideas and colours and themes that you love. Should you wish to hire a wedding planner or consultant, you can add them to that board so that they can get a very accurate idea of the type of wedding you would like, and the type of bride that you want to be.

  1. Hire a wedding planner or consultant

Not a must-have, but definitely a nice-to-have. It will make your life easier, and although pricey in the beginning, the negotiation, experience and calm that planners normally bring are invaluable.

  1. Book your venue

Get to booking your venue as soon as possible. Especially the trendy and popular venues book up fast, with some already running a waiting list for 2 years down the line. A useful tip: book the venue before you pick your date. For more info on booking your perfect venue, read our post here or watch the video here.

  1. Set the theme, as well as the look and feel of the wedding

Decide how formal or informal it is going to be, your dominant colours, etc. Based on the theme, you will design your wedding stationery, décor, etc.

  1. Set the date

Once your venue has been confirmed you are ready to set the date (obviously the date that the venue is available J)

  1. Order your save the dates and invitations

Based on the theme and colour choices, you will now design your save the dates and invitations. Once happy, order them to ensure they have arrived before it is time to send them out.

  1. Start dress shopping

Decide if you would like to have a dress custom-made, would like to rent, or buy. And if you want to buy, will it be pre-loved or new? Know your budget, styles that work on your body shape, colour preferences and finishing touches. Then start making appointments to have fittings. Be open-minded, sometimes a dress that we would have never considered ends up being THE ONE.

  1. Start your special beauty regime

Looking good on your big day takes time, so start early. If you would like to lose weight before your wedding day, now is a good time to start changing your lifestyle to a healthier one. Incorporate exercise, drink more water, up the ante on your face cream, etc.

8 – 10 months before

  1. Ask your bridal party

If you are going to have a maid-of-honour, bride’s maids and flower girls, or any variation thereof, you need to ask these special people if they will do you the honour. Just a tip – you and your partner should have the same number of people in your bridal parties.

  1. Send out save the dates

This is especially important if you decide to get married on a date that falls on a long weekend, a public holiday, in the school holidays or around another big date or event. Also, if close family or friends live overseas, travel for work or have very small kids, they will need enough time to make arrangements to be there. It is important to note on the save the date whether or not guests are allowed a plus-one, and whether kids are invited or not.

  1. Hire band or DJ

Read reviews before hiring any entertainment. Meet with the service provider to ensure you get along, and that they understand your vision for the day. Music can make or break a party, even more so for a wedding. It sets the ambience and the mood, so choose wisely!

  1. Finalise the look and feel and theme

Think seriously about the aspects surrounding the look and feel – the décor, flowers, colour, table linen, favours, etc. and finalise your choices. Make sure all of these individual elements work together to form a beautiful whole.

  1. Decide on bridesmaids’ dresses

The theme, formality and season of your wedding will affect this. There are more choices than I can name, but the two biggest decisions would be do you want your entire bridal party in the same dress or each in a different (even just slightly) dress, and what colour will the dresses be.

  1. Sign up for a gift registry

Register a gift registry with your favourite home-ware shop, or do something entirely different like giving a list of charity organisations that guests can donate to instead of giving you a wedding present. If you rather want money, remember to mention it on the invitation, but give guests an idea of what you will be doing with the money, e.g. it will go towards your holiday fund, etc.

  1. Host an engagement party

Plan and host an engagement party to celebrate your engagement with your closest friends and family. Oh and show off your ring!

  1. Book a photographer

A big ticket item, having the right photographer is one of our crucial must-haves for a successful wedding. Your photos are all that you will have left, so make sure they are of good quality, and that the photographer captures all of the memories and moments you want and need.

  1. Book your caterer

If the venue has their own caterer, meet them now and start discussing your wedding menu. If the venue does not have a caterer or allows outside catering, then you need to find a caterer now. When comparing quotes, just remember to compare apples with apples in order to book the best caterer at the price you can afford.

  1. Order your wedding cake

This is one of the fun things! Identify a baker and book a cake tasting. Once decided, give them the inspiration for your cake design and order the cake when you are happy with the design. Tip: serve the cake as the dessert to cut menu costs as well as waste.

  1. Get an officiant

Book the person who will legally marry you. If you have a close friend or family member whom you would love to guide the ceremony, but they cannot legally marry you, then make a booking to either get married the previous day in court or by a registered officiant before the time. The family member or friend can then go through the ceremony as if they are marrying you, without any legal implications.

  1. Begin shopping for shoes, accessories and lingerie

You will need to have the shoes that you will wear with you when you go for your final dress fitting, so get going in shopping for them as well as any accessories and lingerie that you will need.

4 – 7 months

  1. Arrange accommodation for yourself on the night of the wedding (if not included in your venue) and for out of town guests

If you are not paying for all of the accommodation, make sure your guests have the relevant info to book and pay for themselves. Same with any transport arrangements – make sure your guests have the right information.

  1. Begin preparation for honeymoon

Most of the time the bride will have no idea where they are going for their honeymoon. Even so, now is the time to put some pressure on your partner to book the honeymoon, especially if you are planning on taking it in the busy season.

  1. Decide on and book a florist. Confirm flower selection

Take your Pinterest board to your short list of florists, get quotes and pick one. Finalise your flower choices, arrangement designs and any other flowers that you will need on the day.

  1. Shop for wedding bands

Decide beforehand how much you are spending, the material of the bands, whether they will be engraved, etc.

  1. Visit physician

Ensure you are in tip-top shape. If you are not planning on starting with a family directly after your wedding, put everything in place for birth control. If you are going to a country or place that required certain shots or vaccinations, get them now to ensure they are out of your system by the time of the wedding.

3 months

  1. Send out your invitations

Send out your invitations! Make sure you have a clear RSVP date, and also give guests the needed info regarding your gift registry, accommodation and transport arrangements, etc. If they can choose their own main course, or you would like them to contribute song choices, mention that on the invitations as well.

  1. Select the groom’s wedding attire

Sort out what your partner will wear, as well as the groomsmen. Doing it now ensures there is enough time for fitting and altering.

  1. Shop for bridal party gifts

If you decide you want to give each of your bridal party members something special, then start shopping for it now.

  1. Begin counselling sessions with the officiant

If you are attending pre-marital counselling, start with the sessions now.

  1. Go for the menu tasting and decide on your final menu selections

Make sure you are 100% happy with the menu, the offering, the tastes, the portion sizes, etc. Communicate clearly with your caterer regarding all of your requirements.

  1. Confirm your order of all rental furniture/décor

  2. Book your mock table with the venue and florist

  3. Confirm your wedding day transport

Book the wedding car, as well as any other transport that will be necessary to get you, your bridal party and your close family to the ceremony and the reception.

2 months

  1. Write your vows

Make it heartfelt, sincere and loving. Learn it by heart, but have cards with you on the day just in case the emotion gets you down.

  1. Confirm order with the florist

Confirm everything with your florist and ensure all of it is in writing. Confirm what time they will deliver on the day, as well as if there are any hired goods that you will have to return afterwards.

  1. Confirm order of stationery

Menus, name cards, church programs, anything that you had designed and now need printing for. Make sure it is done in the right colour, on the right cardstock, etc.

1 month

  1. Apply for marriage license

Usually, your officiant will help you with this, but you need to confirm that he/she will. Otherwise, follow the guidelines on the department’s website.

  1. Have the final gown fitting. Remember to take your wedding shoes with!

  2. Have your hair & makeup trails

Take a few photos after the trails to make sure your face is not shiny, your hair looks good from all angles, etc.

  1. Collate the final RSVP list

If you are still waiting for a few RSVPs, follow up and get their final answers.

  1. Prepare shot list for your photographer and videographer

  2. Deliver a list of songs to your DJ or band

  3. Draw up a seating plan

  4. Contact all of your wedding suppliers and confirm the schedule for the day

2 weeks

  1. Pick up the marriage license

  2. Obtain any legal information, approvals or licenses

  3. Check parking arrangements

  4. Rehearsal dinner

If you are having one, this is when you practice the processional.

  1. Confirm your final guest numbers with the venue and caterer

  2. Book in for Bride and Groom relaxing spa treatments

  3. Cut and die hair if needed

  4. Kitchen tea

The get-together where the guests give the bride things she will need to set up her home. Usually kitchen appliances or utensils, but can also be towels, linen, or even gardening equipment. The attending ladies can also partake in the tradition of giving her recipes so that she can start her own family recipe book.

  1. Bachelors and bachelorettes

The get-togethers for the young guests, planned by the bridal parties. Usually held separate, it can be anything from playing paintball to sipping cocktails, cake decorating or watching rugby.

  1. Get your spray tan done – if you are planning on getting it done

1 week

  1. Confirm honeymoon bookings and plans

  2. Confirm accommodation arrangements

  3. Pack for honeymoon

  4. Confirm wedding day attire

  5. Gather all necessary documents for travel

  6. Pick up formalwear

  7. Have one final phone call with each of your suppliers

  8. Have your dress steamed

  9. Pre-wedding relaxing pampering

1 day

  1. Go through the list of things to do and make sure all bases are covered

If you are entrusting a friend or family member to assist with the coordination on the day, you should have a “training” meeting with them now. Give them all of the info, the timelines, etc.

  1. Pack wedding day emergency kit

In short, a small kit that contains essentials that you might need if an emergency happens on your wedding day. This kit usually contains things like lipstick, hairpins, pain pills, water, mints, etc. For a complete list of what should be in your emergency kit, look out for next week’s post!

  1. Get manicure and pedicure

  2. Take a steamy and relaxing bath

  3. Put wedding attire and accessories together

  4. Give rings to best man

  5. Try to get a good night’s sleep

On the day

  1. Have a good breakfast, and make sure you eat something while getting ready. Avoid carb-rich foods, sugars, and caffeine

  2. Get hair and makeup done

  3. Have someone check reception site, or check it yourself if time and rules permit

  4. Get dressed for the wedding

  5. Have candid photos taken with family

We hope that you can use this list of things to do to give you a clear plan of action. We wish you and your partner a beautiful, calm and magical wedding which will be the perfect starting point of your life together.

Want the planner? Then get it here

How to get the most out of your wedding budget (and yes you do need a budget!)

Stripes has noted that planning a wedding can be stressful. Not only are you attempting to combine the taste and preferences of two individuals and their families, but you need to do it within a budget. Or for us mere mortals that seems to be the case. She notes that the pressure is increased as weddings have become more personalised and extravagant due to the rise of the Pinterest bride, budgets have seemingly shrunk in direct correlation. Brides of today want a fairytale showcase of a wedding but have barely enough money to cover a simple elopement. So what are you to do?

The budget. The b-word that nightmares are made off. Every bride dreads the talk, but it is more important than you think. Without a budget rampant spending will be on the order of the day, and with that debt and despair. You don’t want that as the start of your happy life together, so allow us to help. Stripes is convinced we have all the answers!

Naturally, you would want to get started with the more fun aspects of planning a wedding, such as venue hunting, choosing your dress or deciding on a theme, colour scheme and feel. Often, Brides get ahead of themselves, focusing on these aspects before figuring out what the facts and figures are. If you do not have a clear idea of what you have to spend, you are going to run into trouble later on. If you work out your budget first you are giving yourself the freedom to dream and choose, knowing that you can actually afford it. To work out that budget is actually much easier than you would think.

Why it is important to have a budget from the start:
• It gives you a solid starting point, giving you direction and a framework to work within
• It gives you a realistic idea to bring your expectations and the amount of detail that you can afford in line
• It will help you sift through quotes to create a short list of suppliers and to choose your final supplier
• It will make suppliers’ life easier as they will be able to suggest options they know will be affordable

So how do you work out your budget?

Of course, it would be nice to think about the things you would like to have and then attach a value to them, and that total is your budget. Unfortunately, in the real world it works the other way around (or should work the other way around). Here, you determine how much money your parents, your partner’s parents (if the parents can help at all) and you yourselves have to spend on a wedding. That total is what you have to budget with, and all of the services and items needed for the wedding needs to come out of that pool of money. This can be a very awkward conversation to have, but it is necessary and vitally important. If you don’t have the money now, is there any way that you can save money? Then you need to work out a timeline so that you know at which dates you are looking at.

After you have the round number that you can spend on your wedding, you need to consider a few things that have an impact on the prices and value of different services and products:

1. The season and time of year
Winter weddings are more affordable than summer weddings, weekday weddings more than weekend weddings, and Fridays more than Saturdays. There is also a marked difference in costs between a March and an October wedding, even though both technically fall in summer. If you have a tight budget, consider getting married on a Friday in May, or a Sunday in September, or a combination of a “cheaper” season with a “cheaper” day and a “cheaper” time of year. Before you even start to look at venues, know how adaptable you are willing to be, and have a few dates that you can give to get a comparative quote for the different dates.

2. Location
If we look at South Africa, getting married in the Western Cape is a lot more expensive than getting married in Gauteng. Having your nuptials in the Drakensberg will be more expensive than having it in a barn in the Freestate. Also take into consideration that you will have to pay suppliers to come out to remote locations, not even to mention the extra things you might have to hire in. And lastly, your guests – will your wedding cost them an arm and a leg in transport and accommodation?

3. Guests
Speaking of guests, the size of your dream wedding will have a direct impact on your budget. So if you have a small budget, to begin with, then plan to have a more intimate wedding. But a word of caution: just because you might have enough money in your budget to have a 300-guest wedding doesn’t mean you have to. Invite who you want to share the day with, your budget is a guideline, not a target.

Of course, you can only spend what you have (if you are being practical and smart about this), but determining how much you need is sometimes more difficult than finding options that fit in with the final budget. As a guideline, experts recommend the following percentages:
• Venue 10-15%
• Catering 20%
• Photographer 10-15%
• Flowers, décor and lighting 10-15%
• Bar 5%
• Stationery 2.5%
• Bridal couple and bridal party (clothes, presents, hair and makeup, accessories, etc.) 10-20%
• Entertainment or music 5%
• Wedding cake 2.5%
• 10-20% buffer for those last-minute forgotten details

The average wedding in South Africa costs about R80 000, so if we take that as our budget, the division would be as follows:


For all of those extra “luxuries”, you will have to work it into your budget either by spending less on certain categories or by increasing your budget in total. If you want a nicer venue, then you need a bigger budget. There is no sense in taking money away from another category unless you are 100% certain it won’t make a difference. If you really cannot increase your budget, then you need to work smart so that you need less money to attain the look and feel you want.

A few tips to make your budget stretch further:

1. Date and time
As mentioned before, opt for a winter or weekday wedding, or as another cost-saving option, have a morning wedding instead of an afternoon wedding.

2. Cut costs on your dress.
Look into renting instead of buying, or buying pre-loved. You could even consider buying an evening or ball gown instead of a traditional wedding dress.


3. Be smart when planning the menu.
Never skimp on the catering. Pay as much as you can afford to ensure your guests get good food – that is one of the 3 cornerstones that a successful wedding is built on (food, venue and photographer). If you have to cut costs, go for the buffet instead of plated, have a bread table instead of canapes, serve only 1 meat for the mains and leave out dessert if you have a wedding cake. But make sure that everything you do serve is out of this world, tasting great and looking perfect.

4. Choose your venue wisely.
Opt for a venue that includes as much as possible, from the furniture to décor, lightning, etc. Another great tip – choose a venue that allows you to bring in your own suppliers. Then you also have the option of doing a few things yourself or asking family and friends to help. If you really want an outdoor wedding, think of settling for either just the ceremony outside and the reception inside, or for a venue that has a roofed area as a plan B. If you have to all of a sudden hire in a marque you are looking at a major budget-killer, since you also have to think about flooring, lighting, and maybe even heating. For more tips on choosing your venue, read our post here.


5. Bar
Do not have an open bar. If you want to give the guests something more than just a glass of sparkling wine for the toasts, buy wine for on a wine table and have water or juice put on the tables. By having a wine table instead of placing individual bottles of wines on the tables themselves you guard against all those half-drunk bottles of wine that you end up throwing away. If you are bringing in your own sparkling wine, ask the venue to pour the toast at the bar and then bring the glasses out to the guests. This makes the bottles stretch that much further.

6. Guests
Invite only adults, except in the case of close family. Invite only those people whom you really really really want there. For more tips on your guest list, see our post here

7. Favours and those small details that nobody except you notices
Skip wedding favours, they cost money and very few guests actually take them home. The venue sweeps up branded keychains the next day. Keep your décor simple and elegant, all those small details you want to add just eats up your budget, and nobody really notices.


8. Get as many quotes as you possibly can
Get quotes from many different suppliers to compare, just remember to compare apples with apples. If for instance one caterer is a lot more expensive than another but as part of their price they include staff, the hiring of the crockery and cutlery, as well as delivery and setup they might not be that expensive after taking all the individual services into account. When looking at the prices and different suppliers, try to identify when are you paying for quality, and when are you paying for a name. For smaller budgets, I would recommend paying for quality and skipping the name.

9. Flowers
Choose local and seasonal blooms, and if possible opt for more greenery than actual flowers. The hottest new trend is foliage, so tap into that to make your flower budget go that much further.


10. Cake
If you are very concerned about your budget, there are a few options that you can consider, such as omitting the cake and serving dessert instead (usually already included in your wedding menu), having only a small dummy cake for the cake cutting ceremony and then giving the guests sheet cake cut into squares, having a cupcake cake that can also serve as the favours, or going for a non-traditional cake. If you choose a non-traditional cake, you can be as creative as you choose. Go for a cheese tower cake and serve it as part of your starter, or a brownie pile cake as part of dessert. We have done a wedding were the “cake” was made out of savoury pies, and that served as the starter. Another one where the cake was made out of rice crispy treat squares.


11. Hire a wedding planner
Although the upfront fee might seem steep, in the end, it is really worth it. Wedding planners know where to start looking for affordable options, they can negotiate better prices or add-ons. Make use of their connections and expertise.

Mistakes to avoid:

1. Forgetting to keep track of your spending
You need to record EVERY SINGLE THING that you spend money on. That means every single amount, no matter how small. Especially the small amounts – they quickly add up! Devise an easy to use system to keep track. Also, keep track of payment dates as late payments can be penalized.

2. Not asking enough questions
You need to make 100% sure that you are aware of all of the fees and charges, especially those that are hidden under the “if this then that” category of the quote, e.g. if it rains and we need to move the ceremony or reception, there is a surcharge; if you invite children then you need to pay for a babysitter; if you stay after 00h00 (even just to pack up) there are overtime charges for the staff as well as the venue. Ask about service fees, extra charges and other things you might be billed for. Trails are very seldom free, and all of those meetings you demand? They can also be charged.

3. Forgetting the small things
Underwear that works with your dress, special hairspray, straws for the welcome drinks, ribbon for the serviette rings, all of these seemingly small things can, in the end, break the bank. Remember that in some cases, tips and gratuities are expected, and must be budgeted for. Make sure that such expenses are part of one of your categories, and that you do not spend more than the allotted amount.

4. Not deciding what is most important to you
Identify three things that are non-negotiable to you. Maybe you love flowers, music and great food. Then you know those are the 3 things you do not want to skimp on. Also, identify the three things you are not at all bothered with, e.g. cake, invitations and draping. Those are the things that you can decrease the allocated budgets for, rather moving that “extra” money to your top 3 things.


By following these tips and avoiding the last few mistakes it is possible to stick to your budget, no matter how small, and still have the wedding of your dreams. If you have a very small budget, then read the post here for ideas on what to leave out to make your budget go that much further. And if you are really worried, get a professional to help.